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Frances Mendez Kloes – Why I Joined DataGrail

DataGrail, February 21, 2023

As the new VP of People at DataGrail, one of my goals is to attract team members who join for a job but stay for a journey. We’re a different type of company, and it’s essential that we hire people who believe in DataGrail’s mission, themselves, their teams, and what we can accomplish together.

Let me take a step back to explain how I got here and what I see in and for DataGrail moving forward.

Pulling the Right Threads

When I think about my own career journey, it has perhaps been atypical. I started out working with early-stage tech companies in the dot.com era. Most people who lived through the late ‘90’s/early ‘00’s in Silicon Valley will likely have a story or two about what a crazy time this was in terms of innovation and figuring out how to turn an idea into an actual business. Experience was very much hands-on, learn-as-you-go because companies were striving to do what had never been done before. 

In this environment, I cut my teeth doing everything from HR to finance operations, to building out facilities as companies grew. But I wanted to learn other, proven ways to grow responsible companies; I wanted to experience how non-tech companies operated, the winners and less successful. So, I went back to school and into management consulting.

I never imagined working in the types of environments I found myself in, but it was incredibly fruitful to have an understanding and appreciation for the world outside of tech. I didn’t want to exist in a bubble. In the process, I learned perspectives and methodologies that I’ve been able to apply time and again in the tech world that are applicable and incredibly useful, things like how to scale growth effectively and weave teams together in a manner that creates and maintains a strong company culture.

Creating Opportunities for a Thriving Workforce

Among the key lessons I’ve learned over the course of my career, both in tech and working across other industries, is the importance of empowering employees. At DataGrail, we strive to do this in multiple ways– which requires understanding what creates an optimal work environment. 

Remote work was a necessity during the pandemic, but in the days since, companies have struggled to figure out the right balance between returning to the office and working remotely. At DataGrail, we believe in prioritizing the needs of our employees – providing the spaces and resources to do their best work, and the flexibility to have healthy lives outside of the company.

Regardless of whether our employees work remotely or in one of our offices, I’m a strong advocate for providing the encouragement and the platform for people to be able to come together, whether it’s in an office setting or elsewhere, in order to continue to build human bonds that allow for cultivating a deeper, richer, more trusting, collaborative environment. Doing so is about intentionality. And as leaders, we must ensure that we’re continuously encouraging human connections because as much as people enjoy working from home or their local Starbucks, I have very seldom heard an individual say, “I really wished I’d stayed home and done this virtually” after an offsite or event. 

When such bonds are forged, it encourages team members to want the best for their colleagues, and that includes providing pathways for advancement or experimenting with work in other parts of the company.

I believe in learning enablement, helping people understand things like what the possibilities are within their current job families and what other possibilities exist within the organization. One of the aspects of my role that I love most is creating the tubing that allows people to be intellectually curious so that they can think about where they might go next within DataGrail. 

Instead of someone saying to their manager, “I can only advance if you quit,” I want the conversation to be more like, “I’m in marketing, and I love our product. I’ve heard so much about our product and our customers’ experiences. I am curious about moving into a product role?” Such conversations require that, as a company, we are transparent about the different roles available and what success looks like. We must also enable our leaders to fearlessly lean into these conversations with team members. An ideal response from a leader when faced with this conversation would be, “Yes! I’ve noticed your interest in our product and have been anticipating this conversation. I’d like to hear more about what you are thinking and how I can support you!” This level of leadership empowerment is an essential part of our company culture as we continue to grow.

It’s Personal  

My job is to support DataGrail’s success  by creating and maintaining an employee experience  that attracts great talent and supports team members to do the best work of their lives. In turn, our customers win in this model.

At DataGrail, we hire and assemble teams of  people who want to win together. DataGrail’s core leadership competencies incorporate inclusion of all voices, leadership at all levels and the need for curiosity, and serve as the bedrock of our hiring and recognition practices. This is how we keep these values real on a day to day basis.   

So, as I embark on this new role at DataGrail, I am excited to work with our current and future team members as we strive to ensure that everyone has the right to protect their personal information. Your success is our success.

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