Our Staff Spotlight Series highlights members of the Talent Rewire staff.
Name: Kimberly Shin
Place: Seattle, Washington
Current Job: Managing Director– Talent Rewire
1. As a form of introduction, please share with us a time when one or more of your identities played a role in your career.
My parents left South Korea in their early 20s to the States for educational and economic opportunity – for both themselves and their future children. I remember hearing stories as a child about my father’s experience growing up during the Korean War, and how as a boy, he would tighten his belt to make himself feel more full. “Don’t waste a single grain of rice” was a common admonishment heard at our dinner table. As a result, I’ve always placed a high value on economic stability and mobility – initially for myself and eventually for others. For the last two decades I have worked in jobs focused on expanding opportunity – whether it be in the field of education or workforce.
2. Can you share an experience where you felt respected and valued? How did that affect your relationship to the job and the employer
One experience that sticks out to me is my manager at my last employer. Despite the power and positional differences, she consistently sought out my input, genuinely considered what I had to say, and oftentimes followed it. This was incredibly meaningful to me because as a woman of color, I had internalized that what I had to say wasn’t very valuable. I was fairly quiet in team meetings, always thinking others had the “right” answer. Under her leadership, I developed the confidence to speak up more and share my ideas.
3. What builds Trust for you as an employee? What needs to be true in a workplace for you to feel comfortable giving input?
Along the lines of the last answer, I need to feel competent, but not perfect. When asked to engage in a brainstorming session, you’ll often hear me say “no stupid answers, right?” It’s important for me to feel like I don’t always have to give the “perfect” answer, because most of the time the first idea is not the best one.
I also appreciate norms around not having to say things perfectly. I grew up in a dual language household, and although English was the first language I was fluent in and my parents were fairly proficient in it despite it being their second language, I was distinctly aware of the fact that I didn’t have the same language mastery as my peers who grew up in homes where English was spoken flawlessly. As an adult, I still carry that sense with me, so appreciate it when I feel like I don’t need to articulate things perfectly.
4. What have you taken away by working at Talent Rewire?
As a second generation immigrant, assimilation was a norm for navigating the world. This meant in the workplace, to assimilate I needed to “follow the rules”, not rock the boat, not be disruptive. Disruption is one of Talent Rewire’s guiding principles, and personally my favorite because it is so contrary to how I’ve been conditioned. Through my tenure on Talent Rewire I’ve learned that disruption can be positive, and is in fact critical to realize the change we want to see in the world.
5. What are the biggest misconceptions you think employers have about frontline employees?
Based on my observations, I think the biggest misconception is that frontline employees are very different than the HR/operations leaders we work with. While there are oftentimes critical differences with respect to identity and lived experience, there are critical similarities grounded in our shared humanity – we all have families, we all want to care for those for whom we’re responsible, we all want a sense of belonging and purpose.
6. What are ways in which employers show you that they value you as a human and as an employee?
I’m a recovering perfectionist, and still sometimes can be super hard on myself. I feel this acutely in trying to juggle work and being a mom of two young kids. It is incredibly meaningful when my employers and colleagues offer my grace and encouragement – “you ARE juggling a lot”, “how can we support you?”, and “you got this.”
7. What’s one thing you would encourage employers to do for their frontline talent?
Get proximate to their frontline – even if just a couple of individuals. Ask them questions, and then listen…really listen.