It's "Falling Into HR" Week at the HR Capitalist...
FALLING INTO HR WEEK: Hollywood Examples of People Waking Up in HR...

FALLING INTO HR WEEK: One Kid's Path Into the Rock and Roll Lifestyle of HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the second post in that series.


Some of you knew you wanted to be in HR in middle school.  It’s rarely that clean for the rest of us.

Consider the story of how I (Kris Dunn, aka “KD”) fell into HR. It’s a doozy:

1--I graduated from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) and automatically started a career as a young Division 1 college basketball coach at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham), because that’s how great HR is born, right? LOL. 

2--As a coaching staff member at a Division 1 program, I probably witnessed 9,000 conflicts with widely accepted people practices in corporate America, even though I wasn’t familiar with the terms “people practices” or KD head shot“corporate America,”or “HR”.

3-- After 3 years in coaching, I decided I was likely to be poor for a long time and exited the coaching game to go back to get my MBA, then took a job working overnight in a wireless call center to pay the bills.

4-- While working overnight in the call center, a soon to be mentor named Marilyn Brooks (Director of HR) figured out I had some potential in random post-shift interactions in the hallways and parking lot. She decided to seek me out for a project evaluating staffing vendors as part of a RFP process they were going through. I worked on the project overnight and delivered a lot more than was required. Mrs. Brooks was pleased.

5-- After getting my MBA, my wife and I relocated back home to Missouri (St. Louis area) where she became a staff prosecutor and I went to work doing market research for IBM Global.

6-- We went through one winter from hell, looked at each other and said, “what the hell are we doing?” Even though we were from the Midwest, 5 years in the new South had thinned our blood, and we wanted to get back to the Southeast.

7-- With LinkedIn not even a glimmer in venture capitalist’s eye at the time, I started calling people I knew, Marilyn Brooks among them, seeking career opportunities that would get me back to warm winters.

8-- Marilyn’s words: “I don’t have anything in what you’re doing now, but I do have a HR Manager spot. Would you be interested in that? You used to be a coach and there’s a lot of coaching in this role.”

9-- I interviewed and got the job. I was on my way in the world of HR.

Many of you are reading this and shaking your head. Some of you hate me for falling into this opportunity without paying my dues. Bottom line is this – I had a mentor of sorts, did good work to reinforce the mentor’s belief in me, and the mentor ended up plugging in a non-traditional protégé into an opening on her HR team.

Shit like this happens all the time in HR. Film at 11.



Kenny D.

Hi Kris, love your posts, especially this series, as "falling into HR" is something I get. Rewind to 2008: had just moved back to Massachusetts (why, the winters of course!!), looking for a new start. I enrolled in night classes at Framingham State, and worked at local pizza shop to pay bills. I knew that flipping 'zas, though fun, was not the future. After graduating with a BA at the ripe age of 33 (!), I went on to become an Assistant Manager at Panera. Lots of human interaction, tons of problem solving, and so much teenage drama!! One day, I saw an internal job posting for an HR Coordinator. Our company, a franchisee, had just expanded and was growing the internal support team (i.e., HR, accounting, etc.). Well, I applied, interviewed, and was promoted out of the café, and into an office role. Needless to say, the first months were very challenging, but also very fun. I have since moved companies, and now work in senior living as an HR Analyst (which here means Excel, nothing too fancy!!). Working in HR, I'm always learning something, encountering new situations, and meeting unique employees. Keep up the great gets me through many days.


Kenny, it doesn't get any better than doing the Panera thing as an asst mgr and then becoming one of the best damn HR people in the country.

Well played - HR is lucky to have you, my friend.



This is a fun series! I chose HR as a sophomore in college. I was majoring in business but didn’t know what to specialize in. I also was struggling to find a job in my college town but had a car, so I accepted a part-time HR assistant position at a factory that made frozen pizzas in a farm town of 1,000 people in Illinois. My job duties included 1) handing out and collecting paper applications, 2) calling the Social Security to verify authorization to work, and 3) modifying time records so we didn’t pay people who clocked in early (later found to be illegal when we received a claim and I had to hunt through the attic for old payroll records). The HR Manager went into labor at work my first week on the job so it was just me manning the HR fort. My informal duties included taste testing frozen pizzas with QA, chatting up managers who were avoiding working, and buying lunches for meetings. I’m embarrassed to admit it but based on this job, I decided to major in HR. Looking back, it allows me to appreciate how working with a fun group of people can help you enjoy any job!


Love it TM.

Part time pizza taster and HR. Check!

Red Baron Pizza? Tombstone?

LOL - keep the comments coming!


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