There’s been a positive vibe coming from our newest operations center in Austin, Texas, but the buzz has reached a fever pitch with the arrival of our new Vice President of People Operations, Kristyn DeRaffele. Kristyn will be responsible for helping to nurture and grow the Mod community along with the company’s employee base worldwide. She brings with her more than two decades of experience working with culture-rich companies in growth mode, making her the perfect match for ModSquad.
When she’s not making plans to grow and foster our global team of Mods, Kristyn can typically be found spending time in Austin with her husband, two daughters, and their pooch at their lakeside house — or out on the water. Kristyn’s an avid runner, which gives her the stamina to keep up with her kids. She’ll need that energy to keep up with ModSquad’s amazing network of 10,000+ Mods!
What brought you to ModSquad?
When I learned about the job, I thought it was exactly what I was looking for. I have a little bit of an untraditional background. I spent 14 years in a traditional Vice President of HR role at The Sak. It literally started out in a San Francisco garage, and we blew up to a $100 million-plus brand with offices all over the world. In addition to tried-and-true HR functions, I took a deep dive into culture development, leadership, and management. We succeeded in those three areas doing some fun and innovative things.
Later in my career, after moving to Austin, I was introduced to a CEO in the direct selling space. She created a disruptive business, Stella and Dot, which combines fashion, technology, and direct selling through independent contractors. I was brought in to grow everything for these independent contractors — from recruiting and training to retention, leadership, and development plans — and the company exploded. We went from 5,000 to over 40,000 independent contractors, and from about $30 million in sales to just under $200 million in two and a half years. So that started this other side to my career, where I spent a lot of time focused on ways to retain, motivate, grow, and lead independent contractors.
I believe ModSquad is so ahead of the curve of this new workforce. I’ve read that by 2020, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be engaged in some sort of side independent business. And ModSquad has been leading that for a long time with its ModSourcing approach.
What sets ModSquad’s team apart?
The people at ModSquad are truly innovators — pioneers — in this workforce phenomenon of the flexible future, which is not going away. Any study about Millennials shows that it’s here to stay. I love the conversations I’ve had with people here. People are just so proactive. You feel that they have a sense of ownership in having to get it done. Everybody’s committed to that vision of what you’ve built, committed to the culture here, and to one another. I feel there’s true teamwork in this dispersed scenario of a workforce, which is great. It’s a huge strength.
Years back, we were promised a future where everyone would work remotely, but we’re not there yet. Why do many companies feel resistant to that movement, and how is ModSquad proving them wrong?
Well, change is scary. There are two issues. First, employers want their staff working within the confines of their office walls because there’s this undiscussed sense that they want to know that their employees are showing up and doing the work. Perhaps the bigger issue is collaboration. Companies rely on collaboration and learning for growth and innovation. So how do you grow, lead, and collaborate with a dispersed, remote workforce?
It starts with hiring the right people and by fundamentally believing in the mission. And [ModSquad Founder and CEO] Amy [Pritchard] obviously does. You have to step back and be very specific about your culture and about the type of people who will thrive in that environment, because while it’s a fit for some, it’s not for everyone.
Then you have to implement the right communication and engagement strategies and determine the training and tools needed to successfully teach and foster an innovative workforce. ModSquad gets it.
How does ModSquad fit into the Austin scene?
It’s a great fit. There’s so much opportunity here. The vibe in Austin is progressive, because it’s a college town. We talk a lot about “Keep Austin Weird,” and there’s definitely a pride here and a vibe of doing things a little differently, and I think that really fits with ModSquad.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’m excited to help ModSquad continue to scale, innovate, and grow. What the company has done is amazing, so it’s really about how to take ModSourcing to the next level. We want to continue to attract the best pool of independent contractors to work as Mods in order to deliver client results. To do that, we can utilize workforce planning tools to analyze the talent pool, which informs your recruiting and engagement strategies. One thing to remember about an independent workforce is that they’re entrepreneurs; they’re excited about this opportunity for a reason. They want to work independently as Mods. I always say, it’s about being in business for yourself, not by yourself.