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Jennifer Cooper is the Senior Vice President of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) at Hueman People Solutions. Starting in the back office of a travel nurse company, Jennifer eventually seized the opportunity to help begin the RPO division at Hueman. Though she faced some early leadership challenges, Jennifer’s resilience and commitment to her team helped pave the way for Hueman’s growth, as well as her own.

Hueman is a globally and nationally recognized healthcare focused RPO company. The company’s dedicated recruiters act as an integrated extension of its customers hiring department, offering a wide range of services from candidate sourcing, recruitment marketing, screening, and offer management. Hueman’s end-to-end outsourced service addresses many of the critical pain points affecting companies, including reducing the average cost to hire and average time to hire.

Transcript

Introduction

Jennifer Cooper: I had a coworker that became a little bit of a mentor to me, and she just said, at the end of the day, we want to walk out of here feeling like we put in a full day's work. And I remember thinking that, and she was a little bit older than me, and she had a lot of things that I was hoping to have. You know, she had a lovely home and family and beautiful relationships with her siblings, and I remember listening to her and saying, like, yes, okay.

Because I was on a team with her, right? And we would be goofing around or, you know, whatever. And she sort of had to be the voice of reason with us. Right. And she said, listen, we could do this. And at the end of the day, we still got to get the work done. And I remember being like, yes, that's right. That's what we have to do.

I remember walking out of work and feeling like, okay, yeah, we did put in a good day's work and I did earn my paycheck today. And so that was always just really important to me. I want to feel like I contributed and again, left things in a better place than they were.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight with this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows.

We want to hear their stories. We want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become Everyday Heroes too.

In this episode, I talk with Jennifer Cooper, otherwise known as JC, and to some, and for certain times and certain circumstances, J Sizzle.

Jennifer Cooper: Well, Anderson, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. My name is Jennifer Cooper and I go by JC. That works as well. And I also like to share that, you know, if I'm feeling extra spicy, I go by J Sizzle. So, a little J Sizzle might come out if, if appropriate.

A Leap of Faith

Anderson Williams: Is that the New York that I hear in there?

Jennifer Cooper: Yep. I'm a Brooklyn native, proud Brooklyn native, for sure. I've been in Florida for a long time, but I think the accent sticks. So, I have been with Hueman for 22 years. Currently, I serve as the Senior Vice President of RPO Operations, which is a fantastic role. Personally, I am married to my husband, Jason.

We've been married for seven years, lucky seven, and we have two beautiful dogs together, Giorgio and Jax, who play a very prominent role in my life. They're my office mates today. So, they're sitting on the couch cheering me on.

Anderson Williams: Nice. Tell us a little bit about how you got to Florida from Brooklyn.

Jennifer Cooper: My family had slowly migrated down to Florida.

So, one set of grandparents, second set of grandparents, and then my parents. And we were up in New York and we had a terrible winter. So, we had a really bad snowstorm and it took me three hours to get home from work one evening. It was normally a 45 or 60-minute commute and snow started falling at five and we ended up in traffic for about three hours and got home late that night, you know, had a beagle at the time that needed my attention and love and said, you know what, Florida sounds pretty good right about now.

And so, within a couple of months, we had decided to pack up and we took the beagle and we packed up our apartment belongings and took a long road trip down 95, found an apartment online. And actually, kind of fun fact, Hueman or it was PPR at the time, was my very first job since I moved to Florida. So, my one and only job since I moved to Florida, and that was 22 years ago.

Anderson Williams: That's amazing. I would call that a soft landing. Wow. So, what's the biggest difference as a native New Yorker between New York and Florida?

Jennifer Cooper: Oh, so lifestyle, right? Somebody explained it to me in this way and it's always resonated with me. When you live up North, you hibernate for nine months out of the year and you come out for three.

And in Florida, you are out for nine months and you hibernate for three and your three months are during the summer when it's really hot.

Anderson Williams: Yeah, a totally different type of hibernation, right?

Jennifer Cooper: Absolutely. Absolutely. We're inside with the AC.

Anderson Williams: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

JC took a leap of faith, and quickly finding a job and a team she loves to work with have clearly been part of her success.

And as we will hear throughout the episode, work is really important to JC and deeply rooted in who she is and where she comes from. So, I asked her to share a little more about her work and her career at Hueman.

So, JC, tell me a little bit about what Hueman does, just so anybody listening can understand the context for what you've been doing for 22 years.

The Grass is Green

Jennifer Cooper: So Hueman actually started out as a travel nurse company and about half of my career was spent in the back office. I worked in accounting and supported some payroll functions. About 10 years in, we decided to diversify and we started a division called RPO, which is recruitment process outsourcing.

So, we provide recruitment services to external firms and we exclusively recruit for those firms. And I had an opportunity to move out of the back office and into the RPO division. So, for the past 10, 12 years, I've been part of the RPO division. So really kind of just cut in half, spent half of my career in the back office.

And then the balance of that time in RPO, which was really a cool opportunity because I was able to see the division grow since its inception. So, it's been a really fantastic journey.

Anderson Williams: And 22 years is a long time, any way you cut it. And especially this day and age when it's so easy to move from job to job or career to career. To what do you attribute staying with Hueman 22 years, whether it's about the company or you, or just say a little bit more about that staying power.

Jennifer Cooper: So, it is kind of remarkable, right? 22 years, it's a lifetime for some. So Hueman really served a lot of purposes for me. You know, as I mentioned earlier, it was my first job. Really was a nice spot for me to get acclimated to Florida, provided a social outlet for me. And career wise and skill wise, I think they really allow you to play to the best of your abilities.

I really liked that. I had come from a large national firm where it was difficult to impact change. So, an example would be, you know, a form would be incorrect and it would be a form that was used over and over again. And maybe a little bit sideways, maybe a little bit faded, maybe a spelling error. And you couldn't get that changed, right?

And I came to Hueman and it was like, hey, if you want to try something, go ahead. Let's see if it works. And you had that forum and that was always intriguing to me because you were able to impact and affect change. So that was really one of the things that I thought was incredibly cool about this company.

I think I came at a great time where I was able to see the company grow and be a part of that. Felt like I was contributing towards something greater than just checking a box or moving paperwork along. So, it's been really great. And at some point, I think when you're with an organization, you start to say, hey, these things are really important to me.

The grass isn't greener, right? The grass is green where you water it. And I wanted to water the grass here and be a part of that. And I think it's really been a very mutually beneficial relationship. I think I've been able to contribute a lot to the company in a lot of different ways, but the company and the people have been incredibly additive to my life as well.

And it's something that I appreciate and wasn't willing to trade for anything.

Impacting Lives

Anderson Williams: JC offered some insight from her upbringing that demonstrates why her work and her career at Hueman are so invaluable to her.

Jennifer Cooper: So, I'll give you an example. My dad worked for the Transit Authority for over 20 years. And he left in the dark and he had a over an hour commute, sometimes two hours, and then he come home in the dark and have that same commute back.

And we didn't really get to see him. And I just thought that that's how my life was going to be too. And now I have really such a beautiful balance of sunshine and a great work life balance and a very, very minimal commute. And, you know, I get to see, like I said, enjoy all the things that Florida has to offer, you know, being outside and getting to walk my dogs and things like that.

So, I just thought I'd follow in those similar footsteps because that's what I saw growing up. That's what my uncles did and that's what my dad did. And it was a very, very long, hardworking life for them, you know? And I just thought that that's how that would happen for me too.

Anderson Williams: And just for my understanding and anybody else who might be listening in terms of the RPO services, for example, what's something about that work that maybe from the outside people don't understand about it? Give us a little bit of insight as to why it matters or in ways that we might not understand or what you do that's challenging in ways that we don't understand.

Just any insight into why Hueman has grown the way it is and why it's so important to your partners.

Jennifer Cooper: So, you're helping people find jobs, right? And how important is that, right? The job selection that you make impacts your daily life so much. So, you're helping people find that right match. Conversely, you're helping organizations either grow or stabilize.

So, you're contributing in a way that you're impacting people's lives. And I think that's really something hard to describe about how that works and how that might feel. We talk about it a lot in relationship to our healthcare partnerships. And you think about maybe some community hospitals that are able to serve the community in different ways and how integral a hospital is to a community and the way that they service the needs of the individuals.

And so, there's that greater good or that larger whole that you're talking about. That's not just, hey, I'm putting candidate A into job B and hoping that it works out, right? And I always think that's important. You know, think about yourself in the job search, right? How important that is to you. And it's not just about collecting a paycheck.

It's about being in the right organization so that I'm happy at work, which makes me happy at home, which generally contributes to an overall greater life quality.

Anderson Williams: You, as an Everyday Hero nominee, are the first to be nominated by pretty much the entire leadership team of your organization. They cosigned the nomination, which was impressive and amazing.

And I'm just curious, given what you've described and your work and why you've stayed there, what it's like to know that leadership team admires your work and appreciates you in that way after all this time.

Jennifer Cooper: It's remarkable and it's an honor and it almost leaves me speechless. I almost don't know what to say back to it other than I just appreciate the recognition and I get to work with a lot of great people and I just feel very special that there was consensus around that and honored to represent Hueman as an everyday hero.

People First

Anderson Williams: I asked Sarah Palmer, the President of Hueman People Solutions, to provide a little more context for JC's Everyday Hero nomination.

Sarah Palmer: Yeah, you know, as sort of business operators and those responsible for ensuring the success of the business, a lot of times our natural inclination is to think about a dollar first or think about a client satisfaction first.

JC's natural inclination is to think about people first. And I don't know that we have anyone else in our organization that puts the employee at the forefront as much as she does. For her, every decision that she makes starts and stops with, is this employee set up to be successful? Are they happy?

Can they be successful? Are we supporting them in the right way? Have we thought about their needs first? And her ability to check and balance us on being that values first organization on thinking about the downstream impact or employee. There are many times that we'll be like, oh, it'll be fine. It'll be fine.

They'll get it. And her, she puts herself in the seat of the employee a lot and it's like, they won't get this. We need to clarify this. They haven't been part of these discussions. And so, I would say that any one of our recruiters or any employee that gets to interact with JC would say she goes out of her way to make sure that they have what they mean.

Always has a personal connection with them, checks in on them, is the first to think about birthdays or if someone's pregnant. Honestly, she just treats everyone like a human being and then like a Hueman with an E.

Anderson Williams: We interviewed Sarah Palmer prior to this, as I think you know, and she mentioned that one of the things that really stands out for her about you is that you always put your team and your people first.

Can you just talk about what that looks like in your role or has looked like in your roles to be putting your team and people first?

Jennifer Cooper: When I first joined Hueman, I sort of took an individual path. I was like, I can do the job, I want to prove myself. And then I learned the power of collaboration, which Hueman encourages.

And I was like, wow, two heads are better than one, right? And then as I moved into leadership, I was like buy in and the contributions from the team around you are so important. Even more important than what I had to contribute on an individual level. So, I sort of think about that saying of, if you want to walk fast, you go alone. And if you want to walk far, you go together.

And so, I just think that, you know, having that team around you, you know, I'm only as good as they are, and I contribute a lot of the credit to them. And so, I just think the value of that. I also think it's important that people feel included and understand why we're doing things and how we're doing things.

And I think if you can empower others to do those things, it only just furthers the success of the overall company, the greater good. So, I really enjoy that aspect of it. And I think that people are responsive to that in a very positive way.

Leading Through Others

Anderson Williams: For the record, that's also the quote that our managing partner uses all of the time at Shore Capital. So, yeah, that's right. That's right. We'll make sure Justin hears you say the same quote back as well.

Is there something, JC, in your previous work experience or in just how you were raised or anything that sort of made that clarity of how you're working and leading through others happen that you didn't come into this and say, hey, I've moved down here. This is my first job. I got to go in there and blow the doors off. And it's all about me and building my career in this new place. That could have been a path.

How did you come to the awareness and realization that this approach to leading through others was not only the right thing for them, but the right thing for the business and the right thing for you.

Jennifer Cooper: Well, I think that it came in two different impactful ways, right? So, the first one came through, I was in my first supervisory position and I had one individual, it was two people and I had one individual that I really got along with and clicked and we moved and grooved and things were great. And I had one individual that just really did not like working with me and, you know, I couldn't, you know, kind of figure it out.

And I was the same to both of them. And like I said, one clicked and one, I just, couldn't get anything out of this individual. And I sat down and I talked to her when it was like, because we were friends outside of work, really. But at the work environment, we just didn't click. And I said, hey, like, what's going on?

And I said, what happened? Like, we are not getting what we need to get done together. And she goes, you're always yelling at me. And I was like, what? And I think it was, you know, I was like, I'm not yelling at you. And I think it was the New York, right? Cause she was from Louisiana and we just had two very different styles of communicating.

And it made me realize like, oh my gosh, I can't just be me and expect everybody to be responsive to it, right? I have to adapt to that person's style and learn how to bring out the best in them. And it made me feel terrible to know that she thinks I'm always yelling at her. I really didn't intend that, but I certainly see how she could perceive it that way.

So that was one thing that's made me change, right? That I was like, I don't want to be the person who's always yelling at people and, you know, just finding the people who could be responsive to that, right? I want to learn how to work with others in a really impactful way. And we changed, right? And we no longer work together, but we're actually still friends. So that was a lesson for me.

The second piece of that was I really had to define my leadership style and say, what do I want out of these interactions? And really what I wanted was to people to walk away from the conversation feeling good. Even if we disagreed or we didn't see eye to eye, I wanted the person to know, hey, I do have good intentions.

I have your best intentions at heart. And so how do I accomplish those things? And so, it's two things, right? Learning how to adapt your communication style, but then also consistency in my style. So, people knew what to expect, and knew what to get. And hopefully were able to build a trusting relationship together.

Anderson Williams: And I don't want to overlook JC, that conversation took a lot of courage, not only with somebody you're working with, but someone who's also a friend to step up and say, hey, this isn't working, that took a lot of courage.

Jennifer Cooper: You know, it just came to the point where I couldn't figure it out, and it wasn't nice to come to work and work together. And so, I felt like it was owed, and it was appropriate, and really, she participated in that conversation fully, and so I really respect that. Again, I was a little bit taken aback, but the perception was the reality, right?

And I had to make a change, and so I consider that a very pivotal moment in my career.

Anderson Williams: If you haven't figured it out yet, JC is an incredibly reflective and thoughtful leader. And it's clear that during her 22 years, she has made a significant contribution to not only the growth, but the culture at Hueman.

Here again is Sarah Palmer.

Positive Impact

Sarah Palmer: When we started Hueman specifically, we had, I think it was like 81 employees. And before that, the RPO business did exist. And we have over 400 employees now in this business. But the majority of them sitting in RPO. And the majority of them have been touched in some way by Jennifer Cooper.

Whether it was in the interview process, the hiring process, the training process, getting staffed and assigned to an account or everything in between that happens in managing people. And I just think it's incredible the hand that she's had in developing careers as we've grown. Every single one of our directors, vice presidents, they've reported into Jennifer at some point.

I think that without Jennifer's consistency, which is a weakness of mine, she's so great at the day-to-day continuity, consistency, keeping the train on the tracks and letting me and our other leaders focus on growth and hyper-growth activities. I don't think we'd have had the growth that we have.

She's been a tremendous resource to all of us to refine operations and how to run this day to day, and I think she has been, like I said, sort of fundamental to us being able to get to where we've gotten and will continue to be for years to come hopefully.

Anderson Williams: The mutual respect and connection between Sarah and JC is almost palpable.

It's certainly inspiring. So, after more than two decades there, with all of the growth and all of the relationships and all of the positive impact she's made, I wanted to hear in her own words what really drives JC.

As you think about your sort of important relationships and where you are in your career and your personal life, what motivates you?

Jennifer Cooper: So, you know, it's a couple of things, right? I want to impact people positively. I want to be helpful. I want to be seen as additive to somebody's life. I don't want somebody to be like, oh no, I got to talk to JC about this. So really it just comes from a desire to help and you know, maybe to sum it up, I just want to leave things in a better place.

So, I just want to make a positive impact and leave things in a better place. And hopefully even if it's a small interaction, like maybe something at a store and a cashier, you know, I just, smile and say, have a nice day. Maybe that one little thing changes someone's day or makes them feel a little bit better.

It makes me feel good to smile and say, have a nice day. And so really that's what I try to do. I just hope that every interaction that I have with people just leaves a little bit of good and a little bit of light. And hopefully I'm able to sort of replicate that and maybe that gets paid forward in one way or another.

Anderson Williams: JC is an everyday hero whose superpower is her commitment. She is committed to her people, she is committed to her work, she is committed to Hueman. And in all of that, JC is perhaps most importantly committed to leaving the world and maybe just someone's day a little better than she found it.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure and check out our other Everyday Heroes at www.shorecp.university/podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. There, you will also find our Microcap Moments series, that highlights the people and stories of entrepreneurship and growth, failure, and success that make the microcap space unique.

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing, and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

Special thanks to Jennifer Cooper and Sarah Palmer.

This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice and offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the Terms of Use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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