Hall of Fame (hôl əv ˈfām): an institution honoring the achievements of individuals in a particular activity or field.
We’re thrilled to welcome you back to the Impact Recruitment Hall of Fame! This is where we pay homage to the best of the best, the success stories, the mentors, the people who deserve to be celebrated for being just that wonderful.
Today’s inductee – and the last of 2021 – is Kristina Lee! Kristina is a lot of things: the Director of Impact’s IT division (and one of its original architects), one of the YWCA Tech Connect program‘s favourite guest speakers, a brilliant, thoughtful leader and a total nerd for all things tech.
Q: Okay, so before we start, could you just quickly sum up what you do around here for anyone who isn’t familiar with your role at Impact?
A: I look after Impact’s IT division, and that means I get to work with a great team of recruiters and business developers who are just as passionate about the growing and fast-changing tech landscape in North America as I am!
The tech sector is such an exciting space, it makes for a lot of very interesting discussions during our morning meetings. We’ll start the day chatting about the newest electric vehicles, some gadget that’s supposed to make our home lives more efficient – and actually, the other day we learned that there’s an app that’ll tell you when you need to water your plants. It’s been a game-changer for me.
Q: Okay, well I desperately need to download that app. Ever since I moved into my new place I have no idea what my plants want from me. My bonsai tree is losing leaves at a rapid rate.
A: Well, luckily, there’s an app for that! I’ll send you the info.
Q: My plants and I thank you! Alright, back to business. Before you joined Impact, what was your most memorable job? I’ll accept both memorable-good, which would be a super great workplace experience, or memorable-bad, which sometimes makes for a pretty funny story.
A: To be honest, I actually don’t think I’ve had a memorable-bad job, so I guess we’ll go with memorable-goodish.
Q: ‘Goodish’, I like that – what exactly makes a job goodish?
A: One of my first jobs was working at McDonald’s, and it was a very ‘goodish’ experience! I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget when a customer asked me for an extra large root beer, with extra ice, no root beer. I was completely stumped, but I couldn’t just stand there thinking, “Wait, what?” forever, so I asked if they wanted an extra large cup of ice, and, Katie, they were so mad! They slammed their hand down on the counter and repeated the order slowly: extra large root beer, with extra ice, no root beer. So that’s what I got them.
Q: You consider that goodish?!
A: Okay, fair – that was just a very, very memorable moment, and I’ll never forget how frazzled I felt standing there! But working at McDonald’s, in general, was a great first job. I learned so much about accountability and teamwork, and I got to do that in a really fun environment.
Q: Alright, next question. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in recruitment?
A: I think it was probably a job I had while I was in university. I worked in a photography studio, and while I was there I had the opportunity to hire and train an entire group of customer service reps. I managed the whole deal: writing and sharing the job posts, scheduling interviews, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, training – the works.
Q: You did all that?!
A: I did! I couldn’t believe how rewarding it was to be able to give someone their first job opportunity, or the opportunity to make a big career change. I think that experience made me realize I wanted to do it full time.
It’s really common for people to fall into recruitment, but I actively pursued it. I decided I wanted to make recruitment my career, and I haven’t looked back since.
Q: I’ve just got to say this: you were made for recruitment! Watching you interact with candidates and clients, and especially your team – you’re such a natural, honestly.
A: I consider that a great compliment, so thank you!
Q: My pleasure. Alright, so what initially made you interested in working at Impact specifically?
A: The idea of being part of a company that was on the cusp of exponential growth – that was really appealing to me. Impact is a very entrepreneurial company, you have the chance to grow your career into whatever you want it to be: own your desk, become an expert in your industry, develop your personal and professional brand.
For me, it was the opportunity to build out Impact’s IT division that really drew me in. To have the opportunity to build something from the ground up, I mean, wow – that’s exciting!
We had the framework for an IT division already in place, but it wasn’t mature yet – there was a lot that still had to be established. Being able to take something that was still in its infancy and help grow it into a profitable, well-established division, that’s endlessly fulfilling.
Q: Spring boarding off that great answer: how has the company changed since you’ve been here? And how would you like to see it continue to develop over the next few years?
A: Oh, wow. There’s been tons of change: from leveling-up our training and onboarding program to developing employees to move into key leadership and management roles – over the last few years we’ve really taken the Impact brand to the next level.
That’s not to say there weren’t growing pains, because we certainly had our fair share! But we were ready for that and committed to doing the work necessary to support the growth and expansion we had planned.
We’re in a position right now to scale at a speed that wouldn’t have been possible three years ago, and it’s exciting to think about where we’ll be a few years down the road! When I look to the future, I see us breaking into new markets and showing the rest of North America what we can do.
Q: Okay, so what personality trait do you most attribute to your success in the recruitment industry, and why?
A: Curiosity – genuine curiosity. I think when you approach situations with an openness and a desire to learn more, a lot of good comes from that. You’ll connect more sincerely, you’ll communicate better. You’ll develop a deeper understanding about something simply by asking more questions. And maybe a really interesting partnership or collaboration comes from it, who knows!
Q: What’s something you’ve accomplished during your time at Impact that you’re particularly proud of?
A: The team.
Q: Well, that’s the sweetest answer ever.
A: It’s true – it’s so rewarding to be a part of this team! And I guess it kind of goes back to why I joined Impact in the first place: to build out a division and then watch it grow year over year.
It’s been such an awesome experience – we’ve celebrated so many milestones together, big and small, but this year was really special to me. We hit a target I’d set for myself at the very beginning of this whole journey, and I was so excited to share that news with the rest of the company that I felt like I was winning a Grammy or an Oscar!
And it’s all because I get to work with a group of amazing people who care so much and are so great at what they do. They’re my greatest accomplishment, hands down.
Q: You do sound a bit like you’ve just won an Oscar, actually – but I totally get what you’re saying.
A: You were there from the beginning – you’ve seen it all! We’ve definitely come a long way.
Q: That’s for sure – it’s been a heck of a ride. Okay, so then what’s been your biggest challenge during your time at Impact?
A: My answer probably won’t come as a surprise: the time between March and May 2020 was very challenging – I don’t think any of us had been through a global pandemic before!
On top of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, this was the first economic downturn I’d faced since starting my professional career, so the whole thing was certainly a bit daunting. My main priority during those early days was making sure the team was okay, and ensuring that our clients and candidates were being looked after.
I’m very thankful to be part of a brilliant senior management team. We sat down and put our heads together to try to figure out how we were going to get through some tough months and come out stronger, without laying anyone off.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s seeing how the whole company really came together: supporting each other, putting in those extra hours, just giving it 100% to get us where we are right now.
Q: What’s a workplace skill that you think everybody benefits from?
A: I’m not sure if there’s a word for this – but the ability to balance your emotions. In this industry, and many others, there are high-highs and there are low-lows. If you’re not ready for that, it can feel like a bit of a rollercoaster.
Understanding that neither extreme lasts forever and knowing how to stay centered and balanced during the ups and downs is an incredible skill.
Q: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
A: It would be something like mind reading – or seeing the future! I think those would be both useful and entertaining.
Q: What 3 words do you think your team would use to describe you?
A: I think they’d say fair… and empowering. And maybe creative? I’m hoping it would be something along those lines, but, honestly, I have no idea!
Q: Everyone struggles with that one – some people have opted not to answer *cough* Fenwick *cough*.
A: I didn’t know that was an option!
Q: Too late for that. Next question: if you had to swap jobs with somebody at Impact for a whole week, who would it be and why?
A: I think this answer is a popular one: I’d like to swap jobs with our VP of Administration, Myra, for a week. I know there’s an incredible amount of effort the admin team puts into ensuring that everything runs smoothly, and how much work they do behind the scenes to make everything work like it’s supposed to for all of us.
Myra’s our expert. She’s involved in every aspect of the business, so she has an extremely unique perspective that I think would be really fascinating to learn more about. I’d love the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the operational side of things: when we want to change a process, how does that impact our marketing team, our accounting team, HR, training… I think it’d be really eye-opening.
Q: Can we all just go through, like, a Myra master class? Get her to teach us everything she knows?
A: And then every time we ask for something we’d be so humbled ’cause we’d know how much work it is on the back-end!
Q: That could pose a problem because we might never asked for anything again, we would just be like, “It’s all fine, I’m so sorry – I had no idea!”
A: You’re right, that might not be good for business.
Q: We’ll put the master class on hold for now. And, hey, look at that – we made it to the last question! What’s the best advice you have for somebody who’s just starting their career in recruitment?
A: Have a purpose – and don’t forget what your purpose is. This applies to everyone, whether you’re in recruitment or not. You may want to help people, you may want to make a ton of money, you may want to travel, you may want something else entirely, but if you understand what your purpose is, you’ll know what you’re doing it all for. It’ll help boost your confidence, push you through the tough times and, at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about who you are and what you do.