Journey of Diversity and Adaptability: Alexandria Uribe’s Leadership Story

Alexandria Uribe | Senior Director of Total Talent Management at WM
Alexandria Uribe | Senior Director of Total Talent Management at WM

The management niche faced exceptional challenges across industries amid the tumultuous aftermath of COVID-19. In the transportation sector, the emergence of ‘The Great Resignation’ exacerbated the perceived ‘labor shortage,’ particularly for CDL drivers. At this critical juncture, WM—a leading player in the industry—found itself grappling with the dual challenge of retaining existing talent and attracting fresh recruits, especially in the CDL domain.

Recognizing the need to set WM apart as an employer of choice, Alexandria Uribe, Senior Director of Total Talent Management at WM spearheaded innovative strategies to navigate these issues. Internally, she managed the restructuring of the talent acquisition team, fortifying governance structures and offering clearer career trajectories. Moreover, she forged strategic partnerships with CDL training schools, revolutionizing the recruitment process by identifying and nurturing talent from the outset of their training.

Realizing the untapped potential of veterans in the talent pool, she collaborated with military recruiting partners to streamline the transition from military to civilian roles. By aligning job codes with military occupational specialties and providing comprehensive assimilation support, WM aimed not only to attract but also to retain veteran talent.

Yet, Alexandria’s innovative spirit didn’t stop there. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by military spouses, she strategically targeted remote job opportunities to accommodate their transient lifestyles.

Join in on exploring Alexandria’s leadership reflecting the importance of adaptability and innovation in staying competitive and meeting the diverse needs of candidates and clients alike!

Diverse Experiences, Singular Leadership

Born in Houston, Texas, Alexandria’s upbringing as the child of expatriates in the Oil & Gas industry instilled in her a profound appreciation for diversity and adaptability. This early exposure to different cultures laid the foundation for her approach to leadership—meeting people where they are at and guiding them along the journey rather than imposing a singular perspective.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience from Texas A&M University, Alexandria pursued a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Houston. Her academic journey prepared her for a dynamic career trajectory.

Beginning at WorleyParsons (now Worley) as a Learning and Development Advisor, Alexandria honed her skills in talent management and organizational development. Subsequently, she transitioned to Chevron, managing leadership and technical competency development on a global scale.

At Amec Foster Wheeler (now Wood), Alexandria led talent acquisition and talent management efforts in the Oil and Gas sector before assuming the role of Global Head of Talent for the Mining business line. Her tenure saw her navigate through a significant organizational transition following the Wood Group acquisition.

Alexandria’s expertise garnered the attention of McDermott International, where she led the Global Talent & Organizational Development COE, overseeing comprehensive talent processes and programs across the enterprise.

Joining WM (formerly Waste Management) marked a significant shift for Alexandria, transitioning from Oil & Gas to the Environmental Services industry. Despite initial apprehensions of entering a new industry, she found herself embraced by the People First culture at WM, which prioritized employee well-being and growth.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Alexandria finds fulfilment in her role as a mother and spouse, supported by a company that values work-life balance. Outside of work, she enjoys quality time with her family, exploring new culinary adventures and staying updated on neuroscience research.

Navigating Career Choices

Actually, I never gave up my passion for behavioral neuroscience even though I made a choice not to pursue a PhD in the field after graduating from Texas A&M,” says Alexandria. It is because of the strong link between understanding how the brain works, which influences behaviour, and her passion for working with people that inspired her desire to go into this field.

I’m motivated every time I see a life impacted by a job they get, or a career move they make —it’s what gets me up and excited to get to work every day!” she exclaims. “The fact that I can connect the dots between people and how they impact the delivery of business objectives is just icing on the cake!”

Demystifying Talent Acquisition

When dissecting leading talent acquisition, several crucial elements come into play. Firstly, there’s the Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Understanding why one works for a company and why others should too is foundational. As a talent acquisition leader, instilling this belief in the team is vital. Being able to authentically answer the ‘why’ for oneself and assist others in identifying their own ‘why’ strengthens the talent acquisition team and enhances the company’s appeal to potential employees.

Secondly, there’s Strategy. A talent acquisition leader must align with the business’ strategic goals. This involves communicating how the talent strategy intersects with business objectives, establishing internal processes and ensuring a people-first approach.

Attraction is another key aspect. Staying attuned to the labour market’s fluctuations and challenges is essential. Proactively developing an attraction strategy informed by factors like government regulations, social media trends and diversity initiatives is crucial for success.

Finally, there’s Assimilation or onboarding. Just as in a relationship, attracting talent is akin to dating, while assimilation is like marriage. Talent acquisition leaders must prioritize the post-offer phase ensuring a seamless transition for new hires. Being actively involved in assimilation prevents authenticity issues and maintains the company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

Building Trust

In her talent acquisition team, Alexandria emphasizes the importance of ‘resilience and change leadership.’ She recognizes that the field is constantly evolving and requires adaptability to respond to market trends and business needs.

Moreover, Alexandria highlights the significance of ‘high customer focus’ within her team. Given the interpersonal nature of talent acquisition, understanding and merging the desires of clients and candidates is paramount for success.

Furthermore, Alexandria prioritizes trust within her team. As a human-centered leader, she believes in building trust from the start, fostering an environment where trust is integral to effective and efficient delivery.

Tech-Driven Talent

Technology has long been intertwined with talent acquisition. Before AI became trendy, elements of AI were already smoothing the candidate experience. Alexandria believes future technological advancements will transform recruiters’ roles, automating administrative tasks and amplifying strategic engagement. This shift promises a more appealing and interactive position.

Moreover, she foresees technology broadening diverse talent pools and enhancing real-time tracking of candidate diversity. Yet, the most thrilling prospect lies in the fusion of talent acquisition and talent management. As companies adopt comprehensive Human Capital Management technologies, they can seamlessly prioritize internal talent for open positions, fostering career mobility.

In her talent strategy development, Alexandria utilizes technology to measure the ROI on recruitment advertising. This ensures financial prudence in selecting partnerships, job boards and media outlets. By tracking candidate traffic from initial click to offer acceptance, she optimizes resource allocation for maximum ROI at WM. As technology continues evolving in the talent space, Alexandria emphasizes the importance of aligning it with business goals while safeguarding sensitive information.

Embracing Knowledge

Driven by a personal and professional thirst for knowledge, Alexandria constantly seeks avenues to expand her own and her team’s expertise. From research partnerships to attending symposiums and conferences, she embraces diverse learning opportunities. Podcasts, in particular, serve as convenient resources for staying updated on trends and technology advancements during her daily commute.

Beyond staying informed, Alexandria advocates for active participation in industry trends. Involvement in boards, speaking engagements and networking events allows her to contribute to and shape developments in her field. Working for influential companies enables her to share best practices with diverse sectors, contributing to the establishment of new trends and industry standards. Being part of this momentum is immensely rewarding, affirming her role in driving progress within her industry.

DEI Integration

Alexandria staunchly believes that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a vital component for thriving organizations. She emphasizes integrating DEI into all talent practices from the outset rather than treating it as an add-on. Her analogy compares DEI to an essential ingredient, not merely a cherry on top.

Throughout her career, Alexandria has championed inclusive talent processes. From diverse interview panels to supplier relationships, she ensures inclusivity is foundational. Even when selecting vendors or partners, DEI commitments are a crucial factor in decision-making.

At the senior level, she maintains the same commitment. Diverse interview panels, competency-based assessments and unconscious bias training for hiring managers are standard practices. Alexandria’s approach underscores the importance of embedding DEI principles at every level of organizational decision-making.

Learning Together

Alexandria underscores the vital role of mentorship in fostering diversity in senior leadership. Drawing from her own experience as an ethnically diverse, female leader, she highlights the direct impact of mentorship on career advancement particularly for underrepresented groups.

Having benefited from both male and female mentors, Alexandria emphasizes the invaluable guidance she received in navigating her career path, building confidence and maintaining balance. She recalls a poignant piece of advice from one of her mentors which encouraged her to prioritize mental health & wellness amidst professional pressures.

Furthermore, Alexandria advocates for the concept of reverse mentorship where mentees offer valuable insights that contribute to the mentor’s growth. Embracing this reciprocal dynamic, fosters continuous learning and development, ultimately enhancing leadership effectiveness.

Beyond Annual Reviews

Establishing a learning culture requires intentional effort where growth is both recognized and rewarded. Including self-improvement in rewards programs fosters this ethos. Additionally, allocating time for personal and professional development within the work routine is crucial.

For instance, Alexandria organizes monthly lunches and learns and encourages team attendance. These types of sessions facilitate knowledge sharing across different business units. Senior Leaders are required to have Individual Development Plans aligned with succession plans along with quarterly development discussions with team members. This approach is implemented enterprise-wide emphasizing ongoing performance and development discussions rather than just single annual evaluations. Alexandria’s strategy highlights the importance of integrating learning opportunities into everyday work life to nurture a culture of continuous growth.

Optimizing Talent

Alexandria advocates for the alignment of talent acquisition and talent management strategies in high-performing organizations. She emphasizes the importance of integrating the “dating” phase of recruitment with the long-term commitment of talent management.

In her view, these departments often operate independently, missing out on the opportunity to attract and retain top talent effectively. Alexandria aims to bridge this gap through technology, knowledge sharing and organizational structure.

By leveraging practices in talent management such as performance evaluation, succession planning and career development, companies can enhance the internal candidate experience. This integrated approach allows talent acquisition to cast a wider net both internally and externally, fostering a thriving organizational culture.

Finding Growth in the Present

One of Alexandria’s direct reports once shared a powerful phrase: “Bloom where you’re planted.” This resonates deeply with her philosophy on career growth. She emphasizes the importance of fully engaging in one’s current role before seeking advancement.

Alexandria warns against constantly looking upward without appreciating the present. Focusing solely on climbing the ladder can lead to overlooking valuable relationships with peers and direct reports. She advocates for cultivating followership, wherein others are drawn to your vision and growth.

Her advice? Embrace your current position, nurture genuine connections and focus on making meaningful contributions. Rather than striving for perfection, prioritize progress. By charting an intentional career path and staying true to your passions, you’ll flourish where you are and propel yourself forward.