“Taking a Little Step Back” proves fruitful for SirusXM’s Vice President, HR Business Partner

“A+ candidate who is perfect for HR”, read my notes when I first interviewed Shelley Wooten (now Colon) in 2006. Shelly responded to a Craigslist ad for a Recruiting Coordinator even though she had recently earned her Master’s degree and worked in middle school counseling and non-profit development. Shelley realized that she may have to “take a little step back to get opportunity for growth” and she did just that when BearingPoint hired her as a temp. That temp position quickly resulted in an offer of direct employment, which Shelley declined in favor of joining XMRadio (SiriusXM now). Fast forward 12 years and Shelley is now the Vice President, HR Business Partner at SiriusXM in their New York office (and the proud mother of a three-year old boy, Auggie). We recently connected with Shelley for reflection “I knew I had a lot of relevant skills and experience to offer but was not sure how to best fit them into a corporate environment.  I really credit Lori and Schechter Reed with seeing that potential and setting me off in the right direction.”

 

We are so proud of you, Shelley, and we love being part of your story!

Recent College Grad Learns why Temping is Tempting

 

Jade Belcher, a 2017 JMU grad, was referred to Schechter Reed by way of a trusted client. Jade was working as a substitute teacher at FCPS and teaching preschool three days/week. Like many recent grads, Jade was applying to entry-level jobs in nonprofits but not having much success. When Lori Schechter Reed heard of a newly-created Learning & Development Manager role with her client, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), she immediately thought of Jade. Jade took the leap of faith, resigned from her job and jumped into the world of Learning Management Systems. Jade proved herself to be such an asset during the temp period that SHEA created a full-time position on their staff and hired her directly last month. Lori Schechter Reed stopped by to congratulate her in person and thought to share her story. Congratulations Jade!!

 

Transparency, Trust, and the Executive Recruiting of Tina Tyree

Lori Reed, founder & President of Schechter Reed, takes great pride in recruiting for administrative talent and she has stayed true to that specialty during a 20-year career. Every so often, however, she will embrace a search that forces her out of her comfort zone.

Lori had grown quite impressed with the vision and passion behind Digital Infuzion’s President, Hemant Virkar, after placing an Executive Assistant with him. When Digital Infuzion approached Lori about a newly-created VP of Operations role, an unconventional search for Lori, she embraced the recruiting challenge. Throughout the process Lori learned about supportive PMO’s, AGILE project management, CMMI certifications and government contract pricing. She reached out to over 40 candidates and submitted eight over a four-month period.

Tina Tyree was a program director in the Health IT space and a 10-year veteran of her company, earning her MBA along the way. She struck Lori as the quintessential up-and-comer, poised for a role in executive management and that was exactly the vision Digital Infuzion had for their new VP of Operations. Lori was transparent about her background but what she lacked in technical and executive recruiting expertise, she made up for in client familiarity. According to Tina:

“Lori had the relationship with the client, so she could provide me with guidance along the way. That was the biggest difference for me-the caring role Lori played in really trying to make sure it was a good fit for me and a good fit for her client. She spent a lot of time talking with me and discussing the requirements of the job and where I met them.”

Lori works tirelessly to understand her clients-not just the facts and figures, but the company culture. The same can be said for her candidates. Beyond the resume, there is a whole narrative to uncover that exposes motivators, fears, principles, and the human element that paints the full picture.

Tina’s interview process spanned three months. During that time, Digital Infuzion was working to uncover the person behind the resume. “We were looking for talent such as self-awareness, vulnerability, aspiration and curiosity”, offered Hemant. They found that and more in Tina Tyree, Digital Infuzion’s new VP of Operations.

couple finds love abroad and dream jobs in mclean

World Travelers Find Love Abroad & Dream Jobs in McLean

Janco and Amanda first met in 2012 while working and traveling abroad. They met in France and continued to travel (both independently and together) across Europe, Asia and Africa for the next few years. Janco is from South Africa but agreed to move to the U.S. to put down roots in Amanda’s hometown of McLean, Virginia in search of their dream jobs.

 

Before traveling the world, Janco earned his accounting degree and had a great job as a Cost Accountant in South Africa. He expected to find something similar in Northern Virginia’s thriving job market but experienced months of rejection. One Recruiter even suggested that he take up work as a Receptionist! Thankfully, Janco was introduced to Lori of Schechter Reed and as Janco shared “her professionalism, contagious optimism and attentiveness made the experience so positive.”

 

Janco landed at one of Schechter Reed’s longest-running and highly regarded clients, Capital Automotive Real Estate Services (“CARS”). Janco is approaching his 2-year anniversary and still says that he can’t believe his luck. “With Lori’s help, I really hit the jackpot. I am so happy that I partnered with Schechter Reed that I introduced Amanda to Lori after a few months and she, too, landed her dream job.”

 

Lori first interviewed Amanda last August and was struck by her tremendous potential. Instead of focusing on Amanda’s frequent job changes to prepare for and live as a world traveler, Lori worked to uncover Amanda’s natural strengths and transferrable skills. Together, they explored five job opportunities within Lori’s client companies and they learned from each one. “Lori worked with me for several months to land THE job, my dream job, that meets my desire to work for an excellent company which operates based on its principles, values its associates, and is socially conscious.  I also wanted to work in the McLean area as I could not envision battling the beltway every day!” Amanda is in her third month at Mars, Incorporated and thriving. While she doesn’t allow herself to indulge in the unlimited candy at her disposal during the day, she takes tremendous pride in working for this beloved brand.

 

 

“The last two years have been a transitional period for us- moving to the U.S. together, getting married, finding our own place. With the jobs Lori helped us find, we feel we have achieved all the dreams we had when we moved to Virginia in 2016.”

Jodi Meyer Interview–Returning to the Workforce

Jodi Meyer: returning to the workforce, changing careers, and making it to Mars and back before dinner

Every candidate I meet has a story that spills beyond the resume. There are life changes that explain gaps in employment, relocation and other “red flags” that Recruiters often use to dismiss candidates. Jodi Meyer, a stay-at-home mom of seven years was not only looking to re-enter the workforce, she was changing careers as well. Two things became clear to me when I met Jodi: She was an exceptional candidate with marketable, transferrable skills and it would take a progressive and open-minded company to take a chance on her. ‘

Jodi and I pursued five different companies together before she landed at Mars, Incorporated as an Executive Coordinator in November. Six months later, Jodi reflects on her journey, support system and how corporate America changed during her time away. I thought Jodi’s story would resonate with stay-at-home parents who are considering re-entry into the workforce. It doesn’t always work as seamlessly as it did for Jodi but our conversation, shared below, offers up several nuggets of advice.

 

(LR) Did you always plan to leave the workforce once you had children?

(JM) I couldn’t imagine staying home with kids because I couldn’t imagine having them. As soon as I got pregnant, I realized I wanted to be at home. I didn’t know if or when I would go back. My babies were 16 months apart so it would cost even more to have a nanny and I was having fun with them.

 

(LR) Why was this the right time for you to re-enter the workforce?
(JM) Kindergarten was around the corner for my son and my daughter was almost 7. My husband and I felt it was important to be good role models for our kids and especially for my daughter to see her mom work every day. I didn’t want to settle and I knew it would take time to find the right job. It ended up being only a few months. Once I met you [Lori], it all happened quickly.

 

(LR) Did you ever feel discriminated against or dismissed during your job search because of the time you spent raising kids?

(JM) I didn’t but I’m not sure if it’s because of you [Schechter Reed] and the way you talked to people ahead of time. My bigger issue was switching fields and function.

 

(LR) What made you decide to change careers? How did you come upon your new career choice?

(JM) Once I had kids, I knew that I couldn’t go back to the hotel industry because of the hours–I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that time with my family. I did a lot of talking, I talked to my husband and asked my friends what they did. At first, I considered meeting planning because I knew that was a strength, but the demanding hours still concerned me. I am a very organized person and had proficiency in MS Office so I thought an administrative position in an office setting would be a good fit for me.

 

(LR) You used networking, LinkedIn, and job boards during your search. What tools were the most helpful?

(JM) I think your network is first and foremost. It’s how I got to know you [Lori Reed]. It is truly a matter of talking to anyone about what they do and who they know. LinkedIn is huge and that was one [area] I had not updated. My husband suggested I get on that first because he job searched two years earlier and found LinkedIn to be very helpful.

 

(LR) What were the biggest workplace changes you noticed during your seven years out?

(JM) Technology has really impacted the workplace. I felt I was fairly tech-savvy before but there are now robots roaming through factories and [a lot being accomplished by] videoconference. There is a whole world out there that I never knew. I think that after seven years [at home, raising kids], technology changed so much. I thought I was keeping up but the technology is so different from the hotel industry.

 

(LR) How did you explain the change to your children? How would you describe their transition?

(JM) I interviewed the Monday after Thanksgiving and started temping the following Wednesday. When I told my kids, my daughter burst into tears! I hired a babysitter to pick them up from school and I promised to be home each day by dinner. Then, my husband told my kids that I was working for Mars. My son asked how I could work on the planet Mars and make it back for dinner! My daughter thinks I make M&M’s at work each day. For the first two weeks, I brought home a pack of Skittles or M&M candy every night. My daughter definitely took it the hardest. My mom helped until we found an amazing babysitter. She has helped me put my fears to bed—the guilt of not being able to do something. I feel really fortunate. My daughter is comfortable now because she loves our sitter.

 

(LR) What was your relationship with the business world during your time away? Did you continue to read newspapers and keep on top of industry trends or did you completely disconnect?

(JM) I used to read the business journals because it was difficult to transition from 60+hour workweeks to being at home, feeding and changing babies. I wanted that connection. I’m still friends with people from that life but not as much as I once was. I didn’t sit down and read the Wall Street Journal but I stayed fairly in touch with what was going on in the economy.

Now, I have little time to read the paper so I get my news from Facebook. Its my way of keeping up with people and the world – though not something I do as often anymore.

 

(LR) What advice would you give to parents who are considering staying at home to raise children?

(JM) Write your resume now because you won’t remember it years later. I couldn’t remember the specifics and details and felt so far removed from [the work I did seven years prior].

I did my research on resumes and learned that what was unacceptable before, like having a resume go beyond one page, is now acceptable.

 

(LR) How do you use your commute?

(JM) I don’t know what I’m walking into with the kids [each night]. I listen to music and roll down the windows. Occasionally, my mom will call. On the way to work, I keep in touch with 2-3 friends that I know are around during that time. I only have a 15-minute commute. One of those [traffic] lights is always for putting on lip gloss.

 

(LR) What advice would you give to parents who are considering a return to the workforce?

(JM) Find your support system. I used to bounce ideas off my friends when I was [job searching] and I needed my friends to tell me the good, the bad and the ugly. I didn’t realize how many things I would miss with my kids. Many of my friends work but I had to rely on my village in every way possible: carpooling; covering when the sitter is sick; helping when a delivery is scheduled; having someone there to pick up a child.

Also, find something you want to do. It’s got to be worth it.

 

(LR) In what ways are you proud to work for Mars?

(JM) I’m proud of myself for finding a field I enjoy and for finding an amazing company. Mars really is a great place to work. My boss is so flexible even though my Managers rely on me for support. I love the fact that Mars is local-it’s in my hometown, basically.

At the time, I don’t think I realized how important it was to work for a family-friendly company. I am going to new-hire training in NJ tomorrow and will learn about “The Five Principles” of Mars. It shows how much they take pride in their name and in their brand.

Kristina Bouweiri Interview

The Accidental Entrepreneur

Our first leader is Kristina Bouweiri, President and CEO of Dulles-based Reston Limousine. Kristina is the recipient of dozens of awards including the D.C. Chamber’s “Business Leader of the Year” and SmartCEO’s “Smart 100.” In my interview with Kristina, she reminds us that passion, humility and a healthy dose of grit have helped her succeed in business and in life.

Schechter Reed:  Kristina, you are one of the most “decorated” woman business owners in the D.C. area, with a long list of awards and accomplishments. What have you done to set yourself apart?

Kristina Bouweiri: I am in a male-dominated industry, so being one of the few woman-owned businesses sets me apart. I recently heard that 97% of woman-owned businesses do less than $1 million in revenue. We are now doing $25 million. I have always been the breadwinner in my family. My ex-husband was a stay-at home dad for most of our marriage. Many women have a husband paying the bills but that was never the case for me.

Schechter Reed: How do you stay humble with so many accomplishments under your belt?

Kristina Bouweiri: I am made for this business. It is my passion. I love it and it doesn’t feel like work. The downside of owning a business is that it is stressful. You have to have thick skin. I have been in business for 26 years and have weathered storms. I know that there are more storms ahead and that keeps me humble.

Schechter Reed: “Grit” has become the buzzword since Angela Duckworth introduced it in her TED Talk over three years ago. Where did you learn to be gritty?

Kristina Bouweiri: My childhood. I was raised overseas and moved every two to three years. My father was in the foreign service. I didn’t like it at the time but now see that it was an amazing childhood. It makes you adaptable. I have friends all over the world. It gives me that extra grit. I have a better perspective on life and how lucky we are to be Americans.

My parents raised us strictly and frugally. I always wanted more than we had. That drove me a lot in my 20s and 30s. I didn’t want to have worry about money.

Schechter Reed: I read about your commitment to team-building and culture at Reston Limousine. Of course, a good team starts with a good hire. What is your litmus test for making a good hire? How have you learned from your mistakes?

Kristina Bouweiri: I am the worst at hiring. I believe everything people tell me. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. My COO is a good match for it. For the first 10 years I was in business, I didn’t have good employees and didn’t have a good culture. I didn’t know what I was doing. I kept learning from my mistakes. I was good at certain things and not good at others. I like people to focus on what they do well. I started hiring people who were good at the things I wasn’t. I am a lifelong learner. I have always taken the approach that “I know nothing. Teach me.” I take a lot of seminars and I am in a peer group with 18 other CEOs.

Schechter Reed: We are in college graduation season.  What is your perception of millennials? What advice do you have for today’s college grads?

Kristina Bouweiri: I think they are very smart and advanced technologically. We feel it is important to have someone from that generation in our company to guide us. It is a tough environment for college grads. A lot of them are going to have to just take something until they can get into the field they want.

My advice is to look for paid internships.  Get great experience to put on their resume. If they can’t take a paid internship, work several jobs. I did it. I worked three jobs in between college semesters. I don’t see that fire in the belly of this generation. This generation is more interested in quality of life than money whereas my generation was after money.

Schechter Reed: What was your first job out of college? What did you learn from it?

Kristina Bouweiri: I did an internship for The Overseas Education Fund. I got two class credits working in my senior year. The job was to be the Assistant Program Manager for Africa. I had lived in Africa for 10 years because of my dad. It was perfect for me because it uplifted the status of women in the Third World. I did it for 10 years. I was the only person given an assignment to travel. I worked Monday through Friday, 9-5, but I would stay late and come in early and none of my peers would do that. They were paying me $17,000 a year. My take-home pay was $250/week and my rent was $400. I took a job waiting tables at night. I loved it and had no complaints.

Schechter Reed:   Who inspires you?

Kristina Bouweiri: In our local community, Sheila Johnson. She and her husband sold BET for $2.3 billion. Now she owns hotels and is part owner of the Mystics, Capitals, and Wizards. She is African-American. She inspires me because she has so much money but remains active as a female entrepreneur. She could be sitting on the beach, but instead she is running hotels and has her hand in everything. She owns Salamander Resort. She does a film festival. She bankrolls movies. She inspires me. Sheila was the first keynote speaker of the Virginia Women’s Business Conference that I co-founded with Tina Johnson.

Schechter Reed: Do you have any final fun facts to share?

Kristina Bouweiri: I had four kids in three years. My first language was Japanese. I went to school in Africa with the children of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. We are still connected on Facebook together.

Kim Shyu Interview

Kim Shyu: takeaways from a decade of job searching and hiring from one of Schechter Reed’s finest

Ten years ago, a Craigslist job posting turned up one of Schechter Reed’s most accomplished candidates. Over coffee, Kim Shyu and I reminisced on her early career self-doubt and how it fueled a decade of goal-setting, exceeding expectations, and reinvention. Kim’s hindsight view will resonate with today’s recent grads, career-changers and hiring managers.

1.      (L.R.) We first met in December 2006 so this is our 10-year anniversary! How is today’s Kim Shyu different from the recent grad I met a decade ago?

(K.S.) Obviously, I have grown professionally and personally. When I met you 10 years ago, I was in post-college mode so struggling to figure where-in-the-world I fit. Part of my challenge was that I was in a job that wasn’t right for me.  I spent 1½ hours commuting to a sales job for $33K because I thought I couldn’t do any better. I didn’t believe in myself. That is the biggest thing that’s changed- proving to myself that I can do these things. My confidence has slowly grown because I have continually stepped into roles that were too big and exceeded expectations.

I was stubborn. I’ve always been stubborn. I didn’t want to take advantage of my network after college. I remember hosting a CEO speaker at an entrepreneurship conference that I planned as a college senior. The speaker offered to pass along my resume but I didn’t send it because I thought it would be perceived as taking the easy way. I wanted to work my own network and do it my own way. I wonder how my career would have been different if I had gone to work for him.

2.      (L.R.) Do you remember how you found Schechter Reed?

(K.S.) I met or exceeded all my monthly sales goals in my first job and within three months earned a company trip to Iceland. After that, I decided it was time to move on. I happened to find a generic posting for a Recruiting Administrator in Herndon and knew it could be a fit. I had never worked with a staffing agency before but we met after work one night and I was excited to learn that the opportunity was with Booz Allen Hamilton. 

3.      (L.R.) What tools have you used in your job search recently?

(K.S.) When I moved from Booz Allen to Time Warner Cable and then from Time Warner Cable to Audi, I used job boards. But, in both of those moves, the network got me the interview. Now, I’m not afraid to leverage my network. People genuinely want to see people get placed in companies they love. It makes for better community and friendship. I do that for people too.

4.      (L.R.) You have reinvented yourself professionally several times in your 10-year career, starting with a sales position and moving into recruiting management and now digital product management. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to change their career?

(K.S.) Dig deep and evaluate your foundation. You can apply your cross-functional skills to any role. Forget about specialized skills for a moment-you can learn specialized skills. You can’t always teach someone to be organized, approachable, and pragmatic in decision-making.

There will always be times when you encounter challenges with people, process, and management. How you deal with those challenges will differentiate you from others. I know there are times when I can only control a certain amount.

This is how I have sold myself in a lot of my roles. Time Warner Cable was looking for a Technical Writer or Content Manager. When I prepared for the interview, I knew what I could take from my Booz Allen experience. I had never used a content management system before, at least that I knew of. There was a certain amount that I didn’t know. You have to acknowledge that, when appropriate, and be willing to learn but not always divulge your weak areas. I knew what I had to bring to the table.

5.      (L.S.) Our clients are always looking for the “secret sauce” that turns an entry-level hire into a hard-working, accomplished professional. When you are hiring, what do you think is the best predictor of success?

(K.S.) Here’s the challenge: you can’t always tell from a resume how someone is going to perform. From some experiences in the past, I have learned the importance of reference checks. I think it has become clear how valuable they are. Past performance is definitely the best predictor of future success. It might not be formal working experience, but I am convinced that everyone has experience with something that involves teamwork- sports, class projects…. How do you best learn? How are you most productive?

You have to do a lot of self-evaluation. That has been a theme throughout my career. I am very self-critical. I always critique myself and ask if I could do something better.

6.      (L.R.) After we placed you at Booz Allen, you became a client and hired through Schechter Reed but also through other staffing agencies. How is Schechter Reed different?

(K.S.) The quality of Schechter Reed candidates is superb. I always wondered where Schechter Reed found these candidates! There is something about the way you are sourcing that attracts people like me; people who are happy to be in an administrative role but clearly capable of much more. There were so many examples of strong Schechter Reed hires-top performers who rarely show weakness. The quality was superstar status.

7.      (L.R.) Last summer, you published an article on writing a successful cover letter. Why is that subject so important to you?

(K.S.) I think the cover letter I wrote to Audi helped me get the job. I was able to convey my excitement not just for the brand, but for the role specifically, which was so similar to what I was doing (and loved) at Time Warner Cable. The COO of Audi read my letter and had parts of it highlighted in front of him when we met. Supplying a potential employer with a cover letter is a way to set yourself apart from the pack, especially if you’re applying blindly to a position with no one already working there to vouch for you. You can show some personality, demonstrate your writing quality, and most of all make a pitch for why you’re the right one for the position and how the company could think about the role differently with you filling its shoes.

8.      (L.R.) I hate to be cliché but you are a full-time working mom, part-time fitness instructor, triathlete and marathoner. How do you do it all?

(K.S.) The support I get from my husband is what allows me to do all this. We partner well and share responsibilities so we both have time to do our own thing. But also, prioritization; until three-to-four years ago, I was a hard-core planner.  Since having kids and working full time, I’ve become a live-in-the-moment person. I can’t think past tonight, which is crazy to me! I have never been like that. There is no down time. I just care more about certain things. Some things I might have focused on in my early days just don’t matter now.

I remember a few years ago, there was a study about working moms and whether daycare children were inferior. It was a relief to learn that what matters is HOW you spend your time with your kids, not HOW MUCH time you spend.  When I come home from work and until their bedtime, I am diligent about staying unplugged. I invest in my relationship with the kids.

I’ll never stop working. I love working. I want to bring in my own income and challenge myself. I need that to grow as a human being.

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Schechter Reed is a woman-owned search firm, created to address a pressing need for high-caliber administrative talent in metropolitan D.C. We are always looking for capable administrative candidates and client companies looking for a dedicated and ethical recruiting partner. Please connect with lori@SchechterReed.com.