Victoria Schanen is the Vice President of Talent at Kipsu. She joined our team on May 30th and we recently asked her to reflect on her first 100 days. Here’s what she had to say.
Prior to joining Kipsu, I’d believed the saying that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. I’d spent three years at an early-stage tech company I loved growing the headcount 8X (from 20 to 160+) and shaping the culture. Totally awesome and not going to happen again, right?
Imagine my delight when I landed at Kipsu as employee #35 and was immersed in a talented, tight-knit team building cool software and achieving impressive growth milestones.
Are you there Dream Job? It’s me, Margaret...I mean, Victoria!
Deciding where to start was a bit like arriving at the Minnesota State Fair - overwhelming, but in the best possi
ble way. What should I try first? Though I was eager to evaluate and prioritize the work ahead of me, I was determined to dodge myopia - this is the way I did it at my last job, so this is the way I’m doing it here - and become cognizant of the Kipsu way. I observed, asked questions, listened, and learned by osmosis. It’s kind of amazing what you learn about a team in Slack - the G
IFs alone paint 1,000 words! At 100 days, I’m still a beginner though an ardent student of the culture here.
Realizing that the engineering team was in dire need of a couple additional team members, I started recruiting on Day One. I had no pipeline of candidates, no recruiting tools in place, and only light name recognition locally.
Thankfully, Kipsu has an awesome story, amazing people, and is teeming with opportunity.
I got to work on All Things Recruiting, enlisting some help from our engineers. I’m happy to report that a new engineer started with us recently - one win to fuel us onto our next hire, hopefully!
I dovetailed my recruiting with addressing our employer brand, which is very much in the beginning stages. I got us started by: updating and increasing our job postings; participating in mock interviews at both Prime Digital Academy and the Software Guild; presenting to interns at Reve Academy and giving them a tour of Kipsu; meeting with college career services offices; and meeting with college student groups.
Kipsu and Reve Academy talk shop!
Core values are the cornerstone of an employer brand and while Kipsu had a robust body of content around our core values, it dated back a couple of years when the team was about half the size it is today and was written in paragraph form. An employee survey I sent out helped distill the values down to bite-sized, essential concepts we practice. Over the course of about a month, and with the help of our executive team, we further refined them into core values which elegantly articulate how we do things at Kipsu.
We are in the process of launching our core values now.
A major theme at Kipsu has been and continues to be acting like adults - using your resourcefulness and good judgement to make decisions. Because we are extremely policy light, we decided to try our hand at creating an un-handbook. I’ve been working with our CEO, Chris Smith, and our Marketing Manager, Eva Dixon, on this project which we hope will strike the perfect balance of communicating who we are, what we believe, and how we do things, while also being a genuinely interesting read - a case study, even, of a rare Minneapolis-grown tech company. Perhaps we’ll feature a blog about the un-handbook once we’re a bit further along!
During my first 100 days, in addition to all of the above (not to mention handling payroll, benefits, and onboarding!), I also carved out time to focus on several other programs and initiatives: employee engagement (I’m launching an engagement survey soon!), employee recognition, diversity & inclusion, performance management, and employee development. Many of these projects are intertwined, both fortified and complicated by ambiguity and interdependencies. I’m leaning into these challenges with curiosity, an open heart, and unwavering dedication.
In case I haven’t alluded to this yet, our team is an extremely bright group with lots of great ideas.
I may be a department of one, but I’m certainly not standing alone. I’m just setting out on what I’m certain will be a tremendous adventure. Armed with a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies and a posse to help steer me through the noise, I couldn’t be more excited.