In the vast leadership landscape, women have emerged as guiding stars, illuminating the next generation’s path. Their accomplishments shine like …
Transforming the HR Dynamics | Lisa-Maree Blumenfeld
Founder and CEO
Lisa-Maree Blumenfeld, the founder of Retain, LLC, is an accomplished HR professional who has held many leadership roles for clients in a wide array of industries. Her vast experience spans from fast-moving startups to Fortune 500 companies.
“If you asked those who have worked with her to describe her, you’d hear words like: expert, trusted advisor, level headed, forward thinking, solution oriented, purposeful, dedicated, authentic,” explains Laurie, a Retain team member. “Her passion for early to mid-stage startups encouraged the start of Retain. Retain has grown solely by word of mouth and continues to scale and thrive as a result of Lisa’s leadership, passion, and drive,” Lisa has the ability to really meet leaders where they are, and then run alongside them to support and challenge them to where they want and should be.
She doesn’t shy away from having tough conversations and giving feedback along the way. And clients are receptive because she has built a solid foundation of trust- they know that her intentions are sound and has a strategy- and will roll up her sleeves to get her hands dirty when things are messy.
A Strong Support System
According to Lisa, one of the greatest joys about this role is partnering with female leaders and supporting them in finding and growing their own voice. “Founders, in general, are constantly bombarded with advice, often unsolicited. And when this advice comes from places of power (VCs, board members, etc.) it is challenging to push back and give an opposing view,” she explains. “I have found that sitting with founders and simply saying “sure, and yet, what do YOU think you should do?” can be an empowering turning point.” Lisa adds, “Being a founder is a hard job and sometimes it’s hard to clear out the “noise” enough to reset and listen to your own gut. Being able to help a founder identify the path they want to take and why, and then mapping out how best to explain and achieve those goals is exciting and fulfilling.”
Sharing Leadership Advice
Lisa says that there is a lot of leadership advice out there, but guidance she loves the most is from Tina Fey in her book Bossypants where she states, “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” Lisa has been really fortunate to be able to build an incredibly talented team where she can focus on supporting them and empowering them to do their best work for clients and jumping in if/when they need some help. “This is also the approach we take with clients in helping them identify talent within their own team to coach and empower internal growth.”
Lisa treats her team members as humans, not just employees. She understands the complexity of work-life balance and is incredibly supportive of the varying needs of her team.
Becoming a Leader
Throughout her career, Lisa has watched women (including herself, at times) be discredited or have their abilities or loyalty questioned due to their responsibilities outside of the workplace. But female leaders that juggle the demands of work as well as being parents/guardians, coaches, volunteers, etc are the underrated powerhouse of the workplace. Not only do they have to work exponentially harder to pull their own seat up to the table, but also have other full time “life roles” outside of that table- and it is that balance that can make for the best leaders- they are unflappable and unwavering. “When interviewing people for my team (and for our clients) it is this balance that is the most important and worthwhile to dig into- not to find out if they can balance, but to uncover where their tenacity and grit to succeed comes from,” she states. “And if you are lucky enough to work with folks with great passions and responsibilities outside of work- get out of their way. The path we carve out is oftentimes unique and there is a lot to learn from the thoughtful strategy.”
Building a Brand
Armed with this mindset, Lisa has been taking the company to new heights. Retain provides on-demand HR for startups and small businesses that need access to core Human Resources services without having to hire full-time HR staff. Retain was started and continues to be 100% bootstrapped and self-run.
As a leader and company, Lisa understands one has to be outspoken about the rights of women, the rights of families, and the rights of employees to safety and fair wages and benefits, and the company has contributed either as volunteers or with financial support to organizations that support these initiatives. “We have also partnered with our clients who also wanted to be outspoken about the rights of their employees by creating policies to help support their team and organizing days to protest or vote or get some necessary headspace to reset from the stress.”
In the beginning stages of outlining the launch strategy of Retain, Lisa’s parents were initially unsure when she told them that she was leaving her previous position to launch a consulting firm. Lisa laughs while explaining, “their first question was “well, wait- will you be able to get or offer a pension?” The answer is that no, much like almost all other companies, a pension isn’t an option, but Lisa did make it a priority to add benefits as soon as they were able- including medical, dental, vision, life, 401(k) with match, and 529 with match- to support the team. Needless to say, they quickly became the company’s biggest cheerleaders.
“Everyone on the Retain team feels like they’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth while being a part of this team, and under Lisa’s leadership. She is an incredibly supportive boss and an inspirational woman,” says Kristina, another member of Retain.
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