Get to Know Kaela Blanks

Why did you choose HR as your field?

I chose HR because when I was studying psychology in undergrad, I realized most of the work was too far removed from people’s day to day lives. I came across industrial/organizational psychology and learned that people will spend 80% of their lives at work. So, if I can use my energy to make the workplace a better place to be and thrive, I could really make an impact on people.

What is your current job or role?

I’m currently the Sr Specialist of Diversity and Inclusion at Aramark which includes empowering Aramark’s 10 employee resources groups (ERGs), advancing opportunities to make Aramark a place of belonging, and amplifying the diverse stories within the Aramark community.

In your current job, what gives you the greatest sense of reward and accomplishment?

My biggest sense of reward is when I see the aha moment for people. DEI work is really about making incremental changes overtime to create truly sustainable equitable practices in the organization. When someone “gets it” and I see their perspective shift, it truly has far reaching impacts.

What is your greatest personal or professional accomplishment?

I think my greatest accomplishment is yet to come. I’ve achieved some great things and did some awesome stuff, but as young professional that has finally found her calling in DEI, it feels like I’m just starting the journey to something really amazing that has the potential to really have a lasting impact in people’s lives.

What words of wisdom would you offer to someone entering the HR field?

My biggest pieces of advice for anyone entering the HR field are to build your network, be a true business partner, and make sure you explore the different areas within HR. Your network can really take you places you never expected, so don’t be afraid to branch out and connect with folks outside HR. Knowing the business, like its revenue/strategy, will make you an invaluable partner for organization leaders and ensure you’re properly supporting the employees. And lastly, HR is such a vast and varied function. You can do everything from employee engagement to talent acquisition to compliance to total rewards to talent management. You can be a specialist or a generalist. Don’t be afraid to dip your toe and try something new or outside your comfort zone to find where you can really thrive and make an impact.

What have you found most valuable about being a member of Philly SHRM?

The most valuable aspect of Philly SHRM has been the community. I found friends to geek out with and also commiserate on the HR struggle with, but also found mentors, advisors, and sponsors who amplified me. It has opened the door to many opportunities I would not have previously been exposed to.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

My spare time is spent exploring new restaurants and traveling. I’m a foodie at heart and you can usually find me trying a new restaurant to cross it off my never-ending list. Traveling allows me to experience new cultures, food, and people. I’m also a pretty big sci-fi nerd so I’m also usually catching up on a book, movie, or show.

If given an opportunity to do something really extraordinary or adventurous, what would it be and why?

If I could, I would own a star ship and explore the galaxy. I want to know what’s past Pluto and what other lifeforms are out there. Are there other planets like ours? What happens when you fly into a black hole? What awesome adventures and life can you explore? If the colony mission to Mars needs a DEI expert, I’d be the first to raise my hand.

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