Role: Project Manager, Recruiting
Background: Irma joined Bridgewater in 2018 as an Operations Associate, right after graduating from the University of Connecticut. In her time at Bridgewater, Irma has been instrumental in driving major operational overhauls for the Recruiting Department, across the realms of candidate experience management and recruiting processes.
Describe a project you're working on:
A recent project I’ve worked on — and my favorite so far — was to redesign our candidate travel services. The key issue we were trying to solve was: “How do we ensure that every candidate who comes on-site to interview has a ‘stand-up and applaud’ travel experience?” As a new project manager, I found it extremely exciting to independently drive a major external-facing initiative. Throughout the entire process, I was energized by the support and development I received from my manager and colleagues.
What meaningful impact have you been able to make here?
In my first year, I helped build out a new interview center in our Westport office, turning largely unused space into a vibrant hub for both recruiters and candidates. When I was first placed on this project, I was anxious about its size and scope — it was a months-long project that involved partnering with multiple departments and stakeholders. Although it was challenging, it’s been extremely rewarding to see the space being used every day by our department, hiring teams, and candidates. And of course, because it’s Bridgewater, we’re always looking for ways we can improve — if you find yourself in our interview center, I’d love to get your feedback!
What is a failure you've faced, and how have you handled it?
At Bridgewater it’s really encouraged to own your outcomes, to ask for help when you know you can’t handle something, and to not feel bad about your mistakes. It’s easier said than done, which reminds me of the first time I failed an assignment – analyzing our employee survey data. I was given this as one of my first independent assignments and I immediately jumped into the world of data. I was anxious, but super excited to own something from start to finish. When I presented my first draft to my manager, he had a lot of critical feedback around how the product wasn’t easily digestible and did not provide the “so what.” He asked me to start over. It was so painful to hear this because I had worked so hard. I beat myself up that day because it was the first time I had failed in my role – it was rough. Later that night, I reminded myself that this was exactly why I came to Bridgewater. Although critical feedback can be tough, the critical feedback comes from a place of caring and development. By taking time to reflect and own my mistakes, I was able to use my manager’s feedback as motivation to better understand my areas for improvement and create a better work product.
What have you learned about yourself from working at Bridgewater?
I knew that I wanted my first job out of college to challenge me and help me learn more about myself. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that it is completely okay to admit when you don’t know enough and to feel comfortable asking for help. I grew up in a house with immigrant parents who supported me through so much, but couldn’t help me with certain tasks, like college applications. As a result, I’m used to operating independently and struggling through things on my own, which can be very overwhelming. At Bridgewater, my managers realized that this was a major weakness of mine and called it out early. Though it was difficult to get that feedback, the more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me. Once I was able to accept this about myself, it unblocked a lot of paths for me — I started to feel more comfortable vocalizing when I needed help. I continue to struggle with this, but at a place like Bridgewater, I’m glad to have managers who share their feedback and help put plans to help me improve.
Looking ahead, what projects are you most excited to tackle?
Outside of my day to day responsibilities, I’m a member of the Hispanic Latinx Network at Bridgewater. Through this, I’m excited to continue working on creating an environment where everyone feels empowered to be their genuine selves — in line with our diversity mission. During my first year, I organized an event with my colleague Rodolfo where members of our community discussed the impact that immigration had on their lives. It was a very emotional night, people left feeling more connected than ever to their colleagues who shared such powerful stories. I was one of the speakers, and it was one of the first times I felt completely comfortable sharing some of the most personal details of my life. The support afterwards from my coworkers was incredible. Due to this event and the impact it had on the Bridgewater community, I’ve continued to work closely with the Hispanic Latinx Network by organizing events. I’m specifically excited to tackle ways for the network to work more closely with the local community on diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as to find ways to foster an inclusive workspace within Bridgewater.
What are some examples of meaningful relationships you’ve been able to build here?
When I accepted my offer at Bridgewater, I knew it meant moving to a new city — scary! One of my biggest fears was feeling alone and not having a community by my side. The first few weeks were tough because I did in fact feel lonely. However, as I began to know my colleagues more, I realized I was surrounded by an incredibly supportive, kind, and caring community. The people at Bridgewater became colleagues I could count on, they then became my dear friends, and two years later many of them are like family. I would truly do anything for them.
One of my greatest memories was seeing my department come together to raise $5,000 in less than a week for a colleague’s family who was going through a difficult time. The people at Bridgewater without a doubt make up one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of. You can find us having monthly board game nights at people’s apartments, supporting one another’s philanthropic efforts, planning silly work anniversary parties, and coming together during incredible times and the not so incredible times.
Needless to say, I have not felt lonely since those early days, because all these people have made me feel like I’m home.