Lead(H)er profile - Amy Roy, Chief People Officer at Namely
When Amy Roy, the Chief People Officer at Namely—a human resources software company with 500+ employees—graduated from college with a political science degree, she wanted to become a lobbyist. But her career trajectory changed when she ended up in retail and decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in human resources. While Roy was in school, she was offered a job in HR at a retailer. Naturally, this was a perfect fit that mixed her experience and the career she was working towards. Once she graduated, she was offered a role leading their HR technology group. Roy was looking for a change, like most people do at some point in their careers, and ultimately went to work for a manufacturer in HR.
“They were in the process of switching HR and payroll systems. The vendor that they had chosen was Ceridian. When that company ultimately moved to Kentucky from New Jersey, I called my contact at Ceridian to let them know about the change and they said “why don't you come work here?” I worked there for 21 years,” she says.
Throughout those 21 years, Roy worked on their implementation team, where she spent 10 years on their sales team and six years in operations. After working from home for 10 years and commuting to one of their offices by plane occasionally, she realized how much she missed working in an office environment. “I started to think about a change and something that would allow me to still stay in the HR tech space while being a little more local. Larry Dunivan, who's the CEO here at Namely, let me know that there was an opportunity for a new head of HR,” she says.
When she met with the team at Namely and witnessed how their values were aligned with the very things that she believed in, she was hooked. “There's a great starting ground but still lots of opportunities to build,” she says about working at Namely at an executive level.
Hear more about Amy’s role at Namely in human resources technology, below.
What is Human Resources Technology?
This space is typically referred to as Human Capital Management. It's about the technology that manages employee information as it relates to their workplace. Starting from the time when you join a company and how you complete forms through your entire tenure at that company. When I first started in HR, everything was paper. Now people expect to be able to complete forms on their phones. If you want to take time off, you want the ability to request that via mobile or your computer. Or being able to recognize other employees for a job well done or how you enroll in benefits and track everything. It’s not limited to the employee, it’s also how administrators of HR and Payroll functions can become more strategic, efficient, and productive in how they manage their time.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I'm a mom of two college-age kids. While I probably would have said "sitting on the soccer field sidelines"... I now say "the ultimate frisbee sidelines" when I can. I have three dogs who are my babies while my kids are gone. One of the hardest parts of moving from a work at home job to an office job is leaving them with a dog-sitter.
I lived in New Jersey my whole life. One of the things that I took on about 18 months ago before I started working in New York City was to come to New York City once a month and do something I had never done before. I still try and continue to do that. Some things actually have become repeats because I like them a lot. Sometimes they're just about eating. I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on a Spring day. That's an experience in itself; just trying not to get run over by people on bicycles! I've done a couple of tours at the Tenement Museum, which I had never been to before. I did a lot of the things that you'd do on field trips when you were in grade school: The Met, MoMa, The Whitney. I'd also come in and try different restaurants or catch a show.
What are some of your strategies for managing stress?
The biggest one that I find is to take a walk outside. I know it sounds simple and boring but if I get out for 20 minutes, with no phone (not even music for the most part), I just feel the fresh air and get away. That's a big one for me. I recently started using the Calm app. When I get on the train after a long day, I do the three-minute meditation which is really just about breathing. Then— it's going to sound dog-obsessed—but if I can just go hug my dogs and my kids that's a big thing for me too.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
I typically start my morning with a cup of tea and then I will have a cup of coffee mid-morning and probably another one late afternoon. I alternate back and forth between tea and coffee. There are some days where I feel like that's the only thing that gets me through. I'm a big Dunkin Donuts fan so I'm really glad that there's one a block away. A medium is typically where I start as soon as I get to the city.
What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?
From a personal perspective to see my kids in college. My son just got accepted to law school. Seeing them really thrive and grow is huge. I'm personally proud of the fact that I've been married for 24 years. Professionally, it's being here at Namely where I have the opportunity to really build and grow personally and help grow the business.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope that if you and I are speaking in a couple of years, I'll be able to tell you that I'm still here at Namely and that we're continuing to grow and do great things. It's hard for me to really say because I just got here and I don't see a change anytime in the five year future. The second thing is, while I do think it's important to have goals and objectives of where you want to be in terms of your professional life, a lot of my career has been successful for the opportunities that have presented themselves that I couldn't think of. Just by the fact of someone saying “hey, I think you would be good at this. Would you be interested?” Or taking a look at something that I never thought of before and trying it and taking that risk. So I am less about planning and more about keeping eyes open for opportunities that allow you to take your strengths and be your best self every day.
What is your advice for recent college graduates?
Give yourself a break and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Consider taking an opportunity that even if you feel like it may not be exactly what you're looking for or exactly the kind of company that you're looking for, if you've got an opportunity then take it. Just because the way that a job description is written doesn't always mean that's how that job's going to play out. And if you have a passion about something even if it's not directly within your day job, often managers are really open to allowing you to learn and grow in other ways. And try something even if you don't feel like it's the right fit. It's experience, it's networking, and you may decide it actually is something that you've never thought about doing before.