Earlier this spring, I wrote about the challenges of replacing a 25-year veteran of our Client Services team, sharing a peek at our selection plans just as our search was getting underway. We had taken our time with the preparations, ensuring that the description was clear and that internally, we were unified in what we were seeking.
…And I’m glad we did. Because once the position was posted, my colleague Lida Hutchings (MRG’s Head of Finance and Talent) and I realized that the current job market was unlike anything we had experienced before. The pace is frenetic, the volume of applicants is high, but job seekers’ heads are being turned in so many directions that retaining their attention during a thorough hiring process can be a challenge. To ensure a great experience for our clients – and to keep our team members from burning out – it was essential to stick with the search until we came to the right candidate.
We reviewed more than a hundred applications, selecting just a handful for 15-minute phone interviews to get to know them and what attracted them to MRG. And while assessments are an important part of our work, we bring them into the selection process only when we’ve identified our small pool of leading contenders for the position.
For this role, we asked the final candidates to take the Individual Directions Inventory™ and the Service Excellence™ assessments. I reviewed the data with two of our practitioners, Drew Rand and David Ringwood, to identify any patterns that we thought were encouraging signs, as well as areas that could use some further exploration.
As we prepared for the final round of interviews, in which candidates would meet several key MRG stakeholders, I took inspiration from the assessment results as I formulated personalized questions to help us probe any areas where a candidate’s motivation or service approach could potentially be a mismatch for the position.
Having the assessment data laid a foundation for more fruitful conversations. In the end, the data didn’t make the decision – but it was an important tool to help us find a candidate who has already shown herself to be a great fit for the MRG team.
So with that, I’m thrilled to introduce our new Client Services Specialist, Kerri Runge. Kerri comes from a background that is very different from what we do at MRG. As we got to know her, we were impressed by her resume was full of highly transferable skills from her career in service, her IDI and Service Excellence results, and the terrific, open conversations we had during her interviews. As a Client Services team, we had brainstormed a list of key factors for success in the position, and Kerri brings them all to role.
Now that she’s settled in, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kerri and ask her a few questions about the journey that led her here. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and get to know a bit more about your newest resource at MRG.
JILLIAN LOVEJOY: Tell us a bit about your background and experience.
KERRI RUNGE: I’ve spent the last five years managing tasting rooms for craft breweries. It was an incredibly fulfilling role but could also be very draining. Everyone thinks it is a “fun” job, and it was, but when you’re in charge, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. I dealt with employee management and training, inventory and logistics, customer experience, and I was also a private event planner. Prior to that, I lived in San Diego and worked for a construction company as their Safety and Insurance Administrator. My office there was full of great, passionate people and MRG reminds me of that culture.
JL: What appealed to you about MRG?
KR: I recently moved to Portland and I was looking for the right opportunity here – I knew I wanted to change it up from breweries, and I didn’t want to get “just any job.” Having worked in industries that I’m passionate about, I know it’s possible to genuinely enjoy what you do – so I wanted to be picky. I’ve learned in the past that I get really burnt out if I don’t believe in what the company is doing, and if I’m not surrounded by people who share a common passion and work ethic. But it was so evident that MRG checked both of those boxes. I’ve also always really enjoyed helping people, so Customer Service felt like a great fit, but I was worried about getting complacent by repetitive processes. But because MRG is such a close and nimble team, there is also this widely accepted culture of “try what you’re interested in” and “wear multiple hats” – that was so appealing to me.
JL: What was something that resonated from the assessments you took during the interview process?
KR: I instantly started analyzing my partner, my family, and my former coworkers in my mind to think of how beneficial it would be if we all knew this information about each other. I’ve always known you need to approach things differently depending on who you are dealing with, so the IDI just makes sense to me. And it’s exciting to know there are so many companies out there that also care about their employees enough to try to understand them in this way.
JL: What do you think good leadership is?
KR: I think a leader should act in a way that when others mimic their actions, they can be proud of it. I think a big part of leadership is building up others in a way that they can reach their full potential – even though that will look different for everyone. And I’m a firm believer that you should never ask someone else to do something that you haven’t done or wouldn’t do yourself.
JL: We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team here at the office, but we also know that you’re an actual human with a life outside of work. What do you like to do for fun?
KR: In the past I would say coming up to Portland, but now I live here! My boyfriend is a brewer and I’m still so passionate about that culture so we’re often bouncing around local tasting rooms while trying to change up where “local” is with some travel. I love spending time with my family, camping, hiking, kayaking, dancing, and going to any type of live performance: concerts, Broadway, comedy, anything!