These 4 Colorado tech pros are breaking down the stuffy HR stereotype

December 9, 2016

Have you said hello to your HR person lately?

HR personnel are often viewed as people who want to ruin all the fun, get everyone in trouble and make it really, really hard to get a job. When some people think of their company’s HR person, they might have a reaction similar to this:

[video:https://youtu.be/aYmOqPFyJPw width:600 align:center autoplay:0]

Call it the Toby Effect, if you want.

Despite what stereotypes might have led you to believe, many of Colorado tech’s HR teams are Toby-free zones, where their reps are actually friendly, passionate about crafting a healthy company culture and really, really want to help you get a job.

We caught up with HR reps from three Colorado tech companies to learn more about who they are, why they love HR and how they help job-seekers get their feet in the door.

 

Jenny Truax, director of talent acquisition

Where'd you go to school, and what did you study?

Eastern Kentucky University — Psychology

How long have you been at Healthgrades? How long have you worked in HR?

Been with Healthgrades since January 2016. Been in HR for 12 years.

What's your favorite thing about working in HR?

The opportunity to have a direct impact on the talent that makes up the company. I believe right talent is the backbone of every company and without it, a company won’t flourish. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of traditional HR to make our team be seen as a true partner.

What's the biggest challenge?

I am not a fan of “stereotypical HR.” When colleagues think of HR as punitive rule makers and paper pushers, we can’t be true partners. It’s my goal to overcome this stereotype. Some of the stereotypes are being purely transactional and tactical, such as writing policies (we do this at times, but it is with the purpose of creating equality in the workplace), knowing where to order catered lunch (I have no idea), and stuck in old procedures and unwilling to change.

I believe in constant change — it’s the only way we can have continuous improvement and evolve as a team and as an organization. It’s okay to bend the rules sometimes, or get rid of policies that don’t make sense, or completely rewrite them. HR should be approachable!

What do you do for fun?

Cycling, trail running, time with my friends and dog, craft beer, traveling, singing.

Can job seekers contact you if they have questions about Healthgrades or a specific position?

Sure — Email me.

 

Nick Larche, senior manager of talent acquisition

Where'd you go to school, and what did you study?

I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY, and I studied criminal justice. Liberal arts degree at a tech school — not my best decision. That said, I think it was a precursor for my ending up in tech, even if was in HR. I also obtained my Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. I had no plans of entering a non-practicing career path. I took the bar. I am a licensed attorney in Colorado, but I fell into the HR/People space and have found it incredibly rewarding.

How long have you been at EMS Software? How long have you worked in HR?

Just over a month. I’ve been in HR since August 2014.

What's your favorite thing about working in HR?

There is a reason HR is progressively making the brand transition to “People” …although I have yet to claim such a title myself. “People” is more of mindset than a title. My two cents. I am a huge fan of Marcus Lemonis (of CNBC’s The Profit) and his three-step formula for business success has really stuck with me: People, Product, Process. HR plays very heavily in the People and Process space and is uniquely positioned to reorient organizations towards healthier and more sustainable growth. It’s not about ensuring happiness. That’s a neurochemical equation that I can’t balance for you, which is why I scoff at the title of Chief Happiness Officer. It’s about creating and supporting an environment in which your people can do their best work every day, and ensuring that the organization’s operations are both efficient and scalable.

What's the biggest challenge?

By far, I would have to say proving the value of the HR function to business leaders across the organization. Far too often, HR is relegated to administration and compliance. Some of that is our own doing, and the HR industry needs to evolve in order to remain relevant. If we truly want to be seen as a strategic partner, we need to be strategic and we need to demonstrate our value.

What do you do for fun?

Test and tour Colorado breweries (the Denver Pub Pass was probably the best $25 investment I have ever made), learn the fundamentals of digital marketing by running my own WordPress website (and corresponding social media accounts) and running and spoiling my two-year-old Golden/Terrier, Lincoln.

Can job seekers contact you if they have questions about EMS or a specific position?

Yes! Today’s recruiter needs to be available through a variety of media. They can email me, tweet me, or connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m also open to networking and grabbing a coffee or a beer with potential fits for EMS (…but I’m pretty damn good at reading people and generally know when people are just looking for a free drink — so do keep that in mind).

Anything else you'd like to add?

Denver is showcasing itself as a progressive city for HR practitioners. I’ve seen that in my own networking, and through the quarterly meetup that I organize — HR UndergroundX. Those practitioners with a future in our industry are the ones that understand the practice needs to evolve, and that we need to justify our own operations in data and dollars.

 

Emily Myska, people coordinator

Where'd you go to school, and what did you study?

I received my undergraduate degree from Montana State University - Billings and studied Mass Communications. I received my graduate degree from the University of Sydney in Peace and Conflict Studies

How long have you been at Sphero? How long have you worked in HR?

I have been at Sphero for just over a year and a half and I have worked in HR for two and a half years.

What's your favorite thing about working in HR?

I really enjoy meeting all of the new employees and working with all of the extremely smart and talented people at our company!

What's the biggest challenge?

Getting to know all of the employees and building relationships with them during a rapid growth period.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel, snowboard, mountain bike and spend time with my husband and 10-month-old son.

Can job seekers contact you if they have questions about Sphero or a specific position?

Absolutely! Please email me

 

Nicole Santilli, recruiting coordinator

Where'd you go to school, and what did you study?

I graduated from Colorado College in 2012 and I majored in sociology and minored in music.

How long have you been at Sphero? How long have you worked in HR?

I've been at Sphero for about ten and a half months and this is my first HR role. I previously worked in sales at a tech company in San Francisco.

What's your favorite thing about working in HR?

I really enjoy helping both candidates and employees have incredible experiences with Sphero — making sure they have access to all the necessary information and resources so that they are comfortable and happy in the work environment. I like thinking big picture about company culture and helping my team to create programs that both support that culture and make people genuinely happy to work at Sphero.

What's the biggest challenge?

It can be hard to be empathetic and approachable yet firm in your communication and actions all at the same time. I'd also say that a lot more goes into HR-related decisions than people realize; the decisions can seem simple, but in fact there are lot of unique nuances and legal implications that need to be taken into account that can be hard to plan for and affect the entire company.

What do you do for fun?

In my free time, you can find me doing your typical Colorado activities (camping, hiking, etc), and I am an avid skier/snowboarder (I planned a trip to go boarding in Japan in February!). I play rec league sports and I love cooking, breweries, seeing live music, watching TV (Westworld, Game of Thrones, The Office) and my cat Alfie.

Can job seekers contact you if they have questions about Sphero or a specific position?

Yes! Feel free to reach out via LinkedIn or email me

 

Photos via featured companies.

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