Business alumnus takes his corporate HR career to college
At the start of 2020, HFC alumnus Jim Handley took his first foray into academia, becoming vice president of human resources at Rock Valley College, a community college in Rockford, IL.
“Right now, I’m in such a learning state. It’s really a matter of understanding the inner workings of higher education and the accreditation process. It’s important because it ultimately benefits the students, which is why we’re here,” said Handley, of Crystal Lake, IL, a northern Chicago suburb where he lives with his wife and two children.
First time in academia
In his new role, Handley is responsible for developing and executing HR strategies in support of RVC’s overall business plan and strategic direction. He will provide strategic leadership by articulating HR needs and plans to the executive management team and the RVC Board of Trustees. He reports to RVC President Dr. Douglas Jensen.
He describes his vision for HR at RVC as transformational. He and his team will develop new, practical, cost-effective ways to support the faculty and staff, who actively support the students.
“I like to consider myself a lifelong learner,” he said. “I saw myself being a good fit in an environment where the focus is on students and community. My breadth of HR experience in many areas will help me lead the HR organization within RVC and serve our community.”
A good business foundation, and lifelong friendships from HFC
Born in Dearborn but raised in Dearborn Heights, Handley is a 1982 graduate of Annapolis High School. After graduation, he attended HFC (then Henry Ford Community College) and earned his associate degree in commerce in 1984. Transferring to Michigan State University, he earned his bachelor’s degree in supply chain management in 1987. He would later go on to earn his MBA at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.
Handley also holds numerous certifications. He is a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), a Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP), a Global Remuneration Professional (GRP), and a Society for HR Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).
Handley has fond memories of HFC, which he attended while working at the Movies at Fairlane (now the AMC Star Fairlane), at the Fairlane Town Center.
“I’ve moved all over the country and feel fortunate that I have maintained lifelong friendships from HFC,” said Handley. “HFC provided a great foundation. I felt like my professors were really good in the respective fields they were teaching. Looking back, I felt that I started off at MSU with a really good business foundation, thanks to my time at HFC.”
From corporations to community college
Handley worked in the corporate arena for more than 30 years before moving into higher education. He worked at Verizon Wireless for more than 20 years, where his most recent roles included associate director, employee relations and associate director, supply chain management. His last role at Verizon before going to RVC was practice lead for talent acquisition.
Handley also has 10 years of HR and supply chain experience at multinational energy corporation ConocoPhillips (then Burlington Resources, Inc.) and two years of supply chain management experience at Electronic Data Systems (then a subsidiary of General Motors) and KB Homes.
“I decided to go into HR back when people referred to it as 'personnel,'” recalled Handley. “When I was working in materials logistics management at Burlington Resources, I was offered a developmental assignment to rotate into HR. The rest is history.”