Confidence unlocks a person’s highest potential, and helping others build this has inspired me both professionally & personally for a long time.
As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Kristine Steuart.
As CEO and Co-Founder, Kristine Steuart leads the Allocadia team in realizing their vision of a world where marketers make every dollar count. To rally behind their mission, Kristine is focused on building a world-class team and a culture of living our core values. She is a speaker at local and global events and writes a CMO Leading in Change blog series. Kristine was named among the Top Forty Under 40 by Business in Vancouver, the Top 10 Women in Tech to Watch in 2015 by inc. magazine, and one of BC’s top 35 most influential women in business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
Early in our careers, my twin sister Katherine and I witnessed the disorganization and lack of clarity associated with managing marketing investments and program ROI. It was a professional pain we both experienced firsthand. I also always had a desire to start my own business; I am not sure where this came from, but it was something I always knew I had to try.
When we launched Allocadia, we had a clear vision of what marketers needed help with: planning and tracking their investments, and then measuring ROI to deliver business impact for the business. We wanted to give marketers the confidence to know what was working, and what wasn’t. We knew marketers were never going to reach that point unless they had an operational foundation upon which they could ‘run the business’ of marketing.
Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?
Right in the midst of raising our Seed financing round, we had an offer to buy the company. My Co-Founder Katherine and I took a long walk on the beach, talked it over and ultimately decided that we would not sell the company. We were passionate about our mission of creating confidence for every marketer, and we knew we had the ability to do more with Allocadia. We decided to take the risk and keep building. I walked into the company the next morning and started a new process to raise our financing with another group that wanted to build with us.
Ultimately, I learned that what I was passionate about was solving a pain for marketers and that I wanted to build, whatever the risk. I knew our team could do great work and we could keep growing far beyond the size we were at that point.
Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?
One thing we’ve done recently is elevating the people & culture function within Allocadia. We’re going to continue growing and I knew we’d need an executive level of expertise in this area who would enhance our peoples’ experience during a period of rapid scaling, so we hired a VP of People & Culture.
One thing she’s currently working on is strengthening how we evaluate our market competitiveness and using that to improve the quality of conversations and understanding our team members have around compensation. By strengthening our practices here first, we’re setting the right foundation for our teams to have critical conversations around career development and role development in ways that helps them understand how they contribute to the overall business success.
Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example of each idea.
- Set your Criteria: Write down the criteria for the role and align with your team on these before you start a hiring process. This internal tool becomes the basis for discussions with your team about each candidate and who is the best fit and why. This will hold you to your original goals for the role and drive better outcomes.
- Hire ahead of plan! This is as much a mindset as a tactic. This builds an “always be recruiting” mindset and gives you time to identify great candidates so you don’t compromise on any of the criteria you set ahead of time. This is why we hired a VP of People & Culture at this stage — we were planning ahead for our growth.
- Use Recruiters. A strong recruiter can be very valuable. They have their own networks to tap from and can bring new perspectives into the hiring process that your team might not have considered. To steal from Beth Comstock, it’s important to bring in those ‘sparks’ from the outside to shake things up occasionally.
- Be diligent in the hiring process: While it’s important for a rapid growth company like Allocadia to move fast and be agile, there are some things we try to be fairly strict about. Our hiring process was created to ensure we pick the right people for the right roles. This includes for example, involving others in the hiring process to get their alignment and conducting mock sessions for new candidates.
- Drive a two-way dialogue. It’s crucial to give candidates the opportunity to explore us and make sure we’re the right fit for them, in addition to them being the right fit for us. We want to make sure we’re bringing on people who are truly excited about working at Allocadia.
With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?
We attract the best talent by focusing on career-defining work, diversity, and flexible work culture. Our VP of People & Culture leads us through ensuring that as we scale, Allocadia’s culture continues to be one that naturally attracts top talent because they’ll be able to see how their day-to-day job is having a direct impact on our business success.
What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?
In order to retain the best talent at Allocadia, we use the following three strategies:
- We support career-defining work and work to make it a reality for our team. We want to understand the aspirations and desires of our people and help them determine how the work they’re doing Allocadia fits within the context of both their career and our business.
- We embrace a distributed team format. Today, approximately 20% of the company works outside of our Vancouver office and we are planning for this to grow. In our world today we have the technology available to work with people around the globe and that enables Allocadia to hire the right person regardless of geography. We’re rapidly growing our employee headcount by simply embedding the concept of remote work into the fabric of our company culture.
- We’re building a diverse business that our entire company is excited to be a part of. For example, our leadership team is more than 50% of women, and our board is exactly 50% women and men. We regularly hear from new employees that they were inspired to come to join a team that focuses on creating and sustaining gender-diversity across the entire organization.
What are some creative ways to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?
I go back to the concept of career-defining work. We hold ourselves responsible for making Allocadia a place where people can navigate their role and do it while fulfilling their own sense of purpose. The most valuable part of what we can do as a leadership team is to enable people to do this career-defining work, and it doesn’t cost a dime to establish a culture that supports this value.
It’s about investing time, not necessarily money, to help people understand how the passion for their work aligns with the business’s needs. We recognize that people go to work to earn their living, but they also need a sense of purpose and fulfillment in order to enjoy their work. We are always reviewing the practices we have in place to ensure we create an environment in which people can operate at their best.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would want to bring more confidence to people around the world. I have always believed that confidence unlocks a person’s highest potential, and helping others build this has inspired me both professionally & personally for a long time. It’s no surprise our mission at Allocadia is to ‘Bring Confidence to Every Marketer in the World.’
In my personal experience, building confidence has changed what I feel I can do, and ultimately, helped me accomplish what I wanted to do. A study done at the University of California Berkeley shows this holds true for others — it found that confidence matters just as much as competence. Regardless of how good someone is at something, if they are confident in their abilities, they’ll display nonverbal and verbal behavior that demonstrates their competence. In other words, confidence is a part of the ‘talent’ of being competent.
The good news is that confidence is a skill people can build through action. There is science behind how our behavior and new thinking literally change our brain. My goal is to help everyone learn and experience the benefits of creating confidence.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?
Since this is an article on people's practices, I’ll use something that I often find myself saying (I am not sure if I stole this from someone or if it comes from me — either way I use it often!). “People are package deals,” I say this with a smile and in a positive way because I think it’s important to embrace someone’s full self. I find it helps remind myself and others that what makes someone unique and special in some situations can bring harmony (or in the case of business, results or alignment), but in other situations, those same traits may cause, well, the opposite! We all come as our own whole unique self, and to embrace everything that means in one package deal.
We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?
Mike Cannon-Brookes the Founder and Co-CEO of Atlassian, for two reasons. One, I love their mission of unleashing the power of every team. I believe within the Future of Work trend — to help your team move away from routine tasks to uncovering opportunities — you have to build what makes an employee’s work unique. They did this with tremendous success with the developer and product industry, and I take inspiration from this every day to help unleash the power of every marketing team. It’s hard not to admire what they have built.
Second, I believe in helping others create confidence, this has guided me in my personal life and in business — as I said before our mission is to bring confidence to every marketer in the world. Mike did a TedTalk where he spoke about imposter syndrome, and I appreciated how open he was on the topic. By sharing his experience, he’s helping build a world where people can be open about the path they’re taking to create their own confidence.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!
About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-ft. CEO — currently giving businesses of all sizes more ways to grow & monetize online by leveraging the same F500 Digital Marketers used to scale some of the largest companies in the world (now without the same overhead). Apply today to serve more clients tomorrow & beyond with Spacetwin.