Susan S. Mahaffee, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, NDCCDP
President + Founder
"One of the driving forces behind the name “People Rise” lies in the poetry of the legendary Maya Angelou. Inspired by the famous words “Still I Rise,” Susan embodies the spirit of resilience and perseverance. With this name, she aims to encourage clients to rise above challenges and embrace growth with unwavering determination." - WomElle Magazine, August 2023
I have accumulated extensive experience managing the human resource function for both public and private multinational companies. Most recently, I served as the Chief People Officer (CPO) at Majestic Steel USA. In late 2022, I decided to follow my passion for helping leaders at all stages of personal and professional development to, as I often say, "make an impact on people's lives." My expertise comes from "working my way up" in multiple industries. I have prided myself in staying connected and present with employees in the field/on the floor, leading cross-functional teams, and coaching senior executives for success. This collective experience and a story of perseverance while working full-time throughout college laid the groundwork for launching my people advisory firm, People Rise LLC.
In my career, I have also held other impactful roles, including Global Director of People and Organization for the Corporate Headquarters of Mars Incorporated, based in McLean, Virginia. There, I led their global talent strategy within its legal, corporate affairs, and sustainability functions, driving the adoption of its new approach to hybrid working and the ‘Future of Work.’ During my nearly nine years there, I played a crucial role in a global people and organization (P&O) transformation and built numerous high-performing leaders and management teams.
Throughout my journey, I have served in various positions within multiple public and private companies, such as Waste Management, Office Depot, and AECOM at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). My professional accreditations include being a Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR), Certified Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Senior Professional of Human Resources (SHRM-SCP), Certified Facilitator with Development Dimensions International (DDI), PPROSCI Certified Change Practitioner, and National Diversity Council Certified Diversity Practitioner (NDCCDP). I also hold a Certificate of Strategic Decision Making from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Executive Education School and an HR Ethics Certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). Previously, I held a CPHR designation with Canada's Chartered Professionals in Human Resources from 2014-2018. Additionally, I completed a certificate in Advanced Organizational Design from Hult International Business School's Ashridge Executive Education program taught by the world authority on corporate strategy, Andrew Campbell, in Berkhamsted, Herts, UK. I have been serving as a Board Member of the Anne Arundel County Society for Human Resources Management (ASHRM) for four years and now hold the position of Membership Chair.
Passionate about advocating for various causes, I frequently speak on the impact of the pandemic on women and other underrepresented groups. Notably, I presented and served as a panelist at the National Manufacturing Diversity Summit in 2022 and was honored to be named one of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Ohio for 2022. I also appeared as a guest on Perennial Talent’s podcast, “Skills of the Future,” discussing the significance of promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace.
Outside of work, I enjoy my time at home with my son just outside Annapolis, Maryland, where we actively sponsor Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy and manage our Little Free Library. I earned an M.B.A. in Global Business and Organizational Leadership, a B.S. in Management with a concentration in Human Resources Management, and an A.S. in Advertising Communications from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
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