Christine Pietschmann is an entrepreneur through and through. Having started, and sold, a company in the dot com boom, she has since moved from big enterprise to founding her own company, yet again, called Paradigm Labs. Christine is also currently preparing to launch an online show called "The Performance Factor" featuring video interviews with business experts on relevant business topics.
Help me understand what you do.
I design and lead programs and consulting engagements to expand organizational capacity. I work with companies to help them better utilize their workforce by developing people strategies, leadership programs, HR strategies and so on.
It's a big responsibility going out on your own; it's not a frivolous decision
Do you have a program you developed or is it custom for each client?
I have a program that I developed over a number of years and this works well for the majority of my clients. It helps them to go from strategy to ensuring that the strategy is being executed. My program is best optimized for organizations with 1000+ employees vs the small business enterprise. It's a niche offering but one that is very valuable given that investment in employees is one of the biggest expenditures for organizations.
It sounds rewarding to help organizations figure out how to leverage their best assets (their employees)?
Yes it is. Mine is a fairly niche offering but one that I am keenly interested in.
What do you like about working for yourself?
It's a big responsibility going out on your own; it's not a frivolous decision. The benefit for me is that I get to build the programs and services I offer and practice what I love doing every day. Prior to starting Paradigm Labs I worked at Bell for a number of years. That was the epitome of "big business" and I went there because that was the exact experience I was looking for.
I've never been afraid of (difficult) decisions; you have to do what makes you happy
Did you always want to work in HR?
When the opportunity to work at Bell was presented to me I was only interested in going if I could work in a HR capacity; I had taken an interest in doing this type of work. The position that came available at Bell required the development of leadership and culture programs within the IS/IT group. It was perfect. I was responsible for employee satisfaction, leadership development, innovation and simplification of existing processes. I learned quite a lot in this role; I knew this focus was valuable to large organizations and I loved the work I was doing. Once I started feeling like it was time to do something other than Bell I knew it had to be in this field. And I started Paradigm Labs.
Was it hard to generate business when you first started?
I have been lucky; all of my work has come for references and word of mouth. I haven't had to actually develop a plan for business development.
You're not only a business woman but a mom as well.
Yes, I have a little girl. She was born right after I started Paradigm Labs.
Was that scary?! To have a baby at the same time as launching a new company!
(laughs) Well, I could have stayed at Bell, taken my year maternity leave and done it that way. But once I made up my mind to leave Bell I knew I couldn't stay, and perform to my best capabilities, if I was just riding out my time. I wanted to take the leap when I did, but that also meant taking the leap into being a mother at the same time. I've never been afraid of these kinds of decisions; you have to do what makes you happy. So although those two things happened essentially in tandem, they were meant to happen that way and I was okay with that.
I've never been afraid of (hard) decisions; you have to do what makes you happy
How do you connect with other business women?
I host a dinner party at my home each month with a wonderful group of business women. It's a great way for us to stay in touch but also a safe and supportive environment for us to share our business challenges and successes. I've been doing it for years and look forward to it every time.
Editor's Note: as of June 2015 Christine is the Executive Director, Talent Management at CBC/Radio-Canada.