Why operations matters with Kate Ferrian

Reader’s note: This is a partial transcription from the first episode of the 10-Minute Talent Show. To hear the full episodes (it’s only about 10 minutes), click the podcast embed above.

It’s often said by those who work in staffing that you never plan to actually work in staffing. Well, the same can be said for operations. Horizontal Talent’s Senior Director of Global Operations Kate Ferrian is here to tell you why working in operations may be right for you.

What is operations?

My talent operations manager, Amanda, came up with the perfect analogy. A lot of people will go looking for a watch. They want it to be beautiful, shiny and all of that good stuff. Operations is really the grinding gears that make the watch actually work.

What can you expect working in operations?

During the day, we often work on compliance, insurance and request for proposal benefits. Again, the gears that make everything run. One of the coolest things about operations is that we work with everybody. From a sales rep, a new MSA, a recruiter, consultant, you name it, we will work with you. If you want to continue your knowledge around anything that happens in a company, work in operations, you will never be bored.

How did you get into operations?

Originally, I wanted to plan weddings, so I got my degree in hospitality and event management. I stumbled across staffing by actually being placed at a company through a staffing firm. I was placed as an administrative assistant and was lucky enough to get placed with another staffing firm and work my way up to helping in their finance department. Through that department, I really got to see the inner workings of their operations. I had the opportunity to start the finance department at Horizontal and about 5 years ago now, started the operations department on the Talent side of the business. It just so happened that the skill set that I had, being super detail oriented and really wanting to learn a lot of different things, worked well with being able to create this operations department.

What do you look for when recruiting members for your operations team?

I currently have 6 people on my team, and when I was recruiting them, I looked for a variety of skills. To succeed in operations, especially in staffing, you have to be detail-oriented, organized, process driven and have the drive to continue to learn. Furthermore, as a midsize company that is continuing to grow, you have to be flexible. One of the things we’ve realized is that a lot of our past business has been vendor management and MSP business. We have newer retail clients, and we have to acknowledge that we can’t treat our retail clients the same as past clients. There must be flexibility to identify the need to change a process for it to work better.

Overall, finding somebody who wants to learn, grow and cares is really what I look for. No one person is going to come into a company or a team with the exact set of skills that they’re going to need to do that job. For me, it’s all about being a good manager and continuing to teach them along the way to ensure that their skill sets are being built and that we’re learning together.

What advice do you have for general job seekers?

Ask a lot of questions. Ask what kind of training is provided and what kind of expectations there are in terms of getting up to speed. Training is one of the biggest things that you want to understand. Does that mesh well with how you are as a person?  Is the company stuck in how they train people that it might not work well with how you learn? As a job seeker it is important to ask questions!

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