Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Cordova, Founder and President of HumanageHR, a modern Human Resources Consulting Firm.
Hi Maria, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am Maria Cordova. I was born to a Native American/Latino father and a white mother. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and I grew up in Los Angeles where my single mother raised me and my brother. My father lived in New Mexico, so we would visit him most summers and it was like living two separate lives; different languages (Spanish and English), different cultures and traditions, different belief-systems/values, different food, and different lifestyles.
I felt torn between worlds and identities, but over time, this has turned into embracing who I am. I’ve learned valuable lessons from my life experiences, including celebrating differences and amplifying voices that aren’t always heard. I believe this influences and shapes how I run my business and the value I place on the human experience in the workplace.
What can you tell us about your work experience?
I started working in high school and haven’t stopped since. My work experience is diverse; I’ve babysat, cleaned houses, been a cashier, a cocktail waitress, a pre-school teacher, an executive assistant, an operations coordinator and more. All my work experiences have helped me develop important skills sets that have prepared me for what I do today.
In my early career I had my fair share of bad bosses and toxic workplaces. To balance this, I was also lucky to have some great mentors and managers along the way.
Shortly after I started undergrad, I landed an executive assistant job at a firm in downtown Los Angeles where I supported the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Legal Officer. The COO there taught me discipline and grit, and the CLO mentored me and trained me in entry-level HR responsibilities. I quickly found that I enjoyed Human Resources.
After about eight years climbing the corporate ladder in my HR career, I noticed a pattern. For many small to mid-size businesses, HR took a backseat, and because of this, businesses paid the price; most of the time with costly turnover, low productivity, and lawsuits. HR was so poorly managed and often overlooked or seen as just “hiring and firing” robots that companies resentfully employed.
Small businesses couldn’t afford or necessarily have the need to hire full-time senior-level People Directors, so they just put HR as an “added hat” on the office manager or hired an inexperienced HR generalist who wasn’t ready to think strategically to help support the company’s growth. Those entrepreneurs who cared about the employee experience and culture didn’t know where to find someone affordable and experienced in this area, and many of the HR consulting firms only focused on policy enforcement and compliance (legacy HR vs. modern HR).
I realized that small and mid-size businesses needed more experienced HR support, but not necessarily full-time. By this time, I had earned my MBA through Pepperdine University with an emphasis in finance and entrepreneurship. So, I decided to put my experience and education to work and start my own HR consulting firm in late 2013. It was an exciting and terrifying leap to take, but I haven’t looked back since.
I love what I do. I get to work with successful business owners and entrepreneurs and help them attract, engage and retain the awesome people they need to grow their business. I am grateful to the people in my life who have been along for the ride, supported my dreams, and those who are a part of making my business successful, because I can’t do this alone.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’m not sure anything great comes with a comfortable, smooth road! I’d say one of my main obstacles was and is my own voice in my head, that voice that tells me I should be doing more or not working hard enough (aka imposter syndrome!). Anxiety has always been a close friend of mine that I’ve learned to live with and manage. I make it a priority to put things into perspective, prioritize mental health and wellness. I slow down or take a break when I need to, do what brings me joy, and take time to reflect on my accomplishments and my future goals.
Most of us entrepreneurs put our blood, sweat, and tears into our business. In the beginning, I didn’t sleep much, I worked around the clock, including weekends. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable long term. I realized I had to have some balance in my life if I wanted to serve others, so I’ve created boundaries around my work hours and expectations.
We’ve been impressed with HumanageHR, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My firm creates organizational excellence through people. I partner with entrepreneurs and executives to generate solutions that bring value to all stakeholders. My outsourced HR strategies drive change from the inside out, strengthen culture, improve the employee experience, and optimize business performance. I offer small and mid-size businesses modern HR solutions, retainer and on-demand consultation, including virtual and onsite support.
I most enjoy helping businesses attract, engage, and retain talent. Other areas I can support employers include; creating legally compliant, competitive, and inclusive policies and practices; repairing dysfunctional teams; improving performance challenges; giving expert advice and tools to address leadership challenges, assessing and improving an organization’s “culture climate” (think values, morale, diversity, equity, and inclusion); conducting workplace harassment investigations and providing harassment prevention training.
What sets me apart from other HR/People Pros is that I work from the heart with empathy and authenticity, I am self-aware and continue to learn and grow, and I am actively anti-racist, all which are extremely important to be successful in this field. I am an HR practitioner who studies human behavior and can also speak to ROI, bottom line, and understand a P&L. It is my goal to help workplaces become more human and inclusive so people actually look forward to coming to work and are excited about the trajectory they’re on. This is what helps businesses thrive.
I’m most proud of what I’ve built and how thankful my clients are when they see the impact of the work I’ve done with them.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If you are a business owner with employees and you’re not sure where to turn for answers, please visit my website, subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on Instagram, or email me to set up a time to connect!