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Profile of a People Leader: Shellene McKendrick

This interview took place shortly after we announced our 2020 People Leader of the Year awards. Shellene won the award as a Corporate Business Applications Manager and was one of eight recipients of the award. If you’d like to read more about the awards and find the other recipients’ interviews, you can head over to this story.

We had the opportunity to get to know Shellene better and discuss her leadership philosophy, how she measures success as a leader, and get some fun insights into the things that drove her to become a leader.

Qualtrics Life (QL): Tell me a little about your career journey, how you ended up here at Qualtrics as a leader.

Shellene McKendrick (SM): I have a very different path than most Qualtrics employees. I graduated with a degree in Accounting and then became a stay-at-home mom for 14 years. During this time, I ran a small home-based financial curriculum business with my mom. I entered the workforce as an entry-level analyst at a library software company and had the opportunity to learn the platform when the administrator resigned. I made time to teach myself the platform, proactively took on company projects, and 6 months later declared myself the Salesforce administrator in addition to my analyst duties. I came to Qualtrics to join the Salesforce team and to expand my knowledge and skillset, which quickly became a team of one when the current admin resigned. I felt like a little fish in an extremely big pond, and I dug into the Qualtrics instance and learned everything I could, which required me to quickly expand my skillset. As an individual contributor, I started to help bring others onto the team and to mentor them. When the Salesforce manager left the company, I expressed my interest to manage the team and was given that opportunity, which I am extremely grateful for.

QL: When did you know you wanted to be a people leader?

SM: I didn't always aspire to be a formal people leader. I have always enjoyed leading projects and initiatives, having a vision and mentoring, and helping others to achieve. I believe in displaying and building leadership skills in whatever situation I am in. When I knew the opportunity was opening up for a people leader role, that is when I decided to give it a try. It wasn't a straightforward journey either. I still very much enjoyed the contributions of an individual contributor role, so for me fully transitioning to a people leader was a longer than usual process.

QL: Why did you choose Qualtrics to be part of your journey as a people leader?

SM: I chose Qualtrics because I wanted to grow, learn, and expand myself as an individual. I was drawn to the excitement and fast-paced environment of Qualtrics which would provide me with a continual challenge and growth opportunity. I wanted to learn what I didn't know, and didn't know that I didn't know. I choose to stay at Qualtrics as a people leader for all those same reasons. There are so many opportunities to grow here and to help others to grow rapidly and that is what drives me.

QL: What’s your personal leadership philosophy or style?

SM: I love to enable people to grow, learn, and achieve. My role is to provide a framework and guidance to create and uncover their own greatness and successes. I personally don't like being told what or how to do something, and that definitely carries over into my management style. I love to help someone set a goal and then observe what they do with it, while I am there as a support and guide when needed. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and have learned at Qualtrics to value both the giving and receiving of both positive and constructive feedback.

QL: How do you measure your success as a leader?

SM: I measure my success as a leader by the growth and fulfillment of the people that I lead. It is my privilege to serve each person under my charge, to get to know them, to understand their career aspirations, to help them seek out challenges, help them to successfully navigate their own career path, work through obstacles, and maintain perspective.

QL: Are there any highlights or memories from your time as a leader last year that stick out to you?

SM: Managing through Covid has been an interesting learning experience. Finding ways to personally engage with the team was critical. From daily stand-ups w/ cameras on, weekly online group games, and zoom conference 1:1's, I found myself having to go above and beyond to connect and engage with the people on my team. Having the first in-person team activity was so great! The activity went hours beyond what was scheduled because we all just wanted to spend time together. That was fun!

QL: What does this award mean to you?

SM: I am honored to be recognized for this award and I hope to be able to live up to this standard more often than not. Being a good leader is not a destination, rather a journey with ups and downs, successes and failures. I enjoy the journey and aim to remain teachable and flexible as I continue to develop my own leadership qualities and to encourage those qualities in others.

QL: What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

SM: In my “past life” I was a drummer in a rock band.

Qualtrics is growing, and if you're ready to find your "why" at a place like this, you can explore our open opportunities at any time by visiting our career page or by joining our talent community.

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Qualtrics Life

Qualtrics Life is nothing more or less than a collection of the stories, experiences, and voices of the people of Qualtrics.

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