Black History Month – Spotlight on Tracy Heron-Coward
Black History Month serves as a month-long celebration and reminder of the numerous contributions and achievements made by Black people throughout history. Today, we shine a spotlight on Bell’s very own Tracy Heron-Coward, Director of Human Resources, who discusses her 20-year career journey, what it means to be a Black woman, the importance of family and much more.
Talk to us about your professional journey so far.
Tracy Heron-Coward: When I finished school, I started at Bell TV the following summer. Back then, you had to wear several hats. I started as a Call Centre Agent, Trainer and then Manager. In that manager role, I started to develop a passion for HR, which led me to where I am today. I’ve been at Bell for 20 years now, and it’s been an interesting journey – and a great place to grow my career.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Tracy: It’s an opportunity to share accomplishments and positive images, to celebrate those trailblazers, past and present – it’s the best of our culture.
You have 2 sons – how do you help them cultivate a positive self-image?
Tracy: I encourage them to love themselves first. A positive self-image is not about how many followers you have on Instagram. They have to be proud of who they are and who they will become. I strive to build their confidence. I also present them with images and stories of successful black people because it’s something that’s not always at the forefront. When I hear a success story, I share it with them.
Who is your role model?
Tracy: Michelle Obama. Not only is she generally brilliant, she’s also a successful lawyer, was the Assistant Commissioner of Planning & Development in Chicago, the Associate Dean of Studies for Chicago University and of course, the former First Lady. Wow… what a journey and inspirational story! When I hear her story, I am in awe. I look up to women like her.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received – professional or otherwise, and how do you apply that advice to your work?
Tracy: The best advice I ever received was from a former CFO – a person I really respected. His advice to me was: “just do you.” That was impactful and encouraging. It inspired me to hone in on the best of me and focus on that.
Tell us about any community activities or movements you’re involved in?
Tracy: I am proud to be part of a newly launched employee resource group – Bell’s Black Professionals Network (BBPN). This group supports professional development as well as raising cultural awareness across the company. It is an open group and all Bell employees are welcome to join!
What advice would you offer to those who are just starting to build up their career?
Tracy: Ask many questions, understand your business and become the expert. Then start to build your own network and relationships.
Bell is a leader with its Bell Let’s Talk initiative – what are some of your go-to strategies to maintain good mental health?
Tracy: I have a few. At the core, it is my family. They are my balance. Secondly, I’ve learned to recognize when I am stretching myself too thin and ask for help. Having a great relationship with your colleagues and your leader help support you when these moments happen.
What advise would you give young women in today’s world?
Tracy: I mentor many young women, focusing on sharing techniques on how to be resourceful to solve their issues, trust their instincts, ask for what they want and be curious in all aspects of life. I also advise them to invest in themselves, nourish their network, friendships and partnerships. It’s all about moving your circle along with you.
If you could speak to your teenage self, what would you say?
Tracy: Enjoy every last minute of high school. Be confident. Challenge what you think you know. Do what those say is impossible.
What do you hope your legacy to be?
Tracy: I can’t even think about that < laughs > – I am just getting started!
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