Smith-Barley Advisor – Human Resources
For someone who’s spent a career in corporate management, Laura Purswell places perhaps a surprising value on creativity. “I’ve always been rather a ‘driven’ person, and I went into college with considerable focus. But looking back, what I enjoyed most about those years were my photography classes – capturing a vision and then making it come alive in the darkroom.”
Both her determination and creativity can be seen in her academic career. She designed her own Communications major at Tulane University’s Newcomb College, drawing on her fascination with group dynamics and her skills in public speaking. While she did not, at the time, envision a career in Human Resources, it was a natural evolution and she soon found she thrived in that environment. Her more than 30 years of leadership and executive HR experience include her current role as the VP of Talent for the National Museum of African American Music. Laura also founded her own consulting practice, Compass HR Partners, in 2014. She has prior executive management roles in government, small and emerging businesses, and not-for-profit organizations as well as national and global corporations. She also holds the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional designation.
A warm and engaging “people person,” Laura instinctively puts a human face on complex operational issues. “I guess because I’m truly interested in people, they’ve always come to me for support. Over the years, I’ve developed a real interest in employee performance. I’m convinced that many issues in a company arise when managers expect employees just to know what to do, without being told; they fail to explain, and then they’re surprised when employees can’t or don’t perform. You just have to look at things from a different angle.”
Finding such a perspective gives her special pleasure. “In my job, I think I’m happiest when I can see the solution to a problem or issue, and I know I can make that solution work. I’m instinctively drawn to people who are driven, but driven by a passion for what they do and the people they do it for. They make a difference. And I want to do the same.”