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An Interview of Mentor Patty Hickok by Protégé Bridgette Coleman

Bridgette Coleman
Bridgette Coleman
Leadership Fellows Protégé
Patty Hickok
Patty Hickok
Director of Employee Relations & HRIS
NANA Development Corporation
Leadership Fellows Mentor
Bridgette Coleman

Where are you from? How did you decide to pursue a career in Alaska?

I was born and raised in Mazatlan, and came to Alaska for a summer visit and never left; starting a career here was an accident.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

What did you study in college? Was it an easy choice?

As a traditional college student, I was pursuing a computer science degree while I was still living in Mexico. I did not finish this degree and instead pursued a bachelor’s in tourism which I didn’t finish either! After moving to Alaska and working in UAA’s bookstore I returned to school and received the following degrees; Associates- General Studies, Bachelors- Business Management, MBA, and an additional associate’s degree in occupational health and safety. Although I am no longer a student I still spend time in academia teaching at Alaska Pacific University.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

What is your current position? How would you describe your path to your current position? Did you have anyone you relied on for mentorship/ solid career advice?

I am currently Director of Employee Relations & HRIS at NANA Development Corporation. The journey started while pursuing a BBA, when I realized that the HR classes were the ones of most interest to me. Upon graduation from UAA’s MBA program, I got a full time opportunity at a growing Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) where I started as an HR Coordinator and was promoted several times to HR Director. As I transitioned to another ANC, I was hired at a Director level. I've been fortunate to have had the coaching and mentorship from many college professors, supervisors, community leaders and as a protégé in The Leadership Anchorage Program.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

When did you know you would be a leader?

As the oldest child in my family, I often found myself organizing my siblings, but my first realization that I was suited for leading in the business world was prompted by UAA’s Dr. Jeffries. Frank Jeffries asked me to be involved in the Human Resource club at UAA and challenged me to become the chapter president, where I learned that even though I didn’t know anything about leading a group, I could do it and do it well. This experience opened up opportunities with the professional chapter, and I now count top leadership roles at the local, state and regional level with the chapter.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

Was/Is there ever a time when you felt/feel discouraged by obstacles? How did you address that?

Yes, two years after moving to Alaska my husband was in a near fatal car accident. I was thrust into a situation where I was surrounded by obstacles to tackle. The experience really challenged me, but also helped me to realize that I could tackle any obstacle put in front of me, no matter how difficult. Even though at the time this was very negative, in the long term it turned out to be positive due to the learning and growth that came from it.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

Is there a particular person who inspires you? Maybe someone you’ve read about, someone you know? What do you find inspiring about their story?

My grandmother has always been an inspiration to me. My grandmother had 5 children and was very poor, but she really believed in education. She worked very hard to obtain a full scholarship to a Mexican Ivy-league equivalent college for one of her sons and inspired the family to pursue further education; every one of her 18 grandchildren has at least a bachelor’s degree.

Hickok
Bridgette Coleman

It is important for CBPP and Anchorage’s business community to collaborate and invest in the next generation of leaders. What do you think should be conveyed to our next generation of leaders?

Self-belief is key to becoming a successful leader.

There are a few quotes that every leader should keep in mind; “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” & “It’s not how far you fall, it’s what you do to get back up.”

They both contain a message of tackling challenges and adversity that may face you and remembering that even with failure you can learn and grow in ways you never thought possible.

Learning and staying up-to-date on technology throughout your career is going to be key, especially with the fast pace at which technology is changing.

Hickok