A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.
This is “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Ingrid Takai, the founder of Ronin HR. When she’s not recruiting top talent for Okanagan tech companies, you can find her hiking, cross-country skiing or enjoying the occasional happy hour.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden. While living there I did my first year of law school before realizing it was not my cup of tea. I made the decision to study French and Japanese, and after making that my focus I was able to network my way into a job in Tokyo. In Japan, I worked in the research and development department for a home construction company that had bought a factory in Sweden. While working there I met someone and decided to make the move to Vancouver, where we started our family.
Why did you decide to call the Okanagan home?
I was at a point where I was restarting my career after being home with my two kids, so I made the decision to pack up and move our family to the Okanagan. We came here without any jobs lined up so it kind of felt like parachuting in without any parachutes, but we knew we wanted a different kind of lifestyle. I wanted better schools for my kids and easier access to skiing. We were also done with Vancouver traffic.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
When I first moved to the Okanagan I worked for a few different tech startups, and I had the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats. I quickly realized that being involved in the recruitment process was my favourite part of the job. When it was time for me to strike out on my own I had a pretty clear idea that I wanted to do recruitment, but I wanted to do it differently, so I started Ronin HR in 2015. At that time I had an opportunity to claim this little niche that was the OKGNtech community. At the time Kelowna was not super well known across Canada, so you really needed to promote it. The fact that I was located here allowed me to do things that most recruiters don’t get to do, like talk to candidates about neighbourhoods and schools as well as spend time with the companies I was recruiting for.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
For me it’s definitely the human connection. When I can successfully connect a candidate with a company it’s exhilarating, but I also like to keep in touch with my candidates after making the placements. I think that might be a bit unusual for a recruiter, but I’ve always felt such a responsibility for the candidates. If I am going to encourage someone to pack up and move their whole life to a town they’ve likely never been to, I need to be absolutely sure that it’s a good fit for them. By the time they’ve moved here they’ve become someone that I know relatively well, and I want to make sure that they are happy and well looked after.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
There are two different ways to work as a recruiter. You can work in an HR role at a company and do recruitment for them, or you can work for an agency doing recruitment for a variety of different companies. I would say if you are interested in getting a job as a recruiter it’s really valuable to experience both sides. I would recommend that you take the opportunity to explore them both through internships, or at the very least sit down with someone and ask questions so you can figure out what role you are most interested in. Both options are quite different, and they provide different levels of satisfaction, so I think it’s important to take the time to figure out which side you will be happiest on.
How did you get involved in tech?
When I moved to the Okanagan it was in the early days of OKGNtech. I had applied for a number of jobs, and ended up interviewing for a local tech startup. Initially I was interviewing for some kind of admin role, but in typical startup fashion when I arrived they had realized they needed a project manager and asked if I could do that. I said of course, and that was the beginning of seven years of working in startups. At the time startups were the perfect environment for me. You have to have a certain personality to thrive at a startup. You have to be OK with wearing whatever hat somebody needs you to wear that day and be able to roll with the punches. If you can handle that then startups are such an amazing environment.
What is the best piece of advice you can share?
Life is too short to be in a job that you don’t enjoy. If you can find something that you are good at, it’s worth seeing if you can develop that further and become an expert in that thing. It may not be something you ever thought you were going to enjoy doing or make a career out of, but just go for it. I also think it’s important to find a workplace that you are happy with. A good team of people can really make all the difference. It’s important to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
Who inspires you?
I would love the opportunity to give a shout out to my mentor. I’ve had the opportunity to be mentored by a recruiter in Vancouver, Raymond To. He manages Go Recruitment. Raymond has been incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. He is always there for me when I have a question. I am so thankful for his support, and I hope that I can be an equally good mentor for somebody else someday.
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