What do you get when you cross a love for business, a passion for people, and a curious nature?
A career that looks like Kate Terrell’s.
From working at established companies like Accenture and Whirlpool to taking on the challenge of a later-stage, start up at Menlo Security, Kate has worked across every part of management, HR, Talent, Organizational Effectiveness, and Change Management.
In her current (new) role at Menlo Security, Kate is growing a talent team in the ever-expanding cyber security space and navigating the challenges and triumphs that come with it.
Last year, Kate appeared as a panelist on our HR and TA Leadership forum, discussing changes in recruitment. So, who better to help us round off 2022 and look forward to 2023 on The Talent Intelligence Podcast?
In episode 21 of The Talent Intelligence Podcast, Kate joined our Head of Marketing Claire Murray to discuss the importance of relentless prioritisation as we head into a new year. Something Kate herself subscribes to in both her personal and professional life.
We also look at why we need to be hiring for the future, not the present as job market changes accelerate, and how businesses can move from success in their people to success in their systems – especially as they scale.
- Why company values are more important than putting a sign on a wall
- How to ensure your culture can work across geographies and disciplines
- Why businesses sometimes need to take a step back to step forward
- The importance of relentless prioritisation and recalibration
- Why it’s vital recruitment partners don’t just operate as vendors
- And much much more…
Listen to the podcast:
Watch the Podcast:
Claire Murray: welcome to episode 21 of the talent intelligence podcast, where we talk all things recruiting, talent, management, culture, diversity, and much more. Today we’re joined by Kate Terrell, Chief Human of resources, Officer at Menlo Security. Hi, Kate, how are you today?
Kate Terrell: I’m. Good Claire. It’s nice to see you
Claire Murray: and nice to see you, too, and for the listener we are recording, and it is is the Thursday before Christmas. So we’re both. We’re both on the in a festive mood. Should we say?
Kate Terrell: that for sure?
Claire Murray: Great? Well, I’m just gonna dive right in.
You obviously have a long background and human resources and Talent, acquisition. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your professional background, and how you ended up working in Hr. And people?
Kate Terrell: sure so I I live in Santa Cruz, California. I am, i’m a big outdoors person. I have a husband. I have a 16 year old daughter. So that’s on the on the personal side of things, you know. It’s really interesting. When I went to University
I wanted to get my degree in business, and I’m and I did get my degree in business. But what I found through my university experience was that I really loved being parts of organizations. I did a lot of extracurricular. I really love this concept around leadership and leadership development. And what did that mean? And how did that play out?
My first role after college was being a recruiter for a really large company in the United States. I had done some consulting leadership, consulting for my sorority afterwards, but then went into this recruiting job. which I really enjoyed, and then had the real benefit of getting to go to work in consulting for Anderson, consulting it’s Accenture now and there I got to work on a lot of human performance projects.
So organizational change, management, talent, learning, and development, all of these really interesting pieces that is, we were implementing large change at organizations
Kate Terrell: was all about. How do we make that people component work? and so that was really fascinating for me. And then, when I decided it was time to get off the road. I really took a step into much more of an Hr role, and it was a quasi like org effectiveness change Hr role, and from Mayor just kind of landed in another Hr. Role in another Hr role and really built my acumen overall, and I think you know, when I look at my portfolio of experiences, I think one of the things I appreciate is that I have had consulting. I have had small company, private equity turnaround. I have had really large world class Company Hr Experience I’ve done privately held. And now i’m in the tech startup world. So it’s just really been – how do I make sure that my experiences are always additive, and so it’s given me the opportunity to see a lot of different businesses. and a lot of fun. How do you make organizations tick so you can get the very best, and help the company perform at it’s very best.
Claire Murray: definitely, I mean looking at your your work Experience is clear that you’ve never been weighted to a specific industry. And you’ve got quite a quite a broad spectrum of of experience in there for sure.
It must have made for a very interesting career, and it must mean that you’re always learning as well. You don’t get stuck in a rep, for example.
Kate Terrell: It’s really interesting. I remember a mentor of mine. while I was in consulting, and we we happen to be working together in New York City on 9 11.
Kate Terrell: that is probably another story. But we were just talking about life and the fragility of life. And she said to me: at 1 point she said, okay, what would you do if you weren’t afraid.
That fear can hold you back, and I’ve really taken that, it was making the decision right? Like making the decision to leave Accenture at that point. Time – that was a big deal. I was doing really well. I was comfortable in the role, but it was time to change personally.
We made a decision as a family for my husband to sell his business and us for Deli to leave Columbus, Ohio, where we’ve been for many, many years to take this job at Whirlpool. That was, 5 h away from lots of friends and lots of family, and all of those things.
But it was this great new experience. And so I think, as you think about that, that’s a really like as you chart your path. It’s kind of being, what’s the worst thing that can happen? The worst thing that happened is it doesn’t work and you pivot and you do something different.
Claire Murray: Yeah, and it’s it’s quite interesting because we’ve been talking about candidate engagement quite a lot. And in Solutions Driven, even just now it’s obviously such a big topic in the whole recruitment and talent and space, and and part of the thing just now, with everything that’s going on in the world is candidates just feeling like I’m a bit scared to move. So you know it’s it’s it’s not a new problem, either. It’s something that’s been happening for a really long time.
Kate Terrell: for sure, for sure. And I think particularly we are in such a volatile time right now in in many ways for the markets.
There’s a lot going on, and so I I can appreciate that. You know there’s a portion of our candidates who want to be like “I’m just gonna hunker down and see what happens”.
And I think that’s when you can be like, what I have confidence in my skills and my capabilities. And so, if I take this again calculated risk, I feel really good that it’s going to pay off in terms of how I continue to build my career. And again, if it doesn’t, I’ve got the confidence that I have a really great set of skills and capabilities that I can move forward with.
Claire Murray: Yeah, it’s just it’s about believing in yourself.
Claire Murray: I think I saw a meme a couple of weeks ago. That was something to do with like. “I just want to go back to living in Precedented” times, and and I don’t know if we ever gonna go back to that the way things are going. So for for sure, for sure, I think the one thing we are all really confident of is that we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Claire Murray: You’ve had a long working relationship with Solutions Driven and in the past and you were recently recently a panelist on our HR and TA leadership Forum, and we spoke about the changes in challenges and recruitment. Your answers were super insightful, and that’s why I thought Kate would be a great guest on the talent intelligence, podcast. But you’ve personally just changed role, and I know you’d been with your previous company for a while.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to decide to change jobs this time round, and and what your role looks like now at Menlo Security.
Kate Terrell: Yeah. So my former CEO and I, we continue to have a really great relationship. I continued to work in an advisory capacity with the with the company, but he and I were talking about, what are the plans ahead for the business. I had been grooming a successor for my role serendipitously. I I got a phone call. Cyber Security has been something that has always interested me.
I think this is something that a lot of people are afraid to do, and I I very much understand why, but like that open dialogue with David was really great in terms of figuring out what was the best for that business.
What’s the best for me? How do we think about that? I had taken my responsibility of how do I grew? My successor?
Kate Terrell: And then when this opportunity at memo, security presented itself, and all the pieces just kind of fell into place. And Menlo was really exciting, and the fact that, like, okay, this sounds super goofy. ButKate Terrell: there’s something about working for a company that helps fight the bad guys, so cyber security was interesting to me. It was a brand new space, a company growing you know, substantially. How do you help that business go through that period? What does it mean to grow because it’s really different when you are sub 200 people that when you’re over 200 people right in terms of scaling, and then just really appreciated, I think their culture
Kate Terrell: and everything that they were trying to accomplish as an organization. So it just kind of came together. Today I am the chief human resources officer. So you know. I have, of course, talent, acquisition, people ops. I have our business partners and talent
Kate Terrell: compensation, and then I also have what we call the employee experience, which is really a combination, particularly in today’s day and age of our physical spaces, but also our remote and hybrid spaces, right? Because we have to figure out how we integrate those in the right way. And I would share this whole remote hybrid in office – that is all very new for us as well, and so I don’t know that anybody has it figured out.
You hear companies that are like we’re making everyone come back to the office and you have other. We’re going fully remote. And there’s this study that says that in that city. And so we are working on. What is the right path for me?
Claire Murray: it’s such an interesting topic. We always worked from our head office in the Uk. We worked across the world that everyone came into the office every day, and now we have team members. Just the pandemic opened up the fact that you can hire the best talent anywhere. They don’t need to be able to commute to your office. So we’ve been going through the same thing. We have team members in the Philippines, and it’s a completely different culture to what we are. You know, people in in Europe down in England, and it’s in it. I think it’s fascinating actually, just to figure out, how do you make everyone feel part of a company when they’re not in a physical space? So it must be intentionality done.
Kate Terrell: Yeah. And I I think there’s an intentionality in a physical space as well. But I think the intentionality, when you are hybrid or distributed, or like that becomes even more important right? Because your manager, being like I’m going to take time to slack you and check it, or, you know, set up those meetings and do those things that might naturally occur when you’re in an office setting, you just have to be a bit more thoughtful about that.
Claire Murray: Yeah, a lot more, a lot more proactive, definitely.
Claire Murray: You have worked in a few industries. Obviously, the companies you’ve been at and the company that you work for now they’re in different industries. However, I think you’d mentioned on the HR & TA Forum that they share a lot of the same tech recruitment challenges. Can you expand on that?
Kate Terrell: I would say that when we think about technical skills globally, we know, there is a huge demand for technical skills.If I think about machine learning, engineers or data science at a data scientist in my last company, or in this one who has really good chromium engineering skills. So technical skills are, in short, supply to begin with, and then I think the challenge of finding not only someone who has like in my industry now, like the superior, like engineering coding like those skills. That’s hard to find the technical genius be to find that combination also with business acumen right? Because that’s another dimension of do I understand what i’m doing and what i’m trying to accomplish, because that helps you do it better.
And then the third piece is the leadership aspect. And even when you are a very senior technical leader and you might not be leading a team there is still leadership right? That might be leadership through mentoring, through helping to focus. You know, a project in a particular way or something like that. And so finding the the combination of those skills, and I think being able to spot the potential in someone who is earlier in their career, because our company is still growing, and we’re still maturing right?
And so what our business needs today is gonna be very different. 2 years from now or a year from now and again, particularly in the market, where everything is a little nuts, how do you have people who have that agility who have that growth mindset that they’re gonna be able to continue to feel engaged and challenge and have new opportunities. As the company grows as well. So you just put those things together.
And you know the fact of the matter is is finding really great. Talent is always challenging.
Claire Murray: Yeah. And I imagine that in your industry everything is quite fast moving, and things change quite a lot. So you’re almost not hiding for their current skills you’re hiding, for they have the potential to pick up down the line.
Kate Terrell: That’s right. That’s right. That workforce planning piece. I think, is hard because things are so dynamic at the stage of a company, and it can be very easy to be like “Just get people and just get people in.”
If you can stop and pause and be like, okay this is what we’re going to need to be doing.
Here’s the skills I have. Here’s my skill gaps. How do I start to? Maybe bring in some of those. How do I develop these while taking a little bit of time to plan, I think, can be really helpful. And I think oftentimes businesses, particularly at the stage of tech start off, that just becomes so hard because there’s so much to do when things are moving so quickly.
Claire Murray: That’s been our internal message for the last couple of months. It’s been slow down to speed up, just taking a bit of a step back and going is everything that we’re currently doing right? And where are the gaps? It sounds like you’re doing something similar as well.
Kate Terrell: Yeah, for sure. And also really understanding the priorities. That is also something that companies and I don’t care if you’re huge. I don’t care if you’re small. Prioritization is always hard to do, because naturally our eyes are bigger than our stomach. And so that relentless prioritization is also really helpful, because when you have that then you really can be like these are the skills and capabilities that I need to be able to execute
Claire Murray: absolutely. So you are based in the Us. but, Menlo Security, am I right in saying that you are quite a global company.
Kate Terrell: We are. Our headquarters are in Mountain View, California. but we have a very global footprint. the Uk: Canada India, Japan, Asia pack we are. We are truly a global company. so yes, we are all over the world.
Claire Murray: Wow! That’s quite a lot of different cultures. And different expectations of candidates. How do you ensure that you’re on top of talent pools in areas that you’re not familiar with, and candidate expectations which I imagine are quite different in Japan than they are in Canada.
Kate Terrell: Yeah, there are many things. I was actually just up in Canada meeting with the team up there, and it was really insightful, listening to them.
Kate Terrell: What do they want from a benefits perspective? From you know, process perspective, some of those types of things. So I think, going and listening. Number one number 2, like your leaders in those given areas, have a lot of insights, and then we use our our benefits, networks, we work with someone who helps us understand and benchmark globally.
Whether that’s compensation, whether that’s benefits like, how do we make sure we have that? So the combination of those 3, I think, really helps You understand what our cultural norms, what are the expectations, and what do we need to do, because it is quite different. Depending on what part of the world you’re in.
Claire Murray: Yeah, you must. You must have to align quite closely to your hiring managers in the different territories.
Kate Terrell: for sure for sure. And then I think the other thing, is we have a a common set of of values, of who we are as an organization. And so you have to take the time to say what is our North Star as Menlo Security in terms of our value, proposition, and all of those things.
Kate Terrell: And then how does that get expressed?
Kate Terrell: Maybe a little bit differently in the different parts of the world. But philosophically it still aligns to who we are as an organization
Claire Murray: that leads a bit into my next question. In the past you’ve said “We are at an interesting turning point of moving from success in the individual to success in this systems” I’m not sure if you were talking about Tech, or if you’re talking about the systems of in talent management in the company?
Kate Terrell: when you are in an early stage company. Let’s just say sub 200 people, you have a team of individuals who are working their potatoes off, and they’re wearing multiple hats. They’re working really hard, to get this business going right? And so they do. And they’re wearing all these different hats, and they’re getting the business to move forward, and they’re getting traction. And then suddenly, they’re growing.
And so you might go from 30 to 50 to 100 to 200, and then the next thing you know, like in 2 years, maybe, you’re at 300, or you’re at 400 people, like that growth can have like once you hit that product market fit.
Kate Terrell: That growth can happen really quickly. And what happens when you get above 200 people. If you stay in this mindset of success in the individuals, you can be creating single points of failure, right? But you also like that’s not scalable. The success in the individual isn’t scalable. And so you have to start to think about – what does it mean to put success in my system?
Kate Terrell: So I think about the football team where they’re going, and they’re winning all these games and winning all these games, and you can change players all the time, and they’re going to continue to win their games because they have success in their systems. Those systems might be the way they practice. Those systems might be the way they strength. Train Those systems might be the way they recruit new people into the organization, but they have put success in the system as opposed to, Jane DOE, who is a really good football player, and that’s going to be the person we count on to win the game. And so that mindset and business is really important, and I think what you also see is some talent, love wearing multiple hats. I’m working my butt off to get something a month, and when you get to the point where you’re like. Okay, we gotta make this scalable. And that really doesn’t like, knock my socks off to be doing that work. But it must be done. And so, finding the people who a want to bridge through that, and just being conscious of the fact that you’ve got to make those
Kate Terrell: changes. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna hold back your ability to grow as an organization.
Claire Murray: Yeah, I’m laughing a little bit here because our Head of Growth, Nicky, whenever he hosts the podcast he pulls in a football analogy, and I always I always make fun of him for it, and I think that’s now a twice we’ve spoken about football so far, but I guess it is like thinking about the World Cups just finished right. And Argentina, obviously just won it, and they almost had success in the individual other than success. Because, of Messi, I doubt if Messi had been there they wouldn’t have won the World Cup. So you’re moving from that star persons doing everything and doing really well.
Kate Terrell: yeah. And there’s a great analogy, and i’m going to mess it up. There’s a women’s a Football team or soccer team. They were winning and winning. The success in their systems were so like that team continued to win. So they were able to take their 2 best players out and continue to do that. And I think that’s very link to recruiting. There are critical roles. There are roles where you go, having a star performer in this role has a different impact on our business results than having a good person in this role. And so, thinking about those and you’re putting this success in the systems like that, that’s an important concept for businesses to understand and think through as they think about their talent strategy.
Claire Murray: Yeah, a 100%. I I I couldn’t agree anymore.
Claire Murray: I have. I know that you’re quite passionate about social issues, and how you bring those into the the talent space.
Claire Murray: so obviously in the last couple of years. Social issues have come to the forefront for expectations for many of employees, and they’re looking for their employers to take a stand on social issues.
Claire Murray: Do you address this in Menlo? And how, if you do, how do you address it?
Kate Terrell: I am too new to Menlo to say.
Kate Terrell: Have we addressed a specific social issue? I i’m too new to comment on that. What I do know about memo security is, we want to create an inclusive environment. And I think that is on our CEO’s mind. I know it’s on my mind. We are getting ready to launch our employee resource groups or our ergs. that will be something that we will build over time. We have a couple of networks. Our pride network, and our women’s network who like They’re actually a little bit ahead of us, even getting this off the ground. And so again, I want to make sure that we are inclusive. There are lots of different perspectives. There are lots of different views, and that we are very inclusive as an organization. That said, I do think, there are issues that have come up.
Kate Terrell: We’re hearing from our CEO, or whomever that like that is not okay like that is a really powerful thing for an organization. I haven’t been at the company long enough to say, Have we had this? Where we need to be upfront about that. But I do say like we really work at being an inclusive organization, and we have more work to do right. I think that work is never done, but it is, but it is on our mind.
Claire Murray: Yeah, it seems like it’s. It’s at the forefront there, which is probably the most important thing for for going forward.
Claire Murray: Now you have obviously worked with solutions driven on the past. We’ve we’ve delivered roles for you, and we’re we’re not going to go into that. But, just from a talent acquisition point of view. How important is it to you to have a strong partnership with your with, with outside recruitment partners. And and how do you foster having that strong relationship?
Kate Terrell: Yeah, there’s a word you said, and it was outside that struck me because my experience, with solutions driven, is technically outside. But it’s just thinking about the organization as a partner. And so how do you have that trust that conversation, that understanding of who we are as a company? what we stand for
Kate Terrell: for our culture, and really like knowing us really, really well, and us knowing you really really well. And so it really is about the partnership like
Kate Terrell: it is not, I think, particularly with recruitment.
Kate Terrell: bringing in the best talent is such an important thing.
Kate Terrell: Anybody who is ever going to be a recruiting partner cannot be a vendor. It’s it’s not like this is a transactional activity. This is a true partnership of this is what the business needs. This is pushing back like, hey.
Kate Terrell: You’re gonna have to tweak this a bit like I don’t know that this is gonna work. I’m on the more like ha being able to have those dialogue where they can push back. You can push back to get to the right outcomes for the candidate like that is, and and the business that is really important.
Claire Murray: Our team has always enjoyed working with you because you are a backwards and forwards person. So that is – you’ll challenge us, and we’ll challenge you, and and at the end you get the best outcome for both the candidate and for and for the team, We’re not just sending over someone because we’re like Well, that person works
Kate Terrell: We’re sending over who believe. And You’re obviously saying No, that’s not quite right. We need to tweak this, and
Kate Terrell: It’s interesting. If you think about that transactional relationship, I think what you find particularly in recruiting is if it is a transactional relationship, it is much more about, I call it throwing spaghetti against the wall, and seeing what sticks
Kate Terrell: as opposed to saying, No, no, we want to be really thoughtful. We really understand. What is the company trying to achieve? What is the culture. Because different people are successful in different context, and so like that cultural fit
Kate Terrell: is really or contextual fit is really important. And when you have that partnership. I think you’re able to do that. in a in a fundamentally different way.
Claire Murray: and it’s it’s quite funny, because our CEO Walter, he always talks about throwing spaghetti at the wall, and i’m wondering if he has stolen that phrase from you.
Claire Murray: Yeah, he always says we’re finding the right person. We’re not just throwing spaghetti at the wall. So and yeah, then maybe this came up in a conversation in the past.
Claire Murray: So, Kate, I am coming to the end of quizzing you for today. And however, I’ve just got just got one last thing i’d like to touch on. We spoke before about global talent pools, and and also employee culture. However, in both your previous companies and in manual security, you’ve had a global employee base.
Claire Murray: How do you keep a connected culture?
Claire Murray: Not only because when everyone is working remotely, but also across the countries, how do you? How do you keep that culture?
Kate Terrell: Yeah, I think there are a number of ways to do that. You know, employees have experiences in 3 ways. Right? They’re in the room, and they’re interpreting the experience. They’re talking to their colleague about how their colleague interpreted an experience. And then the third way is through our processes and our systems.
Kate Terrell: And so again, I think when you think about a global employee base when you have a consistent process. When you have a consistent way of doing things that helps you drive a consistent employee experience, it may express itself a little bit differently in different parts of the world. But if you follow the 80 20 rule you have, you have that consistency. Another important way that we manage culture at memo securities. And also, the way I’ve done in my past is we spent time as an organization defining our values. you know we have customer empathy. We have help each other out. We have to think creatively one
Kate Terrell: and one of the things we do it Every single, all hands is. We recognize employees, whether you’re in Korea or you’re in Japan or you’re in the Uk or the Us.
Kate Terrell: We recognize people for demonstrating those values. And so I think again recognizing that helps employees be like oh, like this is valued right, and they’re seeing that, and they’re seeing that story express itself
Kate Terrell: in a very public format. And so I think, then, we have other processes. We have a tool, a recognition tool where we also link that to our values. And again, that’s consistent. It’s it’s an experience that then is consistent across the globe. And so
Kate Terrell: thinking about those things like we are in the process of building a leadership model. that leadership model will be consistent around the globe, so our our employees can anchor to that as they think about their career development and what they want. and that again helps us manage that culture
Kate Terrell: all all around the world. And I think really thinking about those 3 ways right of how do we make sure we’re driving that consistent experience doing that through processes doing that through a very focused way.
Our values don’t just hang on a wall. We are recognizing them. We are seeing them in action. Those are really important in terms of keeping a company globally connected.
Claire Murray: Yeah, it sounds as though your values are actionable, and they’re embedded into everything that you’re doing every day rather than you’ve just here. Here’s our culture. Here’s our values. Go and do your job, and we’ll never mention this again, except we might have on a yeah, as you see, on a wall, but keeping it at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Kate Terrell: That’s right. That’s right.
Claire Murray: Great. Well, Kate, this has been really interesting. and very much enjoyed hearing the answers to to your questions. Thank you so much for coming on today.
Claire Murray: Absolutely. It was a real pleasure, and I hope you have a great holiday
Kate Terrell: for sure, for sure. Well enjoy the rest of your day. and your meeting free afternoon. I know that you have. And and yeah, thanks for listening. Thank you