Brian Kimball, EVP of HCM Implementation Service, has over 25 years of expertise in the Human Resources domain including over 20 years in systems development and implementation. Since he started with HRchitect in 2000, Brian has led project management, functional consulting and training responsibilities in over 75 Applicant Tracking system evaluations and implementations. He is well versed in all aspects of the HR domain, including Applicant Tracking, Talent Management, Workforce Management, and the related technologies.
Hometown: Baldur, Manitoba (Canada)
Alma Mater: Central Baptist Seminary for my undergraduate degree and Regent College, which is part of the University of British Columbia campus, for my graduate degree.
Favorite Food: This is a difficult question, because I love to cook. I love fusion cuisine that is Mediterranean based. If I had to pick something that was my last meal, it’d be rack of lamb. It is probably one of my favorites, whether it is done Greek style, French style or Moroccan style.
Last book you read: The New Girl by Daniel Silva. It’s an espionage thriller, which is part of a long series in which the protagonist is the head of the Israeli secret service and is also an art restorer.
One song you could listen to over and over: “I am… I said” by Neil Diamond – great existential song.
Hobbies: People would say that I’m a hobby farmer – I raise horses. I also do obstacle course racing and I play the piano.
How did you find out about HRchitect, and what made you join? I had known about HRchitect since the late 1990s, working with an association called IHRIM. I was the international editor for the IHRIM Journal, sat in on committees and was brought to leadership events. I got to know Rick Fletcher, the founder of HRchitect. At that time, I was working for a Canadian company called Intellect Systems, which had developed a full suite HCM system with HR, Payroll, and Time & Attendance. I was VP of Sales and I had anticipated that I’d finish out my career with the company. Unfortunately, Intellect Systems was a dot-com bust.
Rick and I had talked prior to all this happening, and he had expressed an interest in having me work at HRchitect, if I ever felt like making a change. When Intellect Systems closed shop and I found myself available for new opportunities, I called Rick and let him know I was available. Within a month, I was in Sunnyvale, California getting certified to implement Icarian, a talent acquisition platform. This was all back in 2001.
In your own words, what do you do at HRchitect? At the end of the day, I’m responsible for the quality of our service delivery for our implementation practices. That entails making sure we hire quality consultants, negotiating statements of work that make service delivery at a high quality level possible, and enabling and ensuring that our consultants get what they need in order to be successful. Along with other members of the management team, I’m responsible for providing leadership and direction for the company.
When I look at my role from the perspective of our clients, I am the executive who is the primary escalation point for any level of dissatisfaction on a project. By keeping in close communication with our practice leads and our consultants, I work to proactively ensure that we do not have any escalations and provide assistance as needed to enable our success.
What does a typical work week look like for you? A lot of calls with consultants and practice leads to understand what’s going on with their projects and identifying areas where I can be of assistance. I spend about 30% of my week on business development, supporting our sales organization. I also participate in calls with our partners who want HRchitect to deliver implementation services to their clients. In those instances, I scope out projects, and negotiate statements of work. I spend probably 20% of my time in management activities like planning practice resourcing, understanding where we have gaps in delivery capability that we need to hire someone for. I also spend a good chunk of time monitoring and managing my e-mail, since that’s the medium our clients, consultants and partners are using to get in touch with me.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day? When I hire people they put their trust in me and HRchitect. This motivates me daily to work hard and intelligently to ensure that the trust placed in me is merited. The success of HRchitect is paramount as our success as a company means success for its employees.
You’ve been with HRchitect for over 18 years. What makes you stay? I like what we as a company are building and my role is very interesting. I feel committed to HRchitect and enjoy seeing the company expand and continually improve in every area.
You’re managing multiple large teams, all of which are remote. What tips can you share to help others better manage remote teams? I think that it is helpful to hire people who have experience working remotely. If your team knows how to work remotely, and is made up of disciplined and self-motivated people, virtual organizations are highly effective. If you are a virtual organization, make sure you make that a key point in your hiring process.
What’s your leadership philosophy? You need to enable people to do their jobs well and trust that they will do a good job. I am very hands-off and I operate off of a baseline of trust. In the sporting world, I’d guess that I’d be referred to as a “player’s coach”. I don’t believe in leading through pressure. I don’t believe that people work well under pressure. I don’t believe that bad news gets better with time, so if there is information or feedback that needs to be provided, I don’t believe in waiting to do that. I believe in integrity. I believe the people that work for me have integrity. I believe in being very honest with our consultants. When I look at our consultants, I believe that they all work hard, that they all want to be successful, and that they all have a high degree of professionalism. With those beliefs, I just need to understand what motivates them and how to work with them to get them what they need to be successful because if they are successful, we as a company are successful.
Tell me about a project the consulting team has recently completed that you’re particularly proud of.
It’s hard to pick just one! Some of our projects are incredibly complex. When we have a team that does a good job with a complex project, that always stands out to me.
On a recent project where our client was struggling to learn how to manage their new benefits system, our team really went beyond the call of duty over and over to get the client to a point where the client went live and feels very comfortable with their new system.
Another that comes to mind was an HRIS implementation that one consultant was working on solo as a client-side project manager and advisor. The client was very hesitant and unsure and needed significant encouragement. The consultant earned their trust and became indispensable in taking them live. This required expertise in not only managing the client but in maintaining a positive relationship with the vendor implementation team. Both the vendor and client were extremely thankful for his patience and leadership and recognized the critical role he played in their mutual success.
Which employee perk that HRchitect offers do you enjoy the most? Why?
I guess this depends on how you define perk. I really enjoy the freedom that our President & CEO, Matt Lafata, allows me to do my job as I believe it needs to be done, and that I can work the way I need to work, instead of forcing me into a pre-defined notion of how I should be doing my job. Matt has displayed a lot of trust in my judgement and in the way that I work.
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