Great company culture is a tricky thing to define. Is it a “Best Places to Work” award? (of which Freedom Financial Network has received quite a few) Or is it what gets employees excited to show up to work every day and be a part of the team? While there are plenty of businesses where culture is defined by the perks of the job, at Freedom Financial Network, we’ve created an environment for employees that goes well beyond perks. One of the architects of that culture is Linda Luman, senior vice president of human resources. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to sit down with me to answer five questions about Freedom and its culture – and what keeps her motivated.
What is the most important thing about leading people operations here at Freedom Financial Network?
Knowing that employees today demand and expect more of their employers than ever before, it’s vitally important that we are able to meet their needs, understand their challenges and provide them with real opportunities for growth and fulfillment. To do that, a leader must have the ability to view the business through a prism. That starts with understanding the business objectives and long-term growth strategy. Then you can align the people strategy that will provide the necessary talent, processes and technology to support the overall success and growth. That work – developing and leading the effort to build company culture through our employees who support our clients – is what gets me up every day! This process is the DNA of the Freedom employee brand.
You obviously have had a very successful career. Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self?
My personal and professional goals have always aligned and focused on the growth and development of people. The most rewarding part of my career has been serving as a leader who identifies great talent, provides the opportunities for their growth, and supports those who take the challenge to improve themselves and the business. To see people grow and move up within the organization brings me a sense of fulfillment and joy. If I had to give my younger self some advice, it would be to pay close attention to how you lead. Everyone on your team plays a unique role, so create an environment where every person truly embraces the importance of their work. Each employee needs to understand we can’t be successful unless every piece of the puzzle is in place and working in unison. I would advise my younger self to always be your best, and you will create an inspiring definition of what it means to be a leader. Be genuine, care deeply about those on your team, support them in challenging times, and lead the celebration of their successes.
What about your current job surprised you the most?
The support and partnership from the executive leadership at Freedom Financial Network has surprised me most. Even in the most challenging of times, the trust and confidence that my executive team has shown in my leadership abilities in steering our human capital strategy has been tremendous. I could not achieve what I have without their support and partnership.
What about your current job would surprise other people the most?
Many people would be surprised by all the different hats that I wear in the company. I support all levels and areas of the organization, and moving between departments demands agility, flexibility and discipline.
Part of the company culture here at Freedom Financial Network is giving back to the community. Can you talk a little bit about our involvement in community?
As part of our overall mission to support organizations that help families and children, we support more than 20 different nonprofits. Our employees logged more than 2,000 hours of community service for these organizations in the past year. Recently, for example, we partnered with Oasis Food Pantry to help fill the pantry with four months’ worth of food donations. In another effort, partnering with Junior Achievement of Arizona, 50 Freedom volunteers taught financial literacy classes to the students at Griffith Elementary School in Phoenix. Another project is our summer food drive, which provides breakfast and lunch for more than 200 families, as kids do not receive these meals when school is out for the summer. Finally, our annual school supplies drive just wrapped up and we were able to provide school supplies for over 600 students at a local Phoenix school. Personally, I sit on the board of directors at Career Connectors, and serve on the president’s advisory board at Rio Salado Community College. I also support several community outreach programs on behalf of the company.