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Hillary Hays, Director of People- San Diego

Name: Hillary Hays

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Northern California but raised in La Mesa, which is in East County San Diego.

What’s a short story around the biggest transition you’ve faced in life?
I grew up in San Diego and went to San Diego State University so after graduation I knew I needed to explore a different city and meet different types of people. I convinced my best friend from kindergarten to join me so we could experience the change together. We looked at the map, randomly choose Austin, Texas and within 30 days we were on the road. Austin was a great choice because it was close enough to get ourselves there but far enough away that we would not be tempted to come home if times were tough. I had a great experience, met some wonderful people and stayed for a few years before returning to be closer to my family and start my professional career.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a younger you?
Trust that everything happens for a reason and view life’s adversities as opportunities for self-discovery.

Your Personal Why?
I am naturally a very curious person and I truly enjoy pealing back one layer at a time to discover what makes someone unique and what motivates them. My why used to be about proving I could be successful to my family of over achievers and academics, then it was about independence, financial gains and company awards and recognition. Those were great drivers at the time, but I realized that those extrinsic motivators did not bring me the joy and fulfilment I was seeking. My lifelong passion for people discovery and learning about the unique experiences someone has gone through to build new perspectives has always been my constant and my true intrinsic motivator. Adding value in any way I can to someone else’s journey is truly rewarding and why I’ve transitioned to the non-profit sector.

How does your Why drive you to be a part of the THF Ecosystem?
My admiration for this community, knowledge of the employment industry, drive for people development, corporate connections and desire to give back motivates me to be a part of this amazing ecosystem.

Military Connection or Why do you respect Special Operators?
My grandpa was a corporal in the 1st Marine Division after serving in France during WW1. For WW2, he was inducted as a full Colonel in the Army serving in the Pentagon to coordinate legal issues between the railroads after the government took over the railroads for war time production. My other grandpa enlisted in the Navy at age 17 just before the end of WW2 and went through the V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet Program. My uncle was Marine Corps JAG as a Captain in the 1st Marine Division. My cousin is currently a Lt. Commander in the Navy working as a professor at Annapolis and my other cousin is USMC 1st Reconnaissance Battalion training supervisor who recently transitioned out and is now a government contractor at the Naval Health Research Institute. I have a tremendous amount of respect for military service and Special Operators due to the courage, bravery, skills and selflessness this community exemplifies.

Favorite THF Value, and why?
Each of the values resonate with me but Be You is probably at the top of my list because of how much value I place on authenticity and self-discovery. I consider self-awareness to be a true compass for navigating everything life puts in front of you.

Area/Industry of expertise
I have been in the employment industry for the last 15 years working for the largest recruiting firm in the US. I have experience working with 100’s of different companies, primarily in North County San Diego, to uncover and strategize the best approach for them to accomplish their hiring needs. I have also led and developed dozens of recruiters to build industry relationships and identify a candidates’ goals, skills and interests so we could help place them in the right corporate environment. I am also a certified Strengths coach and have been passionate about Strengths consulting with individuals and teams since I started my career in 2005.

Contact Hillary directly at