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Student Spotlight: Heather Phiel, SPHR, Hylant


Heather Phiel, of Hylant, has more than 20 years experience in Human Resources, providing HR consulting services related to employment issues, benefit/compensation rewards, and labor relations. Heather is also the Worksite Wellness Coordinator, assisting with the development, planning, implementation, delivery and evaluation of client wellness. She also serves as an Account Manager, responsible for the implementation and management of employee benefit plans for self-funded and fully funded clients. Whether managing renewals, assisting with service issues or analyzing data, Heather strives to deliver exceptional service.

Prior to her position with Hylant, Heather was the HR Director for Glatting Jackson where she built an HR department from the ground up to manage 160 employees. During her tenure, the firm was named a “Top 100 Employers for Working Families” for six year in a row. Heather also worked for United Healthcare as the Human Capital Business Partner responsible for creating and implementing strategic HR programs. Heather is active in a variety of industry associations including the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the Central Florida Human Resources Association (CFHRA). Heather earned her bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in Kentucky. She is currently working towards a Masters of Science degree in HRD from Villanova University. 

Q: How far along are you in the Human Resource Development Program at Villanova?

A: Just completed class #9…so final stretch for me!

Q: Are you currently taking courses through the on-campus option or the on-line option?

A: All courses have been through the awesome online program.

Q: Where is your current residency? 

A: Longwood, FL (just outside of Orlando)

Q: Have you become involved in any SHRM groups at any level? (College, Regional, National)  If so, how has that involvement helped in your development as an HR person?

A: Attend our GOSHRM (Greater Orlando Society for Human Resources Management) meetings on a regular basis. The involvement with my local chapter and being a National SHRM member since 1999 has helped my growth and development tremendously.  Networking and getting to know other HR professionals has led to some great personal and professional relationships.

Q: With so many priorities to balance, how do you ensure that you are prepared for class each week (exams, assignments, etc.)? 

A: Time management is key…making the most of 30 or 60 minutes here or there to read text, view the lectures on the iPad, or map out the next project whenever you have a chance is crucial.  Lunch hours, sports practices or early mornings are all great times to accomplish this for me.

Q: What is your educational background and why did you choose Villanova’s HRD Program?

A: Received a BA in psychology from Murray State University.  I chose the Villanova HRD program based on the reputation of the university and the fact that the program is data driven and scientifically based.   In addition, the ability to obtain my degree online at night within two years was especially appealing.

Q: What is your professional background? 

A: Have been in HR, mostly in generalist roles, for over 20 years with some great employers such as Logan’s Roadhouse, United Healthcare, Glatting Jackson, and Hylant. 

Q: Why are you interested in the field of HR and how did that interest come about?

A: Actually thought I would become an accountant like my mother however after taking my first accounting course in college, I quickly realized that dealing with only numbers was not my thing.  When I discovered HR and realized an opportunity to blend people interactions with metrics in business, I knew I had found my niche and I’ve never looked back or thought of another profession for me.  I absolutely love HR!

Q: What other commitments, personal or professional, do you have during the week besides keeping up with your courses?

A: In addition to the course I’m taking each session and my full time job, the four kids (ages 13-16) and their school and sport activities keep us pretty busy being taxis and parents.

Q: Tell us about something new or exciting in your professional or academic life.

A: I was recently selected to be the 2014 SHRM Conference Volunteer Co-Chair which means a very busy and exciting upcoming year of networking and building relationships to fill 1600 volunteer spots!  Was recently in Chicago to experience the 2013 SHRM Conference and am very excited to contribute toward making the 2014 SHRM Conference in Orlando even bigger and better!

Q: Do you have a go to “get away place” or interest when all the demands become overwhelming?  If so, what is it and how does it help you manage the stress?

A: I really try not to get to a point where I’m overwhelmed or overly stressed.  It’s more about setting priorities, making good choices, and establishing realistic expectations for myself.   I also set a massage appointment at the completion of each class – a little motivation!

Q: What advice do you have for others who are in situations similar to yours? 

A: Deep breathes.  Less judging and more asking how you can help others.  Drink lots of water. Assume positive intentions.  Break large projects in to smaller more manageable pieces.  Surround yourself with supportive family and friends.

Q: What are your plans post-Villanova, both personal and professional?

A: My plans are to continue to grow and challenge myself professionally.  On a personal level, I see a family vacation in our near future to express my appreciation for how supportive and understanding they have been over the last couple years!

Q: And one last question, what has been your favorite HRD class so far and why?

A: Oh, I could not pick just one…they have all offered something new and of value to my professional development and knowledge base.  I can’t say enough positive things about the VU program, the professors and the opportunity to learn from the other students.



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