How Garret Kilmer went from studying HR at HST to teaching it—and landing a job at L’Oreal

In this interview, I had the chance to sit down in front of a snowy palace in Madrid with Garret Kilmer to talk about how studying HR at HST led him to working at L’Oreal—and teaching in the same program that he was once a student in.

Garret first completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Interested in the research and organizational side of the field, he decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Work, Organizational, and Personnel Psychology at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). He had the chance to intern at a company in Germany while he was studying HR, and it was there that he learned about IE University. 

He enrolled in the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources the next year, graduating in 2019. Not long after, he joined L’Oreal Paris in the organizational development team, where he’s worked ever since. He also teaches in the same program.

We had the chance to chat with Garret to learn about his journey from studying HR to teaching it, and starting an exciting role at a top multinational company.

What motivated you to complete two master’s degrees?

Growing up, I was an eagle scout, and was always involved in leadership activities and team buildings. While it might not seem like it, these are HR-related topics. Later, when I was at FIT, I gained theoretical knowledge through my degree and my internship. But I wanted to bring that experience closer to HR, so I decided to study HR specifically.

After researching the syllabus and professors in the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources, I knew it was for me. And since graduating from the program in 2019, my profile has combined both science-based and business practices. 

So what are you up to post-graduation?

I’m currently working at L’Oreal Paris on the organizational development team. My role is to develop surveys for all 80,000 employees around the world. Right now, I’m working on two main projects: developing an engagement survey and a leadership survey, both on a global scale. 

It’s more than just collecting the data and making the survey. My role is to ask: What do we do now? How do we bring them to where they want to be in terms of engagement? How do we get to the next level? We are a small team with a big impact.

How did IE University prepare you for your career?

IE University provided me with a new perspective about many different areas and how they connect to other things. I was taught how to take what I’ve learned and use it where it’s applicable, whether learning and development or diversity and inclusion. I also learned how to use metrics in order to improve these areas.

What compelled you to go from studying HR to teaching it?

I have strong opinions about how HR should be, what’s important for the next generation, and what I think everyone should know. I’m a big fan of being the change you want to see. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I never expected it to happen so fast. I took Assessments and Psychometrics last year, and when the class ended, I felt like it wasn’t enough. So I volunteered to teach a class to the students. The feedback was positive, and the opportunity was there. The next year, I was co-teaching with Wim in this class.

Also, it’s in the spirit of IE that you don’t have to be 50 years old or have tons of experience to be someone that others can learn from. Learning happens from anyone, any place, and any time. If I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about a certain topic than others have, I want to share what I know. My approach is science and practice, and I think I brought the science approach to both studying HR and teaching it.

Biggest takeaways from your time at IE University?

That you can learn from anyone around you. Hearing other people’s experiences is also a learning method. Knowledge is not just something shared by the professor. It’s all around you.

If you could go back in time and change anything—besides the pandemic—what would you change?

I would’ve participated more in clubs and gotten more involved within the IE community. I think they have so many opportunities that you should take advantage of once you’re there. There are so many events put on that students should go to. 

Any advice for current and future students?

Don’t be afraid to rock the boat or make changes happen. If I hadn’t put myself out there, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become a professor and bring change to the course. There are always ways to contribute, and you might have the very skills to make that change. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You can make valuable changes when you do.

Lizbeth Hernandez, Talent + Leadership Editor for Rewire Mag, was born and raised in the small town of Aguadilla in Puerto Rico. She later moved to San Juan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. She was involved in the Society of Human Resources Association (SHRM) and was a collaborator for Her Campus. Currently, she is pursuing the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources at HST.