When someone describes themselves as a “people person,” it’s usually within the context of being sociable and eager to get along with others.
Sylvia Noble takes the concept to a higher level as human resources director for STEP Inc., a Billings nonprofit organization that supports people with developmental disabilities.
“People development is what I’m most interested in,” Noble said. “I get to do that at STEP.”
Noble said she became interested in human resources and development while working for Wells Fargo.
“They had a lot of employee development training, and I was interested in that. Team members would go through these day-long classes, and they would be able to come out and really apply it,” she said. “The way Wells Fargo did it was almost back-to-back training. I figured that human resources would be the best way to get my foot in the door for that.”
Noble went back to college while still working full-time and graduated from Montana State University Billings with a degree in organization communication with an emphasis in human resources and operations management.
Having integrity and being respectful to employees are two important traits for human resource professionals, Noble said.
“Especially as agencies have grown, it’s important to not lose focus of the individual team members,” she said. “Even though they might work only a couple hours a week for families, you treat them like kings and queens when the walk through the door.”
Update: In late January Noble began working for Elation, a Billings start-up company that works to help companies and their employees fulfill their full potential.
Describe how you got where you are in your work today.
At Wells Fargo, I admired the way the trainers were able to bring out the best in the participants and people would leave the classes with their heads held a little higher. I was a single mother at the time and knew I was going to have to make some life choices that allowed me to follow my dreams in pursuit of helping develop people.
I continued to work full time and enrolled in classes at MSU-B. Slowly but surely I completed my degree. Along the way, I met strong people who modeled to me the type of professional I wanted to be. I maintained relationships and worked closely with them as I began to navigate my career moves. Of course, my favorite part of the job is that I get to help develop team members every day. Seeing that growth in individuals is one of the most rewarding experiences I could ask for.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business?
As much as I have a desire to bring out the best in people, there are times they have their own personal obstacles to get past first. I interact with “gems” every single day of my life, and sometimes those gems just need a little self polishing before they see their worth. It sounds cliché, but our team members are our most important asset. Personal growth is a huge challenge, and we get the privilege in fostering this type of environment every day at STEP.
What did you learn from that challenge?
I’ve learned that patience is very important when it comes to personal growth. There are so many factors in a person’s life that get them where they are, a lot of layers to get past. As much as I may want them to take giant leaps for themselves, I’ve learned that the “baby steps” are just as valuable.
If you could make one positive change in Billings, what would it be?
There is a reason we have come this far already. Billings has so many wonderful resources throughout the community. I imagine a place where the resources are able to reach out to each other, think out of their silos, and allow for an even stronger foundation for community members. I would love to see collaboration on a deeper level between community partners.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
I’m a strong believer in a person feeling fulfilled and satisfied in their job. A person may not be happy every single day in their work, but should feel a sense of worth and accomplishment.
Which living person do you most admire?
My father. His integrity and compassion are traits I’ve always respected, and strive to have with every interaction I make.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children-hands down.
I’m happiest when I’m…
With my family.