On this 2022 International Women's Day we welcome three members of the Ursus executive management team to the show. Cheryle, Cristina, and Lori share what they've over their careers that led them to the executive leadership positions.
"What may seem like a failure today can be a stepping stone to something better tomorrow."
- Cheryle Peikert - Chief Financial Officer
"Listen and learn. I think if you really listen to what everyone wants to teach you, you will be so much better."
- Lori Kwan - Vice President of Recruiting & Delivery
"Trust your gut and use your voice. I think that is one of the biggest things that has served me well over the years is just always using your voice."
- Cristina De La Cruz - Vice President of Sales
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[00:00:00] Jon Beck: What's up everyone. Welcome to hiring university. I'm your host, John Beck. Today we have a bit of a different format to the show. As today is international women's day. And as we celebrate and recognize the women in our lives, and particularly in corporate America, we turn the lens on our own business here at versus by talking to three members of our executive team joining me today, Cheryl piker, chief financial officer, Laurie Kwon, vice president of recruiting delivery and Christina dealer Cruz vice president of sales.
[00:00:27] And we will ask them questions about their career journeys. What has changed for the better and where there's still work to be done. Cheryl, Laurie, Christina, welcome to hiring you.
[00:00:38] Cheryle Peikert: Thank you.
[00:00:40] Jon Beck: I'd like each of you to just take a couple of minutes to introduce yourself your role versus how long you've been at the company and where you were before you joined us.
[00:00:49] Maybe one or two jobs back as well too. And Cheryl, why don't we start with you?
[00:00:54] Cheryle Peikert: Hi everyone. I am the chief financial officer here at nurses. I was actually the first employee to start with Ursus when John decided to form the company. And the, before this, I worked at bear data solutions as their controller slash CFO, acting CFO.
[00:01:15] Jon Beck: Thank you, Cheryl, Laurie.
[00:01:18] Lori Kwan: Thank you, John. I have been with our assists for five and a half years. I'm the VP of recruiting and delivery of managing the recruiting team here. And also, I've been doing this for 30 years in the staffing industry, own my own business for 10 years and then, recruited the rest of the time.
[00:01:40] Cristina De La Cruz: Hi everyone. I'm the latest addition to Ursus. So I'm the VP of sales I've been here for just over a year now. And prior to that, I was with Robert half for over 15 years. So going into my 16th year in staffing, prior to that, I was in publishing sales actually for about three years.
[00:01:59] Jon Beck: Great. And as we can see from the panel, a lot of experience, not just in staffing, but in corporate America, each of you have been in the workplace for at least 15 years, closer to 20, but who's counting.
[00:02:13] Tell me a little bit about how things have changed for the better, or maybe how things have gotten worse since you first started your career. And we'll go on the reverse order. Christina, we'll start with.
[00:02:24] Cristina De La Cruz: I think that from a visibility perspective, you start to see, or at least I've seen over the last several years, more women in prominent leadership roles within corporate America.
[00:02:35] I know that I had really strong examples when I started even way back in publishing and then in staffing. And so I think when you can see yourself within other individuals, it's an easier. Path to create for yourself and you start to see attributes and other women, I think there's still more work to be done, but I think that the landscape has absolutely changed for the better
[00:02:57] Narrative around women in leadership or strong women. And sometimes, , the balance that you have to create, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife. And so I think that sometimes there's still that dichotomy.
[00:03:10] You know, being a woman and being able to have it all. I, and again, I think it's just, it's more of a, a visible narrative, but I think sometimes it does create additional pressure sometimes out there for women.
[00:03:24] Lori Kwan: When I started prior to staffing and. I ran a data center. I did programming. I think I learned a lot from that on how to be in corporate America as a woman, especially in a male dominated world. It made me, really. I don't know how to say it nicely, but you know, the hard enough of who I am as a person, as a woman, how to deal with things, , at a different level and good or bad, it's taught me how to be a professional woman at the end.
[00:03:56] I carry it through to today and I carry it through to all the, the young ladies who report into me to build who they are as well as a strong. Manager slash person in this business. Well, um, to me, anything that's different or has gotten worse? I don't think so. I think we, we use all our experience to make ourselves better and stronger.
[00:04:21] And you see it today in the corporate world, as well as, um, in the personal life. Do you
[00:04:27] Cheryle Peikert: think
[00:04:27] Jon Beck: you had to be tougher back when you started your career than you do today? Was it more important to. Posture or, or, you know, or, or , to stand your ground, that it is today. Is it harder, easier the same or none of the above?
[00:04:44] Lori Kwan: I think because I was a younger woman at that time. Just to position myself, being a programmer that, you know, right out of college was difficult. And then running a data center that I had to work 24 7, you know, very difficult people questioning me all the time, whether or not I was making the right decisions.
[00:05:05] I mean, a data center, if it goes down. You're down. I worked for a large financial company and it was difficult. And today I think, like I said, it's all that stuff has carried me into, I think, a better, stronger manager.
[00:05:22] Cheryle Peikert: Well, it's the oldest one here I can relate to Laurie and Christina, both. It was tough in the beginning. Women were ignoring. I fought like every step of the way, but I fought just by hard work and proving myself and moving from job to job wherever there was an opportunity to grow. I wasn't able to grow within one job.
[00:05:47] So I would always have to move around until I needed to enter the biotech with Robyn scientific. And they just loved me. And that was where I would say most of my growth came from.
[00:06:00] Jon Beck: There's been a lot of. The last few years, an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, which is fantastic. But let me ask you, do you think that the movement of diversity and inclusion has forgotten or left the women's movement behind or as an afterthought
[00:06:16] Lori Kwan: I think me being both, um, I think, as long as you maintain who you are, , as a woman, as a, for me as an Asian woman, , I think I position myself better in this world because of that, in my opinion, because I'm going to set myself apart, be strong,
[00:06:36] Cristina De La Cruz: I think it's given us an opportunity for two different platforms, but again, I think to Laurie's point, it gives us an opportunity to identify as a woman in diversity and a woman.
[00:06:48] And so it gives you strength in both platforms, but I think sometimes it's just, there's two different conversations that are being had. , but again, I think that. Is a woman in leadership and a woman of, you know, from a diverse background, you have to make sure that your, you know, your you're just being yourself.
[00:07:05] And you're talking to different experiences
[00:07:08] Jon Beck: There's a great book. Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus, men and women are different. We celebrate those differences. How do you, as women executives think about.
[00:07:19] How men can do a better job to empower and support you. And I'm saying that because we are different and sometimes, and you know, men in particular sometimes need to be knocked over the head. Can you give me examples, maybe even here or at some point in your career where there was some aha moments Cheryl's raising her hand.
[00:07:39] She's going to be first where that makes it a bit. Cause you know, if you're not having dialogue and ongoing conversation, then stuff's going to build up and be missed or problems are going to arise. Sure. I'm going to, I'm going to shut up and let you answer that
[00:07:51] Cheryle Peikert: question. The one that dependent caused because of remote work women have children at home.
[00:07:59] And they're both perhaps men too, but the women are having to deal with their children at home and work. And I've watched my staff do an amazing job at that. And I think that I'm hoping that the men are recognizing that it can happen. It's there. We can't really get rid of it right now. You know, I know a lot of people are returning to work, but there's a lot that want to do remote work now.
[00:08:27] I think on one side it's, it's probably stressful for a mom to balance all of that. And the dad that works at home too. But on the other hand, , there are benefits to it. There's not, there's no commute, they're home with their children. That's my, that's what, I'm what I see right now.
[00:08:48] Cristina De La Cruz: I think the biggest thing has been, throughout my career, it's all about communication. And I think as a male leader, working with a female, leader or someone on their team, it's just about having the dialogue around. What can I do to, to help you? What can I do to help, the conversation?
[00:09:07] What can I do to just help you grow? So I think that's been the biggest thing for me is just that consistent communication. And allowing people to not always agree with you. But just to make sure that at the end of the day, we're on one team are not always going to agree. We're going to have our differences, but I think it's leading with empathy and leading with communication from both sides.
[00:09:34] Lori Kwan: I think for me, I've learned so much from individuals. I do think because in my early career, as, as I said before, you know, most of my managers were men. So learning from them, how to deal with certain situations, helping me, um, deliver the right way because delivery and in a professional environment as everything I think that has, for me, what helped me the most in my.
[00:10:05] Jon Beck: I want to come back to the people along the way in your, in your journeys, who meant something to you and maybe do some shout outs, but share, I want to go back to your point about learnings from the pandemic and as we come out of this, hopefully for good, I think there's a rush to come back to the way things were before for a lot of people.
[00:10:26] And that's true across all fronts, not just in our industry and not just remote work, but just in general. What things as you think about diversity inclusion and, equal rights for all employees, w what, what would you like to see either to see us continue to talk about? Or what aren't we talking about that we should be talking about as we come out of this, versus just going back to the way.
[00:10:47] Cristina De La Cruz: I think, what we did earlier, or we did last week where you're serving the team, we're managing multi-generational teams, we're managing teams that are motivated by different things. So I think it's just always. Keeping a finger on the pulse of what we think is important. Isn't necessarily, what's important to our staff.
[00:11:06] We're motivated by certain things based off of where we're at in our lives. And that may be completely different for, you know, the, the new hire, so I think it's always just understanding. What people are motivated by and what they care about because per the survey we did, it's not just about it's about compensation, but the biggest thing is about culture.
[00:11:26] But what does that mean to someone, is it about the discussions you're having? Is it about training? Is it about leadership? So I think it's just really understanding. What is motivating and driving the teams to, to want to stay and, and, you know, be engaged.
[00:11:41] Jon Beck: Is this generation more aware than previous?
[00:11:44] I hate to use the term woke, but that's maybe in Vogue, are they more aware now than maybe in generations, past
[00:11:53] Lori Kwan: I mean just by, you know, interviewing and talking to so many people, hiring them, being able to work with everybody. It, it appears to be, to me,
[00:12:02] Jon Beck: I would agree. I think this generation cares more and values more. About what a company stands for about their culture.
[00:12:13] Compensation is always going to be important, but I think it's much more than that versus previous generations. And there's just more general awareness and expectation that the company contributes more. But it's hard to do, . It's easy to say the words. It's hard to put it into that.
[00:12:27] Last question and all of our guests on the show, we typically wrap up the conversation, , with the question around the way back machine. And for those of you who haven't listened, we usually put them back into, well, first of all, good news. I've created the way back machine. I have a ticket for all of our guests.
[00:12:41] And we put you in the machine to the point in time. When you first started your career, we're going to ask the question a little differently today, put yourselves at some point in time during your career where you had a mentor, who. Provided an aha moment or an experience, somebody that you want to shout out to, if you want to, that really sets you on that next phase of your career that maybe you wouldn't have had you not had the interaction or experience with them along the way
[00:13:10] it can be at any point, we'll open up to any point in time.
[00:13:14] Cheryle Peikert: I think my moment was in high school. Literally. I didn't know if I was going to go to college or not. Nobody in our family had ever been to college and it was a school teacher who got me on the right path, provided me with the means to get scholarships and awards and everything I needed to go to school.
[00:13:38] Jon Beck: Mr. Martin, Mr. Martin, shout out to Mr. Martin,
[00:13:41] Lori Kwan: for me, it was, uh, back in my data center days. He was my direct manager and it always resonated with me less. His kind of. And his honesty. And he would tell me all the time we've got to be kind to employees and you have to be honest, and it could, because truths will always roll.
[00:14:04] Keep rolling and you can never come back. So I learned a lot from him. His name was David
[00:14:10] Jon Beck: shout out to David, Christina.
[00:14:13] Cristina De La Cruz: Probably the person that has had the biggest influence on my career and many other people's career, uh, a woman by the name of Diane Daumier, she's been with Robert half for a number of years, but she is someone that taught me very early on.
[00:14:26] Just anyone that knows me, knows that I'm big on appreciation. Um, not just, you know, with, from, you know, appreciation that I get from others, but just ways that you can show appreciation. Two people in your own lives. And so she was someone that just made me feel heard, she always listened.
[00:14:43] She helped to, just get me where I wanted to be in my career. And we had a lot of really rewarding conversations, tough conversations. And any time along my career, I wanted to make a change or wanted to potentially explore another opportunity. She always, listened and, really gave some great.
[00:15:00] So she's someone that I've always tried to model, , from a leadership perspective.
[00:15:05] Jon Beck: Nice. And I take it back. I am going to ask the way back machine, cause I want to know now, so the question is if you were able to hop into the way back machine to the point in time when you were starting your career, what one piece of advice would you give to young Christina, Laurie, sheriff.
[00:15:24] Based on all the experience and wisdom that you have today. What one piece of advice to give yourself, starting your career?
[00:15:30] Cristina De La Cruz: trust your gut. That has never steered me the wrong way. I think even when you're young and you have. Have doubt, just always trust your gut and use your voice. I think that is one of the biggest things that has served me well over the years is just always use your voice
[00:15:50] Lori Kwan: for me. It's listen and learn. I think if you really listen that taken what everyone wants to teach you, you will be so much better.
[00:16:00] Cheryle Peikert: And I just want to add what might seem like failure. And especially back if you're laid off, which is one of the hardest things to happen, it's just a stepping stone to something better.
[00:16:15] Jon Beck: Given the fact that I know all three of you fairly well now I'm not surprised at any of those answers. Those are three great pieces of advice for those that are just starting our career, , for our listeners.
[00:16:26] Not only are you lucky to have these three join our podcasts, but, on a personal note, we're very fortunate to have. As leaders of our business, of our culture, of our people. They're not just a great staffing executives, but they're even better. Managers and humans. , Christina, Cheryl, Laurie, thank you for coming on the podcast.
[00:16:44] I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day , , I told you it would be paint, not very painful and hopefully it wasn't. And we'll do it again at some time. For our listeners as always make sure you keep the faith, keep grinding, keep safe, and we will see you next time on hiring you.
[00:16:59] Thank you all.
[00:17:01] Cheryle Peikert: Thanks John.