Growing up as an army brat, Kim Scholes developed the skills early on that she’d need to one day be a human resources leader.
“We had to move every three years and that automatically helped you become very adaptable to change, which I think flows nicely into leading HR departments because you’re the one who has to be the change facilitator,” says the chief human resources officer at Aldridge Pite, a premier law firm specializing in providing legal services to depository and non-depository financial institutions.
There, Scholes has a solid track record of spearheading initiatives and implementing policies and procedures that optimize productivity, reduce costs, stem turnover, and more. She is also an expert at helping others adapt to change, a skill she gleaned from her father, a decorated general who led troops through crisis situations. As a result, she prides herself on being a strategic leader who doesn’t flinch at the sight of a problem in an industry that often poses unpredictable challenges.
“For HR types, I learned that if you can solve things people don’t really like to solve, colleagues will look at you like a strategic business partner,” Scholes says. “And, when you become that, you get promoted and learn how to be very decisive and make decisions when the situation is full of chaos. I like to think calmer heads prevail in that regard.”
At Aldridge Pite, Scholes handles the company’s human capital activities while leading five hundred employees in sixteen states. Having lived all over the country, she’s able to effectively navigate and relate to her employees and colleagues, who have diverse backgrounds and come from different parts of the US.
That ability also comes from the CHRO’s innate curiosity for understanding others, the nuts and bolts of a problem, and ways she can grow during those processes. Throughout her career, she’s made sure to make the most out of every role she’s served in, ensuring that she could bring best practices into her next position. “Every time I changed organizations, I learned something new and bigger,” Scholes says. “A lot of people get stuck at one organization and that might be great if they have a lot of resources to help them grow but if you don’t, you have to be able to develop on your own.”
Scholes began her career at the US Department of Defense and the US General Services Administration, where she ultimately was named senior regional employee and labor relations and personnel management specialist. She fondly recalls being part of the teams that were first to roll out key legislative changes, like Family and Medical Leave, to very large workforces efficiently and effectively. It gave her a blueprint and the confidence to providing HR services to SportsLife, which became Crunch Fitness that was eventually acquired by Bally Total Fitness.
Working on M&A matters was a crash course for her tenure at Cingular Wireless as an HR operations manager. There, she faced the largest challenge of her career working on a project that was as insightful as it was stressful. “I was selected to create the strategic plan and the budget for the new HR organization when SBC Wireless and Bell South Wireless merged and became Cingular, which is now AT&T,” Scholes explains. “That project was an over $100 million budget that I had the unique experience of creating at the birth of a new organization.”
These valuable career experiences inform how she creates the HR vision for Aldridge, where she’s focused on cultivating an engaging culture. Engagement is driven by frequent communication, she notes. “During the pandemic, the firm went remote and is continuing to stay remote, so we are taking advantage of all of our communication avenues,” Scholes says. “The core of our workforce has been with us for five-plus years, so we know them and need to engage with them regularly.”
She places the same amount of emphasis on communicating with her own team. She empowers her people to own their projects, to learn from their mistakes, and to turn to her for support when they need it.
Outside of work, the CRHO spends much of her time volunteering. She’s served on several boards including the Board of Governors, Women’s Council, the local board of the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association, the Ethics Commission of the Atlanta Board of Education, the Junior League of Atlanta, Leadership Atlanta, Atlanta History Center, and more.
Volunteering and public service have always been important to Scholes due to her deep familial ties in the military. Recently, she’s directed her energy toward supporting military veterans through different programs. “I think it’s important to go out and use your competencies as well as your money and time to help them manage their operations,” she says. “Businesspeople have that chance to help community organizations do that. That’s key not just for nonprofits, but for you. It helps you learn how to be a leader as well.”
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