Written by Jashonda Williams
2020Shift’s More Than Code series highlights technology and digital media professionals that are rising in ranks in the space…but not necessarily hacking or coding away on the daily. These techies are excelling in today’s top hybrid, or “non-technical,” roles.
The journey to success is never a linear or traditional path these days. For Greenhouse's Talent Marketing Manager Betsy Ayala, her transition into tech has been anything but traditional. It’s true we get things when we’re ready for them and Ayala, who was just beginning her education as friends were starting their careers, learned what it meant to work hard in silence until her time to shine came. Now, in her role at Greenhouse, Ayala gets to use the skills she learned in the early stages of her career to shape how prospective employees view the company.
What does a typical day at Greenhouse entail?
I work on the marketing team in support of the people recruiting team. A lot of what I work on is employer branding, but also thought leadership, interviewing our people around the company to spotlight what they’re working on, as well as well our [company] culture. I don’t know if I have a typical day. I think all my days are pretty different; it depends on what campaign I’m working on, or who I’m interviewing next, or what article I’m working on. It’s pretty unique and really fun; you get to know different people around the company.
How did you find out about your current job? Why did you choose to work for Greenhouse?
In my previous role, I did something similar. It was not in marketing, it was a part of the talent team. At the time, there weren’t any roles like this, so I was taking a big risk and gambling with my career because it’s something that I am passionate about. [I’m doing] diversity recruiting, while my previous focus was women in tech, so that role just started and grew as the company grew. When I saw it here at Greenhouse, I thought it was just perfect for me.
How does Greenhouse challenge you daily?
The job challenges me because it forces me to think about things both in terms of recruitment and marketing. Applying the principles of marketing to your recruitment strategy, which is new to me.
Prior to coming here, my former company didn’t have the same metrics and goals. The way I was being assessed was very different. So, I think the challenge for me was coming to this role and learning a whole new set of skills, which was tremendous. I learned more in a couple of months here than my previous job because it’s been such a different way of applying my skills and taking it to another level. That’s been the most challenging, and building relationships and coming into a new role where you’re helping people get into the spotlight and highlighting different employees in a brand new role in the company. So working really hard to build those relationships over time and to know who’s right for which highlight, what cool things they’re doing, or back stories -- there are so many cool stories to tell. It takes a lot of time in the role to get those types of stories. Day-to-day I’m always looking for somebody new; if it’s a company that I don’t know yet, I would love to tell their story, I want to get to know them and a big challenge for me is trying to get to everybody.
What’s the best part about working for Greenhouse?
It’s great to work here because people here are incredibly smart, they’re really ambitious. I feel that a lot of people here, even in roles that may be entry-level roles, are thought leaders in their own right. And I think people here have stories to tell and things to talk about and share with the industry. It’s great because I get to work with these people and I help them build a personal brand, or just showcase them and all the hard work they’re doing, so it’s really nice for me to work with different people around the company through my role here.
What types of things should people be looking for in a company when they are looking for a new job? Also, what types of questions should you be asking to see if it’s a right fit for you?
What I always do is look at companies’ Glassdoor pages to see what people think and what they are talking about, the pros and cons, and even the company mission and so forth. A lot of companies have core values and core values really drive the way companies do business; how people work together, and how they get things done. That’s what I look for when I’m looking at companies -- what is their mission and core values, and do they align with mine because not every company speaks to what I believe in as a person.
When interviewing with companies, I think beyond the name and brand recognition of a company, I always like to ask about culture and how people work together and collaborate. Is there trust? Do people trust each other to get things done? Is there autonomy? Which to me is very important. I think it’s just trying to figure out what you really want in a company because interviewing now is a two-way street. You want to be interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you because you want to make sure you’re making the right choice for yourself beyond compensation and beyond working for a big name company.
Effective leadership is key in any organization or company. How do you serve as a leader in your current role?
I don’t have a team, I’m a one person operation but in terms of leadership I own my part of the pie completely. I collaborate with the people and marketing teams, but I’m the one that drives it. I think campaigns should start and end on what kind of creative process goes behind it. I work with design and I work with the employees here, so in that way I drive my own ship. With a lot of collaboration from obviously my leaders here, giving me my goals to aim for. Other than that, I have to use my own resources.
How do you stay creative, innovative and focused while you work?
I always try to look for new ways to do things. I try to do things that are different from what other companies are doing, but also draw inspiration from other companies. I think a lot of people are doing great things with talent marketing and recruitment marketing these days, and so I’m constantly looking for new ways to highlight our talent to make it very true and unique to Greenhouse. So part of my job is trying to find new ways to showcase who we are, whether that’s through videos, interviewing people, getting testimonials, working on our Glassdoor page. I’m just constantly thinking of new ways to tell our story.
How do you recharge from a demanding work week?
I like to work out a lot. For me, that’s very important. I don’t know what I would do without a good workout.
What has been your biggest career lesson to date?
The biggest career lesson, thus far, has been really learning how to collaborate and work with different people across the organization. Personally, I’ve always been in these really niche roles but over my career, learning when to say yes and learning when to push back and say no. Being able to hold your ground when you really believe in something, but also knowing when to concede when you know it’s the right time and the right choice; knowing when to pick and choose your battles. I’ve always been pretty feisty, but something I’ve learned in my career is that you can’t always win. You have to know when it’s ok to stop and pump the breaks and be like ‘ok, this is what collaborating is, you cannot always get your way.’ You can’t always do things the way you want to and that’s a part of learning and building character.
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
In terms of my career, I started late. I waited until I was 28 and I wasn’t really happy in what I was doing before. If I could go back, I would tell myself don’t jump into something that you don’t necessarily love. I was so afraid to make a move that it took me a really long time to make it, and I look back now and I’m like I should’ve just done it years before I actually did it. That’s what I would go back and tell myself, not to be afraid to make a change.
Have you ever felt out of place or felt like you were being challenged in a work setting because of your background?
Yeah, for me, because I didn’t have a traditional educational background. I also came from a family where I had to pay for my own [education], so I actually didn’t go back to school until all of my friends were graduating. I was 23 -- that was the point in my life when I could actually afford to put myself through school. Immediately after high school when a lot of my friends were going to college, I worked. So I was the older kid at school and I have a degree in the arts, which I’m incredibly happy about. A lot of the branding is what I learned in school and what I use now, and I understand a lot of design aesthetics but when I started working in tech with an arts degree I thought it didn’t help me. But I feel I’ve had to prove myself in a lot of ways because of my nontraditional choice in education and also because I just waited a while to go back to school.
What would you say to someone who wants to transition into tech and may not have a tech background? What advice would you give them?
The transition into tech was really hard for me, but I put it in my mind that I was going to prove myself and work my way up. I do talk to people a lot that don’t have technical backgrounds that want to get into tech. Not every role at a company is necessarily technical. You can still work in tech, not have a technical role and learn so much. There are also a lot of opportunities in a lot of startups and tech companies to move, so I think you can go into tech and not be married to one role and explore different things and different people to expand your skills. I know a lot of people who have done that. I know people who have gone in on the business side who now work in product, or customer service, and move into marketing. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth.