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HRD Alumni Spotlight | Ashley Colpitt

Time for an HRD Alumni spotlight! Today, we are here with Ashley Colpitt, a 2022 MSHRD graduate, who has taken her HR expertise to a career across the world!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma where my parents and twin sister still live. I met my husband in Tulsa in the early aughts, and we moved together to Houston, Texas in 2012. In Houston I joined Chevron as an administrative professional before eventually transitioning into HR as an Analyst supporting midstream business units in 2018. However, after less than a year in my new role in HR, I found out that I would soon be moving to Stavanger, Norway where my husband was offered an expatriate assignment. I took at leave of absence from Chevron and prepared for a few years of European adventures.

My husband and I (and our two cats, Cat and Christmas Cat) moved to Norway in March of 2019 just in time to get settled and do a little traveling. I was able to visit the UK, Croatia, France, Spain and Italy that year before Covid upended everyone’s lives in early 2020 and made travel out of Norway virtually impossible. I had always intended to use my unexpected time away from work to continue my education, and it made sense to use this year of lockdowns and limited travel to dive into my journey towards obtaining a master’s degree.

Tell us about your current job and role.

I believe it was the Scottish Poet Robert Burns who once remarked that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – and he was definitely right about that! I had originally planned to return to my HR Analyst role in Houston after a few years in Norway; instead, in March of 2022, my husband was unexpectedly offered a second developmental expatriate assignment in Doha, Qatar, which we accepted. Although I was excited to continue our world travels, I knew that this move meant an end to my time at Chevron, which was difficult as I had made many friends and had a very professionally rewarding experience there.

However, I was also excited by the prospect of finding a new professional opportunity in a new city (and a new country) while also finishing my last few classes in Villanova HRD program.

We officially moved to Qatar in August 2022, and I gave myself some space to acclimate to a new culture and environment. Average daily high temperatures in the 115-120s were definitely a departure from cool and rainy Scandinavian summer, and the whole country was gripped by World Cup fever with the highly anticipated tournament beginning in early November.

I began my employment search by casually applying to various HR roles advertised on LinkedIn and was pleasantly surprised to receive several invitations for interviews in the closing months of 2022. I received an offer from the Qatar subsidiary of a large multinational Swiss investment bank in early 2023, and began my new role as an HR Operations Specialist in February. In this role I support local HR operations in various tasks related to immigration, payroll and benefits, navigating the Qatari labor law landscape, coordinating local wellness initiatives, and providing on the ground support for other HR-related issues and queries.

What drove you to choose the Villanova HRD program?

When I began researching HR Masters programs, I had two main concerns:

First, I wanted a program with excellent academics and a prestigious reputation that would have the potential to propel my career forward, especially given that I was missing out on years of professional experience while on a leave of absence. Second, due to my situation living abroad it was important to find a fully online program that was flexible with admissions criteria as I was unable to realistically find a testing center to take a standardized admissions exam (GMAT, GRE).

As part of my research into various HR masters programs, I reached out to a LinkedIn connection in higher education who recommended the Villanova HRD program, and once I reviewed the curriculum and admission criteria, I knew that I had found a perfect match. The only minor issue was that class times of 8:30-10:30 EST translated to 2:30-4:30am most of the year in Norway, but I figured this was a small price to pay for a great education opportunity.

How has the Villanova HRD program affected your career trajectory?

In my opinion, completing the Villanova HRD program has been the most impactful decision that I have made in my professional career. Not only did I receive an excellent, well-rounded education in human resources, but I was able to demonstrate my commitment to growth in HR knowledge during my leave of absence, which effectively “closed the gap” of time away from work on my resume. During my employment search, I felt confident addressing questions about my experience by highlighting my Villanova HRD degree. Many expatriate spouses find it difficult to re-enter the workforce after periods of unemployment or under employment caused by relocating to support their spouse’s ambitions; but I found that the Villanova HRD program made a significant difference for me both personally and professionally.

What is your favorite part about working in human resources and/or what is something you love about your job?

One huge benefit of working in HR is how transferable skills and knowledge are across industries. I worked in the energy industry for almost a decade but was able to pivot into working in the financial services industry quite naturally. Perhaps this is because working in human resources necessarily means working with humans, and people tend to encounter similar issues and have similar needs regardless of their industry, or even location. It has been so interesting joining a new organization in a new country and experiencing first hand these similarities. Although I haven’t been in my current role long, so far, my favorite aspect is meeting a diverse group of people and learning from other HR professionals who have such different backgrounds and lived experiences from my own. To be a little contemplative, I often think about what 20-year-old me would think about working in a place I couldn’t even point out on a map until a few months ago, and I reflect on how human resources and the Villanova HRD program led me here!


Ashley Colpitt, MSHRD, SHRM-CP, is an HR Operational Specialist at UBS. Connect with her on LinkedIn here!


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