Employee Spotlight: Andrea Nelson, People Operations Champion

Robirt Kong
By Robirt Kong

Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 2 seconds

FastSpring’s Employee Spotlight is a Q&A series that features the hardworking, intelligent, and fun people that make FastSpring great. Get to know the fantastic team behind the full-service ecommerce platform.

Q: What is your role at FastSpring?

A: I’m the VP of People & Culture at FastSpring. I’m responsible for our company’s strategic human resource (HR) planning and directing all people functions in accordance with policies, practices, and trends within the tech industry.

Q: Where does your origin story begin?

A: I actually ended up in people operations by accident!

I guess you could say my career path is a little different from most of my peers. My background is actually in engineering & document control and my first job was at an aerospace company. In this role, I was also working under the HR manager part time and she was actually the one who encouraged me to pursue people operations because she recognized how detail oriented and organized I was.

In 2000, I helped co-found Pacific Design Technologies, an aerospace company in Goleta, CA. The plan from the beginning was to have me come on board and manage the engineering doc and data function while also helping to facilitate payroll, facilities, and HR.

Q: I think “different” is a bit of an understatement. I seem to recall in our previous conversation that you also worked on the Mars Rover Project and even started your own design company?

A: Yes that’s all true. I worked on the Mars Rover project at Pacific Design Technologies. And between my time at PDT and my current job at FastSpring, I’ve also worked at a couple of startups and local tech companies here in Santa Barbara.

This breadth of experience has also helped me tremendously in my current role. The fact that I’ve seen different aspects of businesses across a variety of industries comes in handy when I’m analyzing the implications of business decisions across departments.

Q: What inspired you to join FastSpring?

A: There were several things that inspired me to join FastSpring in 2017.

1. The executive team.
From my initial interview with our CEO, Chris, it was clear that company culture would be a big focus. Walking away from my meeting I was extremely impressed with how much Chris embodied FastSpring’s corporate values of openness and transparency. He understood that I had experience scaling high growth teams and made it very clear that he was open to hearing my suggestions from the start.

2. FastSpring’s growth mentality.
My time at Invoca (formerly RingRevenue) and PDT reaffirmed my passion for startups and growing teams and talent. I went from being the 8th hire at Invoca to helping grow headcount to 140 at the time of my departure. When a similar opportunity presented itself at FastSpring, I knew I couldn’t pass it up!

Q: What would you say is the best thing about your job?

A: The relationships!

And this is actually one of our corporate values too – relationships matter. Being people oriented is one of the building blocks for a successful company and here at FastSpring, we work hard to foster trust and respect not just between fellow co-workers but also in our relationships with our customers too.

Q: FastSpring has experienced tremendous growth. Could you provide some insight into this?

A: Let me just say it has been extremely exciting to work at FastSpring. During my first year, pushing our employer branding was a big focus. We all felt that FastSpring was the best place to work at in Santa Barbara and we wanted to share that with everyone. This involved getting recognized on lists like the Pacific Coast Business Times‘ Best Places to Work.

The second focus was on ensuring that we had the resources to support our growing team. Company culture is even more important during periods of high growth so we made sure to implement policies that not only enabled our employees to do their job well but also feel great about the work they were doing.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in pursuing the same role as you?

A: Regardless of the field you’re working in, I’d strongly encourage any young professional to find a mentor.

The HR manager that I worked with at my first job played such a pivotal role in my development. You could even go as far as saying she was the catalyst for my people operations career since she was the one who encouraged me to pursue a Human Resources certification program through UCSB Extension! It’s extremely important to find a mentor who will not only serve as a source of encouragement but will also act as a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off of.

Q: Outside of work you also seem really busy, could you tell me a little about your involvement with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM)?

A: Absolutely.

I currently served as the president of the Santa Barbara Human Resources Association or SBHRA for short. SBHRA is a chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management, which is actually the national organization. To give you a bit more context, the goal of the SHRM is to promote the role of HR as a profession and provide education, certification, and networking to its members, while lobbying Congress on issues pertinent to labor management.

Last December I made a trip to Washington D.C. to meet some legislators with SHRM. It was great to see how HR professionals can have a voice in the legislative process.

 

The above are just a few of the highlights.  Overall, we’re very fortunate to have Andrea lead our awesome People Operations team and look forward to watching all of the amazing things she will no doubt accomplish during her tenure as president of SBHRA.

Are you interested in joining Andrea and the rest of the FastSpring team? We’re hiring! Visit our career page to see our open positions.

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