Getting to Know: Jillian DeGiulio, St. Mary’s Healthcare
Jillian DeGiulio, a Greater Amsterdam School District graduate and current Broadalbin resident, is interested in helping other people.
A role in human resources, she says, found her. In early December, she was appointed as director of benefits and employee relations at St. Mary’s Healthcare, right in her hometown.
The Daily Gazette sat down with DeGiulio, 36, recently to discuss her journey to this point and get to know a little more about her.
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and space.
Question: How did you find yourself in a role in human resources?
Answer: In college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I loved psychology, sociology and statistics. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I was a recruiter for a small staffing agency. Working very closely with ownership, I learned the ins and outs of running a business, human resources fundamentals and the big impact a bad hire can have on an organization. From there, I decided to pursue a certificate in Human Resources Management to determine if that was the path for me. I quickly discovered how imperative HR is to an organization and how impactful people operations are to the bottom line. I was sold.
As I gained more experience in different areas of HR, I moved into a management role in 2016. I learned how to develop and implement programs, processes, and procedures and how to resolve conflict. I love it because you never stop learning in this field and are always presented with anew situation, problem or opportunity.
Q: Did you think you would have a career in human resources?
A: In college, I didn’t know what career I would have; I had no idea. I liked psychology, I like people, I like statistics and random things. I said, ‘I will study these subjects and see where they take me.’ It did prepare me for my career.
Q: What path did you take to start your new career with St. Mary’s Healthcare?
A: I grew up in Amsterdam, and my sister has worked here at St. Mary’s for many years. I worked for Hill & Markes for over eight years and loved my work there. In 2022, we were acquired, and things were becoming more like a large corporation. I liked working for a family-owned, community-based organization.
I loved everything that I did during my time there. Still, when an opportunity at St. Mary’s became available, I was interested because it’s part of this community where I grew up, where my children and my family live.
Q: You were in a key human resources position during the COVID-19 pandemic. How challenging was that for you?
A: The entire pandemic changed our jobs, a lot of stuff got thrown on HR — tracking [and]reporting — something we never had to deal with before. After that, we saw cultures completely change, including the desire to work from home. People want to be at home more, which is great, and they want to spend more time with their families.
I think there were more employee relations issues and more accommodation requests — all that had to be managed.
Q: Of all the policies within a corporation, the pandemic wasn’t one of the tabs in your HR manual. How did you manage that?
A: Everything had to be created. The Department of Health and CDC all tried. They did great with getting sample policies out there and that sort of thing. But they don’t work in organizations like we do. We had to create our own policies.
Q: In your bio, you mentioned being a cheerleader in college. Does that surprise people?
A: That’s kind of a mix. People that I meet that don’t know me, they’re shocked. They say, ‘You were a cheerleader?’
At my previous employer, we hosted a lot of events, went to many events where my personal side of me came out, and then they were like, ‘Oh, yeah, I can see it.’
Q: You have two young boys, ages 4 and 1. What is it like to be a ‘Boy Mom?’
A: I love being a ‘boy mom.’ I always thought that I wanted to be a ‘girl mom.’ My husband and I struggled to get pregnant, so by Year 3, it wasn’t ‘I want a girl,’ it was ‘I just want a baby.’ They’re wild, just so wild. They keep me on my toes.
Q: You mentioned that you like hiking and being outdoors. Was that always the case?
A: I did not enjoy the outdoors until I met my husband, James. I went to SUNY Albany, spent sometime in Long Island, and liked the busy city life.
Now that I have grown up and have a family, I’m starting to enjoy those things because that’s what’s important to me now. I’ve changed a lot, I guess you could say, since becoming a mom and becoming more of a career and family-oriented person.
I know I’ll be here forever, and I want to be here forever. You have to take advantage of what we have in the area, which is the stuff that I took for granted as a young adult. Now I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, the Adirondacks are so beautiful.’ As a younger person, there are so many great things to doin this area. I was like, ‘Oh, I want to get out of here.’ But now I’m like, ‘I love it here. Why would I ever want to leave?’
Q: To close out our conversation, how about some fun, rapid-fi re questions? To start, what are you streaming and binge-watching right now?
A: My husband and I haven’t gotten into a series or anything since my maternity leave. Since I’ve been back to work, it’s Pete the Cat [Amazon] and Lucas the Spider [YouTube].
Q: What was the first concert you went to? And the latest?
A: Kansas, I was in fifth grade in the 90s. My most recent was Hanson, I saw them in Albany.
Q: What is your favorite wintertime beverage?
A: I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink tea, so it’s hot chocolate.
Q: What is your favorite to-go or take-out food or cuisine?
A: Pizza with pepperoni. I love Pizza Supreme in Broadalbin. That is my spot — so good.
Q: Name a person, living or dead, you want to have dinner with.
A: Taylor Swift. First of all, she’s so intelligent. She’s a billionaire now, but seems just down to Earth and fun. I think we’d have a good time and I could learn a lot from her.