Careers in Cybersecurity: An Interview with our People and Culture Manager
Welcome to Blox Life – an interview series that shines a spotlight on our team members by chronicling their daily work, highlighting their achievements, and sharing their insights with people who wish to pursue similar careers.
Meet Kristen Maliksi, People & Culture Manager on the Armorblox People team. Kristen has been with us for almost 3 years now, playing an integral role in building the culture and employee programs that make Armorblox an award-winning workplace in the Bay Area.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
I actually started my career in the arts. I received my Master of Fine Arts in Photography and was a teacher, which even took me to Shenzhen, China for two years! In China, I was an Experience Coordinator which meant I planned and coordinated events to promote engagement and fun among our students.
When I returned to the Bay Area, I worked at an arts and music education nonprofit as an Executive Assistant and Development Coordinator, which meant I worked with donors, staff, and the Executive Director. It was this experience that taught me how to wear many hats and solve problems in creative ways, but most of all how to serve a community of people.
Q. What is your current role at Armorblox and what does a typical day for you look like?
Currently, I am the People and Culture Manager for our US team, which means I help support the entire life cycle of our employees as well as help nurture, bolster, and grow our company culture. My main focus is the team—making sure they are supported and engaged, and building relationships and trust within Armorblox! I love connecting with people and feel fortunate I get to meet and learn from so many amazing folks.
Every day is different, which is something I love. Within the People team, we focus on several areas: culture & engagement, people operations, and talent recruiting to name a few. Because we run many programs simultaneously, it’s important that we zoom out and look at the big picture as well as zoom in on the tiny details, to ensure everything is running smoothly. Armorblox has a remote workforce, meaning communication is key! Every week, our team has syncs and planning meetings to discuss various engagement events and initiatives, to ensure employees feel they are part of the Armorblox community and family.
My days can also consist of everything ranging from catching up with teammates, answering inbound questions about our Learning & Development program and employee benefits, or sending an offer letter to a new Bloxstar. Because we’re a start-up, we’re continuously looking at strategic ways we can automate processes and grow and scale the company while maintaining our culture and keeping our people engaged.
Q. Why did you decide to join Armorblox?
The people! I read about Armorblox’s mission, which was enticing on its own, but it really came to life when I met with DJ Sampath, our Co-founder and CEO. Joining Armorblox felt like joining a band of superheroes that are working towards helping people and stopping the bad guys. The mission resonated with me, but when it came down to it, it really was every single person I met with during my interview that made me want to be a part of the team. I could feel the care they had for Armorblox and for each other.
I remember hearing one of my now teammates tell me that everyone is willing to pull up their sleeves and help when it’s needed. I really felt that the word team meant something to everyone I spoke with. It’s not just coming in and doing your job, it’s about celebrating our wins together, and rallying together when faced with challenges.
Joining Armorblox felt like joining a band of superheroes that are working towards helping people and stopping the bad guys.
Q. What is an accomplishment at Armorblox that you’re proud of?
I was only working in the office for about four months before we switched to a remote workforce. Which for me is hard to believe, because I felt like I had been with Armorblox for much longer! I am really proud of our continued endeavors to create genuine connections between members of a team that is spread across the country.
One example of this is our care packages and our Better Together events. After the lockdowns happened, we brainstormed monthly events where the team could get a fun care package in the mail with an activity that we could all do together. Events have ranged from folding paper cranes to carving pumpkins, to ice cream parties and tea tastings. Some 30+ months later, we’re still going strong with our hand-packaged care packages and virtual events that bring the team together.
I am really proud of our continued endeavors to create genuine connections between members of a team that is spread across the country.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who aim to pursue a career similar to yours?
I believe setting intentions is the key to success. Move beyond just checking off a box and always remember why you’re doing what you’re doing - the people!
Q. As part of the people team, what is a really important aspect of the culture at Armorblox that you work hard to support?
We put our people first and work hard to foster real connections between them. We are a high-performing team, constantly learning from each other and tackling challenges. All of that calls for a lot of trust and grit. Our people are our most important asset, and so supporting them the best I can is what I strive to do. At the end of the day, I call it a success to build thoughtful programs and initiatives that engage my teammates where they are.
Our people are our most important asset, and so supporting them the best I can is what I strive to do.