Employee Spotlight: Geraldine Sullivan

July 31, 2017

Can you please tell me about your current role at Yale University?

I am the Director of Employee Relations for the School of Medicine. I have a team of about 15 Human Resources Generalist who provide HR partnership to managers and staff across the school.

How long have you been part of the university community, and how did you come across your role?

I have been at Yale for a little over 9 years. We moved to CT then for my husband’s work and as soon as I learned about Yale as an employer I started exploring opportunities here.

What were a few of your professional titles prior to this role?

Human Resources Generalist. Human Resources Manager. Director of Guest Services. Director of Housekeeping. Front Desk Manager.

What are your main responsibilities?

As a manager, to provide leadership and guidance to my team. To make sure they have the resources and knowledge to do their jobs well. I also focus on making sure the team is engaged and energized by the work they do. As a partner to senior leaders, I provide advice on HR matters (big and small). I help them think about their organizations and their people. On any given day this could be talking about Workplace Survey, talent and succession planning, compensation, or managing performance.

What do you like most about your work?

That I learn new things almost every day. Yale is a complex organization and the variety of work that comes my way as a result of that pushes me to learn and grow constantly. I also really enjoy the people that I work with.  

How does your job affect your general lifestyle?

I think about my work a lot. We advise on very sensitive matters and I want to make sure I am able to identify the best possible solution. I wouldn’t say that it affects my lifestyle though, I make time to do the things I enjoy.

How did you begin your career?

I received my degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Purdue University. I started my career as a trainee then a supervisor and then manager. I was able to work in multiple cities across the United States in various roles. As I progressed in my career as a manager, I gravitated towards the HR aspects of my role and eventually decided that I wanted to actively pursue a career change. I started taking HR courses in the evenings and began pursuing HR opportunities. 

What steps would you recommend if one wanted to prepare to enter this field?

Pursue a degree in Human Resources or a related field. If looking to make a career change, then at least go out and learn about some of the key functions within HR (Recruitment, Compensation, Performance Management). I do believe part of my success in HR roles can be attributed to the fact that I had experiences as a manager prior to my transition into HR.

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes would you say are essential to success in this field or specific job?

Strong listening skills, ability to be creative and identify multiple solutions, anticipate challenges and help prepare for them, empathy for others and the ability to work under pressure are some that come to mind.

If you had the option of doing it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?

Absolutely. I am thrilled to be here and that I get to do what I do every day. Wouldn’t change a thing.

What does YLNG mean to you and how have you contributed as part of the Steering Committee?

I was the co-chair for YLNG from 2010 through 2013. YLNG has connected me with other Latino staff members who I may have not otherwise met in my day to day work. I continue to support YLNG by attending events and volunteering when I am able to. As a co-chair or committee member you have an opportunity to work on many skills that can help you with your career as well. Public speaking, project planning, leading meetings, etc.. are skills that can be easily  gained with involvement in any of the affinity groups.

How would you best summarize your experience with YLNG?

My experiences with YLNG have been very positive. As I mentioned above, particularly in my role as a co-chair I was able to grow and expand my skills in areas such as public speaking and project planning. I also had the chance to meet the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor (nice perk!)