2013 Game Changer: Alyssa Cole

By Max Mihelich

Aug. 11, 2013

It seems to be an unwritten rule that, for most people, life never goes according to plan. Alyssa Cole, the coordinator of agency operations at public relations firm H&M Communications is no exception when it comes to this unwritten rule.

When Cole, 24, was in college she studied communications and had no intention of ever working in human resources. She took a promotions internship at H&M. At the end of her internship, she was encouraged to apply for an open position in the company’s HR department.

Alyssa Cole

“The way that I saw it, I was kind of like, ‘It might be very beneficial to learn the business side of the business vs. what its actual face value is,’ ” she says. “It kind of came unexpectedly, but it’s been really great.”

The biggest challenge she has faced since starting her career as an HR professional has been educating herself about the field since she majored in a completely different subject.

“I’m learning every day. I really like going out of my way to make sure I’m informed about stuff. So it’s really just staying with the times,” Cole says.

One important contribution Cole made to H&M Communications was her development and implementation of a program called the Millennial Task Force, which seeks to bring together employees of all generations at her company.

Cole says her father, who attended a convention based on the millennial generation, inspired the idea for the Millennial Task Force. She was unaware of the term or her status as a millennial, but, after researching it, she noticed that many of the issues affecting young people in the workplace were prevalent in her company, as well.

“I took the time to research, I put something together, and I opened up a kind of communication between people that were just hired and people that have been in the business for a long time that have a certain way of thinking about how things should be run. I made it an open discussion of what we all can do to make everyday business life more feasible,” Cole says.

Another important contribution Cole made to her company is the development of its in-house production department: Studio 20/42. Before the advent of Studio 20/42, H&M Communications hired freelancers to do its production projects.

According to Cole’s Game Changer nominator Estefania Gonzalez, Studio 20/42 has become a profit center for the company where clients come to H&M to produce multimedia projects on their behalf. The company’s in-house production studio allows employees who may want to pursue a more creative role in the organization the chance to do it.

“In our business you can jump on anything you want; you just have to speak up,” Cole says.

Max Mihelich is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @workforcemax.

Max Mihelich is a writer in the Chicago area.

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