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May 27, 2019

Dreaming Big and Taking Risks: Why We Hired Our President

Briana Sim
founder & COO / people advocate / office singer

When we started Radical I/O about five years ago, we decided that we would be a people-first consultancy and lab. On a large scale, that means that we want to make a long-term, positive impact in our local and global communities with meaningful technology. We want to work with government, ethical enterprises, and non-profits to help solve our world's most challenging problems. On a smaller scale, it means that we want to make sure that everyone that walks through our doors - teammates, partners, potential clients, and the delivery person - feels valued, respected, accepted, and included. We live and work by our core values; they are not hollow statements simply posted on our website. We will never compromise our principles for profit.

As co-founders of Radical I/O, Ian and I are really good at dreaming big and taking risks. We are comfortable with uncertainty, and we don’t need a blueprint - we just start. I’m really proud of our determination, and how far we have come. Over the past few years, we have established an awesome team, a portfolio of successful projects, and great relationships with the tech community and our clients. We are building a trusted name for our company and are steadily growing.

We have been busy, which is awesome! However, part of starting a company from the ground up without a master plan means that we don’t have all of the answers. With some major decisions we have had to be reactionary, when we would have rather been proactive. More often than not, we were working “in” the business rather than “on” the business.

Last fall, Ian and I started working with a business strategy consultant because we realized that in order to achieve all of the goals we have for Radical, we had to start being more deliberate with our plans. The consultant helped us bring clarity to the company’s objectives and goals (the why’s and the how’s), and consider how we could sustainably grow.

In my opinion, the best leaders admit that they don’t know everything. In our case, both Ian and I are aware of our shortcomings. Neither of us had started a business before, and we had a lot to learn. We have also been wearing many hats, and juggling the many and varied responsibilities of the company. There haven’t been enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we want to achieve. We needed help. We knew that adding talented people to our team would help us create something much better than we could accomplish on our own.

As part of realizing our goals, Ian and I decided that we would eventually like to hire someone into a President role. This person would ultimately share the day-to-day responsibilities, and help define Radical’s strategy, goals, and the initiatives to get us there. They would also be accountable for successfully implementing the resulting plans. I say “eventually” because we anticipated that it would take time to find the right person - a person that we fully trusted and respected. As luck would have it, around the same time Christin Wiedemann was evaluating her own personal and professional goals after making the decision to leave PQA Testing. Christin was deciding on a new direction for her career. The timing was perfect. We found (and hired) our President!

I first met Christin through the technology community here in Vancouver. We are co-chairs of the BC Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology (WCTBC) and we are both actively involved in local inclusion, diversity, and mentoring initiatives. Christin holds a PhD in Physics (developing simulation and analysis software using neural networks and distributed computer clusters!). She hails from Sweden where she previously worked as a software developer, tester, and project manager. Before joining Radical, Christin was the Chief Scientist, Co-CEO, and Executive VP of PQA Testing.

While Ian and I both thought that Christin would be the perfect fit for Radical’s President role, we were still both a bit hesitant to hand over the control of our “baby.” We both thought that we would have a bit more time to get used to the whole “President” idea during the search. We also knew we couldn’t delay, as Christin was definitely the trusted person for the job, and the alignment with her availability was too good to pass up. Christin brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, but more importantly, she shares our values of integrity, collaboration, exploration, inclusion, and belonging.

Christin officially joined the Radical team in mid-January, and she has already brought a lot of clarity to our business goals, propelled us forward in our objectives, and brought great energy to the company. She’s quickly jumped in to learn our business, contributed to complex RFP responses (including with the City and County of Denver, CO), and moved sales and product initiatives forward. Christin is also a wonderful mentor. She has regular check-ins with individual team members to guide and support their professional development goals, and she meets with Ian and I to talk through strategy and keep us focused on our priorities. As an added bonus, she introduced a menagerie of cute little woodland critters to the office. ;)

Christin has brought so much to our company, the President role, and our working environment. We are so excited to have Christin at the helm as we launch our new Smart City initiatives and enter a new phase of our business. We are all feeling so excited about what is ahead, and all that we can accomplish together!

Christin's First Day as President, along with some woodland critters

Technology. People. Purpose.

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