Excellence in HR Awards Honorees: Natalia Velasco

Natalia Velasco is an experienced Human Resources professional, with a background in Finance and has over 20 years of experience in Finance and Human Resources. She currently serves as the Chief People Officer at Fluent Cannabis Care where she was responsible for building the HR department from the ground up. She has a successful track record in leading organizational change and business transformation.

Favorite Quote: “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: I love to sing karaoke and I am a dachshund lover.

How do you unwind after a long day of work? A nice long walk really helps me unwind.

What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? My biggest challenge in the medical cannabis industry is not having the resources available to the company and its employees due to the current industry status. Despite the circumstances, I succeeded by rolling up my sleeves, building strong teams, and staying passionate for people.

What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? Although I started my career in Finance, I was always passionate about HR, but I felt that it would be difficult to switch careers. I was given an unexpected opportunity that led me to the career change I was looking for and I have not looked back since. This forced me to challenge myself and led me to pursue my Human Resources certification from the University of Miami in order for me to become the best leader for the company and its employees.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? “Always speak highly of your people.” One of my former bosses used to live by this. He would always give his employees the best introductions and make everyone feel influential and respected. I always connected with this. That is how I aspire to lead HR, to empower employees – make them feel supported, trusted, cared for, and in general, like we have your back.

What qualities make for an outstanding HR professional? I think to be successful in HR, you have to trust your instincts. It is essential to be a good listener, problem solver, flexible and empathetic; and to genuinely connect with people.

How have you adapted your HR skills to COVID? The biggest challenge we faced in HR, was making sure we were keeping our team members safe while keeping our doors open as an essential business. This meant we had to adapt quickly to ever changing guidelines and information and give our employees the flexibility they needed when it came to their health and families all while continuing to run the daily HR functions.

What are some misconceptions about HR and how do you combat them? Most employees assume HR is not friendly or relatable and is only looking out for the interest of the Company. The hard part is getting everyone to understand and trust that we are here to support them.

I try to lead by example and prove all those misconceptions wrong. I believe that getting more involved, venturing beyond your desk, and simply being a part of the team can help break down those walls so everyone can see we are here to help them improve and grow, and although yes, we have to protect the company, we can do both. When an employee succeeds so does the company.

What do you like most about working in HR? I love my job and everything I do—but the people I get to work with are what I love the most.

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