When veteran human resources leader Jen Stoural shares words of wisdom with young professionals, she stresses the need to take calculated risks and pursue big dreams. In 2016, Stoural took her own advice. She left the Midwest, took a step down the career ladder, and moved into a new industry. She put it all on the line to join a brand called Smartsheet, and today Stoural is helping the high-tech software company focus on diverse and nontraditional talent as it pursues an aggressive growth strategy.
Stoural made the move in part because she was already a user and fan of the cloud-based Smartsheet platform, which allows employees and leaders to collaborate on teams, manage projects, and automate workflows. She was willing to go from a director of talent position in Omaha, Nebraska, to a recruiter role in Bellevue to work for a hot tech start-up poised to do big things in the Seattle market. Five years later, she’s the VP of talent for Smartsheet.
Her background as an athlete helped prepare her to make the move. “I’m competitive, and I always want to be on a winning team,” she explains. “I saw Smartsheet doing great things in the software-as-a-service space, and I saw an opportunity to impact the talent and growth of the company.”
Smartsheet started in 2006 and introduced a key redesign in 2010 that helped attract more than one million users by the end of 2012. When Stoural arrived in 2016, she was employee 303; today, she has more than 2,300 colleagues and the company has more than nine million users.
A 2018 initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange put the company on a new path. Smartsheet raised $150 million in its debut, setting its stock price at $15 per share. While leaders had already opened a new office in Boston, the IPO brought Smartsheet greater attention and visibility. The company was the first in its category to go public—and its competitors took notice.
“We let others see our playbook while we were still running the play because we wanted to get out in front to gain an advantage,” Stoural says. The company later opened international offices in Sydney and London.
Today, Smartsheet is continuing its aggressive growth, but as the company matures, Stoural is adding discipline and structure to how her team of more than forty HR professionals attracts, hires, empowers, and engages new employees. She does that by letting the company’s newly defined values and competencies, like inclusion and continuous learning, guide her hiring process.
Smartsheet’s talent team will hire one thousand new people this year, and they’re taking a different approach from others in the space. “The war on talent is real, and it’s a candidate’s market. That means we have to know who we are as a company, and we have to rely on foundational talent,” she says.
While everyone in the space is going after the very top of the talent pyramid, Smartsheet is also focusing on attracting candidates from diverse and nontraditional backgrounds. “We want diverse talent to be our foundation to grow within tech and within Smartsheet,” Stoural explains.
The team works with leaders in all business functions to identify or create specific job functions where new, diverse, and nontraditional hires can receive special professional development opportunities. Important partnerships with community colleges, affinity groups, and organizations such as Computing for All and Power to Fly help Stoural and her teams build a more diverse talent pipeline.
In addition to making sure Smartsheet has the human capital it needs to reach its business goals, Stoural’s team is helping the company navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In the early days of COVID-19, she loaned recruiters to other teams and redeployed underutilized subject-matter experts to where help was needed most. She also pivoted to support a work-from-home model while introducing special features like “no red mic meetings,” where Smartsheet employees are encouraged to have authentic connections with one another.
While the pandemic has made things challenging for all businesses, Stoural has found some new and unexpected opportunities in the midst of all the difficulty. Since interviewing and work have both gone fully remote, Smartsheet’s HR teams have removed the geographic parameters that once limited their candidate pool. The company can now consider candidates who were once excluded and thereby reach more diverse populations outside of its core offices in Seattle, Boston, London, and Sydney.
It’s been six years since Stoural came to the Pacific Northwest to help Smartsheet execute its plan. Since then, the company has gone public, expanded internationally, completed several major acquisitions, celebrated important milestones, and maintained its early momentum. Today, 80 percent of the companies listed on the Fortune 500 use Smartsheet’s products and services, and the company is recognized as being among the best employers in all of its active markets.
TalentReach knows your time is valuable in this challenging hiring environment. We invest in relationships with candidates and employers to create perfect matches between sales and tech talent and job opportunities in Puget Sound. From start-ups to the Fortune 500, your first step begins at talentreachnw.com. Talent is your company’s most valuable asset—invest in the best.