Danese Simpkins: Member Spotlight (March 2018)

Stephanie Cantillo: Member Spotlight (February 2018)
February 1, 2018
Kimberley Lyday: Member Spotlight (April 2018)
April 1, 2018

Danese Simpkins: Member Spotlight (March 2018)

“You’ve got to Invest in yourself.  The benefits outweigh the costs.  When you are investing in yourself, you are learning; and you should never stop learning.” 

-Danese Simpkins, Human Resources Manager, MEAG Power


Members and friends, meet Danese Simpkins.  Originally from Pensacola Florida, Danese has lived in Atlanta for over a decade now and is currently working as the Human Resources Manager for MEAG Power, a nonprofit, statewide power generation and transmission organization.  This is a change for Danese to work for a public power company after coming from the private sector.   MEAG serves 49 communities throughout the state of Georgia.

As the Human Resources Manager, I perform all elements of the employment lifecycle from Talent Acquisition to Retirement.

So, I’m a comic book fan, and Danese’s path to working in the field of Human Resources kind of reminds me of the Batman story; someone experiences something horrible then turns it into the motivation to do something good in the world.  Danese had been working as a paralegal with an interest in Human Resources for quite some time before fully transitioning into Human Resources.  She recalls her interest in the field being sparked early on after an incident that happened when she was a teen.

…I was working in retail.  I was fired from my job for going to the hospital! I was only 18 or 19 at the time and didn’t have much work experience, but I knew that getting fired for being sick or injured and going to the hospital was not right so I called the Human Relations Board.  The termination was ruled as a wrongful termination and ultimately overturned.  That experience steered me down the paths of Employment Law and Human Resources.  What interests me most about the field is that there is so much that we as Human Resources professionals can do to impact our organizations.  We have the power to really guide business leaders and managers on doing the right thing and positively impacting the bottom-line.  There can also be a huge impact if you don’t do the right thing –the negative publicity, the loss of customers or potential lawsuits.

Danese believes in the work that she does and the difference that each of us can make in the world through applying our skills and demonstrating our talents in our respective roles.  She also believes in investing in yourself to continually nurture those talents.

You’ve got to Invest in yourself.  The benefits outweigh the costs.  When you are investing in yourself, you are learning –and you should never stop learning.  Whatever your level or role in an organization, there is always something to be learned.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people give excuses like, ‘My company won’t pay for that, it’s not in the budget, etc.’ but find a way to invest in yourself.  When I was working as a paralegal, none of my Human Resources courses qualified for tuition reimbursement through my employer.  If classes that I wanted weren’t offered at my campus in Florida, I would drive to the Louisiana campus to take the classes.  I continued investing in myself by taking a PHR Certification study course and my certification exam while I was still working in the legal field.

To say that Danese loves the field of Human Resources is an understatement.  HR has also been her hobby, and in a perfect world where were bills did not exist, she would provide her expertise for free   As a matter of fact, one of the most memorable experiences that Danese recalls during her career was going above and beyond to do something for someone else, driven by her desire to practice her craft.

I had just come from a large employer with thousands of employees and a lot of resources to a smaller company of about 200 employees and most of them working internationally.  The economy took a turn for the worst and in a 3-month period we laid off a significant percentage of the U.S. workforce.  We didn’t have outplacement services  like some larger companies have.  Employees were being notified of their terminations on the day of with no advance warning.  There were 2 of us that made up the HR Department and I thought, ‘We can’t send these people out there with nothing to give them!’ We pulled together some materials – anything that we could think of that would help.  We were able to find information about services for the unemployed including employment boards like Ruthie’s List, Karen’s List, and various online groups, and resume writing workshops.  We even posted resumes on different sites on the impacted employees’ behalf.  We were able to get through a delicate and difficult experience successfully and without incident by demonstrating compassion and respect despite the circumstances.  That made the difference

Ok, so Danese is not running around these Atlanta streets at night in tights dressed like the caped crusader or anything, but there’s a constant theme of making a difference by being an advocate, or a voice if you will, for those who may not necessarily have a forum.  What’s surprising as I listen to Danese speak about her experiences is that she is admittedly an introvert.  At the same time, she has conditioned herself to be able to interact with individuals at various levels because she knows that communicating and networking with people is a much-needed skill to be successful in any profession.

Have you met Danese yet? Are you looking to connect with others in the public sector? Are you looking to transition into or out of a field and want to hear someone else’s story? Does Danese actually have a ‘Bat Cave’? Whatever your answers are to these questions, come on out and say hello to Danese on Wednesday, March 14th, at NAAAHR Atlanta’s March Chapter Meeting! While you’re at it, be sure to meet and greet other professionals from various industries.  Don’t know if you can make it? Then be sure to click here for our calendar of upcoming and future events.

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