Alumni Spotlight: Amy Spunich

Alumna Amy Spunich (MSIR, '97) traveled an uncommon path to become an HR specialist. As a social worker in the early 1990s, there was no way she could have foreseen that she would one day hold a leadership position in a global department at Bank of America.

"After two years in social work, I got into a program director role (for a nonprofit) in Morgantown. I was doing a lot of hiring, program management and interfacing with the community," she said. "I loved it. Then, I met a professor from WVU and he told me 'Actually, what you're doing is HR.'"

Spunich was surprised. She decided to take one class, and the rest is history.

"It's not too different from social work. It's just applying it in the business world as opposed to the family environment," she said. "I thought, 'This is what I'm meant to do.'" And she was right. Spunich recalled a love for group projects like mock negotiations and case studies for both fictitious and real-life companies. "I still remember those 15 years later. The lessons learned by applying classroom knowledge in those case studies was very meaningful to me," she said.

Fast forward to 2014, and Spunich has held four different leadership positions at Bank of America – Vice President of Leadership Development/Learning Manager for various leaders in Global Technology and Operations; SVP, Leadership Development Manager for Global Human Resources; SVP, Human Resources Generalist for Credit Card Product Development and Sales; and today she serves as Senior Vice President, Leadership Development Executive for Global Marketing and Audit.

"Bank of America is the type of place where you can have multiple careers within one company," she said. Although she has enjoyed each position, each has been very different. She held her role in the credit card business at the moment the financial crisis hit.

"As quickly as the U. S. economy changed, so did the way our customers used their credit cards," Spunich explained. "That meant all of our strategies had to change very quickly."

This quick overhaul was high intensity and very tricky, she said, explaining that there were many HR implications that ensued as a result. But now, Spunich is able to build on lessons learned during the financial crisis and focus on engaging leaders as they move the company forward.

In her current position, Spunich is responsible for the overall leadership development strategies for Bank of America's areas of marketing communications, public policy and corporate social responsibility.

"I spend a lot of my time getting results through the people on my team now, more than I used to earlier on in my career," she said. "I have usually been out on the front lines, creating a strategy and executing against it. Now, I'm helping my team create a strategy and advising them as they are executing against it. It's shifted the way I use my time."

Spunich attributes her career success, in part, to the fact that she's always tried to look at the big picture.

"Leadership development really requires that you keep the business objectives in mind. It's easy to do the task at hand without applying it to the broader picture. But it's more valuable to do the task at hand if you always have the business need in mind. Tying (the knowledge) back to what's happening in the business really grounds me in being able to come up with effective solutions," she said.

Spunich's advice for students and young professionals is similar.

"Really understand why you're doing what you're doing. Your task might just be one part of the bigger picture. But keep the whole picture in mind. It makes a big difference," she advised.

Spunich resides with her husband, Mike, and two children, Lauren and Luke, in Concord, N.C.