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AI and HR: Transforming People Tech


Building Connection and Community Through Leadership: WGU's Sara Reed

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | February 28th, 2023

Being an effective leader means consistently examining what you are doing each day so that you can determine how to improve. This is exactly what Sara Reed does in her role as the Vice President of People and Talent at Western Governors University (WGU). 

Sara has a breadth of leadership experience through her roles in the Air Force to the private sector and now in her current position at WGU. This diverse background has given her the opportunity to see what management should look like from all angles. 

In this conversation, Sara shares what struck her about what senior leadership is doing to support managers within her organization, how building connection and community actually helps to support accountability, and why it is important to analyze the reasons that people choose to lead. 

We’re excited to share this conversation with you. There are so many tidbits that you’ll want to note from this interview. Press play now to learn from Sara’s experience.


WGU bridges the gap between talent and opportunity

Sara Reed spent years in the Air Force before retiring and shifting into the higher education space. As Vice President of People and Talent at WGU, her role is employee-facing as well as being the engine that runs the background. 

WGU is a national not-for-profit online institution whose purpose is to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity. WGU uses competency-based education to change lives by being that bridge. Their motto is, “We create pathways to opportunity." 


People are finally beginning to express their needs in the workplace

Sara’s military background and roles in education give her a unique perspective on leadership. What she has noticed over the past 3 years is that many of the unstated expectations and unmet needs of people came out in a variety of ways. The pandemic gave people the opportunity to sort through what mattered to them. This has led organizations to to recognize that they need to care about their people. Now leaders are learning to say what do you need? 


Building accountability through connection and community

As managers and leaders, it’s our job to create environments for other people to thrive. This means building inclusion, compassion, caring, and accountability in the workplace. 

People want to know where they stand, so building accountability is a way to be inclusive and compassionate. The more connected a manager is with a team or individual the more they feel the responsibility to hold them accountable. One way to build accountability is to give employees the opportunities and tools to manage their metrics. Listen in to learn how WGU has been doing that while being inclusive and building community within their organization. 


Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Sara Reed


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