Good Trouble: Teedra Bernard’s Journey to HR Success

Teedra Bernard dreamed of being an engineer as a child. Every summer, her mother would enroll her in a summer class equivalent to STEM programs, which allowed her to engage in a curriculum that blended technology, math, and science in ways that were not only fun but also introduced her community to opportunities within the tech world. She enrolled in Computer Engineering at Michigan State University after graduating high school. She slowly learned that, while passionate about the career, she was unsure if she wanted to make a career out of it. 

Unfortunately, a bad experience at a career fair crushed Bernard’s spirit, and she switched majors, leading to a pivotal part of her journey. During her senior year of college, a frequent customer at her workplace asked if she would be interested in a sales position after college. She ended up training for the sales program before she graduated and joined a brand new sales training program that was willing to train people with no to low experience in pharmaceutical sales. 

A series of following events would lead her to land a role at an investment banking company, which would ultimately introduce her to HR work. This introduction led her on a career track to working in HR. 

Bernard’s path to this career was challenging. She says that having not taken her initial college GPA seriously, applying to grad schools took a lot of work. “I was not able to get into the top schools I pursued,” she says.

However, a chance call from the Admissions Director at NYU would offer her a chance at grad school under the condition of probation for the first few semesters, with a minimum GPA required. 

Bernard graduated with a 3.8 GPA and is now a senior HR executive and entrepreneur. She provides strategic HR leadership for core enterprise solutions, business operations, and strategy groups, all with a focus on helping others develop their businesses and practices. 

“Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working in financial services, information technology, and retail, allowing me to develop a versatile skill set and a deep understanding of various business environments,” she says, and goes on to add that she “[has] thrived in both lean HR functional environments and complex, large global enterprise matrix models.”

Teedra Bernard has been described as someone who blends empathy with commanding leadership, which allows her to build deep followership within every company she joins. By navigating complex topics and challenging conventional thinking, she links people’s strategy plans to business priorities and outcomes. She’s been an HR Top Talent Rotation Program Participant, has completed her Masters at NYU, and has even run and completed a marathon, a feat she wasn’t sure was possible.

When discussing her challenges, she says that considering your career and the compensation you receive from it is an important topic. She also claims to take up space—not just physically, but in your mindset. Above all, she wants the people she works with to redefine success and failure while focusing on the return on income for personal wellness. “We don’t talk about [mental health] enough,” she says, “especially when it is needed.”

Teedra Bernard says that everything you say and do should be considered and that you should stand by those words and actions. By doing so, she has opened doors for herself that she couldn’t have ever imagined. By focusing on leading in HR and social issues, she works to connect talent to foster opportunities, growth, and innovation.

“I want to build a legacy and an unconventional brand of leadership excellence,” she says.