This week on our blog we continue our series of Q&As with Optanix executives and other industry thought leaders. In our latest entry, we chat with Jodi Budnick, Optanix’s Senior Vice President, Talent, who discusses her career path in Talent Management and how those seeking employment in an evolving, growing business may find the right fit at Optanix.
Jodi, tell us about your career and what drew you into the field of human resources.
After receiving my undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies, I immediately wanted to be a child psychologist and received my master’s degree in Counseling. However, after doing the internship associated with this degree, I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to pursue it further and thought I would perhaps return to it later.
When determining the next steps for my career, I conducted several informational interviews with people in human resources, which many of my friends and family were pointing me towards, as many described H.R. as ‘psychology in the workplace.’ So, I could do something I was familiar with, yet in a different setting.
I fell into a role as an H.R. coordinator at a large, global advertising agency in New York, and fell in love with the talent management and development aspects of the role because they presented me with a variety of tasks to manage each day. The noticeable differences I could have on an organization in this role, as well as the positive and meaningful relations that I could have with people throughout an organization, interested me greatly. I also happened to fall into a wonderful, supportive team, and realized during that experience how important it is to like the people you work with and align on values. While H.R. and talent are support functions, the counseling skills that I gained through my education certainly helped in this first role and today, as I work with employees, managers and leaders.
When did you join Optanix? What enticed you to join the company?
I joined Optanix in January 2018. I was attracted to my role within the company because I found the strategic vision to be very compelling and something I wanted to be a part of. As the business evolves, it creates a unique cultural and change process which I can help to facilitate in my role. I enjoy building and developing, and Optanix is very much a growing, changing business that will allow me to do this and make an immediate positive impact on the business.
While you are relatively new to the company, what key initiatives are you are hoping to accomplish over the next six to twelve months at Optanix?
Many of our key initiatives revolve around building the talent, management and development infrastructure, as well as the building blocks that are necessary for future growth and scale. For example, ensuring that we employ best practices to attract the best talent and retain our key performers, cultivating a high-performance workforce, and providing managers with the tools they need to support and grow employees. There are pockets within Optanix where effective learning and development work is occurring, and I’d like to expand it to the rest of the organization.
Discuss the importance of talent management and what is involved in your specific role.
Human resources goes well beyond just hiring and firing. When my family asks me what I do, it is often hard to describe because it includes so many different aspects. The most simplified definition would be the attraction, identification, selection, growth and retention of human capital to help the business meet its business needs and achieve its goals, whatever those may be. We evaluate and work with staff in every stage of the employee lifecycle to ensure that we have a superior workforce that is constantly learning and evolving to meet the business’s needs.
What advice do you have for college students who might be seeking their first role within a technology-based company?
I believe for any entry-level person – regardless of profession and industry – there are several key attributes to demonstrate to prospective employers. Typically, these include initiative, drive, resourcefulness, hard work, self-responsibility and enthusiasm. Once in a role, it’s very important for an entry-level person to take on additional work and/or projects to expose themselves to as many aspects of the business as possible. This is critical to determining your passions and strengths. Rolling up your sleeves, getting dirty, and immersing yourself in all aspects of the business is an important way to better understand your career passions within the organization. It also demonstrates initiative to the employer, which they very much like to see. I often tell entry-level people that no one’s going to manage their career more than themselves. They should take ownership and accountability for it and not wait for others to manage their career.
Finding qualified candidates for IT roles is currently a difficult task. How is Optanix overcoming this challenge?
As many organizations do, we find our most qualified employees through employee networks and our referral program. When it comes down to talent acquisition and recruiting, it is often the case that good employees know other good people within their network for the roles we look to fill. That being said, it is also very important we bring in people with diversity of backgrounds, experiences and thought to enable discussion of ideas and a better product.
What are the top three qualifications you look for when interviewing candidates?
While technical skills can clearly depend on the actual role, in general I look for candidates who possess emotional intelligence, an ability to adapt to change, and a great passion for what they do.
And finally, why should someone want to work at Optanix?
When I first began at Optanix, I met with a variety of managers and employees to ask the same question. The feedback I received was that Optanix unequivocally has a good people…good human beings you want to sit across from and collaborate with. Our employees care deeply about our customers and this shines through in their work. From a business model perspective, our platform and services address very unique customer problems, which makes Optanix rewarding to be a part of, versus being part of a dime-a-dozen business, with little to no differentiation.
For further information about Optanix and the company’s available positions, please visit our Careers page: https://www.optanix.com/careers