Bronco Spotlight: Charles Golden

Bronco Spotlight: Charles Golden

Master of Arts in organizational change leadership, 2021

Senior People Business Partner at Slalom

As a people business partner, I lead and support people initiatives for a consulting firm. I specifically focus on areas of people strategy, change management, advising, leader coaching, execution of global programs developed by our centers of expertise and employee advocacy. I’m most excited about a recent opportunity to work with a team of HR experts and leaders on scaling the shared services portion of HR operating model.  

If you had a campus job or internship, how did they impact your career development?

I have earned three degrees from WMU: Bachelor of Business Administration in management in 2006, Bachelor of Arts in Africana studies in 2009, and Master of Arts in organizational change leadership in 2021. I worked as a student ambassador and tele-counselor for the admissions office while in undergrad at WMU.  Both opportunities helped me develop presentation, facilitation, and leadership skills while pursuing my degree. I enjoyed leading campus tours with prospective students and their parents, and talking to prospective students about the perks of being a Bronco and pursuing their education at WMU. I also worked at KPS for a few years in undergrad.

What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?

  • I had fantastic professors, advisors and mentors in the Africana studies department at WMU. I joined and eventually led the Young Black Males Support Network, a registered student organization, as president for two years. I was able to build community, inspire provocative programming and events that uplifted other Black men at WMU and in the broader Kalamazoo community while challenging the the institutional issues that presented barriers for diverse students at that time.
  • My graduate advisors were also phenomenal. As a working professional that had returned to complete my master’s degree, they helped to keep me on track, and offered a solid learning environment where my experience and the curriculum could converge and stimulate further learning for myself and classmates.
  • I have a diverse portfolio of work experience, including ten years in retail operation and field partner roles, and five years in the healthcare industry, where I worked as a Business Continuity Administrator, Sr. Organizational Development Specialist, Sr. HR Business Partner, and Manager of an HR service center.
  • I had fantastic professional mentors from mid-level management to other HR Executives that were Black and Brown. Some of the realest conversations about charting my career happened with those folks.
  • My family, including my sister who is a pathologist in Washington D.C., wife, in-laws, and parents we have been instrumental in preparing me for my career.
  • My high school counselors helped me get positioned for college.
  • I was involved in the performing arts throughout my primary education (played the trumpet and percussion).  This taught me about teamwork, leadership, art and culture and afforded me the opportunity to travel the U.S. and internationally while performing throughout high school.  Traveling at that age made me see myself as a part of a larger ecosystem and world and played an important role in helping me set my own bar for success.

Which of your skills had the biggest impact on your success?

The ability to think deductively, critically, and independently. Having perseverance has also made a tremendous impact on my success. Lastly, being realistic about the yard stick I measure myself against. There were many times where I had to be reminded to set my own expectations for success.

What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?

I spent about two years in a human resource management role at Target, and discovered I had more of an interest in HR than I did in undergrad. I had the opportunity to lead some transformational work in my district and was also heavily involved in leadership development for others, all experiences that got me interested in transformation HR work. In 2013, I returned to WMU to pursue my Master’s degree.

What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours? 

  • Networking and having mentors is so important.  A strong network can open doors for you, give you access to information, perspectives and conversations that can inform your career decisions.
  • If you don’t find passion in it, find something else to do that you are passionate about.
  • Have a plan and set goals.  Seems simple but I’ve led and mentored a lot of folks (of all walks of life and generations) that may have an idea of what they want to do, or even have expectations and I dare say feel entitled to certain positions or roles, but don’t have a solid plan to attain the position they desire.
  • Be open to feedback (the constructive kind that makes you better) and be resilient.

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