As the product of a family that encouraged him to do whatever he put his mind to, Duke discovered a strong ability to empower others in a similar way early on in his career. It was in one of his first positions that he helped launch a platform connecting disadvantaged students with opportunities to pursue college.
“I worked in the admissions and recruitment department at a community college, and we wanted to take the college experience out into the community,” he says. “We rode around to different neighborhoods in an RV to talk to people about going to college, how to make it a reality, saying, ‘Here’s how you do it and here are resources.’ I think that experience really taught me how to interact with a wide variety of people, how to discuss their situations, and be able to find solutions that could help them.”
Duke didn’t always intend on going into HR; after getting a degree in psychology he was set on becoming a counselor. However, his experiences working in educational settings and recruitment inspired him to give the field a chance. He went on to serve in various HR roles, including serving as HR manager at Insight for Living, HR director at Stonebriar Community Church, and as vice president of HR for KMA Direct Communications.
He was a consultant for his own firm before eventually coming to Stream Realty Partners in 2010, where he now leads and manages HR strategy, companywide payroll, employee relations, compliance, and more. Duke’s a firm believer that trust and credibility are at the foundation of the work he and other HR leaders do.
For the People, by the People
Troy Duke admits to being stunned when he was selected as 2022 HR Executive of the Year (Large Company) by Dallas HR. “When I found out, the shock on my face was so comical that my wife took a picture,” Duke recalls. “I said, ‘There’s no way.’ But it was cool to know that I’m doing what I love, what I’m passionate about, and being recognized for it.”
“In HR, Individuals come to you in the new employment period, in the middle employment period, and in the end, so you face a lot of different situations that come at those different stages, and you need to be able to be a trusted resource,” Duke, who was named Dallas HR executive of the year in 2023, says. “Individuals need to know that they’re respected, that things will remain confidential, that you’ll give accurate information or direction. And if they don’t trust you, then you don’t have a solid foundation for all the things that come across your desk every day.”
But in his role, Duke doesn’t just build trust with his colleagues, give them the information they need, and send them out the door: he has helped bring resources and perspectives to company employees that transform their lives and their communities directly.
And that’s exactly what he has done as a Stream Support Foundation board member. The 501(c)(3)’s mission is to provide grants for employees impacted by devastating storms, an effort that spawned from hardships employees faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Duke’s work on the company’s diversity committee has been just as transformative, tasking him and other leaders to not only have important conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, policy, training, and education, but to take actionable steps toward their goals.
“It’s been one of those lifechanging experiences in my career,” he reflects. “You sit down, talk to people who may not look like you, connect over their life experiences and how it translates into work. It’s offered a platform for hearing different perspectives and finding areas that we can improve on.”
For leaders seeking to build trust and be a resource to their employees, Duke says to start with listening and being respectful. “Don’t try to overtalk a situation,” he advises. “You have to respect why someone is coming to you—be patient and do a lot of active listening. It’s not about you or your opinion. It all starts with showing respect.” Look at every situation like a learning opportunity, he adds. “You never stop learning. Listening to others and hearing their perspective is a part of that.”