Amybeth Quinn

Director of Global Talent Sourcing, ServiceNow

1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

My favorite grade school teacher was Mrs. Culp, my 1st grade teacher at Memorial Elementary School in CT. I think my love for reading, writing, and vocabulary really began in her classroom. I won our 1st grade spelling bee that year and also wrote a little children’s book called “The Sunshine Followed Us” that I hope to publish someday. I recently found an old composition notebook with ‘letters’ that we wrote back and forth to each other; I think this was an ongoing assignment for all the students so that we could practice good writing etiquette and penmanship. She really made learning fun and interactive. I dressed up as the Statue of Liberty for Halloween that year and collected coins for UNICEF while trick-or-treating; later in the school year I wore that costume in class one day while we were learning about American history. I’ve continued to send her Christmas cards every year as an adult to let her know what’s going on in my life.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

The summer before starting high school, my mom (who was a middle school special education teacher) injured her back while moving her classroom. It was a pretty bad injury, but she was not able to immediately have surgery so I started high school needing to take care of things around our house while being mindful of my education. Mom did finally get to have the surgery she needed but the wait resulted in scar tissue, need for other procedures down the road, and other permanent issues that are still with her today. She never really got back to normal after that injury and I had to take up more responsibilities while I still lived at home.

3. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz.

tl;dr – they are 1) Be impeccable with your word; 2) Don’t take anything personally; 3) Don’t make assumptions; and 4) Always do your best.

The book walks through the ‘why’ behind each of these, and I have these Agreements on a poster hanging by my desk so I have a daily reminder. They are great things to live by each day, to remember to treat yourself and others with respect, kindness, and fairness.

The Bible.

Whether you follow Christian faith or not, the Bible covers some of the greatest moments of human history. It also covers some pretty boring moments as well as some shocking ones. We need reminders of our history as humans so we can try to not repeat the mistakes of our past and remember that we are supposed to love and respect one another. I am particularly drawn to the many examples of how horrible we as imperfect humans have been (and continue to be) to one another throughout history, yet in the same breath how God has seen fit to use flawed people to do some truly remarkable things. My husband and I read it every night together.

Trust, by Francis Fukuyama.

This book was recommended to me by a former coworker who had been part of my interview panel for my very first corporate sourcing job. When I joined, he recommended this book and every time I visited the home office (I was remote) he scheduled lunch for us and invited a new person for me to meet. He was a fantastic colleague. The book is actually an economics book detailing how people do business with each other in different countries and cultures around the world, but it’s been such a great reference point for me as a talent acquisition professional to help understand why different people from different places and backgrounds may behave certain ways. I say often that I should get royalties for the number of times I’ve recommended this book!

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

Former University of Florida QB Tim Tebow.

He is a stand-up human being who treats others with kindness and respect and uses his gifts and talents to try to help those who are less fortunate. Would that we all live our lives this way!

I highly recommend checking out all the cool stuff he does through the Tim Tebow Foundation.

5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

Outside of my close circles, I’m generally quiet and not very outgoing. The fact is I’m pretty introverted and when I’m done socializing, I’m done. Therefore, I think people who don’t know me that well, and in some cases even those who do, can think me rude in social settings. In reality I am just out of energy and need to go be alone so I can recharge. My mom actually felt this way until I cleared it up with her recently! I really do care a lot about other people but it’s exhausting to be around them for lengthy periods of time, no matter how much I might love them.

6. What is your untrainable superpower?

I am really good at seeing potential in people that they might not see themselves. I am not sure this is totally untrainable, but I know it’s from decades of being genuinely curious about people, research, and looking for trends and patterns. When I talk with people, I often pick up on gifts and untapped potential and encourage people to explore those areas further.

7. On what topic would you never make a joke? Why?

Jokes about rape are completely tone-deaf. Anyone who thinks it’s funny to poke fun at that level of intimate physical, emotional, and mental violation is not someone I’d want to be around.

8. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

At dinner recently! My husband and I do pub trivia almost every week at our local Irish pub with a couple other guys that worked at the same company as him. Shop-talk often happens and since I’m the only person who hasn’t worked at this company I sometimes feel left out of the conversation. My husband noticed I was quiet one particular evening and I told him there was just a lot of shop-talk and I had nothing to contribute. I also mentioned that I don’t often get asked about myself, what I do or like, etc. He made it a point to ask me questions and get me more involved in the conversation the next time. (did I mention my husband is a great guy?)

9. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Can you explain?

Our ridiculous American Bulldog, James William Bottomtooth III. He has a significant underbite, hence his name. He was “bottomtoothing” as we call it when his lips get stuck on his two bottom canine teeth, and his tongue was blepping. It was too cute and I had to get a picture of his face.

10. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

If I can count within the last 5 years as “recently,” then definitely corrective LASIK surgery! I’ve had astigmatism and generally horrible vision (we’re talking over -9 in both eyes) since I was about 8 years old. Immediately after the procedure was complete I could see better than I’d seen in over 3 decades. It freed me from needing any kind of corrective lenses, and 5 years later my vision remains perfect.

11. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

This is timely because I just finished bingeing it on Netflix, but Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid / Cobra Kai franchise. I think we are all a bit like Johnny… we can all be jerks sometimes and make bad choices – some more than others – but I believe there’s a part of every person that desires to be better and is willing to work toward it. I think they’ve done excellent character development to show that side of Johnny in Cobra Kai.

12. If you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

My husband: he’s an awesome guy. I love living life with him and if the world were about to end, there’s no one I’d rather spend my last moments on Earth with than him.

My brother Stuart: Stu passed away when he was 12 and I was 11. It would be fantastic to be able to talk with him again in this world. I’ve often wondered what kind of person he would have grown up to be.

First ancestor to immigrate to America: I don’t even know who this person is! It would be so interesting to meet them and learn what caused them to come to America, if they had a choice in that decision, etc.

13. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

When I moved to Cincinnati to take my first job in recruiting, I lived on my brother and sister-in-law’s couch for 2 months while saving up enough money to get my own place. When I finally got my own place, I rented a nice apartment that I unfortunately overestimated my ability to afford with my small salary. About 7-8 months into my lease I was having trouble paying all of my bills, and when my lease was up I had to move again, this time to a pretty dumpy place in a not-so-nice neighborhood. I lived in that dumpy apartment for 4 years and worked hard to live below my means while I paid off my credit cards and other debt. Lesson learned!

14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

Shortly after I graduated from college I moved to Tampa and took a job at a fitness club doing sales. It’s the one and only job where I can remotely claim putting my college education to use (BS in Exercise Science). I lasted a month in that job – I suck at sales and the pay was terrible.

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

I like helping people get to know each other. The quicker we can find common ground with others on a team, the more easily we can start building trust! I think this happens because I like learning about people and seeing what I have in common with or what I can learn from them, so I want the same for others.

16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

Yes, on more than one occasion. One was as a member of a talent sourcing team where I was new to sourcing software engineer profiles. I’ll admit, my attitude wasn’t very good initially – I was jealous of the abilities of my teammates and angry at myself for not being better. By the end of my tenure with the team however I’d developed good relationships with my teammates and established some valuable skill trade-off partnerships with a couple of them. Another time was when I took my first full-cycle recruiting role. My attitude was better there – I asked my teammates lots of questions whenever I stepped into unfamiliar territory, and they were more than happy to share their knowledge with me. It was a great team. My manager at that job was awesome, as well. She gave me enough autonomy to figure things out and be creative, but she flew air cover for me when I needed it.

17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

We need to get diversity, inclusion, and belonging right as TA professionals by being objective, consistent, fair, and compassionate. I think a great starting point in doing that is talking with and listening to people, absent any preconceived notions or assumptions, so we can better understand each other’s life experiences and unique perspectives. What scares me right now is that while I see conversations happening, I think we are still too quick to dismiss experiences we either haven’t personally lived through, can’t comprehend ourselves, or that we don’t agree with. It says that we’re not truly listening to understand yet. I have hope that we’ll get there eventually.

18. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that we can be productive while working remotely in talent acquisition. Companies who’ve seen success in remote work this year most likely had productivity-based goals for their teams already in place and were able to flex those goals to accommodate new working environments for their team members. That’s what I’d like to see more of post-COVID. It doesn’t matter how many hours your butt occupies a chair each day – your production and results should speak for themselves. While agency recruitment has been better at this for a long time, I think we’ll see more corporate TA teams understand and embrace this moving forward.

19. Aside from your parents, name one person who has had an extraordinary impact on your career. What did they do and what did you learn from that person?

Alicia Gilliam – she is my current boss and has been my manager previously at two other companies. Clearly I think highly of her! She gave me my first opportunity to be a people manager. One of the best lessons I learned from her in our first company together was the “no surprises” approach to performance reviews. She taught me your direct reports should not be surprised by things brought to their attention in reviews. I’ve made it a personal mission to carry that through with my own teams, to provide feedback and correction as soon as possible and not wait until review time to share.

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Amy Chiu, Victor Ongpin

Thank you to Amybeth Quinn taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune.

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