Strivin & Thrivin EP57. Sam Garven – A non conventional path to people & culture

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In our latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we got the chance to sit down and chat with Sam Garven, Head of People & Culture at Bound, about her wild ride into the world of people and culture. Let’s just say, this is one you don’t want to skip.

Gorillas, Wallabies and Recruitment

If you’re looking for a truly inspiring, unconventional path to the world of P&C, you have to hear Sam’s story. We won’t go into full detail here (you’ll need to check out the full episode for that), but here’s the highlights.

  • Read ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and had a dream to be the next Diane Fosse.
  • Completed a degree in Biology in America. 
  • Questioned life and spent a year in Korea teaching English.
  • Took a plane to Sydney and worked as a receptionist for a recruitment company.
  • Realised being a receptionist wasn’t for her.
  • Got a crash course in recruitment.
  • Began a Masters in Environmental Science at the University of Sydney.
  • During her degree, started working at Zip (back when it was just a startup) as the company’s first recruiter. 
  • Finished her degree and thought she might push on to her PhD – then Covid hit.
  • Decided to stay at Zip and ended up being able to marry her love for the environment and recruitment.
  • Started a new role as Head of People & Culture at Kinde.
  • Transitioned into her current role as Head of People & Culture at Bound.

So what did we learn from Sam’s inspiring adventure? A career crisis, or two, or three, isn’t actually the end of the world. In fact, they might even lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to be.

The most important tool to have

What’s the one skill Sam feels has been the most important to have across her entire journey? Emotional intelligence. 

“There’s so many different scenarios I’ve come across in my recruitment career, in my learning and development, social impact, and just general people and culture that require you to really deeply understand a situation and where someone’s coming from. To be able to react appropriately and to be able to make sure you are addressing their concerns in a way that makes them feel understood and makes them feel heard.

“Sometimes someone might receive some bad news .. and you’ve gotta help them work through it, right? It’s about understanding how to navigate through those outcomes and understanding people’s emotions and how they need you to show up in those situations.”

Finding your place on the ladder

We know what skill Sam thinks is the best to have, but what’s the best career advice she’s ever received?

“When I was having those moments of, what do I wanna do with my life and where do I wanna be? Someone told me, you’d rather be at the bottom of a ladder that you want to climb, than the top of the ladder that you don’t wanna be on.”

Community is key

With most of her jobs landing her in the world of startups, Sam often found herself wearing many hats, some she was still learning while she was wearing them. So how did she manage to upskill herself so quickly while keeping on top of everything else she had to do?

“Relying on my network, relying on the people around me is the best resource …Yes, I did lots of reading and I listened to lots of podcasts … But the best resource in the end were the people around me that truly wanted to see me succeed.

Do yourself a favour and click here to listen to the full episode. Maybe catch up on some other episode while you’re there?

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