Name: Jamy Conrad
Title: VP of People/HR
Jamy Conrad comes from Small Town, in the USA where phrases like “family comes first”, “blue-collar work ethic” and “be grateful for what you have” mean more than just simple phrases. She grew up with entrepreneurial influences, humanitarianism as a way of life, and a passion to leave the world better than she found it.
After relocating from Small Town, in the USA to Austin, TX, she went to work for a family-owned company within the medical equipment industry, Travis Medical, and began a career in Human Resources. There, she was the proud recipient of a “Mission Possible” award for promoting positivity in the workplace, as well as their first annual “Chester Lyssy” award for humanitarian efforts. More recently, she was assisting the community through PAM Health, where she initially helped them to open a new Rehab Hospital in the north Austin metro area, and then went on to lead a team of HR Directors across the country during the global pandemic. Today, she has transitioned to the tech industry joining the TrustRadius team to lead their People strategy and HR functions.
She is a long-time member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and part of both their Executive Network and Advocacy Team. She is an active member of the local Austin SHRM chapter, The Strategic HR Forum, TroopHR, and a founding member of Hacking HR’s Experts Council. She holds multiple professional certifications in HR, and she is an avid volunteer for Code2College, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and opportunities in software coding to launch underserved students into STEM careers. While she continues to influence in her profession, her career in HR has truly just been trying to fill her insatiable curiosity about human nature, the power of choice, and human potential, and realizing along the way that the more she learns, the less she knows.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Jamy's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Figuring out at the moment which leadership style will be the most impactful in the situation at hand. There are so many nuances to leadership and leadership styles and how each style resonates with different people can sometimes make all the difference in how fast you can get to the best possible outcomes. Knowing your toolbox and when to use each tool appropriately is important but can also be one of the most challenging when it comes to leading humans.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have had the privilege of being in leadership roles throughout many aspects of my life. Starting with being voted as "head chef" in kindergarten when we decided to make mud pies on the playground to earning the role of Drum Major in the high school marching band and into the corporate world where I quickly moved into leadership positions whenever hired into individual contributor roles. Since starting my career, I have worked in small, family-owned organizations large, national corporations to now working in a global technology company in the B2B SaaS space. The constant in all of the different roles and industries is that I have always felt like I had a seat at the leadership table, and I am grateful to be given opportunities where my voice matters and can make a difference.
I have known most of my life that people management and leadership were areas that I gravitated to and enjoyed. I think it is because I am so intrigued with human nature and how people respond to any given situation. When I approach leadership opportunities, it seems to resonate with people when I lean into gratitude, actively find the silver linings, and take decisive action based on facts. I think it fills people with hope and confidence, and it influences how quickly we build trust in the relationship.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a senior leader, I have found this to be one of the most critical tasks for getting it all done and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
I typically start my day early and with personal objectives in mind. This could be related to speaking engagements I am preparing for, thought leadership articles I have been asked to write, the next certification exam I am studying for, the volunteer work I take pride in, etc. Then, I'll shower, grab coffee, and move into my work day.
Currently, I work in a fully remote work environment, which has its pros and cons. I begin most of my work days with the to-do list I prepared the night before, and then in and out of virtual meetings consistently throughout the day. I have to be ruthless with my calendar and ensure that I have carefully prioritized time for heads-down work and strategy. Before I end my work day, I revisit the to-do list I started with, update it, and prepare for the following work day, including tomorrow's to-do list.
After logging out, I go for a walk to shift from work to "not work" since the commute I used to have is no longer part of my day. In the evenings, I then either attend functions related to my profession or a hobby or spend quality time with family and friends. Before bed, I pick up the latest book that I'm reading and usually drift off before I get too far into the story.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
There is always room for improvement. While we all have "weaknesses" or areas we want to improve on, sometimes the most effective way to spend your time and make a difference is by leaning into your strengths and the areas you do really well. Taking it one step further, sometimes you can utilize your strengths in the areas you would like to improve to make them less daunting or feel like they are holding you back. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect. Accepting our areas to improve rather than worrying about them and allowing them to hold us back is a healthy approach to mental health and self-confidence. And…this is also especially true and effective for how you think about, evaluate, and lead others on your team.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg & Nell Scovell
I know there has been some controversy regarding Sheryl Sandberg because of her privilege, and we definitely come from two very different backgrounds influencing how we see and react to work situations. However, this book came to me at a pivotal moment in my life. I was right in that transitional moment of my work being less about doing and more about leading, both people and organizations. I was struggling with imposter syndrome and the balance between having a career and being a “good” mom. Through this book, she provided me with a framework, change in perspective, and language to challenge me to “lean in” on the areas that matter most to me and not be afraid of the possibility of succeeding in ALL areas of my life simultaneously.
Today, these ideas manifest in my leadership styles. The idea of growth through discomfort comes quickly to mind and my willingness to lean into the hard conversations and situations rather than shy away from them. It also comes through with my insistence on personal accountability whenever the topics of professional development, career management, and the impact of mentorship/sponsorship come into play. And of course, there is no question that it influences my desire to make sure all voices are heard: women, men, underprivileged, regardless of race, sexual identification, and background.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Find mentors early in your career, and listen to their stories and experiences. Mentors can open up doors you didn’t know existed, provide you with insights you never would have thought of, and be a source of inspiration you never would have imagined. They have walked in your shoes, they have made (and learned from) mistakes, and they want nothing more than to see their mentees successful and thriving. Find organizations that support mentorship internally, but don’t solely rely on those internal programs. These can be some of the most impactful relationships you will have in your career, and it is important to find the mentors that you mesh with.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One meaningful story that stands out from my experience as an HR leader involves hiring a couple of return-to-work moms who have been out of the workforce for several years. They were professionals in every sense of the word, and they had taken breaks from their careers to focus on raising children. When they decided to return to work, they both faced some challenges in reentering the job market. Instead of letting their gaps in work experience deter me from interviewing them, I instead recognized the untapped potential and unique skills that return-to-work moms often bring to the workplace. During the interview process, it became evident that their time away from the workforce had not diminished their professional capabilities.
Upon joining our team, both of them quickly became indispensable members making immediate impacts to the department we were building together. Skills that stand out to me looking back include the ability to juggle multiple tasks with ease, a strong work ethic, and effective communication skills. Over time, their stories became a testament to the value of hiring return-to-work moms and caregivers. This experience reinforced my belief in the importance of providing equal opportunities for individuals who may have non-traditional career paths. It highlighted the potential for organizations to benefit from the unique skills and perspectives that varying backgrounds and experiences can bring, and it solidified my personal commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.