Leveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in Tech

People People

May 9, 2023

Margaux Morgante

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X min

5 min

Meet Jessie Lambert, Human Resources Director at Mistplay

Shifting to remote or hybrid work has presented new challenges for HR leaders, including employee burnout and building relationships with team members. HR Director Jessie Lambert shares her approach to these challenges and provides advice for others in similar situations.

Table of Contents

HR leaders all have unique styles and approaches to the profession.

For Jessie Lambert, HR Director at Mistplay (a loyalty program for mobile gamers,) the key in her career has been to understand her unique style and use it to her advantage. She encourages all HR leaders to do the same.  

“You aren't going to be the best HR professional in every situation, in every company, in every phase of the company, in every field,” she explains.  

Jessie’s strengths lie in her intuition, relationship-building skills, and ability to move fast – a perfect fit for growing tech companies, where she has spent the last eight years of her career.

“As an HR leader, when you lean into your strengths, you’ll add more value to your career, your company, and the people you’re supporting,” she says.


We sat down with Jessie to learn more about her career and what’s on her mind in today’s fast-changing world of work.


What have been some highlights in your HR career thus far?

I went to school in France at the Burgundy School of Business, which culminated in every student having to choose a career field. I chose HR back then, without knowing much about the field, but I thought, this is it.  

From there, an essential factor in my career has been respecting my personal standards and expectations. I've had to leave roles because I wasn't aligned with how leaders wanted me to do things.

I’m impatient, decisive, and not risk averse.

The most defining moment for me was when I moved into tech. I immediately knew that these were the kind of companies I wanted to work with. Where I could best use my strengths.


What are some critical skills HR leaders need, and how do you approach professional development?

With HR, things change fast. We are constantly developing new programs and finding new ways to build culture. Staying up to date is key.

I prefer to learn independently. I like to move quickly when I learn and often don't have the patience to sit in training sessions. I read a lot (all of Malcolm Gladwell's books) and follow the Harvard Business Review. And I listen to a lot of podcasts. That just suits me best.


How would you define workplace culture?  

Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.  

The tricky thing with culture is that it exists regardless of whether you have an HR department [or not]. Even if you aren’t doing anything intentionally to build it – you put people together, and you have a culture. The question for HR leaders is, do you want to be active in shaping the organizational culture, or passive and just witness what's unfolding?

What’s key is to make sure there’s a connection between your company’s mission and vision, and what you're observing in your people.

For so long, we have been vague about what culture is, what we can do to drive it, and how we can measure results. That’s often why leaders hesitate to invest in culture, because the impact is hard to quantify.  

For example, if someone says a culture is toxic, what does that mean? What can you do? Can you know if you've managed to change it?

Historically, HR wasn't data-driven enough to answer those questions from leaders. Now things are different, especially in tech companies. Leaders are more willing to give HR ownership of culture and provide budget for programs that provide those data points and insights.


Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.

How do you work with senior leaders to drive success?

I feel lucky to work in tech. It really is the best field for HR. Leaders see the value of culture-focused initiatives. They can’t afford to have top talent leave due to a bad work environment.

Today HR tends to come in early when tech companies are built. Leaders want to work with HR. They trust you. They want your input. If you’re good at your job, tech welcomes you with open arms – and the sky’s the limit. It's different when you're in a big organization where change takes time and is difficult to reverse. In tech, you have more freedom to try things – worst-case scenario, you pivot if the results aren't what you expected.

I once entered a company as employee number 22, which was very early for HR. In tech, they want your input as soon as possible.

How has the shift to remote or hybrid work affected your role?

Being in tech, shifting from in-office to remote was easy from an operational perspective. Everyone had laptops, and everything was accessible through the cloud.  

An unexpected challenge, however, has been people overworking. In the early days of remote work, I had to train my team on the importance of taking breaks and eating. And making sure leaders were modelling healthy behaviours and working hours.

I never had an engagement or employee dedication issue; my problem was burnout. My people were burning out, and the challenge with a hybrid or remote setup is that you don't always see your people.  

Another challenge as an HR leader in a remote environment is getting to know everyone. There's nothing worse than having a difficult conversation with an employee and it being the first time you're speaking with them.  

You have to be intentional about your interactions, whereas before, in an office, you didn't have to think about that.

Having recently started a new role, it was one of my first goals and questions. When can I speak to the employees? What is the process for that?


What do those conversations look like between you and employees? Do you have advice for HR leaders undertaking a similar initiative?

I approach the conversations intuitively. If you’re newer to HR, I’d recommend an agenda and a checklist to ensure you’re being intentional about the conversation. I usually start by asking how they're doing, and from there, I get a sense of whether we need to discuss work, if they need to vent, or maybe it's just a friendly chat to connect about something personal.

Ultimately the objective is to create connection.  

It's also an opportunity to reiterate the business’ strategic direction. It’s not always easy for employees to ask a question in an all-hands meeting so I make space for that too.  

It can be difficult for employees to take the step to reach out for help, but if they have a meeting booked with HR already, they have dedicated time to raise any questions.

What helps is that the more conversations you have, the more you know, giving you more insight for everyone.


What challenges are you facing in HR these days?

For me, it's scalability and speed. When you work in a growing startup, you have to ensure whatever you do is scalable but also execute quickly. That balance of moving fast while always thinking about the future can be a challenge.

Ultimately, if you spend too long working on something, it might no longer be relevant to the business by the time you're ready to launch it. Basically, you have to be fast, but not too fast.


And on the flip side, what are you most excited about?

I'm most excited about advances in diversity & inclusion innovations. There are so many new resources now on how to support our people. I’m always looking for further insight and tools to help me understand if we're doing a good job in this space (for example, analytics), identifying issues, and finding ways to challenge my views. And always trying to understand how I maintain equity through rapid growth, for example. It's all super interesting!


Thank you, Jessie, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at marketing@kudos.com

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