Realizing that I could change someone's life by introducing them to an exciting career in arboriculture has been truly rewarding
In honor of International Women’s Day, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is sharing stories about women in the arboriculture profession throughout the month of March to honor their contributions to the industry.
Although Nicole Belhumeur’s journey with arboriculture began with a desire to work outdoors, her career eventually took her in another direction.
Growing up in Maine, Belhumeur was surrounded by nature which sparked her desire and interest in working outdoors in the landscape. This also led to her pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Rhode Island (URI).
During her junior year, Belhumeur participated in a summer internship at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
“At the time, I had no idea how impactful this opportunity would be,” Belhumeur said. I gained experience in horticulture, arboriculture, plant production, and curation. Looking back, it was one of the most valuable experiences I have had in my career, thanks to the incredible Arboretum staff.”
After graduating, Belhumeur worked at a landscape architecture firm, but her desire to work outdoors eventually won out.
“While I enjoyed the projects and people that I worked with, I craved being outdoors again,” she said. “I reached out to my professor, Angelo Simeoni, who I credit for helping me get essentially every internship and job I have held since starting college. Angelo referred me to another URI alum, Greg Carbone, the Vice President of Commercial Accounts at Bartlett Tree Experts. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I would be doing on a daily basis, but I knew it would get me back into the field. When I joined the Ashland, MA office in 2014, I quickly realized that I was working with a group of talented arborists who were supportive from day one. Fortunately, it was a great fit, and I am thankful for the team members I worked with for helping me advance my career in the industry.”
A few years later, Belhumeur found herself making another transition in her career. In 2015 she attended the National Collegiate Landscape Competition held at North Carolina State University. It was there where she met the manager of recruitment for Bartlett Tree Experts.
A few months later, Belhumeur received an email for the manager of recruitment asking if she as interested in pursuing a corporate recruitment position at the corporate office.
“While it was tough to imagine leaving the field for a desk job, I decided to accept the position, and if it didn't work out, I could return to production,” she said. “Five years later, and I am still here! Every year at NCLC, I think back to my first trip and am reminded that it was a risk worth taking.”
Today Belhumeur works in the human resources department of Bartlett Tree Experts as an HR manager of recruitment, retention and development. Her role primarily focuses on supporting local offices with recruiting and onboarding new employees. She also in involved with several special projects including the Women of Bartlett Network, Intern Field Days and planning involvement with industry related trade shows.
“Working in Human Resources had never crossed my mind before this opportunity,” she said. “Realizing that I could change someone's life by introducing them to an exciting career in arboriculture has been truly rewarding.”
Belhumeur’s transition to human resources was not without its challenges.
The hardest part of the transition from the field to Human Resources was starting in a job that I had no prior experience doing,” she said. “While it was easy for me to speak passionately about career opportunities with candidates, I had to learn everything else on the job. What started as a position where I would manage job postings, phone screen candidates, and occasionally attend career fairs has evolved into something that I could never have imagined. When Jeff Giberson, Director of Human Resources, started, he identified strengths that I didn't initially recognize in myself, which provided new opportunities to improve processes and develop HR systems.
Throughout her career, however, Belhumeur said there are several moments that stand out to her.
“The most rewarding project that I have worked on has been developing and managing our applicant tracking system,” she said. “Having started in the field, I am able to draw from my experiences to implement changes and improve our candidate experience.”
Additionally, in 2018 Belhumeur had the opportunity to help plan the Bartlett Tree Experts’ first Women in Arboriculture conference.
“The event brought women from across the company together for three days of networking and skills training and strategizing about how we can help more women thrive in the highly rewarding careers available in arboriculture,” she said. “Female pillars of the industry were also invited to present or lead workshops, including Sharon Lilly, Caitlyn Pollihan, Melissa LeVangie, Rose Epperson, Melissa Duffy, Brigitte Orrick, and Alex Julius. The following year, 2019, we held our second workshop, led by Sharon Lilly. The industry is evolving in many positive ways. Increasing the number of women in the workforce will bring new ways of thinking and expand the industry's skills, insights, and perspectives.”
Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.