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Building strong teams: Emily’s EF journey

During her university years, Emily found herself torn between a degree in Spanish and psychology. After thinking long and hard, she realized studying abroad was crucial to her and ended up as a Spanish major—but her love for psychology never faded. Her studies of the mind and human behavior make perfect sense for where she ended up—years later—at EF Education First.

As the Vice President of Recruitment and Employee Development for EF Education First, Emily’s had her share of exceptional individuals to work with and manage for more than a decade. And it makes perfect sense: She’s channeled her love of people into the workplace in a very natural way.

“The people are what make this company so special,” she says. “It’s a gift, to work with talented, smart, driven employees who bring out the best in me—who challenge me to be my best self. I’m inspired every day by the people around me.”

We sat down with Emily to learn more about her role and her EF experience.

Tell us a bit more about your position.

I work on the Central Recruitment and Employee Development team and oversee our external recruiting efforts. My role is focused on bringing in top talent and building strong teams across the organization. This is the first time I’ve worked in a recruitment role; however, I’ve been hiring and building sales and service teams for most of my career.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I just recently moved into this particular role, so it’s new to me right now. But I’m very excited! Throughout my 14 years at EF, it’s become very clear to me that our success as a business relies so heavily on having talented, passionate, hard-working people at all levels in the organization. People are our greatest asset, so it’s very energizing to be responsible for the critical task of finding more EF people out there. Plus, I’ve been in sales for most of my career selling life-changing travel experiences with EF Educational Tours. Now I get to sell the experience of working at EF, which I’m equally passionate about.

What do you enjoy most about managing staff?

Figuring out what makes people uniquely talented and collaborating with them to bring out the best versions of who they are as professionals. I love helping people achieve what they’re capable of. Now that I’m in a recruitment role, I’ll be looking for those unique talents in candidates and finding people who can add to our culture and make an impact on EF.

Is there a secret to being a successful manager?

I don’t think staff management is a prescriptive thing. You’re always learning, always getting better. I’ve had incredible mentors who helped me hone my craft as a manager. I’ve learned from some of the best out there.

Being a partner to staff you’re managing is important. And being authentic to who you are—being honest with your staff—that builds trust, which makes for a great collaborative environment.

What do you think has had the greatest impact on your EF career?

My first job at EF was a game changer for me. I didn’t think I wanted to be in sales when I graduated from school, and I took a job at EF that I thought wasn’t a sales job. A couple months in, I realized two things: 1) my job was sales, and 2) I was good at it. That was a turning point for me. I discovered that sales is the heart of the business, and I loved the energy and thrill of working toward goals. The fact that reaching our goals meant more kids had life-changing experiences made it that much more motivating.

What are you most proud of during your time at EF?

When I was Director of Sales, I developed a partnership with one of the largest urban school districts in the country. This particular partnership was especially cool because the city managed to get funding to send hundreds of students abroad who would otherwise not have been able to afford the opportunity. It was the largest partnership we had with any single district, and it took a lot of work from our team to secure it. It felt amazing when those kids finally departed for their tours.

And your favorite EF moment?

I was in Namibia on the iconic red dunes (Sossusvlei) with a group of teachers and a few EF staff. That year was EF’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate, we learned a choreographed dance and competed to get the best video of it. We taught the group part of the dance and did it right there in the desert. It was one of those moments I could say, “only at EF.”

Interested in opening the world with us? Visit careers.ef.com

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