Published: Aug 16, 2022Time to read: 7mins Category: Insights
PeopleFluent’s Bright Lights: Meet Sarah Zwicker, Program Manager
As part of our employee spotlight series, we’re introducing you to key PeopleFluent team members. This time, we’re chatting with Sarah Zwicker, Program Manager at PeopleFluent. When she’s not working, Sarah’s busy renovating her home and planning her upcoming wedding. Let’s meet her!
It’s great to chat with you, Sarah! So, what’s your role at PeopleFluent?
I’m a program manager, and I help remove blockers for people working in technology; part of my job is helping the department run smoothly. I also spend a big chunk of my time helping to run the Security Department.
I work directly with our Chief Technology Officer, TJ Seabrooks. When he notices an issue or area for improvement, I often get “voluntold” to jump in and help solve the problem. He’s been mentoring me and helping me further understand our business vision and strategy.
Before PeopleFluent, what did you do for work?
I studied Roman history in college, and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up at the time. I had an internship in learning and knowledge management, and that’s probably when I realized I really enjoy helping people do their jobs better.
I still wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after graduation, so my first full-time job wound up being at a call center—it was awful! I think I got tricked into it [laughs].
After the call center, I went back to bartending, my college job. I did that until I started working at the University of Wisconsin. While I was there, I helped with process improvements for the payroll department.
After that, I came to PeopleFluent. I was a scrum master before my current position.
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What skills are needed to be successful in your role?
My day-to-day work includes a lot of project management, so any and all skills related to that are important. This job requires a pretty solid understanding of our administrative processes, both within the business unit and LTG at large. I’ve got to be aware of things like governance and compliance, vendor management, risk assessment, and our auditing processes to help build out these areas of the business.
It’s also important to have patience and be coachable. There’s a lot I still don’t know, and being willing to take feedback and direction from others helps me grow as a professional.
What skills would you like to develop?
I’m someone who’s always looking to learn new things. Even though I’m comfortable within my role, I can always fine-tune my skills and find ways to improve.
I’m interested in expanding my knowledge of information security and seeking more certifications on that topic. It’s a path I didn’t expect to go down, but it’s really sparked my interest.
One of my goals this year is to get my internal auditor certification (CISA). I want to increase my knowledge, get better at what I do, and improve my understanding of the tools and techniques used to achieve our overall goals.
I’m even doing some more “back to basics” courses—things like, “What’s IP addressing?” and “How does a server work?” It’s not that I necessarily need to know those things, but it gives me a better understanding of the inner workings of the job, which in turn makes me feel more confident in my role.
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What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Every day is different. I can be working on a variety of short- and long-term projects, and I get to experience project management across multiple interdisciplinary teams. Sometimes it feels like I’m an information translator between one department and another. I’m bridging the gap between different disciplines and making sure the right people are in the room. We get things done to benefit the business, and ultimately, our clients.
A bonus for me is that I’ve collected a large amount of information about a lot of different things, so I can usually come up with a solution when someone has a question or a problem. I love helping people however I can. It’s provided me exposure to so many different areas of the business, and I’m better able to identify things I may be interested in than I was before. (I never expected to consider becoming a security auditor!)
How would you describe your team dynamic?
We’re a lean team, and that can sometimes be challenging because it means we’re wearing more than one hat, so to speak. But it also means we have a lot of opportunities to learn new skills and grow together. We’ve had some huge wins that benefit our organization and our clients, and that’s been really fulfilling.
We’ve recently expanded the scope of our internal audits to get our ISO certification across all fourteen products, both at PeopleFluent and our sister companies. It took a lot of collaboration and hard work from everyone to get us there, and we’re really proud of it.
What’s your favorite work perk?
I love the flexibility that comes with working from home. I can work at a coffee shop or turn over a load of laundry during lunch, and I’ve got more time to devote to my family and personal life.
I also get to cultivate professional relationships while simultaneously avoiding the college basketball water cooler banter [laughs]. I feel like I’m more productive working from home.
What are you doing when you’re not at your desk?
I guess it’s future planning. My fianceé and I bought an older home last year, so we’ve been doing a ton of renovations. That and wedding planning take up a lot of my free time.
We enjoy seeing new places and different parts of the country. We’re already starting to talk about where we’d like to live next! We’ve lived in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and are currently in Minnesota. We’re thinking our next adventure will be out west.
We also spend our downtime streaming shows, movies, and sports. I experience my emotions pretty intensely, so I like to watch a light-hearted, “come down” show like Bob's Burgers or something after we watch a drama, as I’ve been too hesitant to even watch Ozark The English Premier League just kicked off, meaning I get to spend the upcoming season consoling my fianceé as a reluctant Manchester United fan. That and watching the Packers almost make it to the Super Bowl, year after year, will keep us busy this fall and beyond.
What’s something you wish you would’ve known at the start of your career?
I wish I’d known that everybody experiences imposter syndrome, and it’s okay to feel that way. As someone who’s not from a technical background working in a technical role, I struggled for a while with accepting that I’ve earned my seat at the table.
I also wish I’d been less self-conscious in the beginning. I’d start a lot of sentences with a phrase like, “I know I’m not the technical one…” It took some honest conversations with some colleagues for me to realize that I was diminishing my own worth, and I’ve been working really hard to eliminate those phrases from my vocabulary. I’m definitely more sure of myself now than I used to be.
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Sarah is one of our many “bright lights” at PeopleFluent. Our global team of professionals is ready to assist you with all your talent and learning needs.