The HR Communities of Practice Office is pleased to welcome Stella Luong, HR Business Partner in the College of Letters & Science, as co-facilitator (with Sarah Carroll from HR CoP) of the 2023 HR Competencies Cohort. In this article, Stella shares little more about herself.
How did you come to work at UW, and in the field of HR?
I graduated from UW–Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies. As an alum, UW has always been a place where I’ve experienced growth. Four years ago, I decided to pursue a career at UW and was hired to join a new HR team at L&S. My position focuses on the hiring and processing for short term instructional staff and graduate assistants. It felt (and continues to be) a place where I can continue to evolve and further develop my skills in HR.
What are some of the experiences that have prepared you to work as co-facilitator of the HR Cohort?
I have worn many hats over the years and feel that a lot of my roles have had an element of facilitation, even if it wasn’t an explicit part of my title. For example, I’ve facilitated workshops on diversity for local businesses in the Janesville community with S & J Consulting, and conducted employee orientations and onboarding at Green Breen Bay Converting. I enjoy being in group settings and helping groups to discern their process, come to new awareness, and to reach a common goal.
What excites you most about working on the UW Madison campus?
I like the energy of curiosity and creation. It can feel contagious at times! There is always something going on that inspires learning and engagement. Some of my favorite subjects include history and science. This year, my L&S colleagues and I started a Go Big Read book club for How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith. I appreciate being able to share my thoughts and hear others’ perspectives in our group. We also share information about events or other interesting topics to further our learning. We’ve visited the Sifting & Reckoning exhibit and attended the event, An Evening with Clint Smith.
One of my favorite memories was attending a Swarm to Table event hosted by Slow Food UW , the UW Undergraduate Entomology Society, and the Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects, with L&S colleagues. It featured edible (and mostly cooked) insects!
What do you enjoy most about your work in HR—and what motivates you?
I enjoy taking time to understand situations then offer suggestions on potential solutions to reach the goals of my departments and the L&S mission. I often feel that taking time goes hand in hand with being a single mom of two kiddos. I’ve learned in both roles that patience is a necessary skill in both strategy and progress. I am by no means perfect in either role, but I do think the parts of me which are a mom and the parts of me which work in HR have the same end goal. I use the same tools of listening, questioning, and “idea storms” to move forward through challenging situations.
My family motivates me to be a better person every day. I am first generation and born from two refugee parents who show me that there is always more to learn and give in life. They instilled in me that we should never stop working on becoming a better version of ourselves. This is a legacy I can carry on with my kiddos. I love the way my children see the world and it gives me hope to continue working hard and making time for joy, planned or spontaneous.
You participated in the 2020 HR Competencies Cohort. What did you take away from that experience—and what advice would you give to people who are interested in joining the cohort?
I completed the HR Competencies cohort during a time where I (and many of us in HR) had to adapt personally and professionally, due to the sudden disruption of the COVID pandemic. Our first few cohort sessions were in person, and then we continued in the program virtually. Like many others, I learned and grew from this experience. I shifted my perceptions on time, family, work, and my sense of self. The cohort gave me the space to reflect deeply (and gracefully) on all of those aspects along with other HR colleagues who were also navigating things in their own way. Although the pandemic was disruptive and at times stressful, the cohort was a great opportunity for me to consider what community meant to me—an opportunity I took to inform how I can best serve in HR and build relationships along the way.
I think the cohort is like its own fire. The more wood or kindling one adds, the warmer and brighter it will burn. How one experiences that warmth is different for everyone. It’s the kind of fire I recommend starting and seeing how it evolves.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, particularly in nature by hiking, fishing, foraging and canoeing. This winter, I am looking forward to exploring different ski hills around Wisconsin and building snow forts. I am also pursuing a private pilot’s license. One of my goals is to try flying a sea plane and perform a water landing.