Sonja Zierke - JDM Impressions

Working remotely, like we do at JDM, doesn’t mean being disconnected from colleagues. As part of our culture-building initiative, and to introduce the digital marketing world to our awesome team members, we regularly peel back the curtain on the lives of JDMers. This week, we’ll get to know Talent & People Operations Manager, Sonja Zierke!

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Name: Sonja Zierke
Position: Talent & People Operations Manager
Location: San Diego, CA

Headshot of Sonja Zierke.

When did you begin working at JDM?
May 2021


How did you know JDM was the right fit for you?
I spent most of my career working with accounting firms, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when meeting with JDM during the interview process. I remember walking away thinking that it almost didn’t feel…real? In the words of one of my now coworkers, people at JDM are “oddly delightful” and I was sold after my interview with the leadership team.


What’s your favorite part of the workday? 
At JDM, employees receive their birthday (or a day close by) off as PTO. I noticed that employees often weren’t taking their day off and when I asked why, many said they forgot, were recently hired and didn’t feel entitled to it, or they didn’t want to take another day off, etc. So I started sending out automated Slack reminders to everyone 2 weeks in advance of their birthday to remind them to take their birthday off (or a day near their birthday). By far one of my favorite parts of the workday!


What’s the most gratifying part of working with your clients?
Being involved in the hiring process, it’s extremely rewarding to see someone go through the process, join the team, do well in their role, and excel. 


In a remote company, how do you stay connected with your team?
I’m in a unique position because I get to talk to every single person at the company multiple times throughout the year - for employee check ins, as part of the review process, etc. For the day to day connection - I’m all about Slack - check-ins with coworkers to see how their weekends went, or to ask them for their recommendations on what show to watch next. 


What three words would you use to describe the JDM culture?  
Open, transparent, growth-oriented 


What's something you love about JDM? 
The people! 🫶 


Can you recall a time when JDM challenged you, and how we supported you through that time?
I wanted to come to JDM because I knew it would be a challenge, and it has been (in a great way)! I appreciate and welcome them, and also appreciate that my manager asks if I have the bandwidth to take on new ones. Our culture is so open and transparent, I could go to my manager and a few other key people and say “Hey, I’m struggling with X, Y, Z - can you help me with this?” and they do. I’m telling you, the people really are oddly delightful. 


What’s the best thing you’ve done with your unlimited PTO?
Not necessarily with unlimited PTO but more with my flexible schedule. Some days I wrap up work early and take my kids to their various after school activities, or we walk around and explore the city while waiting for the other kid’s class to end.

Sonja's son.Sonja's daughter.

Sonja and her son.


What's something you love about the marketing industry?
That the industry is always evolving and changing - it’s certainly never boring!


What do you think has been the most interesting change in the marketing industry or in your channel this year?
Lately I’ve seen a focus on manager development, and in particular how managers can help their employees grow and develop in their career. It’s a logical next step after the great resignation - employees switched companies and now they want to grow and develop their career at the company they have chosen. 


What are the names and ages of your kids?
Mia - 6.5 and Leo 3.5 (the .5 is really important to add when you’re that young 🙃). Sonja's two kids.


What's something you've implemented or tested, and what was the outcome? 
We’ve spent a lot of time updating our recruiting process over the past few years, and the final piece (for now) was switching over to a new ATS (Applicant Tracking System). We’ve successfully implemented it, and have had lots opportunities to use it while recruiting for our current job openings.

It’s been a big learning curve, but so far I’m loving the new automations, reporting, dashboards, and most importantly, improved candidate and user experience.


What’s a project that you’ve worked on that you’ve really enjoyed?
My favorite project to date was last year when we conducted Employee Check-Ins. We had a list of questions that we asked every employee at the company - what they liked about working here, what could be improved, what kept them here, what motivated them, etc.

We weren’t sure how they would go and if we would be able to find trends with actionable follow-up items, but we did! And we were able to anonymously share the results with the team and let the know what our plan of action was. It was so helpful for the leadership team, and we are already planning our next round of check-ins!

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