As a native New Yorker and 25-year veteran of human resources roles across industries, Paige Ross has seen it all. With two master’s degrees and a PhD in organizational psychology, Paige is a lifelong learner who has always been fascinated by human behavior. Now she applies her HR expertise as global head of Human Resources for Blackstone, a leading investment management firm. The one thing she wishes she had done is live and work abroad – but just as she encourages other women to stay open to opportunities, who knows what’s in store for her next. Current role: Working with people is a privilege Describe your current role – what is your mission? I am the global head of Human Resources (HR) for Blackstone, an investment management firm. My role is to support our employees and hire the best talent who want to have long-term careers with us. Anything that touches people, I am involved in. Examples of daily activities? My day never looks the same. Anything that touches people, I am involved in. It could include working with the C-suite and other senior leaders, participating in various committees, or meeting with HR teams and having talent discussions. Since joining the firm, a large focus has been building a diverse workforce. When there is diversity of thought, background, gender, and ethnicity amongst teams, we can truly showcase what Blackstone has to offer our clients. During COVID, my focus has been providing a safe environment for employees to come back to the office. Since we don’t make products, all our assets are human capital. What is your favorite part of your job? I get to work with talented, smart, collaborative, and nice people at every level across multiple businesses. It is an incredible privilege, and I think I have the best job in the firm. What characteristics does someone need to be successful in a role like yours? Flexibility and openness to learning and trying new things. If someone wants to know what they are going to do every day or if they need answers to every problem, this isn’t the right job. When I hire people [into HR at Blackstone], I am open with them: if you want an unambiguous environment, this is not a good fit for you. What is most challenging? The pandemic has dissipated the separation between home and work life so we have had to show up differently in how we support our people’s well-being. People have had to do things they didn’t need to before – taking care of elders and/or children, while others have been isolated. There is no one size fits all approach, we don’t know all the answers, and the situation is constantly changing. Early influences: There is nothing stopping you Did anyone in your life have a particular influence on you and your career? The most influential person was my grandfather who lived two blocks away from me in Queens. If I didn’t like what my mom was cooking, I went to my grandparents’ house. I have red hair, and he called me “Little Red.” Any idea I had, he would say “Little Red, there is nothing stopping you.” After he died, I dedicated my PhD to him. Did you ever dream about a career at a young age (other than HR)? I wanted to be a gymnast, but I had zero ability or flexibility. I could watch floor tumbling for hours. What was your very first job, and what did you learn from it? My introduction to the working world was as a cashier at a local, family-owned deli. I worked every weekend and had to be there at 7 AM. I learned: always be on time, be friendly, and success is all about customer service. I loved making money and having independence. I remember saving up for a pair of cowboy boots and feeling like, “I did this myself.” Career path: Being uncomfortable means you’re learning What were some of your work experiences prior to Blackstone? Have they been useful in your current position? I worked in multiple industries – beauty, consumer packaged goods (CPG), pharma, financial services – in different roles. Each one built upon the other, and the diversity of experiences got me where I am today. I have sat in every area of HR, and I am not expert at everything, but I know enough to ask questions if I don’t have the answer. Would you change anything? I wish I had been able to work and live internationally. I had the opportunity, but it didn’t work personally for my family. I have held global roles, but I would like to have lived and worked in another country – it would have been another opportunity to grow. If you’re uncomfortable, it means you are learning. If you already know everything, you are probably ready for something new. What advice do you have a for a young woman just starting out in her career in business? I tell my 23-year-old daughter that women often don’t think they are ready for the next opportunity, but always give it a shot. Companies hire for potential. Don’t be afraid to ask for the next opportunity and stay open, especially roles that seem off track. If you’re uncomfortable, it means you are learning. If you already know everything, you are probably ready for something new. Educational choices: Graduate school gave her a different lens How did your undergraduate studies benefit you in your career? I have a BA in Psychology, two master’s degrees and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. I have always been fascinated by motivation, behavior and how people can succeed in a business environment. Working in HR gives me a bird’s eye view of the whole company, and I see everything, including the impacts to employees across the company. What has having a PhD meant for your career? I got my PhD while working and going to school full-time. It both helped and hurt me. I was 25 years old when I graduated with a PhD, and my only work experience was in not-for-profit. Initially, the business world looked at me as someone well educated but with no practical experience. Thankfully, Coopers and Lybrand (now PwC) hired ~$850 per person (not including instruction feesme and said they could teach me what I needed to know. On the positive side, it also helped me to think differently and consider multiple angles of a situation, and be flexible and analytical at same time. I am happy that I got it, but the only time a job required it was when I was at Pepsico. What is about Forté’s mission that makes you want to support our efforts? Forté is unique in that they are increasing the pipeline at every level and stage of a woman’s career. At Blackstone, diversity has long been a priority, and it is critical to our culture and makes us better investors. Personal passions: Family and travel (and a puppy) Is there anything on your “bucket list” you’d be willing to share? We love to travel, but I would like to live in another country and absorb the culture. How do you spend your time when you are not working? For me, it is family and work and nothing else. I spend time with my husband, three kids, and a puppy.