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“There’s Always a Chance to Meet Great People”

Naomi Haile (’22SPS) is a recent graduate of the School of Professional Studies Master of Science in Human Capital Management (HCM) program. From Canada, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa and a background in finance, compliance, and risk, Haile applied to the program to take a deeper dive into the field of HCM. During her time at Columbia, she developed connections with executives at top-tier global companies and received an SPS grant to support her successful podcast, The Power of Why. Here she shares some insights into what she was able to do as a student in the HCM program and how the school's students helped support her.


Why the interest in HCM? 

I moved here from Canada last year to pursue my master’s degree, and I was really intrigued by what it was like to work in corporate America, specifically in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space. I wanted to explore the field of HCM and learn what companies can do more innovatively in developing people programs to retain top talent. 

Tell us about your podcast. 

When I was in business school, I wanted to start building connections with people so I could hear their stories and learn from people who have different experiences from mine. I’m drawn to people who are tuned in and connected to their greater mission and how it has a tangible impact on the lives of others. I knew I wanted to record my conversations with these individuals. I started with my phone; I didn’t even have a microphone. Once I got into the groove, guests were referred to the show, people pitched their stories for The Power of Why, and I reached out to folks through LinkedIn, Instagram, and those I came across at events. 

Do you have any favorite interviews?

Through the HCM program, I met the chief HR officer at Netflix, Sergio Ezama. Sergio joined Professor Steve Safier’s Integrated Talent Management class and shared how Netflix is changing norms around HR and building culture. I was really fascinated by his story, the work that he was doing, and his journey before he joined the company. I reached out on LinkedIn and we scheduled a time to record an episode for the show.

Can you tell us about your SPS grant?

I received the SPS Academic and Professional Development Grant, which is an initiative developed by the School to support students in opportunities and pursuits related to what they’re studying. 

I was in the process of developing a video series highlighting business and community leaders in New York City. I thought this was a learning opportunity. I put together a formal description of the idea, a timeline of logistics, and the ideas of some of the individuals I was looking to interview. I sent in my application and found out a couple of weeks later that I was one of the grant recipients. That was amazing, because I got the chance to reach out to people across the country to help bring this to life. My vision is to interview a range of builders and innovators in New York City—from leaders of nonprofit organizations doing incredible work to small businesses that had to be creative during uncertain economic times.

Why Columbia?

At Columbia, there’s always a chance to meet great people who are driven and aligned with the ideas that you have—and also folks who can challenge your ideas. As a result, I’ve developed relationships with faculty and peers from all around the world. I have also stepped out into the industry, making connections in New York and across the United States. Because I was studying in New York City, I jumped on the many opportunities to expose myself to different people and not be afraid to share my experiences and what I bring to the table.

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. 

Fall 2023 application deadlines for the M.S. in Human Capital Management program are February 15, 2023 for the priority deadline; March 15 for applicants with international documents; and June 15 for the final deadline. Learn more here.