Women of Qualified: Jess

Women of Qualified is a monthly blog series celebrating our female employees who make an impact to our business and team every day.

Women of Qualified: Jess
Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
September 9, 2022
min read
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Meet Jess! Jess is our Manager of Employee Engagement and has been with Qualified since the early days, helping to shape our people experience from the ground up. Learn how she approaches employee engagement in a remote world, why robust benefits packages matter to her, and how she's managing being back in a busier than ever role after welcoming her first baby.

What is your role at Qualified now, and how has it evolved since you started?

Jess: I am the Manager of Employee Engagement at Qualified which basically is a big title to say that I am the voice of the employee. I report to our head of People and I get to ensure not only that we’re implementing a strong culture but we follow Qualified’s values and at the end of the day I get to make sure that everyone’s having a good time and loves to come to work. 

I started at Qualfiied and I was I think the first person they recruited that wasn’t a direct former Salesforce or GetFeedback employee, I worked with a great recruiter who hired me to be an EA for our executive team, Eric Sean and Kraig.

That very quickly evolved into the jack of all trades role. We were trying to move offices and furnish the one we had at the time, we had no HR, we had one person in finance, so I was doing everything from Expensify to writing our handbook, writing our code of conduct, creating events, I don’t even remember it all. It was nonstop, Eric and I were in the trenches for a solid twelve months. But we finally scaled later that year and this grew into much more of a culture based role for me. 

I stepped away from support stuff and we really put the emphasis on fun for the first eighteen months that I’ve been here. We get to do several in person events like our FY23 kick off where we did this huge offsite in Las Vegas. It was a huge endeavor but we flew 120 people to Vegas, had an amazing weekend, and really aligned on what it means to work for Qualified.   

It’s no secret our industry is facing a little economic uncertainty right now, talk to us about your philosophy on how to prioritize people during tough times.

Jess: It is a challenging time for any tech startup. For us, we’re really being conservative. I think a lot of people look at our funding and why are we thinking like that when we’re doing MoM the best month we’ve ever had, which is phenomenal and says a lot, but I think Kraig’s leadership and his transparency lets us see the trajectory for the business and for us.

The fact that we aren’t doing these major riffs, we’re keeping our team employed and doubling down on us. We kept in place almost all of the benefits and we have amazing ones–even incentives to get further education, and our parental leave package–all of these things are still on the table for our team. We had twenty people start this month alone, that says a lot. 

Speaking of our parental benefits, as a new mom, how did these benefits impact you?

Jess: We have a fairly generous maternity and parental leave program at Qualified. We have some fringe benefits that support that as well that I’ve never had at other companies. The thing I find so cool about our culture is that we really embrace families and the chaos that happens. We’re flexible on scheduling and our hours and time off, and we really value our family time just as much as we value our work time. 

We offer 16 weeks off for parental leave to disconnect completely. I just took advantage of it, it was phenomenal, this is my second week back and I felt so supported, so cared for, not even just while I was on leave, and shouldn’t even be thinking about work, but people were texting me and emailing me wanting to make sure I was doing well. The minute I got back Eric is asking me how I am and what I need, the love is truly there for our team. 

We also offer some unique things–we offer a Night Nurse benefit to give 7 days of care to our expecting parents which I’ve never heard of anywhere. I thought you have to have a senior title to have a night nurse. We also have a meal benefit so that parents get to sit back and relax the first week you have a little one, you don’t want to cook. The fact that they even thought of these things shows how we think outside the box and really embrace our teams and their families.

How did you prepare to go on mat leave–what’s the mentality you needed to cultivate to be ready to unplug from work?

Jess: It was incredibly hard for me to get into that headspace and prep to disconnect. I’m not a person who does that, ask anyone on our team, you can Slack me at 7AM or 10PM and I’m probably going to respond. That’s just who I am and my nature. I had to manually start setting working hours and try to stick to them so it was like weaning myself off work for those last six weeks, but the biggest thing was project management. 

I wanted to be sure that I did everything humanly possible to hand off my role and autopilot the Ghost Jess for four months. Luckily I was able to do that because I had so much support from Theresa who is our head of people, she’s also a mom with two little boys, she gets it. She gave me some really great advice, not just about the work side, but what it’s like to be a new mom and to have a c-section. She helped me so much and I was so grateful for that.

What’s your number one tip for returning to work after parental leave?

Jess: Returning was super exciting after four months of being isolated in my house with my baby, I was excited to have adult conversations and really use my brain again, as crazy as that sounds. But, I’m oddly organized. I’m old school, I have a paper planner. How do I juggle being a full-time mom, wife, clean freak, plus juggle my demanding job? I got an hourly planner and color code every single hour with my highlighter–like here’s a window to eat, or a window to so something with Theodore.

It’s worked really well and helps me visualize my day. As crazy as it sounds, if you can be really organized mentally, the rest of it just kind of falls into place.

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to in the second half of the year?

Jess: It was always this dream of mine to have this Qualified SWAG store, I wanted a marketplace that takes no money for our team to really give them the choice in Qualified gear. We’ve been able to do really amazing products and I’ve been sending quarterly swag boxes to our team as well as new hire kits to give you cool gear you actually want to use. No one needs desk tchotchkes and another water bottle. We really try to do quality things. 

Right now we’re building this out and it will hopefully launch at the start of Q4, so I’m super amped about that. 

Jess, we can't thank you enough for everything you do to keep our team connected and engaged. Thank you for chatting with us! 

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