Behind-The-Scenes: What Is People Consulting?

In this short series, we help you get some honest, behind-the-scenes details about what different jobs are really like from mid-career professionals across a variety of functions, industries, and companies.

The 6 short questions are based on our What Does This Job Entail framework and are a great way to gain quick insights about a job, and build an in-depth analysis for to prepare your resume, cover letter, or interview preparation. Let's dig in and learn some more about the job function above. 



What's your name?

Meredith Tozzer

What's your title or function?

People Consultant at Cisco

What industry do you work in?

Technology

What company do you work at?

Cisco

What led you to this career path?

This is essentially my 3rd career. I have worked in retail, higher education, and now in tech. The common thread in my career has been working closely with people to find the best ways to work and work together.

When you started in this job function where did you need to get up to speed?

Haha, everywhere? I didn't work in HR before going back to school to get my MBA, the most tech experience I had was with my own social media - I didn't understand the B2B tech space I landed in at all, and had never worked in a corporate environment. Even more, I started fully remote during the peak of the pandemic shutdown in summer of 2020. There were so many things that I had to learn, but what I realized was that my previous careers had set me up to have an innovative, learning mindset. Because I didn't know "the rules" I asked a lot of questions and thought about how it would work in my previous industries. Coming to the situation with curiosity and being willing to ask for help when I needed more information or support helped me get up to speed quickly.

When you started in this job function where did you hit the ground running?

I started in an internship in the summer between my first and second years in a full-time MBA program. It was a 12-week engagement where I worked on developing internal mobility programs to accelerate movement within the company to mitigate the need for layoffs.

What does your day-to-day work look like?

I'm in my 2nd rotation in an HR/People Leadership Development Program. 80% of my time is spent in my rotational role as a Team/People Consultant in the Leaders, Teams and Performance space. I support data-analytics and product development for HR products that make better leaders, better teams, and lead to better performance. The remaining 20% of my time is in support of my rotational program. My current role here is working on developing an inclusive community experience for our cohorts, previously I was an intern program manager supporting our 8 summer interns.

What are some of the challenges that you run into in your role?

It is a challenging time to work in the people space. The pandemic has disrupted a lot of the "old ways" and most of what we are trying to do now doesn't have a playbook, so we test and learn as we go. Doing this all remotely has been challenging. Proactively reaching out to colleagues in adjacent spaces and connecting the dots has been great. We are all in this together! Collaboration has brought out some of the most incredible ideas

What types of questions are you asking regularly in your role?

What other industries or functions have dealt with this problem? How can we take learnings from them and apply them here? I ask a lot of questions about education/learning theory working in learning and development, questions about product development and innovation and how we can apply it to HR products. I ask about data, and what we are collecting (or what we might be missing and need to find). Sometimes my roles feel like I'm solving a puzzle without the box to use as reference and looking for the edges to build out the picture.

What's your favorite piece of career advice you've received?

The absolute best advice I received was from a woman when I was looking at going back to school. I was afraid my non-traditional background would make me a liability, and I had to prove myself to be considered "worth the risk." She stopped me dead in my tracks when she told me how much my background made me a clutch player, and how my other experiences would set me up to be a positive disruptor. It gave me the confidence to jump in and remember that my value comes from being different.





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