Nakia Wade enjoys helping people. A self-described introvert, she said it is part of her nature to be an active listener, empathetic and a problem solver.
“Managing colleagues might be the toughest role anyone will ever have to perform [in the workplace], so I serve as a sounding board to help navigate many different situations,” said Wade, human resources senior manager in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “It really is about speaking with people and helping them find solutions to challenges they’re facing.”
In a college as large and diverse as Franklin, managing human resources matters can include everything from employee relations to hiring to compensation. But the most important part is being accessible to others and creating a space where issues are heard and discussed, and according to Wade, that means there is no typical day.
“We’re talking about people and their livelihoods,” she said. “I like the fact that human behavior is not predictable. We are all individuals coming from specific backgrounds and we respond to situations differently. So, every day you have no idea what is coming through the door. It keeps me on my toes.”
Wade’s background is in organizational behavior and coaching. She spent 14 years working at New York University, starting in career services at NYU’s School of Law where she facilitated recruitment fairs for students in the school’s LL.M. program. As she guided students in job preparation, their questions about the hiring process resonated with her. Spending time with the recruiters also taught her more about what they were looking for in candidates.
“Those conversations sparked an interest in the other side of the recruitment process,” she said. “I enjoyed helping to prepare individuals, but I wanted to know more about the hiring decisions and what made candidates successful.”
For Wade, a big part of the equation is clarifying expectations.
“Everyone is not always going to get along, but if you have best practices in place surrounding civility and strong job descriptions that help people understand what their role is in the success of the organization, you’re off to a good start,” she said.
Wade said she’s looking forward to finding even more ways to make a difference in the community. Her true passion is helping others become their best self in the workplace—whatever that means for them and their organization. She’s worked with Dress for Success, a nonprofit that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help them, by conducting mock interviews and helping with resume writing. She’s constantly looking for ways to use the skills she’s acquired over her career to mentor and coach others.
“There are more similarities than differences in all of us,” she said. “If we focus more on our commonalities, work and life become a lot smoother. At the end of the day, we’re all here to serve the students, and if I can help foster an environment where we successfully meet that goal, I know I’ve done a good job.”