A photo headshot of Kay Russell

Kay Russell

Chief HR Officer

7 years at Ridgeline

How would you describe your role?

I’ve been described by a few coworkers as the conscience of the company. So, my role here is to serve as an advisor to our leadership, and to keep the company on the right track. I am responsible for ensuring we remain compliant with state and federal employment laws, and I also manage our employee welfare activities. This includes regularly reviewing and evaluating our benefits to ensure that we’re offering our employees the best benefits at the most reasonable costs. And finally, I manage the activities that keep our employees engaged.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe in leading by example. What that means to me is that I will never give someone on my staff a task that I’m not comfortable handling on my own. I believe in working collaboratively with my team to put them in a position for success and in a place where we are always learning from one another.

What’s something new you’ve learned recently?

I am in the very early stages of learning how to ski.

What is something going on at Ridgeline right now that you’re excited to see grow or develop?

My team is focused on developing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion activities, and we keep these issues in mind on a regular basis. Ridgeline recently partnered with an organization called Women in Technology, WIT, and I am very excited about that. We’re expanding our DE&I effort in the coming year, and I’m hopeful that this partnership with WIT will inspire us to create some employee resource groups.

How would you describe Ridgeline’s culture?

There is a sense of community and team connectedness here that I’ve never felt at any other employer. We are empowered to do the best work we can in our jobs, and I genuinely believe that our leaders learn a little from each of us.

Can you tell us about a time when you were inspired or impressed by the work of another Ridgeliner?

I have an amazing team. I’ve been fortunate to grow it over the past year, and they do a truly great job. Just one of many examples I can give is when I passed responsibility for our DE&I program over to one of my team members. One of the major activities for this program is managing our DE&I round table discussions. When I passed over this responsibility, I didn’t give this team member a sense of what direction to go in. I said, “Think about it, and I want you to tell me where we should be with this.” And she took this responsibility and ran with it. She came to me and said “Here’s what I think we should do. I’ve prepared the slides for it, and I would like to lead the presentation.” So, the fact that she was willing to step up and take ownership of a project she had never worked on before – I was inspired by her.

What makes Ridgeline unique?

When I first started here, close to the start of the company, there were some challenges with individuals getting hired and not really having a sense of direction. Meaning, they didn’t always get a chance to sit down with a supervisor to have a conversation about direct responsibilities, goals, things like that. So, many people felt lost. And when Ridgeline recognized that they weren’t doing this effectively, they took steps to change it, and one of those steps was hiring me.

Ridgeline had never had an HR professional before, and Erik was frank about this with me. He really wanted me to tell him what it is we should be doing here. So, I appreciated the fact that I had the trust from our founders and senior leadership from the get-go to do my job instead of hearing from them how they think it should be done. At many employers, you get a job description and you don’t color outside those lines. I feel that Ridgeline trusts its employees in their own areas of expertise and to shoot for the stars so that Ridgeline gets the most out of their work and we get the most out of our time at Ridgeline.

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