Staff Spotlight: Caliber
Caliber President Grace Keith Rodriguez sat down with Kate Forster, Caliber’s Culture Manager, to talk about what she loves about our values-based culture and employee benefits.
Grace: As Caliber’s Culture Manager, what does “culture” mean to you and what is important to you about our culture here at Caliber?
Kate: To me, company culture is essentially the sum of our vision, mission, goals, expectations and, I’d say most importantly, our values. Caliber culture is exceptional because we hold up our vision and values in all aspects of our work and in every decision we make.
We know that investing in and prioritizing company culture motivates our team to do their best work. Our leaders understand that culture is a key factor in our employees’ productivity, happiness and retention – so much so that we created my position as Caliber’s Culture Manager. This gives us the opportunity to have a dedicated person in charge of championing our culture for everyone.
In a nutshell, cultivating a great company culture at Caliber is important not only for sustaining a healthy team environment and keeping our employees engaged, but also, in plotting the blueprint for a thriving business. The goal of all of this is to create an atmosphere of positivity that is pervasive.
There is so much about our culture that I want to nurture and make sure “lives on” for the life of the company.
So I don’t write a novel, I’ll give you my top three:
- Caliber’s Monthly Mentorship Program – Mentorship has always been a huge focus for me both personally and professionally. We have a mentorship program where junior employees are paired with a senior employee for monthly one-on-one chats on a relevant topic. Our dedication to continuously helping our teammates grow is a huge part of why our employees are top-notch. We’ve hired people who are open to and appreciate mentorship – and that shows.
- Caliber’s Health & Wellness Package – I have never worked for a company that not only provides health insurance, but also a monthly health and wellness allowance (through ThrivePass) for employees to use on anything that means wellness to us.
- Caliber’s commitment to DE&I efforts – As a co-chair of our DE&I committee, being able to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias is important to me. The committee invited author Keesa Schreane to join us for a DE&I learning session in 2021, which helped me better understand the connection between instilling compassion into Caliber culture and our efforts to be equitable and inclusive.
A visual summary of all the benefits that are a part of Caliber culture.
Grace: How have you seen Caliber culture evolve in a virtual environment and how do you think it has changed for the future because of this?
Kate: I believe shifting to a fully virtual environment has brought many benefits to employees, including our dedicated efforts to keep teammates engaged (and having fun!). We’ve added more training and learning sessions, added a Work from Home stipend and expanded our Health & Wellness offerings.
I have noticed that working in a virtual environment has really brought the team closer together (ironically!). Working remotely lets others see more deeply into our lives. Just think of a toddler running around in the background during a video call or a puppy whining for attention. Having others witness these personal parts of our daily lives encourages a type of vulnerability that brings people closer and reinforces our DE&I work as a team. The more we understand each other (and the larger picture of our lives), the more close-knit and more compassionate we become.
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Grace: What inspires you about your work at Caliber? What gives you a daily jolt of energy (aside from coffee, of course)?
Kate: So much of my work gives me jolts of energy and enthusiasm! The first jolt of energy I experienced at Caliber was my first conversation with Caliber CEO, Harvey Hudes. It was an exploratory conversation, for which I came prepared to discuss what I am good at, what I am not good at, and why. The ability to be honest about my skill set and interests completely set Harvey apart from any other business owner I had ever worked with – and once I joined the team it was 100% clear that this wasn’t just Harvey’s style – it is Caliber’s culture.
For the first time in my professional life, I felt a deep sense of excitement to hit the ground running with the confidence that I could not only be myself (I have a pretty exuberant personality!), but most importantly, dig into work that truly excites me every single day.
As Caliber’s Culture Manager, I find great joy in helping manage all of the benefits we’ve put in place for our team. From our Health & Wellness benefits to our Monthly Mentoring Program and more.
Grace: Tell us your favorite story about seeing your teammates live out Caliber’s values.
Kate: Great question! Yet somewhat tough to answer, since I truly see our teammates living out Caliber’s values every single day.
One example that comes to mind is the formation of our Caliber College of Public Relations (CCPR) program. It exhibits Caliber’s values of self-starting, passion and curiosity. In Fall 2021, the catalyst for CCPR was our desire to address the professional development needs of our growing team, which more than doubled in 2021.
Investing in our team, at all levels, is an ongoing priority.
The idea for CCPR, which originated in a Caliber leadership team brainstorm session, was to make sure we provided our new junior teammates (many are recent college graduates) with courses that would build a robust understanding of the fundamentals of public relations from a Caliber perspective. CCPR teaches them more than they can learn in a classroom or internship and allows us to adapt our team’s approach to suit this virtual, pandemic world.
We currently have nine ‘101 courses’ designed for our account coordinators and account executives. These introductory courses cover topics like how to create a client meeting agenda and how to craft a compelling pitch. Once these sessions are completed, senior account executives join the cohort and all students take five ‘102 courses’ spanning topics like how to manage client relationships, how to work with reporters, and how to add value during client calls.
One of the CCPR professors, Caliber Account Executive David Yaghutiel, recently told me that, through this experience, he’s learned that he really likes to mentor more junior staff members and this has given him an opportunity to flex his management muscles. What a great side-effect!
The CCPR program is cohort-based, but it’s also inclusive. Anyone (at any job level) is welcome to sit in on a class. I’ve joined many of the CCPR classes, including a helpful session with Caliber Director Ryan Hall on time management. Even after 20 years in the professional world, I’m always looking for tips and tricks to maximize my productivity. The fact that the CCPR program is open to our senior team members, as they are interested, reinforces Caliber’s values of curiosity and passion!
I’m thrilled that everyone, at all levels, is growing and learning together. What an awesome element of Caliber culture that was values-based from its inception.
Want to join Kate Forster at Caliber? Check out our job postings page for open positions, including the best mid-level public relations jobs in NYC, Austin and remote!
The Staff Spotlight Q&A series highlights Caliber team members for the stellar work they do each day and the important part we all play in the company. Read more Staff Spotlight Q&A posts to learn more about our top-tier team.