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Darla Moore School of Business

Alumna attributes career advancement to Master of Human Resources skills

For Moore School alumna Karyne McCray (’15 MHR), the decision to further her education in human resources at the Moore School was easy because of the exceptional reputation and overall strength of the Master of Human Resources program.

“The three reasons I chose the Moore School MHR program are: published post graduate placement and median average salary; business school reputation; and faculty and curriculum strength,” McCray said.

Seeing how the MHR program helped prepare alumni with the right tools and skills to excel in their career paths encouraged McCray. She said that going into the program, she hoped to grow and build upon her already existing human resources skills.

“The main competencies developed from the MHR program that are supporting my career are strategic agility, networking skills and critical thinking,” she said. “Professor [Anthony] Nyberg challenged us to always identify the unintended consequences of a decision in order to mitigate the impact of those consequences. That wisdom is something I reflect on often.”

McCray has taken the knowledge and skills that she gained from her courses in the Master of Human Resources program and applied them to her current job as a regional human resources manager at International Paper.

“The skills that I learned through the MHR program have allowed me to be a strong business partner to all the leaders I have supported in the business,” she said. “One of the biggest differentiators between a Moore School graduate and other HR professionals is our ability to align human resources programs and practices to support organizational goals. The main strength I developed in the MHR program is an ability to source, organize and interpret data to propose and execute on the people priorities that create growth for the company’s bottom line.”

Utilizing these skills has helped McCray continue in her career path and take on more duties and responsibilities. She now supports the North American container business for International Paper in the northwest region, which includes Colorado, Oregon and Washington. In this region, she has human resources responsibilities for seven box plants and supports more than 800 salaried and hourly employees.

“As a business partner, I support the region general manager to lead human resources initiatives at the plants and institute work improvements which positively impact business profitability while concurrently raising employee engagement,” she said. “On the local level, I work with human resources specialists and generalists to educate and coach line management on company policies, plant work rules as well as applicable federal and state regulations to ensure fair and consistent delivery of human resources products and services.”

Working with several different International Paper plants, McCray has to provide each plant with different insight and leadership.

“Four plants that I support are unionized, and I work with plant leaders to build collaborative relationships with union leadership, understand and interpret contract language and past practices, provide active leadership and am involved in the grievance process and serve as company spokesperson for negotiations and arbitration,” she said. “The other three plants I support are non-union, and I work with plant leaders to develop and implement our employee relations strategy and facilitate our non-union employee resolution process. I am also accountable and responsible for recruiting, leadership development and engagement.”

McCray said that getting her MHR from the Moore School has proved to be invaluable, allowing her to develop as a professional and continue advancing in her career.

“The MHR program was a springboard for me to move from HR intern to HR generalist to HR manager and then region HR manager,” she said. “I’ve been given the opportunity to contribute to International Paper’s growth in every business segment and was given an opportunity to integrate a recently acquired pulp mill in Canada. These opportunities would not have been possible without the foundation I cemented in the MHR Program.”

-Claire McGrath


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