Volunteer Spotlight: Ms. Melva Tate
Melva Tate, PHR, is a colorful human resource & career development professional based in Birmingham. She serves as the owner of Tate & Associates, LLC, and is also an activist, engaging speaker, serial entrepreneur, and networking “Diva” (she said it, not us!). What brought Melva to PUI was her work with the Birmingham Society for Human Resource Management (BSHRM). Melva believes in “building relationships where relationships matter” and she truly brings this mantra to life; living, working & serving by these words.
We are excited to share Melva and her insights as a volunteer leader. Melva gives an honest perspective (sometimes you just have to say “no”) on the topic of volunteer leadership with her Volunteer Spotlight interview.
Projects Unlimited, Inc (PUI): What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer service?
Melva Tate (MT): Relationships hands down!!
I’ve developed some of the most rewarding relationships through my interaction with other volunteers. Several of these relationships have evolved from board member, to close associate, then to a deep friendship. Volunteer service has also provided diverse platforms for me to share my time, talents and treasures in areas where I’m truly passionate.
PUI: How essential has volunteer leadership been for your own professional development?
MT: Volunteer leadership has been hugely beneficial to my professional development. I’ve served in volunteer roles that were out of my “comfort zone” and gained valuable knowledge in areas that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.
Additionally, as a small business owner, volunteer service has opened several doors to help establish and grow my consulting firm and has unexpectedly been a huge return on my investment. Associate volunteers have served as my unofficial PR Team and will readily share my contact information with persons looking for a HR / career consultant. My willingness to “pay it forward” has reaped enormous benefits that I will never be able to repay. I’m forever grateful.
PUI: What advice would you give to someone that will be serving on their first board of directors in the next few months?
MT: I have four helpful tips to share with a newly tapped board member:
- Have a full understanding of the organization’s mission.
- Ask for, review and commit to a set of board expectations. That’s the what, when, how and why. What you’re asked to do should not be a surprise after you have said “I do”.
- Talk to a former or current board member before your first meeting. Personal insight beats anything written on paper.
- Make sure the commitment will “fit” on your plate. Be proactive vs. reactive in managing your volunteer time. Otherwise your volunteer commitment will be a burden versus a blessing.
PUI: What will you do differently in your next volunteer leadership role?
MT: What next role? I’m done with volunteer leadership!! Just kidding!!! My ultimate career goal is to be a professional volunteer / board member. But seriously, I would follow the four tips shared above, especially having a very candid and open discussion with a former or current board member. I would also say “no” more often than “yes”. I encourage those who are asked to serve to feel empowered to say “no” if the timing or organization is not a fit. No may not mean never; just not right now. Remember – just say no!! (if that’s what you really feel).
PUI: Considering the current employment & economic landscape, how are you and your firm assisting those who are either looking for a job or for the perfect employee?
MT: My firm, Tate & Associates, is the parent company for two unique divisions: Strategic HR Partnerships and Strategic Career Advantage. We’re all about developing and connecting organizations with great talent and ensuring that talent has the skills and confidence to land and succeed in their job. This is especially critical with the state of our economy, and the long journey ahead to get those unemployed or under employed back to work. We make all areas of workforce work successfully for both corporations and individuals.