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From Math to Microsoft

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Given a choice of electives, some college students opt for “soft” subjects—areas that may not require a full effort in a given semester. Joscelyne Gray (MSHRM ’02) loaded up on math.

“I discovered when I was fairly young that I had a strong appetite for math, and so I took a lot more courses in it than I needed to,” says Gray, who now works as a compensation consultant with Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.  

A native of Lafayette, Indiana, Gray earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Purdue. She had a special interest in the quantitative nature of her field, even considering a doctorate in the area.

But her work at a local hospital steered her in a different direction. Working in the mental health field, she dealt with a number of different agencies and developed an interest in human resources. She decided to earn a Master of Science Degree in Human Resource Management at Purdue’s Krannert School.

“It was the perfect program for me, because it allowed me to combine my strengths and interests in psychology and human resources with my quantitative nature. Krannert gave me a great cross-functional knowledge, and my education would have been incomplete without that,” she says.

Gray interned with General Electric after her first year in the program, accelerating her learning in Excel and working with dashboards. After she graduated, she accepted a position with Qwest Communications in Denver.  She worked in compensation and labor relations for four years before making a move further west.

“I felt like I was getting a little stagnant where I was, and a former colleague from Qwest recruited me out to Microsoft,” she says. “It was a great opportunity to expand my skill set and opportunities.”
Gray has worked as an HR manager and senior HR business manager, and now specializes again in compensation. “I realize that this is the area where I want to spend my career,” she says. “It’s an exciting time to be in the field.”

Gray mentors two students currently in the MSHRM program, and she encourages them to have a wide knowledge of business practices. 

“It’s important for people in the HR field to know their business as well or better than anyone else in the organization,” she says. “If you want to make compensation part of the business strategy, you have to understand how the entire business works. And that’s where my Krannert education has really paid off.”