Alicia leads recruiting at Comfy. An advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech, Alicia previously led technical recruiting at Location Labs by Avast and brings over 10 years of experience in youth service-learning programs, outdoor education, and university career services to our team. She has a BA in English Literature from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University.
Tell me about the path that led you to Comfy.
My path to Comfy is a long and winding one...but looking back, there are distinct themes throughout my work—a hyper focus on empowerment, realizing potential in people, and finding ways to connect that are truly meaningful. So I suppose the transition to my current role in recruiting came somewhat naturally. After college I had the opportunity to do a bunch of really interesting things, adventure trip leading being one of them I will call out specifically because 1) It was awesome, and 2) it’s how I met a certain someone named Brian Alward. We were both training for our Wilderness First Responder certifications and it was friendship at first sight! I eventually moved on to the non-profit space, working specifically with youth on service learning and civic engagement, enabling them to realize the power they had to give back to their communities.
Fast forward four years, post-career advising at Northern Arizona University and after getting my Master’s in Sustainable Communities and working in the non-profit world, I started to feel this all-too-familiar pull of the tech industry that many of us have experienced in the Bay Area. I decided to shift gears slightly and take a position as a technical recruiter for a B2B SaaS company called Location Labs. It was a great way to cut my teeth in the industry, and about a year later, I received a LinkedIn message from my old adventure buddy, Brian, essentially sourcing me for a recruiting position at his “seriously awesome” tech startup.
At the time, we were in the thick of a big hiring campaign, so I was planning to get back to him to say, “thanks, but not a great time.” Just so happens that same night I stumbled upon an article about the TechEquity Collaborative naming Comfy as one of their first corporate partners. I thought, wait, this company is focusing on inclusive hiring, diversity initiatives, and on being a good partner to the community of Oakland? These were all things that were part of my long-term goals for my recruiting career and here was this amazing opportunity right in front of me to grab.
Moral of the story: never underestimate the power of friendships built while triaging victims during a mass casualty exercise, am I right?
Describe a day in the life of recruitment.
A day in the life for me is a lot of bobbing and weaving, scooping up balls and running with them towards the finish line! Here in the Bay Area, the competition for talent is pretty fierce. So when an amazing person comes along, it takes a lot of hustle and coordination to get them in the door, give them a great candidate experience, and ensure the process is as seamless and efficient as possible. One of the things I love most about my job is that I have the opportunity to collaborate with different teams and departments and talk to all these really interesting people along the way. Because hiring, especially at a small startup like ours, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s really a team oriented process that requires collective input to ensure that it’s structured and subsequently inclusive.
As a company, we’re really focused on creating a workplace that’s welcoming and supportive of employees with a diversity of backgrounds, skill sets, and experience…both because it’s the right thing to do and because diversity of thought is increasingly essential for us as we scale. There’s a lot of research showing that the most successful companies are significantly more diverse and inclusive, so it just makes good business sense! So as I lead our recruiting efforts, it's largely my responsibility to establish a system where we can effectively weed out roadblocks like unconscious bias to create a more empowered and equitable hiring process.
Is there something you do regularly to get better at your job?
Being relatively new to both tech and people operations, I really try to take advantage of the awesome community and resources available in this area. That means doing a lot of work outside of work like reading articles and research reports from thought leaders like Glassdoor and going to People Ops meetups and lectures after work. There are definitely times when I’ll be hustling to the city for an event thinking, “darn you, Alicia of last week, why have you done this to Alicia of this week?!” but it always ends up being incredibly interesting and worthwhile. So I try to make sure I’m always doing a combination of academic research, intentional networking, and then perhaps most importantly, learning from others! I’m really lucky that my days are surrounded by such smart, cool people, who really care about the individuals they’re bringing onto their teams. This week, we have six open positions to fill across departments, which means my day is spent talking to and learning about everything from infrastructure engineering to content marketing.
"I think the ability to approach an undefined situation and see it as an opportunity is a really key component of what makes everyone here so successful."
How does company culture influence the recruiting process?
As a company, we recently established a set of core values that are meant to both reflect and influence the work we all do everyday at Comfy. One of those values, “leading with optimism” is especially important for us to consider in the recruiting process, because I think the ability to approach an undefined situation and see it as an opportunity is a really key component of what makes everyone here so successful. We’re also really focused on inclusive hiring, so being humble (another core value) and open with our candidates about what we are—and what we are not—provides the ability for them to make an informed assessment of us, even as we’re assessing them.
What is your ideal day off?
My ideal day off would be spent near some warm, lovely body of water...ideally scuba diving, wakeboarding, or playing with my crazy dog who I’m convinced is also part bat/alligator and “loves long walks on the beach.” Then after some good quality time spent basking in nature, meet up with friends to eat some delicious food—and if I’m really treating myself—close out the day with some live music with a delicious, craft beer in hand. One of the things I love most about the Bay Area is the diversity of experiences you can get in a single day. The fact that I work in and am constantly surrounded by tech, but that I can drive ten minutes from my house deep into Redwoods with no cell service and feel completely remote...it's pretty spectacular.
Want to work with Alicia? Well, we're hiring! Check out all open positions and apply here.