Meet Nicole Bickett, VP of People and Administration at Springbuk
Job Title: Vice President of People + Administration
Degree Path: BA in Psychology and MBA in Business Administration from Indiana University
Hometown: Elkhart, IN
Current City: Carmel, IN
What led you to your getting into tech and this occupation? What was your first job in tech?
I was interested in people and what motivates them from an early age which led to my decision to study psychology in college. I considered becoming a counselor until I realized that I also loved working with a team to accomplish a common goal. I had a minor in business and I realized junior or senior year that HR would be a great way to use my interest in people in a business setting. My first job in tech was when I worked for a tech recruiting firm. I had to learn the ins and outs of tech and match people with full-time or consulting roles. I came back to the tech world when I joined Springbuk in February of 2018.
What has been your career path so far?
After majoring in Psychology, I went on to get my MBA. After my recruiting experience I managed the HR practice for the same tech firm for several years. Once I had children I started my own business consulting firm working with clients on everything from HR and business strategy to process definition and improvement. One of my clients was a less than 10 person real estate development and health care company that I eventually joined, and where I was fortunate to be a part of our fast growth to over 300 employees. That presented many challenges and opportunities to learn and grow my career.
When you think of a day in your life, what are the main work activities you do or responsibilities you have?
Springbuk had not had an HR department until I joined in February of 2018, so my team and I have spent a lot of time evaluating the current systems and updating them for growth. My daily work activities are setting the strategy for the company as part of our leadership team, planning the people strategy, building our recruiting, hiring and onboarding programs, assisting our team with employee experience initiatives, building our compensation philosophy and rewards program, evaluating our benefits and 401k programs, managing our performance review process, employee relations and instituting our training program: Springbuk University.
Help us picture your work environment.
I work in an office environment so I am in meetings and interact a lot with others during the day. I usually catch up on emails and complete quiet, independent work at night at home. My work does not require a lot of travel since we are primarily based in one location.
What do you love about the work you do?
I love seeing the company add positions and gain new ideas and talent from each new role. I love seeing people learning and growing their skills and assisting them throughout that process. It is also fun and challenging to look at the programs we are offering and thinking of ways we can make them better. I thoroughly enjoy working with a team to solve problems and grow the business so we can continue to prevent disease with data.
Which personality traits, interests, and abilities are important or common for a person to succeed in and enjoy this occupation?
Helpful personality traits are patience, emotional intelligence, and the ability to deal with sensitive data. An interest in people and their value to the organization is key to this role. Program development, attention to detail, and a strategic mind are qualities that contribute to success in this role.
Which tools/technologies or technical skills are particularly important for a person in your job to be proficient in?
An understanding of employment law is extremely helpful. Previous experience recruiting and/or using recruiting software (an ATS – Applicant Tracking System) and experience with other HR software like an HRIS, compensation database or performance management system would be helpful. Most of the tools you will learn on the job so a general technical proficiency is usually sufficient.
Which soft skills (aka general business skills or employability skills) are particularly important for a person in this occupation to be proficient in?
There is nothing more important than emotional intelligence for this role as employee relations includes dealing with all different types of people situations. HR is heavily involved in communication and problem solving so any background, experience or aptitude in these are important.
From your experience with new grads applying for and beginning jobs in this occupation, are they missing any particular knowledge, skills, or experiences that hold them back? Please describe.
Usually, it is simply lack of experience with HR or business in general. Internships in HR are incredibly important in landing your first role and would set that candidate apart. If you are interested in HR I would sign up to become a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and look into the certifications they offer. t is a quick boost to a career and many early roles require this certification.
Which resources, people, books, websites, etc. would you recommend to those who want to learn more or advance their skills in this occupation?
Always be learning and continuing to grow your skills. Use your commute time to listen to audiobooks or industry podcasts. Books by Patrick Lencioni are excellent resources. Ram Charan is a guru in the people arena – read or listen to any of his books for leadership and people management ideas. Network like crazy – you will interview for your first few jobs and then when you build a network that knows and trusts you, you may never have to interview again as people will seek you out for roles.
What encouragement or advice would you offer to others considering this occupation or wanting to stand out amongst others?
Take on as many different HR roles as you can early in your career. Offer to take on or be part of a project you know nothing about. Push your comfort zone so you continue to learn new things. As you grow in HR leadership, you will lean on those early experiences of doing and better understand your team’s goals and challenges. If you want to stand out amongst others, go above and beyond in everything you do. Anticipate what might be next and offer or just do it. The biggest growth comes when you do something you haven’t done before. Mastering each new step leads to more knowledge that you can build on for the future.