Climbing the corporate ladder rung by rung? How passé! It’s 2022, and the times they are a changin’. With the addition of remote work options and hybrid schedules popping up all over the place, and meetings and networking events available in both a virtual and an in-person capacity, the world of work looks very different than it did in years gone by.
More and more professionals are exploring opportunities to relocate, embrace twists and turns, learn new skills and let their career journey take them to places they never expected.
Today we’re chatting with Andrea Kumarapillai, Director, Business Systems + HR, about her time at Impact and how her first ‘real job’ out of university took her from Vancouver to Toronto and became a career that she loves along the way.
Q: Alright, starting off easy: who are you and what’s your role at Impact?
A: I’m Andrea Kumarapillai, and I’m the Director of Business Systems + HR at Impact Recruitment.
Q: And when did you join Impact?
A: It’s hard to believe, but I came on board half a decade ago now! I actually even know the exact date, April 17th, 2017.
Q: Now that’s specific.
A: Well, it’s my mom’s birthday, so that makes it pretty easy to remember! When I signed my offer letter at Impact I was right out of school – and I mean literally right out; it was a few days after I wrote the final exam of my undergrad that I started my first ‘real job’.
Q: What made you want to join Impact? Was the role you accepted in line with your studies?
A: Not really – I mean, I studied sociology and political science! I was working part-time with the Canucks at that point, and I actually learned about Impact from one of my colleagues. She told me that her company [Impact] was hiring, and she asked if I knew anybody who might be interested in the opportunity. I was kind of like, yeah, I know people – but this sounds pretty cool, so what about me? I’m interested! And that was that: she set up the interview and the rest is history.
Q: What was the position you applied for?
A: It was an entry-level office position – at the time my thought was simply that it would be good for gaining that real world experience; I’d never worked a full-time job in a professional environment like that before.
Q: And your role has changed quite a bit in the years that’ve followed, hasn’t it?
A: Definitely – it’s been a very interesting journey!
Q: Can you explain what that journey’s looked like?
A: I can certainly try! I’ve always had this drive to learn as much as I can, and to soak up knowledge from both people and experiences. At Impact, I’ve been given the opportunity to try new things, to expand my understanding of different areas of the business and to take ownership over a huge variety of different projects, and that’s allowed me to find out where my strengths and passion really lie.
Q: I think that’s something really special about Impact – you get the chance to learn more about yourself and figure out what you really like to do.
A: Definitely! You may come out of school thinking you know the career path you’re going to take, but it’s not always quite that simple. Sometimes you wind up realizing that line of work actually isn’t for you after all, and that’s okay! It’s nice to have the time to figure it out through trial and error, and to know that management supports you in exploring that.
Q: So let’s talk Toronto – you had your sights set on it before we even had an “official” office there!
A: I knew I wanted to live in Toronto, and I knew Impact was in the process of expanding out East. At that point, I think we had a couple of remote workers who were out that way, but no office space yet. Basically, I just got up the nerve and asked if I could go out there and build out that branch from scratch.
Q: Were you surprised to get the go-ahead?
A: I was excited! It was such a unique experience, I was out there on my own, building office furniture, answering phones and ordering supplies, onboarding new staff – the whole works.
Q: Honestly, was there ever a point where you were just like, what in the world have I gotten myself into here?
A: I’d have to say that COVID through me for a loop. I mean, it was a big project to take on anyway, but then the pandemic hit and that definitely made things a bit more complicated!
Q: Can you tell me what you love most about what you do now?
A: I think what I’m most excited about right now is the work I’m doing with [Impact’s sister company] AmbiMi. As a start-up, it’s constantly evolving – as any new business does. It’s a really fun environment, lots of problem solving, which I enjoy.
Q: Okay, so let’s go back to you, fresh out of university, entering the working world for the first time. Do you have any advice for other new grads who are about to start their professional career?
A: I think what I’d say is don’t be afraid to speak up! Being the most junior person in the room can be a bit intimidating, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have anything to contribute – but that’s not true at all! You have a unique point of view that can inspire new ideas, you bring a fresh perspective to the table and you understand the motivation and mindset of a younger demographic, so if the opportunity arises for you to chime in, go for it!
Q: And what’s your best advice for someone who’s either just joined impact or who’s thinking about coming on board?
A: That’s an easy one: ask questions! It’s the key to success.
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