Profile Series: Women Leading in Tech Staffing

Spotlight on Jennifer Waldrip

Vice President, Client & Talent Services, Partner at ProFocus Technology

  • Management consulting entrepreneur
  • Board of Directors for the Astoria High School Scholarship Inc
  • Church Group Leader teaching youth, and leading self-reliance courses.
  • Women in Focus group
  • Read More: 30 Lessons in 30 Years from Jennifer Waldrip

Jennifer Waldrip, Vice President, Client & Talent Services, Partner at ProFocus Technology, has worked a lifetime in staffing. Jennifer found her calling in staffing fresh out of university and became successful on the ground floor when the small private organization she worked for, boasting 50 people, eventually grew to a powerhouse public company of 40+ offices!

Building relationships and growing people came naturally to Jennifer. While leading multiple markets and lines of business and being integral in successful acquisitions and key growth initiatives in different companies, Jennifer’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to branch out, eventually starting her own management consulting business where she helped small companies grow through leadership development, training and strategic planning. Because she was so impactful in her role, it led Jennifer to ProFocus Technology, where she has called home for the last 5 years. As Jennifer sums up her love of the industry:

“I absolutely love where I am and love this business mainly because of the connections we make and how rewarding it is to help people elevate their careers. What matters most to me is working with people that I know, love and trust, and being rewarded with those connections and their development. We certainly have that at ProFocus and I feel very blessed.”

We talked to Jennifer about her staffing journey and were touched by many of her responses below:

Do you have a mantra that you live by, or an inspirational quote that reflects your leadership style?

I would say two things come to mind. The first is ‘Grit Over Talent’ and I would choose grit any day over talent. I do think you can grow and develop your skills and talents, but having that grit internally, with that determination and that persistence and that work ethic—those are things that are harder to train. So, I would encourage anyone to really self-assess their own grit and try to grow that. And as leaders, we should continue to look for grit in others. I have found that those who have grit and determination can weather the storms of this business and life.

The second thing that embodies my leadership style is to ‘Lead with Love’. I think love works and I can assure you I truly love my people, our team. I care about them deeply and genuinely and when I lead with that and with empathy, I can make the right decisions. Sometimes those are hard decisions. Sometimes I have to make those tough decisions because I do love my team, and I love our organization. But I believe love works.

I think a pivotal moment for me in leadership years ago was when I realized people don’t work for me, I work for them. My role really is to remove obstacles and to serve them, and to do whatever I can to help others. Hopefully I can provide some insight and some experience and some innovation, creativity and good ideas along the way, but it’s really all in an effort to serve them.

Was there a memorable moment that helped define your career as a staffing leader?

One moment that stands out to me, it was a long time ago, but it was at the height of Hall Kinion. I remember being at our annual awards ceremony. The CEO, Brenda, was announcing the MVP, describing this person who had opened up X number of offices and then named several people who this person had hired, developed and moved in leadership positions. And then I was completely shocked as I realized she said my name as the Most Valuable Player! Honestly, at the time, I was just doing my job—I was hiring people, training and developing them. I was then promoting them and they continued to grow because they were stellar people. But for me, I wasn’t at a point in my career where I noticed that or kept track of that. And then I realized, “Oh, that’s right, I was part of that!” It sounds a little silly or naïve now, but I can assure you that at that time, I didn’t put it all together. In that moment, I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I love to do — hire, train and develop people.’

I had just had my first child, too, so realizing I could do all of this and start my family as well was super special for me.

Is there an influential woman who has served as an inspiration to you? This could be a former colleague, family member, mentor, historical figure, etc.

First and foremost is my mom. My mom was a pioneer. As the first woman CEO of a bank in Oregon, she sacrificed a lot in raising her children. She started as a teller without an education and worked her way up to President and CEO, and also served on the Oregon Bankers Association. She held many volunteer positions within her community on the Oregon coast, where she chaired restoration projects at Liberty Theater and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and served on the Astoria High School Scholarship Board. It is because of her service there that I am now on that Board, it being my high school alma mater as well.

And she did all of that along with prioritizing her love for us and taking care of us. My mom passed in 2019, and when she did, I committed at that time that I would take over her spot on the high school Board and continue her journey as a strong female leader in the work community, while prioritizing family first and being able to do it all. It’s not all done perfectly, and some days are harder than others, but I’m always aware that I was loved and cared for by my mom, even as she set out to be all these things. I look to carry on her legacy as the amazing example that she was to us of a woman leader at work, home and her community.

The second influential person in my life is Leslie Vickrey. I met Leslie a few years ago through Techserve and I just don’t know how she does the amount that she does! She’s involved in so much and brings us all together through the different associations, cause, and organizations that she’s a part of. She is so inspirational to me, and I hope to one day be half as involved as she is in all the different organizations that she champions. When I met her, we had mutual friends and colleagues in the business, and we connected instantly. I consider her a friend as well as a mentor and an inspiration.

The last woman that I would say is my daughter, who is an inspiration to me, as she is so disciplined and has worked so hard. You know, for some people school really comes easy, but that’s not her. She has worked really, really hard to finish medical school, and she’s going to be a doctor. And I just continue to be so amazed by her. So, she’s an inspiration to me, and I’m thankful to be her mom.

In year’s past, many women-led organizations have worked together to announce pledges for continuing the mission to elevate women in the workplace. How will you be paving-it-forward to help advance women in their careers?

Because of my mom, Leslie, and others who have influenced me, I have started Women in Focus which is our employee resource group here at ProFocus. Initially, we’re focused mainly internally, but are looking this year to take it externally into our business community and bring in other women in tech.
Let me share with you our mission for our Women in Focus group:

Our mission is to uplift women and their allies to advance their personal and professional goals through connection, support and education.

Is there a message that you would like to share with women in the work world?

Yes, two things. One we’ve already talked about is love. That’s probably first and foremost on my mind is to love one another. Even in business, I think there’s a place for that appropriately so. We all have strong passions and opinions and messages we’re trying to get across, but if you can have an open heart and love one another, it’s really going to help us all be more successful.

The second is to find the joy. I am not without challenges and disasters and crisis that have all been present even recently, and one thing that I continue to work on is to find the joy along the way.

I heard a song while in Hawaii this week and the lyrics resonated, saying ‘it’s a good day just to have a good day’ and it talks about “a little more love, a little more laughter, more good vibes, and less disaster” I think that if we can truly be proactive in finding the joy along the way and being real and vulnerable about the hardship and the crisis, there is joy to be found amongst the hardship, and that happens within the wonderful women that we surround ourselves with.


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