The String and Key Crew: Tahina Pena

Jasmin H
Jasmin H
Jun 2, 2020 · 6 min read
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As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Tahina Pena.

Company Role: Office Manager

Most likely to: Dance to every bachata

Secret talent: Towel whipping

Whatever you do, don’t ask Tahina to choose between sweet or salty plantains, because she won’t. She loves them both equally and would probably shoot you a look that says, “why would you ask me that” or “oh no, they didn’t” (she’s known for her revealing facial expressions). Jokes aside, Tahina is a rockstar of an office manager and is a massive part of creating the epic culture we have here, an environment where our people want to spend their time.

Born and raised in New York City, she grew up surrounded by the city’s restless energy and diversity — not to mention a squad of five brothers — which might be the reason why she’s so amazing at her job. She’s a pro at handling many opinions and personalities and is always striving to help our team be the best they can be. Get to know her more as she shares what working at String and Key is really like.

What do you do and what does your typical workday look like?
My main responsibilities are keeping the office tidy and organized, and the environment welcoming and lively. On a typical day, I start off by cleaning or checking around for any missing items. I naturally tend to clean a lot even if it’s not my job — I just can’t help it. I then check on inventory and supplies and make a note of what needs to be restocked. Most importantly of all, I make sure our kitchen is fully filled with breakfast and lunch foods, as well as snacks, as no one likes a hangry colleague. Finally, I start planning any fun activities we have in the pipeline.

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Are there any fun office traditions that you can tell us about?
There are a ton! So firstly, we have a weekly get together called Fika, which means “tea break” in Swedish. It’s where we all sit together and chat about anything but work. Then there are our weekly lunch roulettes, where I randomly pick three people to go to lunch (all expenses paid, of course). It’s a way for us to get to know each other better, especially if we don’t work closely on a daily basis.

I also like setting up fun parties like karaoke nights, hot sauce tastings, or pound cake parties on National Pound Cake Day. Another fun tradition is my “Guess the emoji,” game where I share some movie or music-related emojis on Slack for people to guess. It’s just a small thing, but it gives the office a mental break from work. And last but not least, we have regular happy hours where we all chill, unwind and just have a good time.

What excites you about your job/What makes you want to get up in the morning and come to work?
I live for brightening spirits at the office, it makes me so happy, and it’s the reason why I go to sleep with a smile on my face most nights. When I was first interviewed, our CEO, Alex asked me, “Why should I hire you?” The answer was simple; I told him that I love what I do. I’ve been an office manager for more than five years, it’s something I’m good at and, more importantly, something that I enjoy.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
The everyday challenge is finding activities or events that fit the tastes of everyone in the office. We are a diverse team and naturally, everyone has a different idea of what’s fun. So thinking of things that are office-appropriate and exciting enough for everyone takes up most of my time. It’s a great challenge, though, and all the events I’ve organized so far have had fantastic feedback. I’d say planning our holiday party to Montreal, Canada was the most stressful task I’ve ever done. It was so worth it, though.

How does String and Key compare to other places you’ve worked in the past?
Having worked in one too many strict and corporate environments over the years, String and Key is a breath of fresh air. The vibe here is laid back and has an urban Brooklyn feel. There are no suits and ties or overbearing micro-managers tracking your every last move. Working here is 100% the opposite of what I’ve been used to, and I feel so lucky to call this chill environment my workplace.

If you had to describe String and Key’s culture in three words, what would they be and why?

  1. Unique: I’ve never come across a company that lets you be your true self as much as String and Key does. It’s the kind of company that would most likely be in a “Best Places to Work” list.
  2. Unconstrained: Same reason as above — you have the freedom to be who you are, without any limitations.
  3. Thriving: Not only are we hiring, but we are also expanding, and this shows progress.

What’s one thing that many people may not know about you?
I like to volunteer at senior shelters and provide company to those who don’t have a family. It’s always a fun time, and I find that the residents and I have a lot in common (I truly am a grandma at heart). Plus, I really enjoy playing bingo, so it’s a win-win all around. I also attend the Achille International program, where I run with disabled runners. It’s a great community, and my fellow runners inspire me every day through their dedication and hard work. Although I can’t volunteer during the quarantine, I still keep in touch with everyone to keep the sense of community alive.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned in the last month during quarantine?
The importance of using the right tools to stay productive and connected during these strange times. Understandably, being an office manager during the COVID-19 pandemic was quite scary at first. I was very concerned about my job being limited since there’s currently no “office” to manage. Luckily, I’ve figured out a way to continue my duties virtually. Thanks to Zoom and Slack video calls, I can still organize our regular fun activities and connect with the team without being in the office.

If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t want to switch with anyone because I love being an office manager — it’s where I thrive! I will say, Alex and everyone on the leadership team are great leaders, and they do their job excellently. They are people I look up to. Also, I genuinely believe everyone at String and Key is meant to be where they are, and even if I had the power to switch, I wouldn’t do it. With that said, if I could change something in the office, I would definitely paint some walls pink and hire nail technicians to come to the office every week.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
It would have to be makeup because I consider myself a pro. From creating the perfect winged eyeliner look to mixing your own lipstick and foundation colors to finding quality items at a lower price, I’ve got a ton of tips to share when it comes to looking good.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I love going to art museums in my free time. I consider myself very artsy, and so I enjoy looking at renaissance artworks and sculptures to find some inspiration. When I’m not out seeing art and learning about the artists and history, you can find me at home painting. I recently finished working on an acrylic painting of flowers, it’s a large 36 x 48 piece, and it’s currently hanging up in my room.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?

#Grandma #NeatFreak #Cosmopolitan #Latina #Sedulous

Lighting Round:

Vanilla or chocolate?

Chocolate.

Roller coaster or ferris wheel?

Roller coaster.

Country or city?

City.

Flea market or mall?

Flea market.

Night owl or early riser?

Early riser.

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

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