32 Under 32 Nominee: Kristina Wright

SixSpeed Head of Talent and Culture Kristina Wright knows what she wants in the agency she helps shape: turning agency culture into a force for good.

Wright’s perspective and ability to nurture a winning and transparent work environment has helped SixSpeed retain talent and foster growth among teammates across every department. Creating a great place to work and grow is more than a mindset for the 6-year SixSpeed veteran—it’s her mission.

Read on, reader:

Kristina, describe your role and the part it plays in making impactful work in this industry.

I have a unique role within SixSpeed. I have the privilege of meeting and getting to know industry leaders, knowledge seekers, students. In the end, I hire some of these people. As Head of Talent and Culture meeting, interviewing, and hiring is one of my core focuses.

Meeting those who are new to the industry is where I feel I make the biggest impact. I’m able to share and teach what makes SixSpeed unique and hopefully inspire others. Seeing their eyes light up with the possibilities that this industry, and more specifically, SixSpeed, has to offer is rewarding and motivating.

The other half of my role is working with our current employees. This role can look different by the minute.  Sometimes I am a coach or mentor, and other times my time is best spent as an ear for listening and being a confidant.

Similar to hiring, I strive to motivate and encourage each employee to use their talents and approach their work differently to see how they can actively contribute to our organic culture. SixSpeed is passionate about growth and development, and I get to play a role in the development of their careers which is really exciting.

Describe the journey you’ve taken to get where you are today.

I grew up a Wisconsin country girl: mudding, camping, paddling. My passion has always been related to the outdoors and people, so finding like-minded peers and inspiring teachers was a gift. After college graduation and passing my Wilderness First Responder certification, I sold my most precious item, my Old Town double kayak, for a one-way flight to Alaska where I took up glacier guiding on the Matanuska Glacier. I lived the true guide-life side-by-side fifteen other glacier guides, living in our tents surrounded by the wilderness. It was an epic experience to say the least – one where I lived and breathed outdoor adventure, giving people amazing experiences daily. I once lead a tour where a lady burst into tears because it had been her life dream to walk on a glacier. It was such a rewarding opportunity to provide those kinds of experiences to strangers each day.

Back in Minnesota, I connected with a college classmate of mine who was an event producer at SixSpeed. He thought I’d be a great fit for the company.  The moment I stepped into SixSpeed I was drawn towards the people, their passion, and the work. Taking the job as SixSpeed’s Office Manager in 2013 was probably one of the most pivotal moments in my life. That job truly shaped my career path and allowed me to grow in ways I would have never imagined. Again, I was surrounded by outdoor adventure and amazing people, but in a new way: marketing. My peers and bosses were encouraging, motivating, and pushed me in ways I’d never been pushed. Best of all, I was genuinely trusted in positions that were well above me and trusted to perform my very best. Years later, here I am, dedicated to our people in a way that I never could have imagined.

This award is to celebrate the next generation of leaders who will drive us forward and define the future of marketing and advertising: What does this future world need and how are you aspiring to affect those issues within your role?

The future world needs more compassion, empathy, and risk-takers. Advertising agencies get dinged for overworking employees and putting the work first and employees second. I’m here to change that. A good place to work doesn’t have to revolve around the drinks and snacks or how many fun outings and games we play, although they’re a nice perk.  I believe it can revolve around good, honest work with managers who support and believe in their teams and inspire growth that their employees themselves wouldn’t have dreamed of.

I want to ensure we are creating and upholding a place where people can talk – where they can be honest about how they feel and not scared of a political agenda. A place where employees are innately motivated and inspired to do good work because they want to—not because it’s their job.

How has your journey equipped you with the tools to be successful in creating this future?

It all comes down to managers who have supported me and believed in me. People who willingly taught me and gave me an opportunity. Being given such an amazing work experience has equipped me with the knowledge and empathy needed to help others achieve that too. And at times when no one had the answer, I was given the autonomy to try and find the answers—classes, books, experiences—but most of all, just being present with open ears.

What does being nominated for this award mean to you?

This nomination means a lot to me; my role is not a traditional role that may typically be considered for this award. It is so inspiring and motivating to know that more and more value within our industry is being put into our industries biggest asset: our people.