VP of People
Theresa Dobson is a thought-leader in the areas of building strong talent acquisition teams, culture, and businesses. Outside of Formic, she consults on culture and leadership strategy for start-ups, using her experience working in fast-growing consumer brands.
Here is our recent conversation with Theresa Dobson, VP of People at Formic, who highlights the traits and behaviors that best exemplify a successful employee in a fast paced, start-up environment.
Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your role at the company?
I’m Theresa Dobson, Formic’s VP of People. I am responsible for talent acquisition and retention above all, focusing on candidate and employee experience. My goal is ensuring our employees are happy, progressing career-wise, and that they're working in a positive, rewarding, and safe environment that has all of the tools for them to succeed. My role - and the People organization in general - is very much a service function to the rest of the company.
I noticed you also have a background in startups. Do you think your experience has influenced your approach to your role?
My entire career has been in startups, yes. Even my time spent at Boston Consulting Group, a massive, global private company, was within their start-up incubation arm. The approach to everything I do is fundamentally rooted in building from scratch and for scale.
Could you describe what you look for in an early hire?
I used to assess candidates not only on their core competencies, communication, and leadership capabilities, but also their ability to withstand change. I’ve evolved that last criteria to instead be the ability to thrive with change. I want to know that they’ll be comfortable in unpredictable situations, that they can see around the corner of their specific wheelhouse, and that they can bring all their stakeholders along on the ride with grace. The employees of today are the leaders of tomorrow, so it’s imperative that we’re selecting the right people for those positions.
In your own terms, what is Formic’s culture?
While we’ve landed on six firm Operating Principles, Formic’s culture is still nascent. Every early hire has a big impact on our culture. That makes joining now the perfect opportunity for an employee to make their mark on the company, the product, and the culture as a whole - to help create the company they want to work at.
As a company that works remotely, how do you think that has affected the culture?
Formic was founded in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I joined as we were just coming out of it. As such, we’ve grown used to a completely remote world, and have thrived despite that fact. It’s yet another example of our company’s resiliency. Individual productivity is at an all-time high, but we do have to work towards bridging the gaps presented in communication and interpersonal relationships. Communication is naturally a hard thing; you add a pandemic and fully remote work to the mix and it multiplies the challenges. We are forced to go above and beyond when it comes to communication and collaboration.
Our bi-annual, all-company off-site and all the great attention to detail on the programming within it is a great example of the extra effort we put into ensuring there’s strong cohesivity and a foundation of positive interpersonal relationships across the company despite our remote nature. During our offsites, employees reap the rewards of what happens when you’re in person: the bonding, the camaraderie, the foundation of respect and viewing of one another as more than just a colleague. We build trust, have fun, learn how to become stronger communicators, and learn about one another's' roles in order to have strong bonds and empathy when things get tough.