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Meet Chrissy McKenzie: Life’s But A Song, Crab Cakes and Stuffed Peppers

Posted on July 28, 2010
Filed Under Interviews | 6 Comments


Chrissy McKenzie, Sourcing Partner
Commercial Non-Sales, Operations & Enabling at AstraZeneca
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• Community Volunteering: Habitat for Humanity, Haiti Relief, Big Brother Big Sister – Harrisburg PA
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• Office: 302-885-4227
• Cell: 610-952-2974
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Chrissy has been a fan of sourcing and a true enthusiast for her employer, Astra Zeneca. She lives and breathes her company brand and the enticement of every kernel of wealth each new experience of knowledge brings. In a first, Chrissy embraces a lyric to describe, sensation by sensation, the meaning of work and life in general. She’s going places … in fact the future is so bright, she has to wear shades …

Q&A with Chrissy McKenzie

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.


Chrissy: I have been married to David McKenzie the last two and a half years. David and I met in Ocean City MD the summer before Senior Year in College. We were mid way through our first date when I realized I had no idea what his last name was. Strategically, I asked how old he was. When he responded, I then commented how I didn’t believe him and asked to see his id. “David…………McKenzie” Got it! Little did I know I was “sourcing” my candidate.

I have a Labradoodle named Nicholas (2 years old) and a cat named Ms. Jinx (9 years old). Nicholas enjoys playing golf (We chip, he fetches) with us in the backyard and chasing any bunny rabbit that enters his domain. Jinx prefers to remain inside at all times plotting her next attack on Nicholas. As for hobbies, I love music. In fact, those that are linked to me on Facebook know I usually start my daily status updates with a song based on how I am feeling that day. Cheesy? Maybe, but I get up at 5 am Monday through Friday so a song is the easiest thought that I can produce at that hour. In fact, I bet I can think of song lyrics that go with my answers to your questions throughout this interview. I like to cook and I am pretty good at it. I watch a lot of the Food Network channel while “studying”. My specialties are Crab Cakes and Stuffed Peppers.

I am in the process of completing my MBA through Wilmington University It is an accelerated 15 month program which ends (fingers crossed) in December of 2010. I received my undergraduate degree from Temple University in Philadelphia PA. I majored in Communications with a focus on Advertising and Public Relations. In a way, my major was a balance of my personality. I have a creative side passed down from my mother who is an artist and personable side passed down by my father who was a teacher. I also developed a competitive side.

Six Degrees: How did you get started in the staffing industry?

Chrissy I began my staffing career in a round about way in retail while I was still in college. I was working for Guess? In the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. On lunch breaks (and any other time I was allowed out of the store) I would cruise the mall looking for employees at other stores that seemed to genuinely enjoy the retail industry. I would approach them and encourage them to join our company. After graduation, I decided to pursue a formal career in recruiting. While I didn’t know much about it, it seemed like a natural fit based on my likes and my personality. It was also time to formally use the degree that Temple awarded me.

I joined a company by the name of Express Personnel as a “Staffing Consultant”. This was my first “office job” with my own desk not covered in clothing and retail floor plans. Life had changed in big ways. I now had a personal computer, a telephone with voice mail and Brad my co-worker, who I spent more time with than my own family. Together we filled many temporary jobs in the Delaware County area. I learned a lot about myself at that job. I learned a lot about Brad too. Most of all, I learned the most from Mr. Floyd, a loyal temp that I placed on many assignments. Floyd made a comment that I will never forget. He was a hard worker and always showed up to any job I sent him. One Friday he came into the office to pick up his paycheck. He was covered in oil from the machine that he was assigned to run that day. Upon seeing him, I apologized for the terrible temp job I had to send him on. He looked me right in the eye and said: “Regardless of the job, if you always do your best you can feel good about it at the end of the day. “ That became my motto.


After almost two years, the commute was becoming a challenge and I said good bye to my great friend Brad and Express Personnel and accepted an opportunity with FAO Inc (FAO Schwartz, Zainy Brainy and The Right Start) as a Benefit Specialist. The role with FAO was interesting to me because I wanted to see what it was like to work inside a larger organization. My first day seemed like a dream come true. Toys covered my new desk and I was greeted by my “new family” in Human Resources. After two weeks, I was called into the VP of HR’s office for a chat. In the meeting, I was told that the company had declared bankruptcy again, and that the office would more than likely be closing over the next year. They understood if I didn’t want to stay (note: I had already quit my other job) and asked me to think about it and let them know. I played it cool, went back to my desk and immediately dialed Brad to find out what bankruptcy meant. Always the great friend, he talked me through it and I made the decision to stay with the company. I remained busy in my role and picked up the tasks of those that moved on throughout the year. It was an amazing learning experience and in the end, I was stronger for it.

Six Degrees: You are the real deal when it comes to company Cheer leader at Astra Zeneca. Tell us about your journey within the company.

Chrissy Currently, I source and recruit for our Director level and above roles within the US and Canada. I network with talent across multiple industries to build pipelines for opportunities across the business. From a branding perspective, I am open to networking with anyone interested in AstraZeneca. Specifically I seek out experts in the areas of: analytics, procurement, business development, finance, legal, regulatory affairs, pricing and market access, global brand or product directors, digital, corporate communications, lean six sigma, etc. From an educational perspective, MD’s, PhD’s and PharmD’s would be suited for Senior Management + levels at AZ. In summary, I do a lot of talking with a lot of different candidates. This is one of the many parts of being a recruiter that I really enjoy.

I have been truly blessed with great friends and family in my life. I went on a trip with friends to Atlantic City over a weekend. As we drove past the city of Philadelphia I realized how much I missed the area. After 3 years of being away, I decided to relocate back home to continue with my career. I reached out to my clients to thank them and bid farewell as I was moving on. To my surprise, a few invited me to interview, AstraZeneca being one of them. I interviewed with AZ and was delighted to be extended an offer as a sales sourcing contractor for the Northeast. Looking in from the outside, I was always impressed with the culture of AstraZeneca. I accepted the job and quickly began to see what a great company AstraZeneca really is. Mid year as a contractor, I was promoted to Sales Recruitment Partner for the Northeast. The year was quickly coming to an end and the team as whole was going through change. The decision was made to end the contracts and move the work in house. Luckily, there was a Commercial Non-Sales Recruitment Partner role in house that became available. It was rare for a contractor to be hired full time, however I had the right votes on my side and ended up scoring FTE with the organization. (Thanks Bill Warner!)

I have been awarded multiple opportunities across recruitment since joining AstraZeneca 4 years ago. Our model continues to evolve to become a more strategic global approach each day. I have seen the business from many angles including: Sales, Commercial, Procurement and Operations & Enabling. Working in various roles has helped piece the story together of how pharma is run as a whole. It’s actually pretty amazing how it all comes together starting from the molecule through to the marketplace. The variety has also contributed to the success I have shared as a member of the Recruitment team.

(“Ch-ch-Changes, Time may change me, But I can’t trace time” David Bowie, Changes)

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

There have been various occasions when something has happened and during the moment of silence afterwards I can hear the “click”. Not the click of someone hanging up on the other end of the line, rather the click of “yes I get it now”. My transition from a small sourcing firm environment to a large global corporation was one of those moments. When you are working in a smaller environment, it can be challenging to understand the process in a larger house. I can remember being frustrated on multiple occasions not understanding governance or what could be holding up a hire. Once I joined AstraZeneca, I had a better understanding of what happens on the other side of the fence. Having worked on both sides has been a benefit for me. From the smaller side I learned the importance of great customer service. From the larger side I was able to better craft my communication style and techniques with a better understanding of the businesses needs.

Six Degrees: Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

Chrissy I have a few mentors. The connections I have made in the recruitment industry through Social Networking have been absolutely amazing. If I had to pick one person in particular, it would be Glen Cathey. Glen’s blog: http://www.booleanblackbelt.com/ offers an immense amount of information. You can also follow him on twitter: @Booleanblackblt. It just so happens that he is also an excellent writer. He has encouraged me to use social media in various ways for sourcing which has awarded me many friendships as well as hires. (yes hires!) I was delighted when Glen accepted AstraZeneca’s invite to lead one of our Competitive Sourcing Workshops last year. Globally, he was able to present ready to use material to the team in a way that was mindful of our different skill sets.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your position at Astra Zeneca


Chrissy In my role, I work to develop and implement ethical competitive sourcing strategies specifically within North America (and Canada) at the Director Level and above. I partner at a global level with our internal recruitment teams as well with HR Business Partners and Senior Business Leaders to refine sourcing and develop robust candidate slates on a recurring basis. I engage Senior Level candidates in conversations branding AstraZeneca Recruitment as best in class. I develop and maintain robust competitive candidate pools and discuss pipelines with Senior Business Leaders to develop benchmarks to further refine talent lists. I continue to institute global in-house forums to develop collaborative relationships with Recruitment Leadership and Partners for seamless interactions with the business. I have recently been selected to travel to the UK to lead an in-house Sourcing Lab with my global peers for company wide challenging to fill roles.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

Chrissy I met with Lisa Smith-Strother, our Director of Recruitment Marketing at AstraZeneca to discuss this recently. It’s always interesting to watch what other companies are doing successfully and to implement those actions into our strategy as appropriate. We talked about the following but not limited to: Sodexho, Shell, GE, Qualcomm, and Microsoft.

Six Degrees: (B) In what aspects are they superior?

Chrissy Each of these companies seem to feature strong, engaging, and impactful websites which is at the heart of a truly effective and successful online recruitment strategy and web 2.0 innovation. They’ve done a very effective job at exciting and engaging the seeker with multimedia, hooks, experimentation, and usability.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?


Chrissy For me, company branding online is a huge trend that I feel will continue to impact my work in the future. In the past, candidates were limited to the amount of information they could collect on a company pre interview. A candidates interview questions would come from this limited amount of information they were able to collect. The questions for the most part could be expected and really wouldn’t differentiate one candidate from another. Result: “The job description states working collaboratively, can you describe the cross functional collaborations that I will be involved in…” Today, candidates have the advantage to gather real time information on a company. Online networking and daily articles can provide the most recent news. A candidate can log on to the internet the morning before an interview and learn of any changes or updates to the company. This then allows candidates to ask very strategic questions concerning the business and role that they are applying for. Result: “You purchased company X last night at 10:00. I would like to share an example of a recent collaboration I led and why it was successful….” Conversations can then become much more strategic and specific.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:

Chrissy External: ERE, SourceCon – My Favorite!, CareerXRoads, Thought Leadership Institute – I always walk away with something. My “Circle of Friends” in the various groups I belong to online. Thanks Guys!! Internal: CI Workshops for Sourcing and Recruiting – US/UK/Sweden. Recruitment Roundtables – US/UK/Sweden (Recruitment gets together globally via video conferences and teleconferences to discuss country trends in recruiting and social networking.)

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?

Chrissy Unfortunately, most industries have been impacted by the recession. At the end of the day, most of the bigger decisions are out of our control. I utilize my motto mentioned before everyday: “Regardless of the job, if you always do your best you can feel good about it at the end of the day. “At least this way, I haven’t let myself down regardless of how the day ends. AstraZeneca is a very inclusive and collaborative environment. I believe the culture has helped employees remain focused and motivated to continue to run the business successfully.

Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.


Chrissy As mentioned previously, at AZ, we run global recruitment workshops to broaden our sourcing and recruiting skills. Via video conference and teleconference we are able to connect and converse and strategize. I have listened in as a participant and was lucky enough to lead a few sessions. Past the opportunity for in-house networking, we are becoming a stronger more collaborative global team. Together, we are assisting each other with senior level and/or hard to fill roles and gaining more experience in the process. During the workshops we take time to share our learning’s and success stories. This is not only motivating, but also helps us in better understanding our similarities and differences globally.

Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do? Be specific

Chrissy As a networker, I lean on advice that was shared with me to “Be Social”. When I first began to tweet, I didn’t get it. I was happily posting articles and commenting on what was going on with ME. What I was forgetting was what was going on with everyone else. Engaging in conversations by asking questions, making comments and reposting others articles helped me open the door to an online community that continues to help me to become a better recruiter. I often times look at others profiles, yes I am nosey and curious, to see how they are operating and what I can do better. It’s amazing to me how many people are not talking to others or following others. Let’s face it, your best kept secret will always be just that if you don’t share it with anyone.

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

Chrissy It’s hard to say exactly what my next career goal is going to be. The Pharmaceutical industry is changing at a rapid pace, and therefore, so is our Human Resources Department. It appears that new interesting roles will become available in staffing as the department unites with other areas of HR. To date, I have been lucky to have a fairly progressive career. A personal goal of mine is to continue to be as flexible as possible with change and to learn as much as I can in the process. Ideally an Executive Recruitment role or Sourcing Lead role would be of interest. To get to either place, I will need to continue to produce quality candidate slates against a competitive time to fill clock. I would also like to gain more global recruiting experience.

(“I’m doing all right, getting good grades..the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” – Timbuk 3, Future’s so Bright, I gotta wear shades)



Recommendations For Christine

“I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Chrissy for more than two years, initially, she reported to me in a Sourcing function, coming aboard into Commercial Sales and within six months had demonstrated a mastery of end-end Staffing. Working alongside of Chrissy, I have consistently witnessed excellence in delivery, customer focus and outcomes. I look forward to working with her, I hope, for a long time.” September 11, 2008
Dan Loney CIR, Recruitment Partner, West, AstraZeneca

“Christine is a well respected colleague who demonstrates strong customer/client focus and high ethical standards. Her knowledge of her internal customers/client groups as well as the external candidate market allows her to identify talent and consult with business leaders on matters related to hiring. Christine is also known for her ability to identify new ways of recruiting and networking through technology as well as identifying system related processes that lead to greater recruiting efficiency and effectiveness.” November 13, 2007
Bob Mancuso, CIR, PHR, Recruitment Partner, Human Resources, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

“Christine is positively one of the most highly organized professionals I’ve ever worked with. I do admit that I have adopted several of her organizational tactics. She was a joy to work with as she set high goals, exuded strong professionalism, assisted less tenured co-workers, and maintained a great demeanor towards all in the company. She was a top performer who got along great with everyone and was a “go-to” recruiter for key acccounts. She was loved by her clients and serviced them well. She kept abreast of trends in the marketplace and surfaced new social networking sites to generate passive candidates. I know that several co-workers learned a lot from Christine; including myself, and I’m grateful to have worked with her and to call her a friend.” March 5, 2010
Spencer Pheil ACIR, CDR, CSSR, Lead Sourcer/Recruiter, Augustine Inc.

“Christine is a true MVP! Her finely tuned skills are only exceeded by her strong initiative and positive, do-it-all attitude. With years of expertise in her craft, she can easily dissect the most complex problems and build and execute effective plans of attack to solve them. Her professionalism, attention to detail and organizational skills are invaluable – and she does it all while maintaining her eternally positive demeanor. Any customer-focused team would be lucky to have her – what a pleasure!” October 9, 2006
John Kowalczyk, Vice President, Augustine, Inc.

“Christine has an uncanny ability to professionally interact and relate to all types of me people, regardless of their background. Christine acumen is second to none, and she will undoubtedly be an asset to whomever she encounters.” September 14, 2006
Michael K. Harrell, Recruiter/ Research Sourcing Specialist, Augustine Inc

FAO Inc

“Christine provided exceptional support to myself and my team. She consitently demonstrated urgency with resolving issues and compassion when assisting teammates with their problems. Her attention to detail and overall effort gave a lot of credibility to the HR operations.” March 5, 2010
Ron Tepner, SPHR, Senior HR Manager, FAO, Inc

Comments

6 Responses to “Meet Chrissy McKenzie: Life’s But A Song, Crab Cakes and Stuffed Peppers”

  1. Pam on July 30th, 2010 9:10 am

    thanks for your message, l find the interview great, l must confess, that am not an expect in such things, but its very convincing.

    Have a nice weekend

    pam

  2. Margo Rose on July 30th, 2010 2:59 pm

    Wonderful Interview Dave…Great post Chrissy. I love your dog’s pics (the glasses are classic) your theme songs (I use them too in my blog) and most importantly your talent in our industry.

    Take care,

    Margo

  3. Amy on August 2nd, 2010 2:56 pm

    This is a great interview of a super woman. I look forward to seeing her soar in this industry; wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine…She obviously has the attributes and drive to maximize her potential. Astra Zeneca is lucky to have her!

    Amy

  4. Amy on August 2nd, 2010 3:01 pm

    This is a great interview of a super woman. I look forward to seeing her soar in this industry; wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine…She obviously has the attributes and drive to maximize her potential. Astra Zeneca is lucky to have her!
    Amy

  5. Sam Mathur on August 2nd, 2010 6:55 pm

    Chrissy,

    Great interview and nice career/personal profile. Your perseverance and dedication in both your personal and professional life is admirable.

    Good luck to you!

    Regards,

    Sam Mathur

  6. Marie Journey on August 4th, 2010 4:49 pm

    Dave love learning more about some of our industry thought leaders 🙂 Chrissy ~ Admire your work in developing and implementing ethical competitive sourcing strategies. Would hope that more corporations follow your lead!