The Next Concept HR Association Member Spotlight is on…. Matt Vanderwerf

Matt Vanderwerf
Director of Human Resources, Northwestern Polytechnic University
Events Chair, Santa Clara Regional Board, NCHRA


What led you to Human Resources as a profession/How did you get into your current role?

I got into the field by chance.  I took a student position at my campus HR department and fell in love with the rewarding nature of the work.  I received an offer to join the department as professional employee after graduation and jumped at the chance.  I stayed for over 14 years.

The ability to be an advocate for both employee and employer while helping to craft and uphold organizational culture is rare and rewarding in ways few other professions are.  My experiences since I took that student job have validated my decision to enter the field.  I was lucky to have been a broke college student in immediate need of any job I could find!

I obtained my current position using a much more strategic approach when life brought me to California in 2015.  I was considering positions outside of higher education but found one open at a university that grabbed my attention.  The challenges this positioned was designed to address promised so much personal and professional growth I couldn’t turn it down.


In your opinion, what is the future of HR? How do you see it changing over the next few years, especially in terms of HR innovation?

We have a generation of new HR professionals that grew up in the digital age.  As a result, I believe this generation will help us utilize technology in new and creative ways that were not event dreamed of ten years ago.  I foresee new tools being developed to improve the effectiveness of everything from talent acquisition to training and development.

I do not see us being replaced by robots.


What do you find is the greatest reward working in HR? 

Our ability to affect not only something the size and scope of organizational culture but also individuals through something as simple as helping them identify the health plan that works best for them.


What role has Next Concept HR Association played in your career? 

Next Concept HR Association has granted me access to a network of professionals throughout region I can use as a resource.  It is incredibly valuable to be able to bounce ideas or issues off of a colleague from outside of the organization.


What is something people might not know about you?

I am a huge science fiction and fantasy fan.  If there is a book or a computer game containing elves or dragons that comes out I only leave my room for work until I have finished it.


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