University of Wisconsin–Madison

Alisha Arnold joins OHR’s Compensation Center of Excellence (CCoE)

The Compensation Center of Excellence (CCoE) in the Office of Human Resources (OHR) was founded to provide strategic consultation to units across campus; evaluate market data; build tools for the HR community; and review compensation practices. In October of 2022, Alisha Arnold joined CCoE as the Human Resources Director, tasked with leading the OHR Compensation Administration and Compensation Strategy teams; guiding the teams to stabilize the new TTC title and salary structure; and launching the second phase of the project which includes the long-term compensation strategy, benefit enhancements, and the career development initiatives.

This month, we took an opportunity to talk with Alisha about her career journey.

What can you tell us about the CCoE?

The CCoE is housed within OHR and we are still working to build it out. The CCoE will develop strategies to ensure the university remains a competitive market-informed employer. We will facilitate this through collaboration with stakeholders on classification and compensation strategies. The Compensation Administration (CA) and Compensation Strategy (CS) teams support the work taking place within the CCoE.

What are some of your experiences that have prepared you to work as the CCoE HR Director?

At the core, customer service and helping people have been my primary drivers. Growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend after school hours waiting for my parents to finish work. My mom’s career was dedicated to early childhood development and eldercare. My dad was a dedicated civil servant and spent his career working for United States Postal Service.  Having time to observe their compassion and dedication to serve our community was special.

With a desire to meet the needs of others and curiosity to explore my life path, I set out on a journey without knowing where I might land. After high school, I spent time taking college credits and working in the service industry, early childhood, travel industry, and health care administration. These experiences opened up a desire to explore administrative functions at a complex organization. My search led me to deeply consider my career aspirations. I discovered that I needed to take a step back from career growth to really invest in my future. In doing so, I was able to find alignment with a career trajectory that has provided me with endless opportunity.

In 2010, I accepted a part-time position as a payroll & benefits specialist 3 with the College of Letters & Science (L&S). Over the years, L&S provided me with opportunities to explore a wide range of HR functions, one being engagement with the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) Project. In October 2022, the opportunity to join OHR provided a chance to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone while continuing to support HR initiatives that I believe in. Partnering with the campus community to build and sustain a classification and compensation system that allows UW–Madison to contribute to the Wisconsin Idea is incredibly energizing.

Any learning experiences (formal or informal) that have had long-term resonance in your career?

There have been many valuable learning experiences that have afforded me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. On campus, Principles of Supervision and Management, HR Competencies Program, and Kauffman Seminar provided space for connection and self-exploration. Having the opportunity to serve on committees sponsored by shared governance, OHR, and L&S presented a chance to learn from others and about topics that I might not otherwise have had exposure to. Programming through the College and University Professional Associate for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) provided deep connections to other higher-ed HR professionals around the country.

Common threads that have served me are establishing genuine relationships and staying curious while striving to better understand the perspective of others. This helps to keep me grounded and checks my assumptions and privileges. I don’t know all of the answers and am continuously learning. Having others open and share allows us, as an organization, to come together to move things forward in a meaningful way. 

What do you do for fun?

Spending time outdoors fuels me. Having a chance to relish the beauty of nature is a reminder that imperfection can lead to some of the greatest things. I enjoy digging in the dirt, from sunrise to sunset, when time allows. Hiking, exploring nature, yoga, and running are active meditative practices that are core to my well-being. Most of all, I treasure time with my family and friends. Traveling, finding adventures, and being young at heart with those I care about brings me so much joy. I’m smiling just thinking about these moments and people.

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