Introducing INSTANDA’s HR Lead for North America, Amanda Standidge

Posted on 14th March 2024

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Introducing INSTANDA’s HR Lead for North America, Amanda Standidge

Posted on 14th March 2024

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Just seven months into her role at INSTANDA, HR Lead for North America, Amanda Standidge, is making a fantastic impact. In our latest article celebrating talented women at INSTANDA, we catch up with Amanda. She shares her passion for helping to grow global tech companies and why giving people the opportunity to bring their whole authentic selves to work is so important.

Could you tell us about your career before INSTANDA?

Sure. I started my human resources (HR) career 14 years ago at Rakuten Kobo Inc, a global digital bookseller headquartered in Toronto. Back then, the company was a small yet fast-paced emerging technology company. I started as an HR Coordinator and quickly progressed to Associate HR Business Partner, where I was responsible for working with leaders in the business and delivering employee programs. This included the design and delivery of employee growth, recognition and welfare programs, consultation to senior management, implementation of a global Human Resources Information System, and much more. I joined as the 100th employee and by the time I left to pursue another role five years later, there were 600+ employees. I gained a lot of experience in scaling a tech company and putting in place important people practices.

From there, I joined another Toronto tech company as a HR Manager, where I helped to grow and scale the business. Here, I established the HR management function and worked directly with the senior executive team on strategic growth plans.

Then, I took a small amount of time out to have a baby and switched jobs to somewhere closer to home. The role was a great match for me because it was for Adlib, a tech company specializing in document and data transformation. Within a couple of years, I was promoted to the role of Director of People & Culture.

After five years at Adlib, I ventured into the world of HR consulting, where I helped lots of different companies grow and build sustainable and scalable people practices. This broadened my commercial knowledge, but I missed working closely with teams and seeing the direct impact of my work.

My passion is also working in the tech sector, which is what led me to reach out to INSTANDA. I already knew someone who loved working here, and they put me in touch with INSTANDA’s CHRO, Sara Shipley, who was planning to create an HR Lead role in North America. It was perfect timing.

What appealed most to you about joining INSTANDA?

There were a couple of things. I missed the vibe of working in a high-growth tech environment. In speaking with Sara and INSTANDA’s CEO and Co-Founder, Tim Hardcastle, I instantly felt a sense of alignment and familiarity. It was fantastic to hear how united they were in their vision and plans.

For me, as an HR professional, it’s important that a company has a strong focus on its employees. I could also see this within INSTANDA’s benefits package. All employees are given the opportunity to be shareholders in the company and are empowered to be at the forefront of decision making.

Tell us about your role at INSTANDA. What does a typical day look like?

There's not really a typical day in HR or people operations, which is what I love about my role. I work closely with our CHRO, Sara Shipley, the rest of the HR team and our Operations and Transformation Manager, Connor Simmons.

I deal with everything employee related, and right now there is a strong focus on driving greater efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization. That's what I've spent a lot of my time on so far.

Along with other members of the People Operations team, I am the face of the business for employees. I answer HR questions, make sure employees have the information and support that they need and that our leaders are supported in their role.

I also run programs, manage employee handbook and policy updates, and work closely with our Head of Learning and Client Training, Hazel Spain.

What have you been most proud of so far?

I am proud of how Connor and I are building more efficient and effective processes. To become more efficient, we’ve been looking at how we can automate processes in HR and supporting other business functions to do the same. It’s a very rewarding project.

Personally, I am also proud of how quickly I’ve built trusted relationships at INSTANDA. Sara placed her trust in me from day one and I have integrated well into the team. I am the only member of the HR team based in North America, but I don’t feel that way. I feel very connected.

How have you made your role your own?

The most important thing to me is being able to make a positive impact on an organization. I’ve been able to shape my role around my experience and capabilities.

I joined INSTANDA to support our growing North American team, and I still do, but I've been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work globally. I am very experienced at working for global organizations, and so I was happy to jump straight in and support the team.

The theme for this year's International Women's Day is Inspire Inclusion. What does inclusion mean to you?

For me, inclusion is about embracing people's unique and diverse experiences and backgrounds. Being inclusive means welcoming people to feel safe and comfortable in bringing their authentic selves, including their experiences and backgrounds, to work.

Inclusion is the foundation to having a strong Diversity and Inclusion (DI) program. There are plenty of studies that evidence the value of having a diverse population. When you encourage that inclusion and diversity within the workforce, like INSTANDA does, a business is far more likely to succeed and grow.

How does INSTANDA support gender equality in the workplace?

There are specific things that we do. We have built unconscious bias training into our learning programs and into recruitment.

Research shows that women are less likely than men to apply for a job if they do not match all the criteria for a role. This means that women may miss great career opportunities. This is why we include a statement in our adverts that encourages all people to apply, even if they do not meet all the criteria.

Language is important too. There are around 50 masculine and 50 feminine coded words commonly used in job adverts that contribute to gender bias. That’s why I use a gender decoder in writing our job postings to make sure that we appeal to all genders.

There’s a huge focus on everyone having the opportunity to progress their career at INSTANDA. We have inspiring people of all genders working at every level at in the company.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Early in my career, there were times where I would try to emulate someone else, but being true to myself has helped me get to where I am today.

Personally, I have strong values, morals, and ethics. I am fortunate that this has never happened to me, but I’d always say to never work for an organization that compromises your personal values. Again, this comes back to inclusion. If you cannot be your whole authentic self at work, it’s not the right place for you.

What would you say to the next generation of women looking to enter the tech space?

Don't be intimidated. My experience in the tech sector, and specifically at INSTANDA, is that people are very welcoming, open, and willing to help each other to learn and grow.

The world is changing. There's a big focus on getting younger women into STEM fields, which I think is fantastic because it helps to break down barriers. When you can see gender equity in the classroom, then you start to see gender equity coming into the workforce.

I would recommend finding a mentor who has experienced the unique challenges that women face in entering STEM fields. It’s one of the best tools to help young women navigate the workforce early in their career.

What do you feel are the three best things about working at INSTANDA?

Firstly, I’d say that INSTANDA greatly values its employees, which is definitely high up on my list. Secondly, I've been given the opportunity to spread my wings, which is great. Thirdly, I can see how committed senior leaders are to transparent communication so that every employee feels aligned with the company’s goals. It’s a great place to work.

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