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25 Mar 2021

Humans of Kent: Victoria Fradette, HR Manager, Houston

Humansof Kent Victoria 01

Express your curiosity

When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply about decisions, we come up with more creative solutions and we take bold actions. I can speak for myself… harnessing the power of curiosity has given me some truly interesting and enjoyable experiences and opportunities I never thought were possible.

Oldest of five kids, I was born in Canada and raised in a farm – my family knows me as ‘the responsible one’ and my friends know me as ‘an introvert’. My early school days were ordinary… but when I was willing to shake up my pursuit of happiness by introducing some elements of surprise, my life started to transform. As I started cultivating my innate sense of curiosity, I proposed the idea of going to a boarding school for the last 2 years of my high school to my parents who probably couldn’t afford it at the time but agreed to let me stay 2 hours away from home anyway. That independence and responsibility helped in shaping where I am today.

While pursuing my Bachelor’s of Business Administration from University of Regina in Canada, my curiosity and openness to unfamiliar experiences laid the groundwork for great opportunities and experiences that were to come. I decided to do an exchange program for my fourth year and transferred to University of South Carolina in the States. When I moved to the States, I felt more alive and engaged than ever before – I got to experience everything I wanted out of a college experience. Career wise though, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I was okay with it. Choosing to do Master’s in Human Resources was just a reason to stay in South Carolina and explore more.

I lived and worked in the States for a few years, but with the financial crisis in 2008, I soon moved back home. When I joined the global team of SGS in the oil sands of Fort McMurray, I had a conversation with the hiring manager where I showed deep interest in moving to the States after two years, and I did. Meanwhile, this job got me working alongside the people that had boots on the ground, the people that are making money for the business. I knew the bread and butter of what SGS was about. Two years later, I was back in the States – transferred to Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is also where I met my husband and we got married.

After working in SGS for 8 years, I started feeling like a very small fish in a big ocean where I couldn’t see the significance of my work. My curiosity made me simply stumble upon the exact job posting from Kent (formerly Kentech) that I was targeting – HR Manager in Houston, supporting Canada. When I joined Kent, I was 3 months into my pregnancy with Camilla. I was a bit unnerved with how the company would respond to my going on maternity leave six months into joining but was extremely pleased that no one really missed a beat. With a resilient, passionate, and a collaborative team, I had nothing to worry about.

In the beginning, I was a lone wolf in this side of the world – 10 hours behind the rest of the HR team, which was hard but being the lone wolf was part of the excitement and part of David Touhey’s value proposition which was the liberty to build my own team and make my own decisions – something that I was lacking in my previous roles. Since Melody Sheybani and Sharon Paul’s joining, I feel more connected, totally plugged-in and involved with the global HR community at Kent.

To any new joiner coming to the team in North America, I’d like to say – get ready to wear many hats. It’s going to be all-hands-on-deck and you’ll be asked to do things that you’ve never done before. Be prepared to being open to new experiences, being asked to do things that may challenge you, or put you outside your comfort zone. Also, you may need to wake up early because there are lots of calls before normal working hours, which is part of the challenge, and just… hang on for the ride.

There have been times in my career when I was struggling to find my place, doubting if my work mattered or had any impact in the businesses, I worked in. I’d feel like I’m just spinning my tires and not knowing how my work was adding value, or how I was fitting in, so I’d just do the work for the sake of it. So, coming to Kent… was a breath of fresh air. It was David Touhey who once said that ‘you may never know what doors may open just because you express your curiosity to learn more about something’. How true…

When we are curious, we see things differently. I had an urge to explore and seek newness. I was drawn to experiences I found fascinating, then expressed my interest and curiosity to learn more and it has been highly rewarding in my professional life – the boarding school, the exchange program in South Carolina, that one conversation to move to States, looking for a new opportunity, joining Kent – it just set off the domino effect for everything that was to come and led me to where I am today. Being present and just saying yes to those experiences and opportunities as they presented themselves. In reflection, it’s often the curiosity that’s led me to explore, do more and be more. I don’t necessarily think everything happens for a reason but I do think everything has a purpose you can learn from, but you just need to be able to release the control of things that you can’t control, and not let those things define who you are as a person.

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