Position: Vice president of human resources
Company: Pelican State Credit Union
Family: Husband, Wade, and three children: London (26), Chase (26) and Noah (18)
Education: Studied nursing at Our Lady of The Lake College, “but life took me in a different direction”
In the news:
In October, Ford was promoted to vice president of human resources. She’s been with Pelican State Credit Union for 13 years, and most recently served as assistant vice president of human resources.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first real job was working as a receptionist/secretary at the Louisiana Council on Child Abuse. I learned that doing more than what’s asked of me would set me apart. This has stayed with me throughout my career, and I always strive to go over and above, and to exceed expectations in everything I do.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I’m usually up around 6 a.m. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I’m off to the kitchen to make coffee. I really can’t function until I have my first cup. Before I head to the office, I put a load of laundry on to wash. This helps to start my day off with a feeling of accomplishment.
You were promoted to vice president of human resources at Pelican State Credit Union, where you’ve worked for 13 years. How has your role changed with the transition and what are you most excited about in your new position?
As my position transitions into a more strategic role, I’m excited to jump into developing new programs that will continue to improve the lives of our employees. Taking care of our employees has always been a top priority for both our executive team and our board of directors. I look forward to stepping outside the boundaries of traditional human resources to explore more exciting and cutting-edge opportunities.
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
Terminating someone is never easy, no matter how many times you’ve done it before because we really do care about every single employee.
How has the human resources profession changed during your time in the industry?
Human resources has traditionally focused on things such as record keeping, regulatory compliance, group benefits, compensation packages, retirement and the like. I’ve found that human resources has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years. With the increase in technology to automate much of what was done manually in the past, HR professionals are spending more of their time and energy managing employee engagement and strengthening workplace culture.
What do you love most about living in the Capital Region and what would you like to see change to make it an even better place to live and work?
Baton Rouge is a melting pot of so many different kinds of people and talents. The city has come so far in terms of festivals and other events that bring the community together. More and more companies are investing in Baton Rouge and this continuous growth is what entices our young professionals to stay here and enrich the city. This growth also affects the infrastructure and I’d love to see some improvements in this area so we are able to better accommodate the continued growth.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
Self doubt has been both a personal and professional obstacle for me. I am an overthinker by nature, so I can talk myself out of anything. I began to change the way I looked at my obstacles. Instead of spending time trying to identify everything that could go wrong, I began to focus on the potentially great things that could be on the other side that I’m missing out on.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
I would have to say delegation. It has been hard for me to let go of tasks and projects that I have always done myself. However, the growth I see in others when they take on and master something I’ve given them is exciting, and very rewarding.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
When I have down time, I can usually be found fishing in or around Venice, Louisiana. There is nothing more relaxing than being on the water and spending the day with my family.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?
Mansurs on the Boulevard is one of my favorite places to have lunch. I would definitely recommend the shrimp and grits. It is by far the best I have ever had.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
I’d like to think all of my purchases have been smart. I’m very selective and usually research everything to the point of analysis paralysis before I make a purchase—even with little things. It drives my husband insane. The dumbest purchase I’ve ever made is definitely our in-ground swimming pool. Two of our three kids have been on their own for some time now and the pool is rarely used, but the cost to run it and maintain it year-round is the gift that keeps on giving.
If you’re in charge of the music at a party, what are most likely to hear?
I am a lover of all types of music, so anything is fair game. Jason Aldean, Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette, Bruno Mars, Journey, Tom Petty and Hank Williams Jr. are some of my favorites.
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
Pelican’s CFO and my dear friend, Melissa Ott, has had a tremendous impact on me, both personally and professionally. She has such a passion for people and invests a great deal of her time in helping others recognize their true potential. I’ve learned to look at obstacles and problems as opportunities to make things better. When something doesn’t go as planned, I first look within myself to identify what I could have done differently that would have yielded a better result.
What’s one of the best vacations you’ve ever taken, and what’s the next vacation you’re hoping to take?
The best vacation I’ve ever taken was to the mountains in Arkansas with my family. I’d really love to go to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
I want to rent an RV and take a road trip around the USA.