Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

Q&A: Beth Kelly

July 11, 2017
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Beth Kelly
Beth Kelly. Courtesy HR Collaborative

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Beth Kelly is the founder and managing partner at HR Collaborative.

The human resource management and consulting firm works with its clients to "create great working environments that attract and engage the best talent for business success." 

HR Collaborative’s team of 25 professionals serves West Michigan businesses and nonprofits.   

Bigges career break?

In 1983, my good friend and mentor, Dan Wiljanen, suggested I apply for a job as the HR manager with a growing plastics company on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. I ended up being hired as the first HR leader at Cascade Engineering and had the amazing opportunity to grow professionally myself alongside the organization.

Proudest moment?

There’s more than one, and most of them revolve around our sons, Sean and Brian. Watching a person grow from first step to first job (and everything in between) is an amazing, exciting, sometimes infuriating journey. I get more joy from their accomplishments than I do from my own. 

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Well, my husband, Paul is a former Eagle Scout, so he’s taught me to be prepared. It certainly relieves a lot of stress when you plan ahead for a trip or an event and don’t leave everything to the last minute. 

How did you make your first dollar?

I mostly volunteered while I was in high school. My first paying gig was in college, when I was hired as the student coordinator for the Public Service Internship Program at University of Michigan.

Most-treasured possession?

My husband would say it’s my iPhone. But the truth is, I’ve received some wonderful gifts from him and from my sons that I treasure dearly.

Dream job?

I’m doing it!

If you were president for a day, you would…?

Enroll every member of Congress in an intense conflict resolution seminar. 

Last book you read?

I’m currently reading “Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix,” by Edwin Friedman.

Last search term you googled?

“FLSA exemption – sales.” What an HR nerdy thing to do!

Your worst habit?

Computer solitaire. I start by playing one or two games to unwind at the end of the day, and before you know it, it’s way past my bedtime.

To unwind, you like to…?

Besides solitaire? Work in the garden. The work starts as a chore, then evolves into a transcendent connection with earth. And I’ve learned that you can’t rush Mother Nature.

Dream vacation?

My location list is long, but my dream traveling companions are my family. We have a great time together on vacation. 

Favorite food?

I will never turn down a good piece of pizza.

Person you most admire?

Both my parents were great role models. But I stand in awe of my mom. We moved a lot when I was growing up, and with every new location, mom immersed herself in the community and made a difference. She has been recognized as “volunteer of the year” so many times that I’ve lost count! She taught me that there was little to lose and much to gain by putting yourself out in the world.  

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