Laura Risman

What skills did you gain that you found to be advantageous from being part of the group?
The lab opened my eyes to organization dynamics. It drove me to continue on to graduate school for Human Resources and have been in this field for the past 10+ years. Specifically being a part of the classes and research groups gave me confidence. There was ample opportunity to express our critical thinking. I felt connected to something-unlike with the standard large classroom classes. These studies closely resembled what I experienced in graduate school and was much more "practical" in scope. Oddly enough-I realized my passion then and there and did not come into it with these expectations. 

What have you been doing since you graduated?
I worked in personnel and staffing for a large retailer while getting my MS in HR Management from Stevens Institute of Technology. I then worked strictly as an HR generalist before moving to the company where I currently work. I am now with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) which has an intense focus on Human Resources as we provide HR services for small to mid-size companies in NY/NJ/CT/PA. I currently hold the position of Director of Human Resources and Benefits and have a terrific HR team.

What are you doing now?
I work for a Professional employer organization-"PEO. "Most people are unfamiliar with this type of organization, so to sum up: My company's purpose is to help small businesses grow.
We accomplish this by leveraging our size and purchasing power to control labor costs, reduce administrative workloads and limit employee related liability. This allows our clients the ability to focus on growing their business, while providing them peace of mind. As Director of HR and Benefits for a PEO we provide support to small to mid-size companies who do not have their own HR department. We handle full, administration of benefits, employee relations, generalist function, statutory and legal compliance and everything under the sun. My career is now moving towards the benefits arena, with the rising cost of healthcare plans, it is becoming one of the greatest expenses for employers outside of their payroll costs. Benefits involve developing programs, negotiating renewals, education and communications, maintenance, billing and administration and annual open enrollmentWith the new administration, topics such as the new cobra subsidies have taken on a life of their own and require that we have a clear understanding of regulation and have great operational practices. I have developed a passion and intuitive sense for this area. 


Do you have any tips for current lab members?

Make contacts and network. Even if you do not know what you were "meant to do"-Do something, anything and a career will find you. Not everyone is naturally born knowing what they want to be when they grow up. I still see career as something that is still yet to come for me at age 36. I still have so far to go-which means I am still driving forward. Just today I was thinking about how in school you wondered why you had to take calculus and difficult math and analytical classes (I remember my Psychology Quantitative Method Class and how hard I worked in that class). Well I figured out why-it all is to get you ready for Problem Solving. Every minute of every day you are problem solving, formulating solutions and coordinating staff to resolve and develop better processes. He who can think analytically and has a basic understanding of statistics will be far ahead of their coworkers who cannot figure out the "formulas," "statistics," or basic "math" and think quickly on their feet. It makes excel and access data base use so much easier. Get to know your professors and let them get to know you. Don't hide in the background, be visible, be humble, be kind and have fun.