Brenda Schacht will be the first to recognize her good fortune – she’s built a fulfilling career that allows her to apply her passions to a wide range of industries, including high-tech, banking, publishing and energy. As a human resources expert, who provides a broad range of strategic HR consulting to large and small business clients, she has excelled because she takes the time to understand the objectives and strategic plans of every organization she works for, as well as the role HR can play in achieving each company’s business goals. “I’ve always taken a business focus in my approach and really understood how to effectively develop and apply HR plans and programs,” she says. “The fundamentals and theories of HR have not changed dramatically over the past 50 years, but workplace trends have changed what successful HR looks like in different organizations and sectors.”
Schacht recognizes that women have excelled in her profession for decades, and she was a trailblazer in this regard, as the first woman to occupy several of her early professional roles. “The reality is that some of the industries I’ve worked in – one of which is the auto industry – were very much male-dominated,” she explains. “I have learned to command respect through my approach and my ability to talk intelligently about issues.”
Over the years, Schacht has consistently brought about progress through her work in HR, but she doesn’t stop there. For women to receive the opportunities they deserve, she believes they need to pool their resources and collaborate outside the office. “I have participated in a lot of different networking opportunities and events at various industry and professional service organizations that establish programs for women to be able to come together, network and build relationships. In recent months, I’ve been engaging in discussions with a small group of very smart and talented women to brainstorm ideas to continue to look at where we can go with our careers. How do we leverage our collective skills and experience? How do we go out there and really help people and organizations create more productive and inclusive workplaces in the current context?”
Asked about her other interests outside the office, Schacht cites a pair of sustaining passions that have helped fuel her professional efforts. “I love many types of music, whether it’s rock, pop, blues, jazz, classical,” she says. “That was shaped in part by growing up playing the piano and violin. Music is a great source of joy and relaxation for me, as are animals, particularly dogs. People who know me know how passionate I am about animals and trying to find the balance and harmony between humans and animals.
If there’s one constant that unifies Schacht’s pursuits, both personal and professional, it’s the philosophy she credits with much of her success: “I leave things better than I found them. I’ve always felt very good about that. I’m passionate about making a difference, giving back through mentoring and teaching, and I always want to do my best to achieve the best result.”