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August 2018
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TD Magazine

Finding the Right Balance

Shermaine M. Perry

Title: Employee Development Specialist

Organization: Fulton County Government

Location: Greater Atlanta

Education: Master's degree, public administration (Strayer University); bachelor's in political science (Spelman College); Associate Professional in Talent Development certification; bronze-level Kirkpatrick Four Levels Evaluation certification

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shermaineperry

Favorite Quote: "Nevertheless, she persisted."

Shermaine Perry began working in talent development in 2012. By 2014, she became a college professor and simultaneously launched a consulting business that helps connect local communities to strategic policy solutions through education innovation. Today, she continues that consulting business while working as an employee development specialist for the government of Fulton County, Georgia, designing curriculum and learning events.

How do you balance your obligations to a full-time job, your consultancy, and developing yourself?

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It's all about setting goals. I have monthly, six-month, and yearly lists of things to accomplish.

Professionally, I divide my goals into four categories—teach, learn, consult, and publish—and keep track of them in journals and on a blown-up image that I put on my wall. And I have another category for personal goals that I call "Self," which is for fun activities.

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Subscribing to these detailed goals helps me perform in all the different areas of my life. It's a balancing act but completely worth it.

How have living, studying, and traveling abroad contributed to your career in talent development?

One of my parents served in the U.S. Air Force, and we lived in Italy, Germany, Turkey, and England while I was growing up. Part of Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) curriculum in each of those places involved exploring the culture and achieving functional proficiency in the local language. That taught me a lot about learning from other people.

One travel experience with a strong impact on my career came when I was visiting my sister in China, where she spent a year teaching college technology courses. After speaking with a student about his career, I asked him what he did for fun. "If my heart isn't in it, I don't do it," he said. That philosophy has really stuck with me and helped me seek out opportunities that I find meaningful.

Do you have any advice to help other talent development professionals get the most out of their international experiences?

See the culture for what it is, not in terms of what's normal for you. Say to yourself, "I'm here right now," and go beyond the typical tourist activities. Visiting the beach is nice, yes, but you should take advantage of travel as a chance to build your intellectual capacity.

Listen to someone tell a story. Read a newspaper. Visit a museum and learn about the country's history. If you can, connect with one person and stay in touch.

Where do you see your career in five to 10 years?

I'd like to earn my Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential, and not just for the letters. I want to master all aspects of talent development and become a voice in the industry. I'd like to write books, speak at conferences, promote this career to students, and help build our field's next generation.

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About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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