Patricia Lee is a quintessential Jersey girl. She was born, raised and schooled in New Jersey and has spent her entire human-resources career working at companies based in New Jersey, including KPMG (No. 15 in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity¬®), Unilever, Liberty Travel and now Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies).
“If New Jersey wanted to make a commercial about New Jersey, they should come interview me,” says Lee, who joined Wyndham Worldwide Corp. as senior vice president of human resources four years ago.
The one time she ventured out of state: when she attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
“I studied archaeology and the classics. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Lee says. “But once I got into human resources, I went back to Rutgers University to get my master’s degree in human-resource management.”
During her more than 20 years as a human-resources professional, she has “never held a title solely dedicated to diversity and inclusion,” she says. “But a good 75 percent of the time, I was touching, influencing or involved with diversity.”
Lee lives with her partner of 21 years. “Although I can’t say I’m totally out to the world, I have shared my personal experiences and life with many friends and coworkers,” she says. “It hasn’t stood in my way and it continues to give me the opportunity to further understanding of what diversity is and how it impacts individuals.”
Lee first joined Wyndham Exchange and Rental in March 2004 when it was still a Cendant company, she says. In 2006, Lee asked to join Wyndham Worldwide in her current role when the company was spun off in August 2006.
Wyndham employs 25,000 employees globally and operates in more than 100 different countries.
Lee has always had a passion for diversity issues because she knows “the power of unleashing talent, of removing the barriers of someone being constrained by their perceptions of difference or the reality of bias in the workplace.”
“It’s freeing, energizing and empowering,” she adds. “That’s when people can really make a difference.”