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High-Performance Leadership in Fintech: Meet Patty Kim, Vestwell’s Head of People

High-Performance Leadership in Fintech: Meet Patty Kim, Vestwell’s Head of People

Vestwell couldn’t be more proud to have Patty Kim serve as our Head of People. With a career spanning all aspects of the Human Resources field and a clear set of People team leadership principles, Patty has been crucial in supporting Vestwell on our mission to close the savings gap.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Patty and ask about our mission, her thoughts on organizational structure and leadership, and why she chose to join Vestwell in the first place.

How did you first hear about Vestwell, and what made you decide to make the jump?

I got a call from a recruiter who said, “Patty, there’s a company called Vestwell. They just closed their Series B and are ready to grow.” At first, I thought, “Oh my goodness, I don’t know if I can do this right now.” However, I knew what I was looking for in a new position, and Vestwell fit the criteria.

First, I try to understand a team’s leadership, their philosophy, and their ability to execute on what they say they plan to do. I looked into Aaron and the executive team because I wanted to make sure there was depth on the bench. The second thing I look for is autonomy. That means getting to own the vision of the company and being able to execute on that vision with the support of the executive team. It means getting to own your priorities. Lastly, my team is important to me. I wanted to be able to pick the people I worked with—people who support my initiatives and share the same vision. Vestwell provided me with all those opportunities, so it was a natural fit.

On that note, what do you look for when building a People team?

The first thing I’m looking for is someone who is extremely relationship-driven. At the end of the day, though we want to be strategic partners, there is a service that we’re offering to our employees, and being relationship-driven is important to that. The second thing I’m looking for is someone who has a personal brand they live by and want to protect. If you don’t have a personal brand, then people will put a persona on you whether you like it or not. “Having a personal brand” can mean different things to different people, but it’s important to have one that you’re accountable to. I want each person on my team to feel authentic in how they conduct their job and take ownership of their role.

Outside of recruiting for a People team, what advice would you have for building a team in our industry? What’s your philosophy in that regard?

In terms of organizational structure, you must be very clear about your team's strengths. You also have to be objective and critical about what your team is not good at. That way, you can identify the gaps between what you have and what you need. You can then either hire to support those needs or create growing opportunities for your current team to fill them.

I also want to say that there are different philosophies on organizational design, but at the end of the day, all organizations are run by people. Though there are certain practices that are customary across organizations, just because it’s something you’ve seen done historically doesn’t mean you should introduce it to your workplace. You need to do an analysis of your team’s strengths, identify where the gaps are, and structure the organization so that it can grow to fill those gaps. Really, you should never be married to one organizational structure. You need to have the appetite and ability to restructure as needed.

At Vestwell, we have a mission to democratize access to saving programs for all Americans. What do you like most about our mission?

Personally, one of the reasons I chose Vestwell is because we have a mission I can get behind. I’m a first-generation American, and when I was offered a 401(k) for the first time, I signed up for it because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. However, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not the most savvy person in this area. I’m not always aware of what's available to me or my family in the savings landscape, so the access to savings we’re providing through technology is important to me personally.

Also, my family struggled with finances and understanding what kinds of programs they were entitled to. Knowing that I’m working in a company where we’re helping people leverage the dollars they earn to support their goals—means a lot to me. I make it a point with my own team to understand these things because I think HR should be business-oriented and understand the company’s product, mission, and the people we serve.

Lastly, what are some hobbies you enjoy in your free time? When you’re off work, how are you unwinding?

I have a soulmate; his name is Rush, and he is a cream and apricot labradoodle. So naturally, we go on a lot of hikes together. One thing I try to do every single day is that by the time it’s 5:30 pm, regardless of what I’m doing, I’m going to take 20 minutes to step away from the computer and get outdoors. I just know I’m a better person if I get to take my dog on a hike for 20 minutes, come back, and feel refreshed.

Aside from that, I love to cook. I love making chicken paprikash. I also love making japchae, which is a Korean noodle dish. My husband likes it when I make him—I’m not even sure what to call it—this one chicken and rice dish with a parsley and caper pesto. It’s a pain to make, but he loves it, so I love to make it. Lastly, I also love to read. Typically, I’m reading fiction, but I’m always reading two things at a time. So, in that regard, I like period pieces, as well as a good mystery novel or thriller. I’m also always reading a self-help book along with that fiction.

Join Patty (And Others!) as Part of the Vestwell Team

Vestwell is hiring across a wide variety of functions and believes in sourcing talent from people of all backgrounds. If you're interested in helping to close the savings gap and want to surround yourself with honest, thoughtful, and driven people like Patty, we'd love to have you apply to join our team.

Interested? Learn more about the opportunities available at Vestwell by checking our careers page here.