Diversity Fuels Growth And Richer Experiences

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer and Managing Partner of Fjuri, a digital marketing firm focused on…

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer and Managing Partner of Fjuri, a digital marketing firm focused on helping brands and CMOs enhance their marketing strategy and execution, while also tapping into the latest technology. In her role with Fjuri, Tammy is focused on business strategy and building the team across each practice area, while attracting new talent and co-creating the company’s culture. Prior to Fjuri, Tammy was a senior HR leader with Amazon, Microsoft and Appen. She continues to work as an executive coach and is passionate about leadership and team development, writing, among other areas.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

My experience is in Fortune 100 and high-tech start-up companies. Prior to joining Fjuri, I worked for Amazon, Microsoft, and Appen. I was at Amazon for 13 years, where I started as HR Manager and then moved to Seattle to take on Senior HR Leader roles for a variety of clients, including customer service, operations, sales and engineering during a period of significant growth. Then I joined Microsoft as HR Director for Windows Phone and led HR for Windows Marketing and Customer Services and Support. After Microsoft, I was SVP of HR at Appen, leading the global HR efforts. I joined Fjuri March 2017 in the startup phase where I continue to build and lead our HR and talent functions.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Starting and building a business is full of funny moments and learning opportunities. When building a company from the ground up, it’s inevitable you’re going to face adversity so having a sense of humor is a must!

One of the key things I’ve learned building a company like Fjuri is you have to define what success looks like and then co-create it with your team. Scale matters, and there’s a big difference between a corporate culture, which is focused on adoption and getting employees to buy in, and a startup culture, which is all about co-creation.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Fjuri has a great team that’s empowered around a shared vision and focused on executing for our clients with passion. Fjuri helping to solve some of the toughest challenges CMOs and marketers face today. Every member of our team contributes to our client and company’s success in different ways!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Yes! We’re currently working with a variety of brands across categories including B2B, consumer technology, telecom, and luxury real estate among others.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Learning to lead, motivate and inspire others requires both commitment and focus. Cultivate a positive mindset, be authentic, transparent and share your vision. The resulting culture you help to create is defined by the tone you set and behaviors you role model.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Throughout my career, I’ve been influenced by several amazing leaders who have made a huge impact on the trajectory of my career. I have been fortunate enough to learn from Thom Gruhler, founder and CEO of Fjuri, who I worked with at Microsoft when he was the CMO of Windows. Thom is an innovative mind and talented leader. I am also grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Tom Weiland, the VP of Amazon’s Worldwide Customer Service. Tom is a role model for integrity and shaped my views on the importance of authentic leadership. I also learned a lot from my friend and mentor Brent Jaye, VP of AWS Support at Amazon, who empowers me to be a courageous leader. Brent’s contagious energy motivates others. I am also thankful for my former Amazon boss David Niekerk, who was the VP of HR for Worldwide Operations. Dave inspired me to believe in the possibilities within myself. I don’t know who I would be today without these incredible leaders and I am forever grateful.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My goal as a female leader and mentor is to empower others. I believe in championing the success others and repaying the debt of being taught by teaching others what I’ve learned.

Can you share the top five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. 

1. Hire for Culture Add, not Culture Fit. Hire those who stand out, not those who fit in. Cultural fit can perpetuate rather than challenge our biases. Culture can be intentionally shaped by identifying culture adds versus culture fits through diversity, inclusion and belonging. Growth and innovation is fueled by diversity and culture adds through different experiences and perspectives.

2. Confront Unconscious Bias. Cultivate candidate pools that are rich with recruits who bring varied perspectives and capabilities. This reflects in advertising, photos, job descriptions and careers pages. Candidates respond to language that includes them.

3. Make the Business Case for Diversity. Diversity is of the utmost value because it leads to broader ideas and results. Diversity of thought and experiences yields richer teams positioned to produce broader ideas.

4. Avoid “Groupthink”. Seek input from the missing voices at the table to obtain different ideas for a diverse point of view. Create an open and inclusive tone and an environment where the hard topics can be surfaced in the room.

5. Develop Potential by Focusing on Diversity as Strength. Develop team members’ potential by understanding their strengths and empowering them. Development is a critical component for diverse talent, or else you are developing a feeder pool for your competition. Be intentional with stretch assignments and development opportunities. Pair mentors who represent diverse viewpoints and experiences to strengthen onboarding success, development and retention of diverse employees.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya Angelou

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I would love to meet with Sheryl Sandberg!

Jilea Hemmings CEO & Co-Founder of Best Tyme. She is running a series on how diversity can increase a company’s bottom line

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