When Joy Wilkie was growing up in the famed Ozarks region in southwest Missouri along the Arkansas border, she wanted to be an artist. Then a counselor and social worker.
She never set out to work in human resources, but it makes sense looking back, she says.
“During my senior year of high school, I marched in our homecoming parade with the Amnesty International Club wearing a shirt I made that said ‘I Heart Humans,’” Joy says.
After years of working in economic development and recruiting and hiring for various companies, she found her way to Trueline in November 2020 and hasn’t looked back.
“These last few years, there’s been a major change in human resources for the betterment of the employee, so much so that when I came to Trueline, I wanted my title to reflect the new world of human resources,” says Joy, Trueline’s director of people and culture. “I’m passionate about making the work experience great for everyone.”
Joy says her parents taught her to value helping people—her mother worked for several years with students and adults with disabilities and then in the hospitality industry, doing group sales and management, and her father worked in advertising and marketing.
Small Towns and Big Cities
During middle school, Joy moved with her parents and younger sister to Orlando, the theme park capital of the world.
“My mom got a job helping open one of Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner theaters on International Drive,” Wilkie recalls.
It took some adjusting, but Joy acclimated to the heat and humidity of central Florida and found a home at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs. For college, she knew she wanted a different experience.
“If I was going to take out college loans, I might as well get the most out of it, so I went to The King’s College in New York City,” she recalls. “My classes were literally in the Empire State Building.”
For three years, Joy lived in an apartment in Herald Square near the famous Macy’s, the largest store in the world. For her senior year, she moved to Borough Park in Brooklyn, which has a large Hasidic population. The neighborhood was so safe that she could sleep in her first floor, street-facing apartment with the windows open.
“I was committed to working in rural economic development, so I knew I would leave New York, and though I love big cities, I like a slower pace,” Joy says.
After college, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and spent several years helping compile and edit a textbook on rural poverty and economic development while working full-time in a “weird intersection of social work, economic development, recruiting and human resources.”
She did that for five years before moving back to Orlando to work for an international hotel tech company, Hotelbeds, where she developed online training on hiring, best practices and diversity. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Joy focused her energy on gaining a human resources certification, and she joined Trueline in November 2020.
“I knew from the beginning that our company is incredibly sincere and the amount of genuine care our executive team has for our employees was obvious in my initial interviews,” Joy says.
Directing people and culture has been a challenge, especially with the company’s remote operation not affording her an opportunity to get an office vibe by simply walking around.
Instead, Joy keeps her finger on the pulse of the business and Trueline employees by trying to connect with as many people as possible each week. She says she’s been successful at Trueline—and in her other jobs—because she’s always led with sincerity and because people know she really cares.
“It’s my job to know how people are doing, and if you encourage everybody to share what they need from the company, and if the people are willing to put in what they want to get back, it should be a positive culture regardless of geography,” Joy says.
As someone who’s name evokes feelings of happiness, she’s always tried to remain upbeat and positive, and she wants Trueliners to feel the same.
“I’m happy to say that I’ll do this for the rest of my career,” she says.
Bonus facts about Joy Wilkie
Did you know? While living in New York City for college, Joy Wilkie watched many Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades from her apartment window. She shares a birthday, July 22, with Selena Gomez, Prince George, David Spade and Willem Dafoe.
Who’d play you? Daisy Ridley, because “seeing a Jedi that looks like me is a pretty cool experience.”
Bucket list: Traveling to Paris and Italy.
Greatest achievement so far: Buying a house with her longtime partner, Robert Zaun.