Five Questions with Arlene Markham
August 25, 2020
While she has a passion for critical thinking and analysis, Arlene Markham is someone who also isn’t afraid to follow her intuition, which has guided her through pivotal moments in her life to create an incredible life story. This risk technical analyst for PartnerSource is also deeply dedicated to serving others in both her professional and personal lives. Meet Arlene!
You once found a job because of a snowstorm, and another after attending a conference. How did that happen?
My interest in analytics was piqued back in the 1980s when I worked for the corporate entity that owned one of my favorite stores, Casual Corner. It was by chance that I found the company’s buying office. At the time, I was working in the insurance industry, managing the Universal Life policies, but I had always loved to the fashion industry. One evening, I was driving home to Springfield, Massachusetts, from my work in Hartford, Connecticut. It was snowing, which started turning into a snowstorm. I was forced to get off the interstate, and driving through town roads, I came upon a beautiful, eight-story glass building that stated, “Women’s Retail Specialty, division of US Shoe Corp” on it. Fascinated, I wrote down the address and went home. The weather wasn’t as bad in Springfield, so I changed out of my work clothes and headed straight to the library. There I was with a microfiche, newspapers and books, finding everything I could about the workings of the fashion industry and more importantly, Women’s Specialty Retailing, which was the buying office for one of several of my favorite stores, including Casual Corner! I soon applied for a position there, was hired, and ended up working there for 11 years. I learned all about the fashion industry, and how deeply analytics was used in merchandising, as an assistant buyer/store analyst.
Years later, after I had moved to Atlanta, Georgia, I heard the incredible Bishop T.D. Jakes speak at the last session of Woman Art Loosed conference. When I left that evening, I was so moved, I knew I wanted to work for that man to help make a difference in other’s lives. A year after that conference, I heard that Bishop Jakes was looking for a top-notch professional for his executive offices of the church he was opening. I submitted my resume, was contacted within a week, and offered the position almost immediately. Intuition had again guided me to apply for the position, even with having no work experience in ministry. Bishop Jakes hired me almost immediately, which moved me from Atlanta to the Dallas area. I don’t believe a person’s life is just a series of happenstance; I believe it is divinely ordered.
How does your role with PartnerSource help support programs that help workers injured on the job?
When our directors and team leaders meet with the clients, it is my department that ensures they are provided with accurate information, everything needed to make the best decision on behalf of our clients. We also provide various reporting, utilizing their loss analysis data to bring attention to trends we may see, along with comparative industry analysis to assist our clients on making informed decisions for the good of their employees. While we don’t work in safety, we can use the analytical data to identify potential areas that may suggest more safety training may be needed. I thoroughly enjoy and love working at PartnerSource: We go beyond the numbers, and we genuinely care for those we serve.
I truly believe in serving and caring about another. If one person is hurting, it affects the whole family. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind, to be understanding, to care, and sometimes, it is as simple as a smile. The smallest of things can make a big difference in the life of someone that is hurting and broken, and help in healing a person can help to heal a family. The service we provide, with the level of care, timely reporting and information -- that is what I love about working at PartnerSource.
What is one thing people might not know about PartnerSource?
Before I worked at PartnerSource, I really didn’t know that there was a workers’ comp alternative in Texas! To have another option, and to know that they rally together to provide means for an injured worker’s return-to-work really a success--to make them whole--is wonderful. I love it!
Service to others plays a large role in your life. How so?
I have a heart for service and have volunteered since I was 19 years old. I’m a certified advocate for The Turning Point of Collin County. Turning Point provides counseling, education and advocacy for those impacted by sexual violence. It’s hard to put into words how rewarding it is. You’re making a difference by providing unbiased emotional support, many times in the form of simply listening to someone.
Here’s a story: In addition to my day job and raising my family, I have volunteered for both a rape crisis hotline and a suicide hotline in the Dallas Metro area. I have been trained for both areas in crisis management. At one point, the suicide hotline needed additional assistance, because they were short on trained volunteers. I stepped up and volunteered there for two years, along with serving the rape crisis hotline, until they could train others. The Junior League of Collin County presents volunteer awards at their annual gala, and wanted to recognize me with an award for my service. While that was nice, I don’t volunteer for awards or recognition. I truly feel my purpose is to serve in assisting people who are hurting, to let them know there is a better way. I chose to assist the suicide hotline in lieu of attending the gala, and that was the most rewarding evening spent being there for a caller who had given up on their life. I do what I do because it is really a passion of mine.
What is your favorite meal?
My parents are from Jamaica, West Indies, and I’m a first-generation American in my family. My favorite meal is a Jamaican dish, Curry Goat, served with rice and bean cooked in coconut cream. My family definitely makes it well!