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Hiring (and keeping) good people: Suzi’s EF journey

Would you dress up in a dinosaur suit if it meant lifting your team’s spirits? Suzi definitely would. In fact, she already has. As Director of Recruitment and Development at EF Education First in Boston, Suzi doesn’t just find great hires, she creates programs and initiatives that keep EF’s super-talented staff feeling happy and fulfilled—even if that means suiting up as a T-Rex.

Suzi didn’t always see a future in recruitment. Hailing from upstate New York, where trips across the Canadian border to Montreal were routine, Suzi took an early interest in travel. Growing up with a grandfather who was an Olympic bobsledding coach opened her eyes to the value of experiencing life abroad. And so, as a student at UNC Greensboro, she studied political science, hoping to launch a career in international politics.

To gain work experience after graduation, she accepted a staffing gig with a professional services company in North Carolina. But she wasn’t feeling it. “I thought maybe I wasn’t great at recruitment, so I started looking at new jobs,” recalls Suzi. “I applied for an internal recruitment position at a pediatric speech company, and it ended up being an amazing fit. That’s when I realized that I love recruitment and I believe in it—it just needs to be with the right company.”

After finding her niche and relocating to the Northeast, Suzi was approached by EF’s recruitment team about a new opportunity. The more she learned about the EF High School Exchange Year program, the more curious she became. She loved the idea of putting her background in international studies to work, building relationships with students and host families around the world. She accepted a position as EF High School Exchange Year’s Recruitment Team Manager, sparking what would become a six-year love affair with EF.

At EF High School Exchange Year, Suzi spearheaded major recruitment initiatives. A few years later, she brought her expertise to EF’s International Language Campuses around the world, developing a global system for connecting EF to university partners in the U.S. After countless travels around the globe, Suzi decided to make a career move that would keep her closer to home. Last year, she transitioned into a newly created role at EF Go Ahead Tours.

“I hire and onboard new staff, while continuing to work with current staff to help them find long and fulfilling careers within EF,” says Suzi. “I also aid in retention by keeping staff connected to the spirit and energy of EF as a company through events we host within Go Ahead.”

Enter the aforementioned dinosaur suit, team bootcamps, company-wide celebrations for milestone achievements, and a newly minted mentorship program, designed by Suzi and her EF Go Ahead Tours colleagues to pair senior staff with junior team members.

“Our mentorship program has been a year in the making,” says Suzi. “We recently hosted a ‘speed mentoring’ event to make the pairing process feel more casual and fun. And we’ve structured the program so that mentors and mentees have different opportunities to connect. For instance, we’ve asked mentors to take mentees on at least one off-site meeting or introduce mentees to a team member from another product within EF during a coaching session.”

Suzi hopes these efforts will help to grow and retain great team members, whether they choose to stay at EF Go Ahead Tours or explore one of EF’s 17 other divisions. In her new role, Suzi encourages staff to come to her when they’re ready for something new or they’re feeling unsure about what their EF career could look like.

“I almost talk people out of positions if I feel like they are not in the right role, or coach them into something that’s a better fit,” she says. “I make sure people understand that if they grow out of their position, it’s OK. It just might be time for them to try something else, and come back with a new skill that they can bring to the table.”

Suzi and fellow recruitment colleagues now speak regularly about top talent who are looking to switch things up within EF.

“Hiring and keeping good people is one of the most important things we can do,” says Suzi. “I have a great sense of pride for the people who I bring on. How great would it be to look at a series of successful people, and know that, yup, I hired them?”

So, is there a common thread that makes someone the right fit for EF? Suzi thinks so.

“People at EF love to travel, and they’re all are very motivated by what we do,” she says. “No matter what happens, the people who are most successful here appreciate that we all get to do this amazing work.”

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

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