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2017 Member Spotlights

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Drew Berryessa 

Sr. HR Business Partner

VSP Global

SAHRA Member Since 2015





How did you get involved in the HR industry?


In 2005 I was a mail room clerk/runner for a large trucking company in Northern Utah and got to see all of the strategic things that the People's Development department did... so, being young and naive, I asked if I could work in that department. And they said yes! From that point, I never changed my course or majors in school... just went straight into HR. 


Tell us about your role within your organization, what does a typical day look like?


I am a Sr. HR Business Partner at VSP Global. No two days are alike, but typically I work with leadership and business partners on engagement and enablement, change management, leadership development, and partner with our training and organizational effectiveness team to assess training needs and opportunities.


You participated in SAHRA’s first SHRM certification study group. What were some of your key takeaways from the experience?


It's a commitment... you have to dedicate the time outside of class in order to benefit from the classroom time with your peers. Do the readings, take advantage of the online SHRM Learning System, and speak-up during class... we had some really good discussions and learned a lot from our different backgrounds, companies, and experiences. 


How has involvement with SAHRA helped your professional development?


The certification study group was a big help, not just the course but the networking for sure. I've attended the SAHRA conferences in the past and have benefited from the speakers, the networking, and the focus on CA employment law and the legislative changes that directly impact our work. 


What’s one think your colleagues may not know about you?


Pretty much everything. I've been a member of SAHRA but have not made it to a ton of events (though I'm hoping to get more involved now that I'm in a position that doesn't require so much travel). I have four kids, a dog, and grill... that pretty much describes most of my life outside of work. 


 Nicole Machado 

 HR Generalist

 Cares Community Health

 SAHRA Member Since 2014




How long have you been an HR professional and how has the industry changed over the years?


I have worked in HR in a variety of generalist and business partner capacities over the past 10 years. I began working in HR primarily as a Health and Life Insurance broker helping businesses choose and purchase benefit plans for their employees. The complexities of the Affordable Care Act greatly changed the landscape of how benefit administrators and HR teams handle employee benefit plans and how businesses structure their plan offerings. That is what ultimately led me into a full time position in HR. 


What advice would you give to someone just starting out their career in HR?


Join SAHRA. The most valuable resources in the HR field are your network connections and being able to pick up the phone and get HR advice. Never forget the importance of understanding and sharing the “whys” of decision making. It makes it so much easier to gain buy-in from stakeholders.


 How has your involvement with SAHRA affected your career?


Attending the study group for PHR is without question the reason I was able to pass the exam. Working with a group of people striving for the same goal was so motivating while I was studying. I also met my current bosses at the SAHRA Annual Conference.


What is one thing most of your colleagues don’t know about you?


I am a bit of a geek; I love Star Wars, and I am currently learning to code so that I can create a custom HR Accountability Tool.  


What challenges do you believe will face the HR industry in the future?


I think that the rapid pace of change will be the factor that challenges us all the most. With the growing role that technology plays in all of our organizations, departments, and lives we are now required to learn new things faster than ever before. This is true for us as HR practitioners and our HR systems, and it is true for the teams we support, and supporting our teams through rapid changes can be quite challenging.





Bre Myres
Recruiter/HR Partner
California Dental Association

SAHRA Member Since 2013





How long have you been working in HR and how has the industry changed over the years?


As a manager for 10 years, I had previous experience in HR functions. I have been working in an HR department for the last 3.5 years, starting as a Coordinator, then Administrator, and now a Recruiter/HR Partner. I absolutely love the work I get to do, the team I work with, and all the opportunities for learning. Lately we have seen HR shifting more towards being a strategic business partner and more proactive and moving away from being administrative, transactional and reactive. This transition is giving HR more opportunities to make a difference to the bottom line.


What advice would you give to someone just starting out their career in HR?


Don’t be afraid to take on challenges and ask questions. Learn everything you can. HR is an experience-based industry and I believe the more you know and the more options you can relate to, the more successful you can be. Find a mentor who can help you get your foot in the door. And, of course join SAHRA!


How has your involvement with SAHRA affected your career?


SAHRA has been there for me throughout my HR career and continues to be. When I decided to start a career in HR, I joined the MIT program (Members in Transition) to gain insight on how to market my skills, research HR jobs, and learn more about the profession. At an MIT meeting, I inadvertently met someone who put me in touch with someone who helped me launch my new career in HR. I successfully passed my PHR with the support of the PHR study group facilitated by SAHRA. Each year I attend the SAHRA convention and in the near future I hope to join the board in a capacity to focus and improve diversity in HR.


What is one thing most of your colleagues don’t know about you?


I am a continuous learner. I like learning about anything and everything. Business, HR, Culture, lifestyles, history, psychology, sociology, sports, nature, etc. I like knowing a little bit of everything.  


What challenges do you believe will face the HR industry in the future?


I think that HR will always be affected by the current administration at the national, state and local levels, creating challenges around education, compliance, and adhering to new policies. Challenges faced by HR will continue to center around communication, performance management, team engagement, and employee relations. 



Valerie A. Silva, SHRM-SCP, SPHR-CA

Vice President, Human Resources

USA Properties Fund, Inc.

SAHRA Member Since 1991




How long have you been in the HR profession, and how has it changed over the years in your eyes? 

I’ve been exclusively in HR Management for 25 years. The most significant changes I’ve seen include the focus on a greater level of professionalism and knowledge base by those who have more recently chosen HR as a profession. Of course, the evolution of HR technology is beyond what I ever imagined and very challenging to keep up on, but it has become essential to HR department operations, and an organization as a whole, to try to stay current on the new trends.


What advice would you give to someone just starting out in HR?

If at all possible, pursue an HR specific college curriculum and in addition, obtain and maintain HR certifications. The PHRca is very helpful to any HR practitioner whose organization does business in California. We can’t learn everything on the job and being exposed to information not usually relevant to what we do daily provides you with a different view of the HR world . Also, participating in HR internships while in college will provide a real-world perspective on the HR profession and the critical strategic role HR should play in an organization.


How has your involvement with SAHRA affected your career in HR?

I obtained my first HR certification in 1997 by participating in a SAHRA study group and it made the difference in passing the PHR exam, as we did not have the preparation resources that are now available, especially online. The openness by most SAHRA members to networking with others and sharing knowledge and resources continues. The continuing educational opportunities are invaluable to keeping abreast of what is and will be impacting both my organization and HR team.


What is one thing most of your colleagues don’t know about you?

I grew up on a multi-generational dairy farm in a small town and it made all the difference in who I became and what I have achieved.


What challenges do you believe will face the HR industry in the future? 

Continuing to earn that place at the senior leadership/c-suite table and to be recognized as a true strategic partner to the organization. Like with any industry, mentoring those HR professionals to not only take our places, but also to elevate the profession.

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