Get to Know Sam Friedman, SVP of People Strategy

Get to Know Sam Friedman, SVP of People Strategy

Hi Sam! We’re excited to learn about your career journey. We have a lot of readers in the HR, recruiting, talent acquisition, and people teams space, who may aspire to a role like yours. Let’s begin! 

First, let’s clarify for people “meeting” you for the first time, if they look you up on LinkedIn, they’ll find you as Samantha Lawrence, correct?

Yep! That’s me. My maiden name is Lawrence and I’ve built my career under that name. Most people I know in the business world met me as a Lawrence and so I’ve stuck with it on my LinkedIn profile. It’s now my middle name, so not too incognito.

Before joining Hired (formerly Vettery) in 2018, you worked in publishing. Were you always interested in a role like this? Please tell us about your career path.

 I, like many at that point in their lives, wasn’t 100% confident in what a post-university career path would look like for me, but knew I had a passion for reading and relationship building. It was rather kismet to land my first job in HR for a book publisher! 

I was incredibly fortunate to work with amazing leaders and a team who took active roles in fostering my overall interest, development, and acumen across many different facets within the HR function. 

One of the nicest compliments I received early in my career was that I was the group’s “Swiss Army Knife.” I loved the idea of having the ability to activate and leverage different skill sets and experience to help out on whatever was the strategic initiative of the moment. That ability to flex really helped prepare me for my role today where I oversee all areas of our People Strategy.

Have you ever had a role or internship that wasn’t directly “people team” but taught you something you applied to your career later? If so, what was it?

Of course!  My first job as a kid I was a caddy at a local golf course near where I grew up. It’s actually a little funny now to look back on now. As a caddy you become almost an instantaneous partner, counselor, extra set of eyes, and celebration partner for whomever’s bag your assigned — which is not too unlike a great People leader. 

The game of golf also teaches you discipline, patience, observation of your surroundings and outside elements, and the impact they may have on your game. These are incredibly important skills for a leader of any kind to demonstrate. 

True! Your BA from Michigan State University (go Spartans!) is in English. How do you feel it applies in your current role? 

Go green! As a People leader, you need to be able to communicate quickly, efficiently, and concisely many pieces of potentially disparate information to a wide range of audiences and stakeholders. My degree definitely helped prepare me for this aspect of the role. 

As an English major, you’re required to study many different points of view and analyses of various texts. It’s really helped condition me throughout my career to have an open mindset and awareness of different lenses to various issues and initiatives.

Right now there is obviously a lot of press and media around the Great Resignation. People teams need to lean into factors contributing to it. Then, create plans and initiatives to evolve their workforces and places. Use these to address understandable employee concerns. Key strategic pillars for People teams in the immediate future include:

  • employee-desired flexibility
  • decentralized workforces
  • culture building, and
  • leveraging tools to support a new way of working.

Related – Articles by Sam:

Do you participate in any philanthropic projects you’d like to share or promote?

I sit on the Board of Directors for an organization in NYC near and dear to me, Read Ahead. It’s a reading-based mentoring program which pairs mentors and children within the NYC public school system. It aims to develop social-emotional skills essential for academic and life-long success.

I’ve been partnering with the organization and mentoring for over 10 years. Seeing it grow and the impact its had on the communities it serves is absolutely amazing and inspiring.

What’s a fun fact about you people might not guess?

I’ve drank out of the Stanley Cup — I am from Hockeytown after all! 

When it comes to working at Hired, what’s your favorite thing?

Without sounding cliche — it has to be the People. I love Hired because we’ve built an amazing, hard working, dedicated team. The collective energy and spirit of our colleagues is infectious! I love seeing how we celebrate our wins, regroup after challenges, and constantly strive to deliver the best possible talent marketplace for our candidates and clients. 

You and your team recently produced the One Team, One Dream Hired Summit, the first offsite gathering for the company in more than two years. What was one of your takeaways?

Sam speaks to the company at the 2022 #OTOD Summit event in Las Vegas, NV.

At Hired, we committed to becoming a remote-first company in July 2021.  While there have been many changes to how we do things for a remote-first team, we wanted to continue to create meaningful opportunities for our employees to come together for team building and in-person collaboration

The feedback we received from our employees was overwhelmingly positive and being able to step back and see people who had only met on Zoom or Slack and the genuine excitement of getting to spend time “IRL” with their colleagues was so impactful for me and our entire leadership team. I can confidently say it has solidified our strategy in further investing in those connection opportunities.  

That’s what it’s all about…
Finally, what advice would you give to people who want to prepare for a leadership role like yours? Any book or influencer suggestions?

There is no shortage of good books or influencers out there, but the two I consistently go back to as a People Leader are Brene Brown and Adam Grant.  Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead is a book I recommend to new and seasoned leaders alike.

Adam Grant’s Instagram is full of gems I regularly repost and send to my team. They’re perfect for when you want to digest smaller bites of meaningful information. There is not a day that I am not willing to talk about books — feel free to ping me on what I’m reading! 

Thank you Sam Friedman!

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