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Spotlight: Q&A with Lynn Byrd, Senior Human Resources Manager, Office for Research and Innovation

Lynn Byrd portrait.

From hiring activities that identify the right people for individual roles to supporting employee morale that contributes to a deeper commitment to the university and its goals as a research-intensive land-grant institution, Lynn Byrd, the Senior Human Resources Manager for the Office of Research and Innovation, takes pride in her work.

How does your background contribute to where you are right now in your career?

Prior to joining Virginia Tech over 18 years ago, I lived in Northern Virginia working as an IT recruiter prior to the area. I began working as a recruiter due to a job change shortly after completing my bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. Recruiting provided me the opportunity to identify talent needs and assess candidates’ abilities to meet those requirements, as well as develop a skill set to engage with various levels of leadership.  

Since joining the university, I began supporting a newly created research institute to primarily support its recruiting needs. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be provided opportunities to expand my human resources acumen through continuing development opportunities that included certification and completion of an MBA and serving on various committees and work teams across the university.  

What support do you provide for the research community?

As a human resources professional, I have the privilege of supporting the research community university-wide in both tactical and strategic initiatives, such as process improvement and change management initiatives that serve the university community. From hiring activities that identify the right people for each role to programs that enable employee collaboration and communication, human resources supports employee morale and helps employees develop a deeper commitment to the university and its goals as a research-intensive land-grant institution.

Byrd participated on a panel during a breakout session at the 2017 Diversity Summit.
Byrd participated on a panel during a breakout session at the 2017 Diversity Summit.

How has COVID-19 positively impacted the way you do your job today?

COVID-19 has impacted all of us in ways we would not have imagined. It has impacted the way we engage with others, prioritize our work, and complete our work products. Many of us no longer have the separation of work and home life and all facets of our lives are colliding in ways we have never imagined. We are working while simultaneously caring and assisting our children, and oftentimes also providing care for parents. I commend our employees for their continued perseverance, positivity, and teamwork. What I miss most in how I conduct my job is the ability to meet with colleagues and peers in person. I miss the impromptu conversations and check-ins. I miss seeing people throughout the day (aside from Zoom) and hearing their laughter in the hallways, break rooms, and in meetings. I have learned to be more mindful of others’ time, appreciate that we all have our own challenges, support one another, and not sweat the small stuff.  

What inspires you?

I am inspired foremost by my family. I am blessed by having a supportive and encouraging family to give me energy and direction in realizing my goals. When my son was just nine months old, I began my journey towards an MBA and was fortunate to have such a strong network to assist me in that adventure. Those twenty-four months of school seemed to take forever, but yet passed very quickly. I would not have completed the program without their support. I graduated with my master’s degree in December 2010 — just a week after my son turned three years old.

Professionally, I am inspired by the talented faculty, staff, and students at the university. Every day is an opportunity to learn or try something new. I am inspired by the thrill of starting something that I have no idea how to finish, witnessing others try something new, and the creative process towards delivering the final product that will make a positive difference in delivering services. I have been fortunate to participate with several working groups over the course of my 18 years at the university that resulted in process and system changes university-wide. Those endeavors offered opportunities to work with and learn from individuals throughout the university with whom I would not have had the opportunity to work.

When do you think you are at your best, professionally?

I enjoy all aspects of my position, but very much enjoy the opportunity to work on change management, process improvement initiatives, find ways to improve our service offerings and processes, and how I can better serve our employees.

In what ways does Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community guide you?

The Principles of Community guide me in respecting individuals as individuals. Recognizing and welcoming differences is an opportunity to learn another perspective that may differ from my own understanding or lived experiences. Most importantly, it comes down to the basics of treating others as you would like to be treated with respect and dignity.

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