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How the Human Capital Management Program Helped a Recent Grad Be a More Effective HR Professional

Jennifer Minerva, (‘20SPS, M.S. in Human Capital Management), is a human resources manager for NBCUniversal, one of the top media and entertainment companies in the world. Minerva started at NBCUniversal as an assistant and is now the human resources manager supporting the entertainment and direct-to-consumer divisions, which include the NBC broadcast company, six cable networks, and the streaming service Peacock. As an HR manager, Minerva serves as a business partner to leaders and employees, helping them develop people strategies and execute various processes and initiatives related to human resources.

In a recent interview, Minerva discussed how enrolling as a part-time student in the M.S. in Human Capital Management enhanced her career, what was her favorite SPS course, and why keeping in touch with your classmates is essential.

Why did you choose the Human Capital Management (HCM) graduate program?

I decided to enroll in the HCM program because I wanted to be a more nimble and strategic business partner to my clients. The scholar-practitioner model is not only grounded in the fundamental theories behind HCM, but also provides the tools and strategies needed to navigate real-life scenarios. In my current role, I’ve experienced many of the types of business cases we studied in class. Being able to take the program part-time in the evenings allowed me to continue my full-time role at NBCU, which was important to me. Overall, the program made me a more effective and well-rounded HR partner.

Describe your favorite course at SPS.

My favorite and most challenging HCM class was Finance for Effective Human Capital Management. My undergraduate education in political science was part of the liberal arts department, so I never took a finance- or business-related course. In the HR function, you partner very closely with the finance department, not just for compensation and benefits purposes but also to assess return on investment for HR programs. This class gave me confidence in interpreting financial data and collaborating with stakeholders.

What skills did you acquire, and how are you using them in your current role?

The program allowed me to expand my HR acumen in multiple areas, including but not limited to talent management, labor and employment law, DEIA best practices, and total rewards strategy. The core curriculum of the program was valuable, but equally beneficial were the electives we were able to take within other programs at Columbia. One example was the course Introduction to Negotiation in the School of Professional Studies Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program. Being an effective negotiator is key in my field. Whether it be negotiating an offer or coaching someone on how to approach an employee situation, having strong negotiation skills sets you apart as an HR leader. The methods we studied and simulated situations we engaged in during class made me a more effective negotiator and communicator in both my professional and personal life.

What excites you about the field of human resources?

It has been exciting to see how HR has evolved from a service function to a strategic function. More and more HR leaders have a seat at the table when decisions are being made. What excites me most is how the profession will evolve as new generations enter the workforce. Newer generations aren’t looking to HR to simply update an employee handbook. The expectations of HR departments are becoming greater as we become more visible and integrated with our stakeholders. I’m eager to see how HR leaders will need to progress in order to keep up with the demands of the new workforce.

What advice do you have for students in the HCM program?

Connect and keep in touch with your classmates! The HCM program is not only valuable because of the curriculum, but also for the community of HR professionals you will meet and learn from. I built both professional and personal relationships with many members of my cohort, and that is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

About the Program

The Columbia University M.S. in Human Capital Management program prepares graduates to be world-class HCM strategists able to address changing needs in building and motivating talented, engaged workforces in the private, public, academic, and not-for-profit sectors. The program is available part-time, full-time, on-campus, and online.