Recruiter Spotlight: Kinh DeMaree's Story


Kinh DeMaree is Head of Talent at Axiom Zen, the idea catalyst and product studio behind companies like ZenHub, Routific, and Pipp. From their inspiring success in the two years since the company’s inception, to the way the team sources and hires top-tier talent, Axiom Zen is anything but your typical company.

Kinh sat down with Greenhouse to share the unique ways in which Axiom Zen recruits best-in-industry candidates, as well as the non-linear path she took to become a prominent “Tech Huntress.”

The Axiom Zen Way

Axiom Zen believes that there is no single “correct” professional path or background that makes someone an ideal team member. They value diversity in thought, experience, and background and have a very international team. Not surprisingly, the team is comprised of several Ivy League university grads and former employees of internationally renown companies. Yet, they also employ people with less expected past experience--nine published authors, a firefighter, a few former scientists, and a yoga instructor.

Kinh DeMaree, wasn’t one for a traditional path either. She raced through school and started college at 15 years of age, eager to graduate and experience life outside Minnesota. After completing a masters degree in HR, Kinh moved to the Napa Valley region to work as a Human Resources Supervisor at Anheuser-Busch Inc., one of the largest brewing companies and distributors in North America.

Despite her success as a young manager, Kinh decided to check out a young company she kept hearing about at the time: Google. Although she moved to California to find a cushy corporate job, once in the Bay Area, Kinh realized there were even more opportunities to explore in high-tech, an industry she hadn’t previously considered in Minnesota. So, she traded in her suit for flip-flops and accepted a contract at Google HQ. It was a big risk to leave her secure management job (and forgo the promotion she was up for) to take a an individual contributor role (because of the flatter hierarchy) at a company with a very different culture. The move confirmed her desire to work exclusively in tech and the gamble paid off. She gained invaluable experience at an iconic company, a move that set her on the path she continues on today.

Go Beyond the Status Quo

A few years later, the economy hit a snag and Kinh considered herself lucky to be working for an industry leader with a great bonus program and corporate perks while much of the nation was struggling to find any work. Yet despite the economy and necessity of now paying a mortgage, Kinh took another big risk and left to accept a contract at what was then her dream company -- Facebook.

She set out to prove that they needed her as much as she needed the job. The stars aligned and she was the first among her team of contract recruiters to be converted to full-time employee. She was elated … but didn’t stop there.

In addition to her regular recruiting duties, she also helped build Facebook’s international initiatives for University Recruiting. Kinh proposed that they compete with the leading employers overseas because those bigger companies were offering positions in the local countries, whereas Facebook could offer opportunities in the Bay Area as they didn’t yet have international engineering offices.  It wasn’t an easy undertaking: Kinh believed in the idea so much that she took on the additional job in addition to her regular duties. That meant she had to make offers in the middle of the night to her candidates across the world in different time zones while ensuring the international delegations she was leading were successful. Though she was too exhausted to sightsee and appreciate the world she was traveling, she was able to train and mentor an international recruiting team and they quickly became a premiere employer. Kinh wasn’t afraid to try something new and take a risk believing the reward would be worth it. She strove for her dream job, made the case for it, and made it happen. She urges other recruiters to think outside the box and find new and unique ways of sourcing the best talent.

Kinh has taken that experience with her to Axiom Zen. She and her team hunt for talent in places most companies wouldn’t even think of looking. In order to find exceptional talent, they sponsor, participate in, and host hackathons; provide scholarships; compete in ping pong tournaments; host startup crawls; fly in renowned speakers for targeted events, give talks and strive to be thought leaders.  They believe their investment in recruiting is what ultimately leads to exceptional company success.

No Risk, No Reward

Another defining trait of Axioms is not being afraid of failure. Axioms succeed because they realize that with risk comes reward – and that setbacks can be overcome with experience.  

Prior to joining Axiom Zen, Kinh took a 1.5 year sabbatical throughout the Middle East mentoring women in tech, speaking at universities and conferences, and broadening her perspective on the industry.  While it took her out of the workforce, it didn’t take away from her experience – quite the contrary. She networked with Venture Capitalists and entrepreneurs and learned to become an angel investor herself. Upon her return she was even more equipped to make an impact at Axiom Zen and recruit outstanding talent from all over the globe. Although there were opportunity costs in taking the sabbatical (and a substantial part of her savings), it was a life-changing venture that greatly expanded her professional network and without which she wouldn’t have met her husband.

Kinh encourages people to follow their passion, regardless of the risk – wisdom that Axiom Zen understands very well. Your passions and experience – whether or not they directly relate to your career – are what can make you an exceptional candidate and more interesting person.

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