“Love life and joyously live each day to its ultimate good.”
That’s a line from the creed of Alpha Sigma Alpha, which Sister Christine Bry — our new Human Relations Generalist — lives to the fullest.
“She’s a total pro,” Ryan says. “Not only does she bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, but she’s been a huge fan of Cape May Brewing Co. for years. We’re glad to have her aboard!”
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she explains, “so that’s why I studied psychology.”
In fact, Christine is still active with her college sorority, participating in leadership development for the current college students, through training and other educational experiences.
“After college, I went to work for a small company — about twelve employees. The owner founded it; the son ran it.”
As the company grew, Christine realized that they were getting to the size that they needed someone running Human Resources.
“I saw so many things that I knew needed to be done differently,” she says. “They needed certain policies and procedures. I asked them if they would send me to school for it, and they said no.”
Undaunted, Christine decided to find a company that would send her to school for Human Resources, eventually working for NovaCare and attending Villanova University for her MS in Human Resources Development.
“My father is a Villanova alum,” she says. “And they had a great Human Resources development program.”
Christine truly loved her job at NovaCare, working in King of Prussia at the corporate office.
“It was fun,” she says. “It was a bunch of thirty-somethings. We had great camaraderie and great communication. The company was full of energy. I had great leaders.”
When PPS came along — the Prospective Payment System, a method of determining insurance reimbursement — it marked a change for Christine.
“I was part of a team that had to lay off over 500 therapists,” she says, sadly.
After that, she was able to reduce her role at the company, giving her time to finish her studies, and eventually moving on to work for Lower Marion Township.
“That was my foray into writing policies, procedures, performance evaluations systems,” she says. “They had 144 police officers and no performance evaluation systems.”
It sounds like they definitely needed Christine’s help. She worked there for two years before a friend of hers from NovaCare let her know that another healthcare system was looking for someone in HR.
“I loved healthcare so much, I came over and spent eighteen years at that company,” she says. “I’m a loyal person.”
We love loyalty!
When she’s not working, Christine and her husband John love to travel.
“My mother is very young — 71-years old — and she wanted to do something adventurous when she retired at 65,” Christine says, “so we went white water rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.”
They did it all: slept outside, hiked, went for helicopter rides — all with her 65-year-old mother. And she’s done it again, twice.
“You learn a lot about yourself when you’re out with twenty strangers and your mother,” she says, laughing. “You learn where your people cutoff is.”
She also points to raising her children as a fantastic adventure. Christine has a daughter who just turned 28 and is expecting her first in August and a son who will soon turn 25 who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“They’ve been my greatest adventures,” she says. “They’re both different and they’re both challenging. Motherhood is very challenging.”
Nonetheless, Christine still finds time to travel, tasting craft beer along the way.
“We’re water people,” she says. “We go snorkeling and scuba diving.”
They’ve been throughout the Caribbean, enjoying water activities wherever they go.
“But the beer is sub-par to Cape May,” she says. “We always come back to Cape May.”
Giggling, Christine counts Jaws as her favorite movie of all time.
“There are a lot of HR references in Jaws,” she says. “There’s a lot you could learn from Jaws. And as far as cinematography goes, it has a lot of uniqueness to it. It really was a trailblazer.”
She’s also a fan of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
“They’re my favorites,” she says. “I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen in every Philadelphia venue, including Vet Stadium, JFK, but, yeah. All of them.
“And I saw Billy again last year. His last few concerts have been kind of… I mean, they’re still good, but he just sits at the piano and says, ‘Okay, I have two songs. Which do you want to hear?’ It’s a little bit different. He can still rock out a tune, though, don’t get me wrong. He can still play that piano.”
She’s a big football fan, as well.
“I joined the band in high school just so I could go to all the football games,” she says. “I played the flute. Not very well. Sometimes I’d just fake it. I just wanted to watch the football games.”
We’re thankful that her career as a flutist didn’t quite pan out because now we get to have her running our one-woman HR department.
“Making others happy makes me happy,” she says. “Seeing others happy. Being in Human Resources, doing the little things that are going to make a difference for people every day.
“Drinking a good beer makes me happy. Going to the beach makes me happy.”
So, it sounds like Christine is the perfect person to run HR at a small, local brewery by the beach. Though she’d been at her previous job for eighteen years, this was an opportunity she couldn’t let pass.
“It’s the opportunity to be my own HR department and work for a place that I love the beer,” she says. “I have a passion for the employees that make the beer.”
In addition, at her previous position, she’d been tasked with traveling throughout six states, managing their Human Resources.
“And this is close to home,” she says. “I don’t have to travel. To have that combination in this part of New Jersey, it’s five-star.”
And Christine loves a lot about the area. Being closer to home, she’s able to take her labradoodle, Calypso, for walks on the beach and take rides on the ferry over to Delaware and bike to some of the breweries across the Bay.
“It’s the ultimate work-life balance,” she says.
She’s jumping in with both feet, truly looking forward to her time here.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all of the people who make some of the best beer in New Jersey and taking care of them,” she says. “You need it. You need HR here. There’s a lot for me to do, and I think my experience is going to help. And I bring that knowledge and experience, but also that fun demeanor.”
And, truly, that’s what we’ve needed. Our original, part-time HR hire of Agnes quickly realized that there was more work than could be handled by someone working part-time and suggested that we find a full-time HR Generalist. So we began looking for someone with knowledge and experience who would also let us be us. We’re a non-traditional bunch around here; we like to have our fun.
That’s the truth.
Regardless, Christine is looking forward to the challenge.
“You have some really great people that work here,” she says, “and they take pride in what they do. And that’s great. Nobody wants to leave and everybody wants to stay and make it better. That commitment, that retention is awesome. I want to continue to foster that.”
It doesn’t hurt that she gets to have constant interaction with her favorite brewery; however, she’ll have to wait a few months until her favorite beer returns.
“Mop Water,” she says. “I like that it’s non-traditional. I love to try new things, though, so I like the Lager. I’m looking forward to a bunch of the things we have coming down the pipeline. I’m looking forward to getting to try things as they come out. I tried that stout on Friday. I don’t normally like stouts, but I was like, ‘This is actually really good!’”
Christine is definitely looking forward to being the first in line to try new brews. In fact, it sounds like Christine has a lot to look forward to while she’s here. And we’re lucky to have her!
Be sure to say hello to Christine the next time you run into her in the Tasting Room!