Ericka Hyson, COO of ettain group
Years in Staffing: 16.5
Fun Fact: Ericka started her managerial career very early – at age 19! She was working full-time managing a retail gourmet food store in Williamsburg, VA (while attending college full-time), and hasn’t stopped excelling and embracing opportunities since. Ericka joined ettain group in January 1999, immediately fell in love with the fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment and has held (or created) more than 8 positions within the company before her most recent promotion to COO in January 2015.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had in your staffing career thus far?
I’ve always enjoyed taking on new roles, but the biggest professional stretch was in 2012, when I accepted Jeff Harris’ (Founder & CEO) challenge to build a charter group at ettain group called the People Department. This initiative was inspired by our commitment to our Vision “to create opportunity for others” and a true passion to help our fast-growing organization realize our Mission to our employees. I had been instrumental in building and leading our recruiter onboarding and new hire training since 2006, and was excited to shift my focus to our internal customer in order to attract, acquire and grow great talent internally. As the VP of People, I enjoyed the opportunity to build off of my experiences and to learn new skills, to create new roles and opportunity internally, and to build a team that was 100% focused on our employees. Within the first 6 months, I built a Corporate Recruiting Team, promoted an emerging leader to oversee Talent Development for the organization, and hired one of my mentors, Laura Solitario, to join the team as VP of Talent Management. I learned two big lessons over the course of these 2 years: to have more questions than answers, and to make a habit of reaching outside the organization for advice, feedback, mentoring, support and sharing best practices.
You’ve always been a trailblazer. What motivated you to take on new roles?
Since I started in January of 1999, our annual growth rate has been 102%. Since day one, I have been empowered and encouraged to take on many responsibilities, challenge the status quo, make mistakes, and put ideas into action. For me, it’s always been less about what role or title that I have but where my skills can best support the organization. I then focus my energy there. Our APART values are strong, and the leadership team has always encouraged candor, accountability, teamwork, and selflessness in creating opportunities for others. Having that support from our leadership team gives me confidence to keep stretching myself.
What are you most proud of?
Our Mission and Vision are about creating opportunities for others. I feel most proud to be part of a team that makes that happen every day. Our Values are not just a poster on the wall. We talk about perpetuating a legacy – to see the potential in people and how they will impact the business in the future, and help them get ready for what’s next. Everyone is encouraged to think “who will replace me in the future? How can I help develop others? What’s next for me?” It’s awesome to be immersed in a culture that does that. This approach really helps the business grow and scale – as people act in alignment with our shared goals to create opportunities for others; for instance, splitting accounts, creating territories, team selling, etc. It is so rewarding to think about how far these individuals have come since their first day of orientation and to witness multiple generations of employees impacting the future of the company.
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