The next installment in the blog series, Meet the Women’s World Banking team: an interview with one of our newest team members, Tamsin Jones.

New York City native Tamsin Jones joined Women’s World Banking in June as Human Resources Director. Jones started her career in the retail industry before moving to human resources more than a decade ago. One sign that her decision was the right one? In her spare time, Jones said she enjoys reading books about human behavior, especially in the workplace, and psychometrics. We caught up with Jones on a late-summer morning to hear about her new position and her insights on the changing definition of human resources.\

How did you decide to go into human resources?

I was winding down in my retail career. I knew my job very well and was good at it, but I wasn’t intellectually challenged. So I took the MAPP (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential) assessment. It helps you recognize where your talents lie, what you prefer to do, what your preferences are not and  ideal careers based on your answers. What it told me is: I should be a lawyer, school teacher, mediator or HR executive. The first three are all subsumed in my job in HR. I have to know the law; I do training and development; I’m responsible for adult learning within a workplace setting; and I act as a mediator every day in helping people resolve conflicts and come to a meeting of the minds.

I thought: Of course I’m meant to do this. I called my peers and family, and they said, “This is obviously who you are. You’re energetic, and you like working with people. You like to put together plans, and the plans are people-oriented. You love the law and seeing how to work within the law.” It was more like a “duh” than an “aha!”

What does the HR Director role at Women’s World Banking encompass?

What doesn’t it encompass? Making sure the organization keeps within ethical practices,contributing to initiatives and processes that help the organization have the best nonprofit business acumen and relationship management. I facilitate and ensure that interactions between people go smoothly. Communication is a large part of my role, and the human resources expertise too, of course. Also– and this something I didn’t necessarily have to do as much before– I have to have a very strong global and cultural awareness, because we have a very diverse workplace here, and the work we do is all over the world.

How is HR changing as a field?

Now it’s more about being strategic. It’s a partnership with the executive team and the board, to make sure human resources has a seat at the table in the decision-making for the business of the non-profit. Another big thing that’s changing is the performance management model, or how organizations go about assessing their talent. Organizations are going away from a traditional performance management model that assesses talent on a semiannual or annual basis based on rankings. The new model incorporates strength-based development, agile goal-setting, continuous feedback, coaching for performance, and rewards and recognition.  There’s also a stronger overlap between HR and organizational development, which encompasses organizational behavior, systems and processes. Human resources is no longer just strictly the HR function. As a partner to the organization, you have to be more involved in the processes and systems as well, in order to affect people.

What’s one thing most people who aren’t in the field don’t realize about HR?

How vital the role is to small and emerging organizations. I find that a lot of small businesses or small nonprofits have temporary HR or consultants work a few days a week doing just tactical work without the strategy. A lot of people outside HR don’t realize the business acumen required, as opposed to just working in personnel. They think one of the competencies represents the totality of HR. There’s a misperception that we kind of shuffle paper all day and just do the hiring and the benefits, which are only the tactical parts.

What are you most excited about in your move to Women’s World Banking?

That it’s a non-profit doing amazing mission-driven work, and that I get to be part of an organization that has an actual impact on the people who need it most. The people here are very dedicated and extremely passionate, and they have a high level of IQ and EQ. That’s not something you find at every job.

Are there unique challenges or opportunities involved in working in HR in New York?

It’s a hub for very talented people and for interns. We have a great resource in being able to find interns who are going to top schools here: Columbia, NYU, and others. Such great talent is attracted to New York City, so you don’t necessarily have to relocate your talent to be able to hire them. It’s easier to find diverse candidates.

You’re a born and bred New Yorker. What do you like most about the city?

I’m a Brooklyn native, and I’ve lived in New York City all my life, with the exception of two years in D.C. during my retail years. I like that New York never sleeps. In D.C. the subway stops running at a certain time. Once when I asked someone I worked with in D.C. where I could get ice cream, they said, “just up the road.” Two miles later, I found the place, a 7-Eleven. This is a true story. It was really, without exaggeration, at least two miles before I found the 7-Eleven.