21:44 PM

Employee Spotlight: Shari Collins, Learning and Development Manager

Since arriving at TPA last year, Shari Collins has felt like someone pushed a fast-forward button. 

 “I’m coming up on a year already, which is crazy,” Shari said.

In fact, Shari was just promoted from her role as a Learning and Development Specialist to the Learning and Development Manager for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, overseeing training and career initiatives for the team of more than 660 people across more than 20 departments that manage and operate TPA and the county's three general aviation airports.IMG_8218

“I can’t wait to continue helping teams at HCAA think about their future and how to get there,” she said.

Shari has always enjoyed helping others learn. After growing up in Miami, she moved to Tampa to finish her undergraduate degree in education at USF. She then took on a role at Hillsborough County Public Schools, teaching for 10 years. After transitioning into a role developing a union for new teachers, Shari felt she was ready for some personal growth herself and started seeking new challenges.

“I really enjoyed working in education," Shari said. "But I wanted to explore other avenues in learning and development. I spent a lot of time developing career paths for educators, but I really wanted to expand that and help everyone grow in their career. I started looking for new opportunities and saw a role posted at TPA. When I saw that the job involved bringing numerous departments together,  I knew I could have an impact on a larger group and decided to go for the job. The rest is history!" 

Shari’s role at TPA focuses on helping each department improve the skills that make each team unique.

“I really want to collaborate with them and build a course plan to help move along that progress,” Shari said. Recently, Shari was responsible to hold Values training seminars, where she “got to meet just about everyone,” she said.

“I held more than 47 sessions, bringing together so many individuals who normally wouldn’t work together, she said. ”It was definitely a highlight of my experience working here so far. There are so many employees working for the HCAA and I’m privileged to interact with just about every department. The conversations we have are so rich and I find it rewarding to help them improve their processes and team."

Learning the ins and outs of TPA and the Aviation Authority has been a sharp learning curve from her previous job in education. But she has embraced the challenges of working with a new team and new resources, exploring new ways to help people take the next step in their careers.

"A lot of people just think I’m HR,” Shari said. “I really see my job as helping others grow. Where we are now as an organization is not where I want us to be forever. Opening ourselves up to change is crucial, so I enjoy meeting with various departments and helping them build programs that make the employee experience the best it can be. I’m completely open to conversation … my door is open and I want to learn what people do and see how I can help improve their employee experience."

Outside of work, Shari stays quite busy. She recently finished a solo trip to London.

“It was just amazing,” Shari said. “I wanted to make that trip a little test before I go farther in Europe. I’d eventually like to hike in Switzerland!"

When she isn’t planning trips to other countries, she stays busy around Tampa Bay. “I keep a foldable kayak in my car,” Shari said. “I love driving around and finding new places to explore. And, I love to dance and sing! I have a background in performing arts, so I found a jazz group in town to perform with and we get together to just have fun." shari2

Shari is also the proud owner of a 3-year-old dog, Willa. Willa is a pit bull mix that Shari rescued.

“I just lover her to death," she said. "She bounces all over the place and is a little crazy. She definitely keeps me on my toes.”

When asked about one piece of advice Shari would have for others interested in working in her field, Shari stressed the importance of being present. 

“I've heard it said that showing up is so important,” Shari said. “You can always learn from other people. They key to success is to listen.”