Vaiva Vaisnys, SVP of People Potential at Rightpoint, has vast experience in building relationships and mentoring. As part of our #WomensHistoryMonth series highlighting women in leadership at Rightpoint, we sought out Vaiva’s insights on diversity, mentorship and her career path in the interview below. This is part 1 in the series; read our interviews with other women in leadership at Rightpoint throughout this week.
What brought you to Rightpoint?
I spent several years of my HR-focused career in organizations where leadership did not truly support people, or invest in values, and that didn’t gel with what I wanted to see in the work world.I struck out on my own to help small companies that were growing quickly and had the forethought to think about the value of employees. I met Brad Schneider and Ross Freedman, Rightpoint’s co-founders and co-CEOS in 2008, and much to my surprise, they wanted to hire me to help them build a strong foundation pretty much from Rightpoint’s inception. They wanted me to help them think about what Rightpoint stood for – to define core values, mission, and vision. At the time, the company was nine people big. I asked myself, “What company invests money on this so early? Some companies have 100 people and don’t bother to have an HR person or even hire an HR consultant!” I loved their approach, consulted with them until Rightpoint grew to 50 people, then joined full-time in 2011.
How does Rightpoint approach recruiting from a diversity standpoint ?
Our recruiting team is working with our Diversity and Inclusion team to think about how we can improve our effort, because we can’t control every aspect of the process. I do wish that there were more women developers. There aren’t many women in the tech field to begin with and we have a stringent process that requires people to be a fit both culturally and with skill level.
Something that Rightpoint has done well – and this speaks to who we are and people we attract – is consider potential. We evaluate talent holistically and think about what a person can bring to the table. Sometimes we talk to people who may not seem like a literal fit but we see potential in them. Or there are times when we keep our eye on which projects are coming down the pipeline and we try to keep our eye on what opportunities may be available for people in the future. I think that by virtue of our culture and who we are, people feel welcomed and appreciated for what they bring to the table. We try to look for those who won’t be cookie cutter representations of ourselves.
This is an organization that tries to support and meet people where they are. I do believe that for that reason, Rightpoint is a place that many women find appealing.
Who are your mentors?
I’ve had a couple of mentors – incredible people – who happened to be my bosses. One of my bosses was the president of the company. Our founder respected her, and gave her latitude to make decisions, so she was able to make things happen without the fear of making mistakes. She taught me that there was no shame in making mistakes. The attitude of saying “Okay, we learned something,” after a mistake, versus internalizing it, helped her move forward. Thus, it helped us all move forward and that is something I’ve carried through to my leadership style today.
Are you involved in mentorship? What advice would you give to your mentees?
Yes, I’m involved, and I have had mentees over the years. As noted above, I’ve tried to carry forward the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes and that the most important thing is to learn. What’s important is to find an organization where it’s okay to make mistakes. If you’re not at an organization where it’s okay to fail, then it can be stifling and confidencecrushing. I encourage my mentees to findthe right organization for them that allows for growth and learning.
I would also say don’t be afraid to seek out a mentor. Andfor people who are in positions of mentorship, remember that the smallest gesture could mean the world to someone, so keep yourself open to moments of mentorship.
What do you wish you would have done sooner in your career?
I would have actively found a mentor sooner. I didn’t really have one when I first graduated collage. But, when I graduated grad school, I was luck to be at a company with a great woman at the helm. It was amazing to learning from her by watching her in the moment and seeing her thought process and how she resolved situations.
I also wish I would’ve networked my way to more mentors, men and women alike. The goal doesn’t have to be mentorship, but especially when you’re in the beginning of your career, networking can provide a good sounding board for ideas and help to build confidence. Even if you don’t meet someone directly in your field, you can always learn something from someone.