Lifestyle Personal Lines the March 2022 issue

Amy Steadman, Chief People Officer, Newfront

“I would accelerate the trajectory toward getting more diversity and women in the higher echelons of the industry.”
By Chris Hann Posted on February 28, 2022
Q
I’m pretty sure you are the first chief people officer I have ever interviewed. Is that a newfangled way of saying human resources director?
A
It is. I don’t know how newfangled it is. Perhaps it represents a view of the role as key to businesses where people are the greatest asset.

Favorite California beach: Portuguese Bend

Favorite actress: “No one in particular, but I do love the female Marvel heroes.”

Favorite musician: “I grew up loving The Police and then, as I ‘matured,’ loving Sting.”

Favorite book or author: The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson

Favorite Palo Alto restaurant: Evvia Estiatorio

Favorite dish at Evvia Estiatorio: Souvlaki

Q
So tell me about that. How might a chief people officer differ from what was traditionally called the human resources person?
A
We think of ourselves as being responsible for making Newfront a great place to work. It’s really about engagement and the entire employee experience as key to business success.
Q
You’re obviously doing something right. I saw your company on some lists of Best Companies To Work For in the Bay Area. What makes Newfront a good company to work for?
A
We just learned last week that Newfront has been ranked on the Glassdoor Best Places To Work list, which is really exciting. To answer your question, I think it’s that leadership is dedicated to the culture at its core.
Q
Tell me what distinguishes Newfront’s culture.
A
We are focused on being a company where people can do the best work of their lives. Providing the support and investment in their development is key.
Q
You told me earlier that, while growing up in Southern California, and this is a quote, “beachgoing was my childhood.”
A
Growing up, we were beachgoers. You know, it was Saturday morning, so we packed everything up in the Gran Torino and hauled it down to the beach. And that’s where we spent our days.
Q
I think “Gran Torino” were the two key words in that answer. You said you cried when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died because you’re passionate “about elevating women’s place in the world.” How does that passion manifest itself at Newfront?
A
For one, I am the executive sponsor of our women’s ERG (Employee Resource Group). I am committed to ensuring that women have influence in our organization.
Q
What’s something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?
A
Well, I really like to swear. They just don’t hear me do it. But they know that I would confess that a good expletive, well-timed, is very satisfying.
Q
What’s your favorite part of your job?
A
It’s when a member of my team says, “I have this great idea we should do, and I can say, “Let’s do that.” And it’s a huge success. I love seeing people blossom in that way.
Q
Is there is there a female business leader, in any industry, whom you most admire?
A
Who really popped into my head was Carol Dweck. She’s a professor at Stanford who wrote Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Her theory is you can either have a fixed mindset or a learning mindset and that having a learning mindset means you are not limited by a finite intellect. I read it in the context of parenting, but it’s so relevant to business.
Q
Did it make you a better businessperson?
A
Yes, if you think you can learn and change and you’re always open, it makes all the difference.
Q
How about a better parent?
A
Definitely. Parenting is a learn-as-you-grow endeavor. When you take on any challenge with that in mind, then it gives you a little bit of grace.
Q
What three words would your co-workers use to describe your management style?
A
Empathetic, encouraging and supportive.
Q
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
A
I would accelerate the trajectory toward getting more diversity and women in the higher echelons of the industry.
Q
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
I’m going to go back to that learning mindset that I mentioned—not just listening to hear but listening to learn. I think taking it to that level makes me a better leader. Elevating others is probably equally, if not more, important.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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