Anastasia Valentine, Executive Vice President, Resource 1
Years in staffing: 23
Fun fact: After graduating Northern Illinois University as a biology major with a minor in chemistry, Anastasia decided she needed a job while waiting to apply to medical school. She decided to go to the NIU career fair where she met the founders of a start-up technical consulting firm. The consulting firm was working with Abbott Laboratories and was attracted to her scientific background. Weeks later, she was being trained by a graduate student from Northwestern University on information technology. She has been in technical staffing ever since.
Can you share a few achievements you’re proud of from your staffing career thus far?
Over the years, I have been strategic in helping companies build leading edge technology. It has been a privilege to work with organizations at this level. When I first started, the technology to support cell phones was just booming. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week augmenting teams for Motorola that could develop in C and C++ for the EMX2500 switching systems. In the early 90’s, the only way to earn a seat at the table in a male-dominated industry was to understand technology well. This technical knowledge was an asset as I took on more complex work. For example, I had the opportunity to help Ameritech move their Network Operations Center (NOC) from Michigan to Chicago in the mid to late 1990s. We placed over 35 senior voice/video/data engineers based out of Chicago within 2 months. This was a special project for me as I was strategically aligned to help build a technically balanced team across three areas of discipline for a 24×7 ops center. I would work with the hiring manager to make his life easier. I would select 10 individuals for him to interview in a day. I would meet with him after, discussing shift availability, areas individuals may need training in, along with their primary area of expertise within voice/video/data. I had to focus on building, training and retaining which was critical in helping the client protect the investment. By the end of the project, we had over 50 people working in the NOC. There was such tremendous strategic partnership.
What keeps you excited about your role within staffing?
It has been rewarding to work in a high tech business and watch how we help clients build technology. We see products and software come to market often that we have individuals play critical roles in. We have helped clients build reloadable prepaid cards so individuals who can’t afford to keep a bank account open have immediate access to cash. We’ve spent many years helping financial and brokerage companies with trading applications as well as POS, ATM, and EFT processing, in addition to forging strategic partnerships to help our clients with mergers and acquisitions. Systems integration is a huge undertaking. We have a client who buys companies for fast growth, and a team of 5 who integrates the software and hardware of the new purchases.
Meanwhile, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a tenured team that works incredibly well together. I have been at Resource 1 for 18 years along with many of our team members. Eighty percent of the company has been here from 10 to 30 years. Two of our recruiting managers have also been here for 18 years and the president has been at the helm over 25 years. We have worked together for so long that we can truly provide a consultative experience while operating lean.
What does it take to be successful in this industry – as an individual and as a leader?
In my experience, you have to be committed to understanding your trade. So, if you are in IT and want to do business at a higher technical level, you need to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk.
It is difficult selling to C level executives and high level IT managers if you don’t understand technology. Every potential client has different technology and unique applications. Being able to ask the right questions the first time is critical. Understand what you do, and do it well. When someone invites you into their business, they are trusting that you truly understand their business.
For up and coming leaders, they need to be committed to both educating their employees and retaining those employees. Another lesson I have learned is that good leaders run with the pack. Some of the best that I have seen in this industry can do every job – selling, recruiting, training, mitigation of issues, handling HR, legalities, etc. People follow people who know what they are doing. I have experienced that people are much more dedicated to a vision if the leader is running with the team. We get so numbers oriented in this business but it could lead to missed opportunities. I feel that managing people by a template is not true management. It’s important to sit down with your leaders to build plans that make their strengths stronger and weaknesses better. Don’t look at every employee the same way. They can all get to the same place, one way or another. Autonomy balances out the organization.
Are you an industry veteran that’s excited to share your lessons with the next generation of staffing leaders? Share your insights as part of this #womenINstaffing Wednesday series. Contact me to learn more.
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