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For Office Manager Appreciation Week, Managed by Q is featuring the people who keep offices happy and productive. After working in the hospitality industry, Kristine Suh began her tenure at Chartbeat as the Office Manager, and in less than two years became the Manager of People & Culture. She believes that office managers play a crucial role in employee engagement, whether it’s planning fun activities that build office culture or taking care of a space that reflects company culture. We talked to Kristine about how her passion for people has fueled her success.
We help publishers all around the world tell the stories that matter. We are a data analytics company that works with publishers to ensure that they’re able to see engagement on their site and tell stories that people are interested in and want to read.
Prior to this, I worked in the hospitality industry as the operations manager for a big name hotel chain, one of which was in Manhattan. While working for them, I realized that I preferred working with people internally more than with guests and people external to the company. So I decided to change my route and go into start-ups, because the ability to work with people on an individual level was more appealing to me and I’d have more opportunities to do that at a start-up.
During that transition, Chartbeat caught my eye because they have something called the “puppytorium” [a room at Chartbeat where office puppies run around]. I thought that was amazing, and what a start-up should be. Then after reading more about the company and seeing the great things they’re doing for the publishing industry, I knew I wanted to join the team. I began here as the office manager and then, as I got more involved with employee engagement and creating internal culture, I was able to move up within HR. Now I do a lot more work behind-the-scenes, as well as continuing to do the employee engagement and cultural aspects that I still love.
"Instead of settling into a routine of coming to work and making sure supplies are ordered, put yourself out there. There’s so much more that you can do in the role. You can make it whatever you’d like it to be!"
I've always had an interest in HR. Thankfully, when I was an office manager, the VP of People & Culture was very focused on fostering my career and said to me, “This is something that you’re good at, this is something that you like to do—I want to teach you.” I was also learning a lot more, going to conferences, finding other people who have gone through similar transitions and done similar things. That definitely helped, but I think honestly, with the growth that I’ve had, having a mentor who said, “Hey, I recognize that you have this passion, come here and I’ll teach you,” was crucial for my development.
I don’t think I have a typical day, because it changes all the time! I tend to wear a lot of hats. I have a HR Generalist type role, so there’s payroll, benefits, recruiting, internal engagement, learning and development, plus parts of facilities and IT management. Right now we are hiring for a lot of roles, so I’m filtering through resumes, as well as working with the different team leads to figure out what they need and what type of person they want to bring in. We just hired new people too, so we’re onboarding them before they begin. And it’s the end of the month so we just finished payroll. Every Tuesday we have an all-hands meeting with the entire company, so I’m always gathering HR and office updates to share there. Then a couple of times a month we do fun events that I help plan and others get involved with and execute. So it’s very difficult to say what a typical day is, because it depends on whatever’s going on and the different team needs.
Helping people develop and realize they can grow. Being any part of that, even if it’s a small part of their growth, I think is the most important thing for me. I can put on all these events, I can ensure we pay people correctly and all that stuff, but the aspect of my role that gives me the most joy is definitely when I have one-on-ones with people and ask, “What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself? How do you want to grow? How do you think we can help you grow?” At Chartbeat, we like to promote internally. We have a lot of people who start in an entry level position one or two years out of college and go on to become product managers or senior engineers or team leads. Watching someone realize what they want to do and me having been even the smallest part of that is something that makes me very happy.
I do that a couple of ways. I’m a very visual person, and we integrate everything with Google, so I use Google Calendar, and literally calendar everything out. I also rely on Managed by Q, because I can be like, “Oh my God, the toilet’s overflowing! Can you help us?” And they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, we’ll send someone right away.” Or if something’s going on and I need some kind of assistance or extra hands in the office, they’re able to provide that for me. When my two hands aren’t enough, with Managed by Q, I have an unlimited number of hands that I can bring in to assist with a project and that fits with whatever is needed.
To be involved in your company. Some people think an office manager is like the receptionist who just stays in the corner and stocks food. You can be so much more. As an office manager, you’re the ambassador of culture. You’re partially in charge of the employee engagement aspect of the company. Depending on how the office is set up, you’re often the first person people see when they come in, so as an office manager I always made it a point to say a friendly, “Good morning!” to everyone. I think building that relationship is very important. Also ask questions. Talk to your supervisors, and say, “Hey, these are events I want to do. They can improve employee morale. They can improve employee workplace culture.” Instead of settling into a routine of coming to work and making sure supplies are ordered, put yourself out there. There’s so much more that you can do in the role. You can make it whatever you’d like it to be!