To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, we are showcasing some of K2’s inspirational female leaders. This series of blogs will introduce you to some of the women that help make K2 the successful company that it is.

In this blog, we meet Tricia Bielinski, Global HR Director:

1. What is your professional background?

I started my professional career selling commercial real estate. I was living in New York and looking to move to the Providence area. I had a friend who owned his own IT staffing firm in NYC and he convinced me that I was ‘made for recruitment’. Here I am 15 years later.

2. What challenges have you encountered during your career and how did you tackle them?

There are challenges everywhere you turn really. Sales is a challenging profession. I always say recruitment is the most complex of all sales positions because of the human commodity we deal with. We have to be more in tune to behavior to include everything from red flags to buying signs. If you’re selling real estate, that building isn’t going to turn around to you right after you close the sale to tell you it’s changed its mind.

3. What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’ve taken on a lot in the years I’ve been working, both in and outside of K2.  Some notable experiences for me at K2 are the re-engineering of the Tokyo office, spearheading the launch K2 Konnect (the social platform for K2’s technology consultants) and K2 University with some of my colleagues and being invited to join the Executive Board.

I guess I’m most proud of my tenacity throughout all of the challenges. There were times throughout all of those challenges that I second-guessed myself, second-guessed the project, not one of them was without some dark days. I’ve had people tell me I’m fearless and that I’m brave and while that’s flattering, the fear was there, it was there and it was very real. The bravery is overcoming that fear and going forward when all you want to do is retreat back to your comfort zone.

4. Who is your greatest inspiration or role model?

I take inspiration from so many people, readings and experiences. It’s hard to say who or what is my greatest. There are men and women in business, sports and many other industries that I’ve taken lessons from. I’m inspired by anyone who has persevered, who is accountable, who sees the opportunities instead of the obstacles. Whenever I’m touring a historical structure with beautiful architecture, I’m in awe of the people that built this by hand thousands of years ago, before there were any electrical tools or machinery. Imagine if they sat back and said, “that’s just too hard, that will take us years to do!”? We would have no beautiful buildings to look at.

5. What do you think has made you the leader you are today?

It’s a combination of things. I’m very task-oriented, so getting things done and not putting them off has served me well in my career… I can out-execute anyone! Also, when you’re staring down a pile of work, there’s no magic wand, you simply cannot sidestep hard work. I’ve never forgotten what it was like to be new to the company and the hard work it takes to be successful in one’s position. I still like to get in the trenches and get my hands dirty, no task is beneath me, and I think the teams I’ve managed have responded to that.

Lastly, and maybe most important, I have an unending desire to improve myself. My own self-discovery journey has obviously impacted me as a professional, and I made a conscious decision years ago to stop leading with my head and start leading with my heart. I believe that was a pivotal moment for me as a leader, and I can clearly spot when someone else in a leadership position has not made that connection.

6. What inspires you to keep achieving your goals?

An innate responsibility to the company and the people within it to do my job, and be a part of the forward movement of this organization.  I’m obligated, but I’m also personally invested. Outside of that, the things I want out of life keep me striving. People will ask all the time ‘what does success look like to you?’

Sitting on my deck at my beach house with my ocean view and the time to enjoy it, that’s what my success looks like. It’s likely I have a glass of wine in my hand.

7. What are the three main traits that make a leader successful in your opinion?

  1. Integrity – people can easily pick up on a lack thereof, and you can only lose yours once.
  2. Willingness to address confrontation – you can’t have a leader that buries their head in the sand to avoid confrontation or delivering information that will be met with a challenge. It’s just not being a leader if that’s the case.
  3. Self-assurance – insecurity and leadership don’t go together. You must have the courage of your convictions and trust yourself and your instincts. It’s ok to be wrong, it’s far worse to be indecisive in my view.

8. What do you do to ensure a good work-life balance? How do you unwind?

People have probably heard about my various chair yoga and breathing sessions that I do at random in different offices around the world. Yoga and meditation have become a big part of my life in the last few years in particular. It goes beyond the physical and well into the mental and emotional well being, it’s that aspect that really got me into it as I was in desperate need of it at the time.

I also accept when I’m done for the day, and sometimes that’s well before 6 o’clock!  I no longer beat myself up or suffer guilt as a result. As women we carry so much guilt, we’re not enough in the home, we’re not enough in the workplace, we’re not a good enough friend, wife, sister, mother, daughter, etc.  We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and each other.

If I’m out of gas for that day, it’s time to head home and I will pick it up the next day.

9. What would you say is the ultimate secret of success for a woman in the workplace?

I’m not going to sit here and say there are no biases or challenges that come specifically with being a woman, and yeah I’ve had to work harder throughout my career than some male colleagues to get the recognition I deserve.

However, I’m very sensitive to make sure not to hide behind that. It goes back to accountability. Keep your side of the street clean and don’t use those challenges as a scapegoat or reasons for not achieving. I’ve outworked most people along the way, and whoever wants to take my seat just has to show that they’re better. Be the best person in the room and the hardest worker and nothing can get in your way.

Lastly, and this goes back to my own self-learning journey, never hang your emotional well being on someone else.  We all want recognition for the work we do, but the most important person to give you that is you, first and foremost.  If you give all that power away to someone else, you will eventually find yourself at the bottom of an empty well.

10. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

“International business experience is invaluable”. I have had a couple of mentors in my life and this piece of advice was said verbatim to me by the former North American CEO of Adecco. It’s what I had in mind on my flight to Tokyo as their office was being re-engineered. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when involved with the re-engineering of the office there. Embrace the experience, you will never fail from experience, I can promise you that!

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