Chicago is swimming with founders — why I decided to jump in

I’ve known since I was 10 years old that I wanted to own my own business. Growing up in a family of small business owners, I knew that it was the path for me but I had no idea how I was going to get there or what business I wanted to start.

Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity several times in my career to work directly for entrepreneurs. I jumped at the chance to really understand not only what makes them tick, but what really drives them to succeed. What makes them the #1 believer in their own success? What fuels their desire to never give up, even when faced with crushing obstacles? What makes their eyes light up when they tell someone about their business? I had that light inside of me, I just needed a spark. But where? How?

Flashback to 2005: As a recent college grad with a Finance degree that I wasn’t fully intent on using, I found myself in a Recruiter’s office in my hometown of Cleveland. Recruiting was a field that I never really knew existed, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing in sitting across from a guy who had started his firm five months earlier. To make a long story short, he suggested that I consider working for him instead of pursuing the entry-level financial analyst position that landed me in his office in the first place. I took a chance and accepted the job. I had an extremely successful 3+ year run, learning from him every day. Life happens and eventually I found myself in Chicago, looking for a job in the city and eager to make new connections.

Over the next 6 years, I worked in several talent-focused roles. I earned my MBA and my SPHR and continued to expand my abilities and network. In 2014, I started working for a tech firm and that’s when my entrepreneurial spirit really started to stir. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but I was entering into an industry full of enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Businesses built off of simple yet profound ideas. The entire tech industry sets out to make things faster, easier, and more accessible. I was hooked.

As the head of HR for a tech company that recently secured VC funding, I was tasked with building out the Recruitment and HR function with a focus on fast growth. We needed to hire 130 people in one year, almost tripling in size, while implementing new strategies and techniques to further bolster our growth. We had limited branding, shaky Glassdoor reviews, and rampant turnover. This was going to be tough.

As with any challenge that seems insurmountable, I took the “one step at a time” approach. I also used my network. What were others in my position doing to attract and retain talent? What tools of the trade were the industry stars using? How do I make our organization stand out from the rest?

What I found from successfully building out our recruitment function and employment brand was that there are a lot of companies in the same position we were. They have seed money and want to hire but don’t know how to scale. They know their idea and culture are great but job seekers have never heard of them. They know that culture is key to an organization’s success but aren’t sure how to build one that is made to last. It’s a common story without a go-to solution. And with that, Talent-Savvy was born.

My hope is to continue to work alongside inspirational founders, eager HR teams, and passionate employees. I want to tell the world about all of the amazing things that are happening in Chicago tech. I want to be the spark that ignites others to do more than they thought that they could for a company that they love. I want to empower others with the skills needed to hire and retain the right talent. I’m so ready for this.

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