Recruiting & Culture: A Discussion with Kenny Roberts
Today I’m delighted to speak with Kenny Roberts, who is the Director of Recruiting at Kespry.
Welcome to the studio, Kenny.
Thanks. Glad to be here.
To start us off, could you tell me who Kespry is and what you’re personally focused on?
Kespry is an aerial data company. A company that is rapidly improving the way that individuals and organizations operate. Specifically in Aggregates, AEC, Insurance, and Mining. My focus is on bringing the best people to Kespry, growing the team and building the culture here.
Mine Planning in Kespry Cloud
In building and growing amazing companies, there’s a lot of focus on company culture. What is company culture to you?
Company culture to me is everything. I think that as a growing and scaling company, you have to remember that your culture is going to be evolving. You can’t say that this is the way it is and this is how it’s always going to be. The friends and family perspective of that’s how you’re going to find people can only get you so far. You really need to find people that can add value to your team and culture. They have to live by the values of who you are. Whether that’s transparency, running at speed or not being afraid to make mistakes. Find those people that live those values but at the same time can grow with you and add value.
Why should companies care about company culture?
When you look at a lot of companies, culture is something that people take for granted. They think that culture will just kind of build itself and to a point it will. It’s something you do have to foster and take care of though. It’s what keeps people excited about coming to a company every single day. I think that more often than not, people will tell you that they start looking for jobs because their job feels like a job. I’m so lucky to have the colleagues I do. Every single person that I work with is fantastic, genuine, and ready to make a difference; that is our culture at Kespry.
How can companies ensure that they hire folks who fit their culture?
It all comes down to having people understand what your culture is, who you are and what you care about.
Fundamentally it comes down to ensuring that you have the right people interviewing every single time. So, part of that comes down to the interview training. Part of that comes down to having that person meeting folks that understand what the culture is. That doesn’t mean you can only have the same five people interviewing candidates every single time because that’s not scalable. Have a team that can evaluate candidates from several different ways. In addition to also asking technical questions or problem-solving questions, it should be just having a genuine conversation.
You’ve interviewed so many folks in your career – what’s one question you find valuable to ask?
I typically ask people what is it that they’re looking for because there are so many different opportunities in the Bay Area. The one thing that I think most people don’t always think through is what does that next opportunity need to look like. There are the typical answers you get that are focused on growth, transparency, shorter commute and more money. For me, what I’m looking for is what have you thought through. Is it beyond the actual scope of the role and the people? Is it the team culture, environment or the type of product you’re working on? Is it the sense that you’re just getting tired of your job because you’re no longer learning? Those are all things I want to know. I want to find somebody that has the desire, passion, and motivation to figure things out. I want to find someone that’s here for the right reasons.
How can companies create an engaging work environment?
You have to have a leadership team that won’t be micro managers. A leadership team that wants people to grow and take ownership of what they do.
That only comes from the executive leadership team buying into the “we win as a team and lose a team” mentality. Everybody’s got to take ownership of what they do.
As the Director of Recruiting, how do you empower your team?
I empower my team by giving them the flexibility to do what they need to be successful. Part of that comes down to just allowing them to own the relationships with their business groups. For me, I don’t want to be the person that our head of customer success or VP Marketing always comes to when they have a question. I want every hiring manager to be comfortable going to the recruiter and being able to share more about the candidate they need.
Part of what I look for in my recruiting team is high business acumen. I need them to understand what their business groups are doing and how they operate so that they can understand the rhythm of that business. I also need them to understand how to work with those teams, the personality types, the key players in those organizations and how to make things happen. I’m going to be there every step of the way, in the sense of supporting them and making sure they have what they need, but at the same time, I want to let them lead and be self-sufficient.
I think one of the things that managers often forget is that they’re only as good as their team. For me that’s something that I believe strongly in and without a strong team, you’re only going to get so far.
What’s it like to work at Kespry?
It’s fun and innovative. It’s a new challenge every single day. I love the people here. I love the opportunity here, but most importantly I love the vision. We’re growing, scaling and solving real problems.
You’ve hired so many amazing people, and you chat with a lot of candidates. What attracts people to Kespry?
At first, it’s all about the drone. What people then get really excited about is understanding that we’re not just a drone company – we’re a data company.
They’re excited about getting to work with genuine and smart people. We’re building truly disruptive technology, and we’re having fun doing it.
You’ve shared so much fantastic feedback today. Now I’d love to talk a little bit about you.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in the Bay Area, about 15 minutes south of the Kespry’s Menlo Park office.
How did you get into recruiting?
I fell into it in the sense that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I graduated college. I knew I wanted to work with people, so I applied to a start-up for a customer success role. They ended up hiring the person with ten years of experience and not the new grad.
The next thing I know, the recruiter calls me and says “Hey, I love your energy, I love your passion – have you ever thought about recruiting?”.
I was like let’s give it a try, and the rest is history. I love working with people. I love to learn. More importantly, I love technology. So recruiting in the Bay Area is just a perfect fit for me.
What advice do you have for someone who is very early in their recruiting career?
Work hard and don’t be afraid of the phone. I meet too many recruiters that are afraid of the phone. Pick up the phone and have a conversation because you’ll be surprised how many times you’ll be blown away by a candidate whose resume is uninspiring. As soon as you talk to them though, there’s an instant connection or a perfect fit.
For folks enjoying this interview today – how can they learn more and reach out?
First and foremost take a look at our careers page. Beyond that, we have social media presence on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you’re looking for something specific, I always tell people the best way to connect is by either emailing us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by finding somebody that you’re connected to here at Kespry and having them introduce you.
Kenny, it has been so great to chat with you today. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me about Kespry, the team and my experiences here.