After trying to make her to way to Arizona for six years, Meagan Decker was finally able to join the Lumberjack family as the associate vice president of Human Resources two years ago. She is thrilled to be working directly with people and learns more about the university every day. When she’s not working, you can find her adventuring around northern Arizona and trying new recipes. To celebrate HR Professionals Day, learn more about Decker (and HR) below.
What brought you to NAU?
Timing. In 2015 I had the opportunity to go to Phoenix for the first time, and I loved it. I went home and tried to convince my spouse that we needed to move to Phoenix, to which his response was a reasonable, “why would we move from one hot place to another?” Fast forward a couple of years—I talked my husband into meeting me at the end of a different conference in Phoenix and driving out to Sedona. It was a great trip, and at one point while we were there, we saw a sign that indicated Flagstaff was 21 miles away. When someone at our hotel mentioned the ski resort there, it did not seem like a giant desert anymore. Phoenix was on my Indeed list of job interests (I still had hope that I could convince the spouse), and by the luck of algorithms, I saw the advertisement for the position at NAU while working from home in Florida during the pandemic in the miserableness that is a Florida summer. I remembered that Flagstaff was the city just 20 miles from Sedona, with a ski resort! I applied and interviewed. Within six weeks, I had moved with my husband, daughter, dog and hamster 2,000 miles across the country.
What led you to work in Human Resources?
I started my career as an Equal Employment Opportunity investigator for a large municipality. It was a great education in employment law and a lot of the negative things that can happen within an organization. I was really drawn to Human Resources out of a sense of “I know we can do this better.”
What do those who work in HR actually do?
The people who work in Human Resources implement employment practices to support the recruitment, retention, development and promotion of a highly qualified, mission-driven, diverse workforce. It starts with recruitment, which means having Human Resources Team members that are working with departments to develop meaningful and attractive job announcements and finding strategic ways to advertise those positions. Beyond that, we work with high schools and community groups by attending job fairs and conducting outreach to build pipelines of talent before jobs even become available. Once we have hired employees, HR team members are onboarding them and ensuring that we’re compliant with all federal, state and local laws and ensuring a smooth welcome. We’re taking care of our employees by providing total compensation packages that include health, wellness and retirement benefits. We’re helping them grow by providing learning and development opportunities. We coach and counsel on compliance, performance management and many other day-to-day issues to make sure employees are treated fairly and are working in a healthy environment. We’re working with department administrators to look at workforce organization, position classifications and salary recommendations to help set departments up for long-term success. We also serve as official recordkeepers, policyholders and system administrators. Human Resources really works to put the bones together to support the organization and make a strong and sustainable community.
Interacting with people and learning about the different parts of the university. Every department is different, every person is different, but there are so many surprising commonalities.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an FBI agent or a journalist. Something where I was solving mysteries. I’m still a huge fan of true crime podcasts and shows.
What have you been most proud of recently?
Our learning and development area has recently taken on the task of revising the previous supervisor’s academy. I’m really proud and excited about what we’ve developed. It is called BASEcamp (a Flagstaff version of bootcamp) and will initially consist of a one-day overview for all supervisors but will grow into learning paths.
I enjoy taking trips and going on adventures with my family and my dogs. We’re so close to so many amazing places. When I’m home, I love cooking and trying new recipes.
What are three things on your bucket list?
Hiking Havasupai falls, doing a cooking tour of Tuscany and eventually getting my Ph.D.
What is your philosophy in life?
Every day is a gift.