Hiring Notes From Boston HR Leaders Who Just Started New Jobs

July 30, 2020
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One of the more meta experiences in the human resources world is the process of sourcing, interviewing, hiring and onboarding a candidate to lead your people team. After all, the person sitting across from you will soon manage the process they are currently experiencing. While they’re showing their personality, explaining their work history and convincing would-be colleagues of their suitability for the role, they’re simultaneously gathering valuable first-hand data about the company’s candidate and new hire experience.

Built In checked in with five HR leaders who recently started work at new companies. Their experiences highlight the importance of establishing values alignment early in the recruiting process and offering access to potential colleagues across an organization or team. And while many people teams have had to adjust their plans this year, these HR leaders say their companies are busy building solid foundations to support a coming season of accelerated growth.

 

Kristen Kenny
SVP of People

After leading people teams at software provider Endeca, along with stints at HubSpot and CarsGuru, Kristen Kenny started work at customer engagement firm EngageSmart this summer. The company works with clients to build engaging SaaS platforms and assist with digital transformation. 

 

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

During the recruitment process I always felt the team wanted to learn about me beyond my resume, taking a more holistic view to learn about my aptitude and attitude. The process was welcoming and authentic — I never felt the team was trying to tick a box. The recruiting process was transparent and the team made sure to keep me in the loop during every phase of the process. That is refreshing for a candidate, and showed that their customer-centric approach is emulated during the recruiting process.

 

EngageSmart has shifted focus to expand our education around D&I.”

What are your team’s goals for the rest of 2020?

Like many companies, our goals have changed this year. EngageSmart has shifted focus to expand our education around D&I. This includes providing employees a safe space to speak, and partnering with CEO Action to build a more diverse work environment. We’re also continuing our efforts in leadership development and recruiting top talent around the U.S.

 

Meg Donovan
Chief People Officer

Nexthink builds employee experience software and — if new Chief People Officer Meg Donovan’s hiring and onboarding process is any indication — they certainly know their stuff. Donovan began work at the global firm in May, after leading people teams at several large software and utilities providers.  

 

What part of your company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

One thing that I was really impressed by was the effort Nexthink’s leadership team put on values alignment. They really wanted to make sure my values aligned with those of the organization: being positive, having a “one team, one fight” mentality, focusing on continuous improvement, learning and getting things done. I appreciated that so much.

 

We know that positive employee experience improves company performance.”

What are your team’s goals for the rest of 2020?

This year we’re focused on leveling up — continuing to build upon our own employee experience as we scale and grow. We know that positive employee experience improves company performance. My goal is to stay focused on how we deliver employee experience through all our people programs: from hiring and onboarding to performance management and total rewards.

 

Jenna Connell
Head of Global Talent Acquisition

After raising $42 million and announcing plans to hire 100 people in June, database management and search startup Starburst Data appears to be on a meteoric rise. Head of Global Talent Acquisition Jenna Connell came to the company after a long career working with startups and tech giants alike throughout Silicon Valley and around the country. 

 

What part of your company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

What stood out the most during my interview process was the leadership team’s authenticity. The work that had already been done around culture and core values was impressive to me. It’s still mind blowing to me that Starburst has only been around for two-and-a-half years, was profitable prior to funding and was invested in setting deep cultural foundations to support hyper growth. The company just had so many of the right ingredients so early on that they became the standout to me during the interview process.

 

We also want to ensure our core values run through every step...”

What are your team’s goals for the rest of 2020?

Our goals for the rest of 2020 are lofty as we build and ramp the talent acquisition process to fully support Starburst’s growth. We are bringing in an applicant tracking system and ensuring that our process is nimble, fast, transparent and respectful. We want to hire and scale across the company with a documented process that provides a best-in-class experience for every candidate. We also want to ensure our core values run through every step and that we can bring in unstoppable all-stars to the team while creating a diverse and inclusive team. We are actively hiring across every function.

 

“The New Normal”Read More Remote Recruiting Stories Here

 

Stacey Richey
VP of People at Corvus Insurance

Corvus Insurance’s business — using AI to help brokers and policyholders predict and prevent losses through cyber attacks — is deadly serious. But new VP of People Stacey Richey points out the company culture maintains a healthy sense of humor. Case in point: the proliferation of bird and crow-related puns around the workplace. Richey has led recruiting and talent acquisition teams at companies in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston. 

 

What part of your company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

A few things stood out during the hiring process: the people, the mission and the opportunity to join a soaring company (we are into bird and flying-related puns here). I was really impressed with how each person was down-to-earth, brilliant and collaborative. The unique expertise each person brings is valued. It’s quite special to have the opportunity to work with amazing humans who are all united by a common, purposeful mission that really is a force for good. And finally, the growth that Corvus is facing is tremendous. We have already doubled in size this year, and are looking forward to bringing on at least 30 more employees.

 

For the rest of 2020 we remain focused on reaching our long-term business objectives.”

What are your team’s goals for the rest of 2020?

For the rest of 2020 we remain focused on reaching our long-term business objectives. That includes making hires across the organization in engineering, product, sales, underwriting, G&A and marketing. We will continue best practices in each functional area so we can scale at a rapid pace. 2020 is about laying the foundation for explosive growth in the coming years.

 

Kyla Hanaway-Quinlan
VP of People & Culture

After building talent and HR functions from the ground up at Zagster, Kyla Hanaway-Quinlan moved to fellow mobility tech company Superpedestrian in June. Founded at MIT in 2013, the company built an electric assist bicycle wheel before pivoting to electric scooter fleets in 2018. The company’s Vehicle Intelligence platform helps manage the health and viability of fleets across the U.S.

 

What part of your company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you? 

What stands out to me at Superpedestrian is how much everyone loves their work. The company is filled with people who are experts in what they do, and passionate about what we’re driving toward. That really came across in the interview and hiring process. There is a deeply embedded culture of collaboration between departments. Everyone is empowered to do their part to accomplish the shared goals.

 

It is an incredibly exciting time for the company to move from developing a product to deploying it in the real world.”

What are your team’s goals for the rest of 2020? 

We’ve officially brought the product to market in the U.S., and are now in the process of setting live operations in Europe within the next month. It is an incredibly exciting time for the company to move from developing a product to deploying it in the real world.

 

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