HR Lessons from the Front Lines of Disaster Relief
Sunday afternoon closes on an uplifting note, as we welcome a former HR leader from Doctors Without Borders to the “Big Idea” stage. In 2009, Catherine Carr left her white-collar job behind and set out on what started as a six-month assignment with the humanitarian organization. Handling everything from tea, milk, and sugar supply negotiations to recovering a misplaced expat in the Philippines, to navigating stark culture contrasts and ensuring adherence to policies and procedures in high-stress and often crisis situations, the position challenged everything she knew about HR. It was a remarkable learning curve for understanding the challenges posed when your organization’s culture and values differ from those of the clients you serve.
Since returning stateside, Catherine has a new mission: integrating humanitarians into the workforce. While their previous job duties may not appear in what you consider core competencies, many of the skills acquired are easily transferrable: working with diverse teams, agility and resourcefulness, and a “never give up” approach to communication. It’s also part of a much larger argument – a strategic argument – for hiring from unexpected sources. Woven through her captivating storytelling and sharp wit, Catherine demonstrates that what we need can be found in unexpected places.
Approved for SHRM credit and HRCI general (HR) credit.