April 28, 2021
Name: Ylonda Banister
Company: State of Tennessee Government
Title: HR Program Manager, Recruiting
Brief description of your job responsibilities: I create strategies for the recruiting team within DOHR and ensure proper sourcing and marketing to support high-volume diversity recruiting. I establish and manage reporting and key performance indicators and support internal and external stakeholders. I have accomplished my division’s strategic objectives in multiple areas of department activities.
Cable Member Since: 2020
Why did you decide to join Cable? I joined Cable to broaden my network of like-minded individuals who are committed to their personal and professional development while also making a positive impact in the community.
What have you gained/learned from joining an organization like Cable? As a new member, I have attended two sessions hosted by Cable. One session was extremely helpful in the area of personal finance. The second session helped me professionally in my role as a governmental recruiter. I was able to utilize the job board to announce essential jobs in state government.
How would you describe the benefits of Cable to someone thinking about joining the organization? Cable is a unique organization assisting women at all levels of their professions. Cable has designed programs and sessions for women that empower, educate and engage. Cable is a diverse group of women, multi-generational women, ready and able to help you in your personal and professional development.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges professional women face in the business world today? One of the biggest issues I see and have experienced is the lack of succession planning. As a woman who served for 27 years in the military, including as an officer, I coached, led and trained soldiers. I also had the privilege of preparing new leaders and officers. Due to my continued advancement, I was required to relocate to various sections of the country and recognized this challenge of insufficient succession planning. We are not adequately preparing the next generation of female leaders in business, government or our organizations. We as leaders must prepare the next group of leaders, and not just on how to be effective in their jobs and positions, but on those social skills necessary to advance their personal goals, strategic group agenda and organizational mission.
What would you say has been the single most defining moment in your career so far? As a Recruiting Station Commander, I was responsible for all candidates joining the Army from my area. I had a candidate who was preparing to join the Army, and I requested a copy of his high school transcript along with his high school diploma. When I contacted the school, they had no record of a student by that name attending their high school and let me know the diploma was a fake. Once I found out that information, I made the decision to have the candidate “pulled” from the enlistment process. That decision cost my team the mission and jeopardized my credibility as a recruiter. This was the moment I knew who I was “when no one was looking”; I was a person of character and integrity.
What would you say has been your biggest career achievement? My biggest career achievement was fulfilling a promise made to the families of soldiers I recruited. As a recruiter for the Army Reserve on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I recruited soldiers for the Active Army and Army Reserve. Joining the military at any level is a process, and the families are always involved. Many times, when I explained the recruiting process to mothers and fathers, they would ask why I wasn’t in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I answered, “I will get my turn.” In 2014, I fulfilled my promise to those families; I served nine months overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soon after returning from this final deployment, I retired from the military knowing I had served my country well.
What would you say has been your biggest career setback, and how did you get through it? One of the most challenging times in my career was when I worked for someone who did not trust me. While I was on vacation, and after working as an office manager for about six months, the senior manager told everyone during a staff meeting that I was going to be “fired.” When I returned from vacation, I asked some of my co-workers if I had missed anything, and they informed me that the senior manager told them I would be fired when he returned from vacation. I was shocked by the news, as I thought I was doing a good job. I contacted my senior manager, so I could find out what was happening. He explained his point of view, and I explained my point of view with the facts and proof of how I was doing my job. Once he returned to work, he verified my proof and apologized for not speaking with me in advance. After that incident, I changed the way I communicated my accomplishments and projects. I started sending him weekly reports, so he would know what I was working on and would not have cause to doubt my job performance. I did not get fired. But it was from that experience that I learned to always ask my leaders how they wanted me to communicate with them. I recommend everyone read “The Speed of Trust” to understand how important trust and communication are to performance.
What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career? Join a professional organization connected to your profession. Professional organizations are a great way to learn about your profession, make friends and gain experience. Professional organizations keep members up to date on skills, knowledge and trends in their profession. I did not join an organization until after I left the military. If I had joined an organization early in my career, as I moved around the country, I would have had a ready-made community of people who shared common goals and aspirations. These organizations are a great place to find mentors and make friends while still developing as a person and a professional.