Many people have asked me why I left the world’s biggest company, which prints cash and dominates in every vertical and industry it enters. Fair question. From a career standpoint, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Amazon. I had a great job and worked with some amazingly talented people, and the paycheck wasn’t too shabby.
The answer is, I didn’t run from Amazon. I ran to York IE. To fully understand why, I should start from the beginning.
I joined Target in 2006 as an intern and spent 10 years there in HR (HR store leadership, campus recruiter, HR business partner, regional recruiting manager). I loved Target and am forever grateful to have learned from some of the best. Target truly understands the importance of the employee experience and nails leadership development. This opportunity set my foundation for what good HR looks like.
After 10 years, it was time for me to move — for personal reasons mostly, but I was also curious about what else was out there. Was there anything about HR or running a business that I didn’t know? Oh, how cute was sweet, innocent Brittany.
I decided to take a leap of faith and join a small, privately owned marketing agency in my native New Hampshire. I loved getting back into the Manchester community and building relationships and my network. Going from supporting a client group of over 5,000 employees to less than 100, I naively thought, how hard can this be? Insert foot into mouth.
I had little understanding or appreciation for small businesses and the level of hustle required to keep them afloat. This role was exactly what I needed to shift my mind from cushy, big corporate life. It isn’t that we didn’t work hard at Target, but there was a level of risk at a small business that just didn’t register with me.
I sunk my teeth into the things I had no prior experience in: payroll, benefits, state employment laws, etc. I focused on modernizing their HR functions (no more paper files!) and implementing more current practices, including a new applicant tracking system and HR information system, performance review processes, employee handbook, and an updated employment and culture brand. I directly advised the CEO and leadership team, first on talent decisions, and over time on business decisions. I became well-versed in the financials and found myself advising on improved sales and delivery processes, marketing initiatives and beyond.
I am no expert in these areas, but my perspective and opinion began to carry weight. I started to think about HR’s seat at the table. I was no longer viewed as the person who onboards and offboards employees, but as a valued and trusted member of the leadership team. Having had a taste for this small startup vibe, I wanted to explore something that was small but growing.
Enter PillPack, an emerging player in the healthcare and pharmacy startup world. As it turns out, networking and building relationships really does work. Thanks to friendships made with pharmacy leaders at Target who became PillPack executives, I was able to secure a role at an exciting time.
At the time, PillPack was a hyper-growth, venture capital-backed pharmacy with over 500 employees across seven states in a heavily regulated industry. The HR operation was in need of some TLC, which is not atypical for that stage and pace of growth. We did some amazing things in my first year, but the most important achievements weren’t “glamorous” or “cool.” Instead, we focused on the nitty gritty of compliance, regulatory and legal work.
For our size, there was a risk in not getting critical employment practices in check. After a thorough inspection into our current culture and HR practices, we quickly launched a handbook and updated policies and processes. I again found myself modernizing HR practices, tools and systems. We revamped our recruiting processes and onboarding to remain compliant with healthcare and pharmacy state and accreditor requirements. Performance appraisals were overhauled, and leadership was properly trained on performance management and coaching expectations.
All of this was timely, because 12 short months later, I sat across the table from the Amazon corporate development (acquisition) HR team, getting peppered about our I-9 process, independent contractors and compliance practices. (Note to hyper-growth startups looking to be acquired: HR compliance matters!)
Once acquired by Amazon, we had to start all over. PillPack was the first healthcare company integrated into the Amazon ecosystem. With that came complexity. Due to healthcare and privacy regulations, not all HR and IT practices could be centralized within Amazon’s tools and systems. We had to rebuild every single HR process from scratch, again. After three years of hard work and repeatedly explaining why pharmacy had to be different from how the rest of Amazon functions, I can proudly say our HR functions were officially integrated.
Now I want to go build again — and do it with the amazing York IE team and the exciting companies we invest in and support. Being a resource, advocate and thought partner for founders and leaders who sometimes need a strategy, and sometimes need a friendly ear, is where my passion lies. I am so excited to get started.
Call me crazy (don’t worry, I know I am), but this scrappy, fast-paced, hyper-growth hustle is my jam. I absolutely love helping leaders navigate the world of HR, talent and recruitment at every stage, in every industry.
Our current landscape is harder now than ever. New work styles and regulations are on the horizon, along with an aggressive labor market and rising compensation packages at every level. The great resignation is changing how we look at retention efforts, employee engagement and the cultures we have built, either on purpose or by accident. It can be daunting and overwhelming.
I say bring it on.