Black History Month Employee Spotlight: Katrina H

Copper and Brass Sales is celebrating Black History Month, in part, by spotlighting members of our staff whose exemplary work and inspiring stories further our mission and values. Stay tuned as we spotlight inspiring employees of Copper and Brass Sales throughout the month.

Today, I would like to spotlight our Director of Human Resources, Katrina H, who has been with Copper and Brass Sales for five years. Katrina first joined us in 2016 as an HR Manager, with a focus on the future and a solid growth plan in mind.

Prior to joining Copper and Brass Sales, Katrina spent 20 years in various Human Resources positions, most recently working in the automotive industry. While in her past roles, Katrina led HR teams to accomplish daily requirements, she found that simply executing on prescribed activities was not fulfilling enough. Katrina needed to be in a position where she could utilize her skills as a natural problem solver.

What drew her to Copper and Brass Sales was the offer of autonomy, allowing her to create and improve. That’s in part what brings Katrina back every day feeling energized – she knows that she can make an impact here. She joined Copper and Brass Sales as an HR Manager, initially working together with other HR Managers and later helped modernize and expand our HR systems and technical capabilities. Katrina is a definite go-getter and isn’t shy to identify opportunities to improve both within the business and her career. Her ambition and drive is rooted in the environment in which she was raised.

Katrina grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan within a minority pocket of a highly educated and liberal community. While in elementary school, she overheard a conversation that “these kids” would never grow up to go to college. Hearing someone designate her in that way was one of the first things that drove her to want to show them that she was better than they thought.

Later in middle school, Katrina was known to talk a bit during class. Fed up, her teacher made it known, “you need to stop goofing around because you already have two strikes against you as you grow up: you’re a woman and an African American.” This woman gave her a dose of tough love to get her to step back and realize she that didn’t have the luxury of goofing off. As a woman of color, the statistics were against her to succeed without a focus on education. As time went on, Katrina did focus. She participated in sports and achieved good grades that resulted in academic scholarships. She ultimately earned a BS in Human Resources from Michigan State University and an MSA in Human Resources from Central Michigan University.

With a foundation laid in her childhood and additional life experiences, Katrina learned that as a woman of color, if she’s not vocal about her career aspirations she’ll miss out on opportunities, be passed over, or forgotten. She has worked hard to create her own destiny and has been clear about what she wanted to do. She was quick to add that she wouldn’t be doing what she loves today had she not found people to help advocate for her, who recognized her ambition and drive, and helped her when she needed it.

Katrina won’t be held back, “If you tell me I can’t do something, I am going to show you that I can!” She knew that it was up to her if she was going to advance her career, that she couldn’t wait for someone else to guide her. She sat down and decided where she wanted to be and then very strategically took steps to pursue those goals. She asked herself how people become directors or vice presidents, with the latter being her goal. She was able to evaluate the paths others have taken and then asked for experience and exposure that would pave the way to her own success. Katrina made it a point to build key relationships within the organization that she could align with to help her reach her goals. Each step Katrina took worked to increase her value.

Two years into her career here at Copper and Brass Sales, Katrina was selected to join the corporate career development program. While participating in this program, Katrina was given the opportunity to do a rotation in the HR Operations function – a key experience she would need to fulfil her goals of becoming a director and one day vice president.

After spending time in her new role, Katrina created a presentation to the CEO of Copper and Brass Sales that included a roadmap for what she wanted to do and what both she and the company would gain from it. Our CEO recognized the value Katrina brought to the organization and the further opportunities that existed in elevating her. He wanted to increase diversity – not just focused on race, but in thought, background, and experiences as well. He also knew that we needed leaders who would embrace those ideas and that approach. Near the end of 2018 Katrina was promoted to Director of HR Operations and promoted once again in 2020 to Director of Human Resources for the One Source Group. That same year, Katrina was honored with an award for being a Bridge Builder due to her collaborative efforts and relentless pursuit to improve and elevate our business and our employees.

In her spare time, Katrina works with Alternatives for Girls in Detroit. This organization helps homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation by helping them find support, resources, and opportunities. She’s proud to act as a mentor and be a motivating influence for other girls of color.

Katrina is positive, energetic, and I find her to be entirely motivating – someone to be held in high regard. May Katrina’s example be a guide to anyone looking to progress in life or career. It’s an honor to share Katrina’s inspiring story with you through our celebration of Black History Month here at Copper and Brass Sales.

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