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Spring 2021 Advisory

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Implementing Classroom Learnings in Daily Work: Ramona Garcia

Graduating from 2018’s inaugural cohort of Columbia University's Master of Science in Human Capital Management (HCM) program, Ramona Garcia now works as a Senior Consultant on the People Agility team at S&P Global. Ramona shares how attending an information session for the HCM program while considering graduate school was a seal-the-deal moment: “I was considering a career change because I simply couldn't see myself in a conventional HR career. The faculty appeared to have careers that were dynamic and exciting, and I could see myself pursuing a similar path.”

“I was a part-time student. I was initially impressed by the faculty and the fact that the curriculum heavily emphasized the role of HR as a source of differentiation for an organization. However, the decision really came down to how I thought the program could help me. I saw it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge of the different domains of human capital and ultimately further explore my own career interests.”

Among the many crucial lessons she took from the program, Ramona cites not mistaking complexity for sophistication as a key takeaway from the Organizational Strategy and Learning class that still serves her well today. She recalls being tasked to break down a problem, solution, and the value of the recommendation in just four sentences. “At the time, synthesizing and simplifying a large amount of information felt like a stressful task,” she explains. “Today, I use that framework as my own personal check for any recommendations in my work. If I can't break my solutions down to simple terms, it’s an indication to go back to the drawing board.”

Columbia’s HCM program fortified Ramona with additional competencies that she finds useful day-to-day in her current position at S&P Global, which involves work that she describes as being relatively unstructured. “Learning to think strategically, adaptability, and communicating ideas effectively were skills that were reinforced every step of the way,” she notes. “Although it's only been a few months since I completed the program, I'd say I was able to achieve my goal of clarity through the experience at Columbia. I'm currently allocated to projects across two domains: DEI and talent management. On the DEI front, my work involves working directly with leadership to identify challenges and make recommendations that are aligned with business objectives. On talent management, my work is focused on exploring novel ways of understanding our talent outside of the standard process driven approaches.”

“The most important gain from the HCM program was around learning to make connections across seemingly disparate concepts in an organization while simultaneously being able to cut through the noise.”

To those considering Columbia University's Master of Science in HCM program, Ramona stresses the importance of being clear on your motivations for wanting to attend grad school, as well as a preparedness to actively engage with the work. “At times you may feel intimidated,” she says, “but you're actually supported each step of the way. You'll get the hang of it!” For current students who have already committed to the HCM program, Ramona advises students to “pay attention to the subjects that you feel energized by, and lean into them.”

Learn more about the M.S. in Human Capital Management