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Excellence in HR Awards Honorees: Jessica Ann Ayers

Jessica is from Homestead, Florida and graduated from UF and UCF where she received a Master’s of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Her drives for problem solving and elevating people effectiveness lead her to Human Resources, where she has gained over 10 years of operations and strategic leadership experience.

Favorite Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Fun Fact: While fueling my creative side, I planned a wedding that was featured on the TLC show “Four Weddings.”

How do you unwind after a long day of work? After a long day’s work, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my children or going for an evening jog while listening to music.

What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? Like so many, my biggest career challenges have occurred this past year with COVID. Moving to an entirely remote operation almost overnight, assuaging employee concerns, monitoring health issues, understanding new employment laws, and planning a safe office re-opening while homeschooling two little ones was not in my plans for 2020! In such unprecedented times, my HR team leveraged our strengths to overcome these new trials and maintained an extremely engaged and productive workforce.

What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? As an individual contributor, I was often recognized for my strategic guidance, innovation, and knowledge of HR best practices, which led to the opportunity to direct the entire HR function and oversee the HR team. It’s a privilege to lead such a talented group and influence so many aspects of the organization.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your reaction to them. This advice has helped me to keep calm and composed during the most stressful and emotional moments.

What qualities make for an outstanding HR professional? Strong business acumen, emotional intelligence, and learning agility are essential qualities for successful HR professionals.

How have you adapted your HR skills to COVID? Leading an organization through COVID has been the greatest example of “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.” All HR professionals were in the same boat of having no previous knowledge or training regarding this type of situation, but knowing we had to collaborate, draw on our collective past experience and create new best practices was how we’d be successful in establishing a new normal workplace.

What are some misconceptions about HR and how do you combat them? Many people feel that working with HR can be punitive and our presence indicates that something negative is about to happen. At every opportunity, I partner with leaders and employees on the front end of potential issues so I can advise, mitigate risk and course correct as concerns begin to arise, rather than wait for the situation to go off the rails and unnecessarily escalate.

What do you like most about working in HR? I feel most fulfilled when I am teaching, coaching and mentoring my HR team, staff and leadership at all levels. I enjoy developing creative employer brand initiatives that elevate workplace cultures and ultimately customer satisfaction.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.