Sarah Redgrave has a passion for helping others realize their talent and achieve their goals. It’s no wonder she ended up at KinderCare Education, which cares for and educates over 180,000 children every day.
As VP Total Reward & Operations, Redgrave assists a staff of 30,000 teachers and other employees do their best work for the children of KinderCare. That means developing talent who are developing talent — a win-win for Redgrave.
“I pride myself in being an advocate for really talented people. One of my favorite things to do is to meet someone, spot their talent, and help them succeed,” Redgrave said. “It doesn’t need to be someone on my own team, I just love helping people do work they love and helping them get recognized for the difference they make.”
Redgrave started at the company in 2015 as VP of Total Rewards — meaning she oversees compensation, medical plans, retirement plans and other employee benefits within the company. Then, a few years ago, she was given the unique opportunity to oversee some of the operations teams. According to Redgrave, the opportunity to get outside of your element and follow your dreams is common in the organization.
“You can make incredible impact at KinderCare,” she said. “This is a company where ideas are valued and acted upon. I love it that you can have a vision one day and then be hugely supported in bringing that vision to life.”
The wealth of opportunity is just one reason KinderCare employees report feeling fulfilled in their roles. Redgrave credits the company’s belief in the power of engagement as another reason KinderCare is a great place to work.
“Every year, we measure how engaged our employees are and how engaged our families are (the parents and families of the children in our care),” she shared. “From there, we actively work on improving our engagement scores so that we are the best place to work and the best place for your children. We just won our third Gallup Great Workplace award, and our families are giving us higher and higher engagement scores each year.”
She also says KinderCare’s deep respect for the importance of Early Childhood Education (ECE) makes their business uniquely impactful. The success of their programs makes it easy to understand and support the KinderCare mission.
“At KinderCare, we are fortunate to have a team of accomplished ECE experts with both academic and classroom experience, who translate current research on ECE into best practices in our classrooms,” she shared. “No other early childhood education provider gives children the kind of start in life that we can. It’s why parents love us – their children are adored and respected, having fun, and their developing brains are getting the start they need to become confident learners in school and life.”
Despite her role in helping others learn, Redgrave says she’s still learning herself. Right now, she’s working on slowing down — easier said than done, when you’re responsible for the resources of 30,000 employees.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that when I move too fast, I overcomplicate things. If I can slow down and get some time to think, a simpler solution usually appears,” she shared.
Like many working moms, Redgrave is also working on slowing her negative self-talk and being present in the separate spheres of her life.
“When I’m with my family, I need to remember to give myself permission to really be with them. I need to remember that work will be fine. Everyone will live without me while my family gets my full attention,” she said. “And I’m a good mom even while I’m knee deep in spreadsheets. It’s ok to just focus on those for a while.”
After years of mentoring others, Redgrave argues that all women should spend more time thinking and talking about their strengths rather than worrying about their weaknesses. However, meditating on the best parts of you requires figuring them out first. She says learning your strengths is the best advice for any career woman.
“Figure out your strengths, like really spend time figuring them out. Then remind yourself of them until you feel proud of what you can bring,” she said. “Maybe you’re good at being curious, maybe you’re a whiz with numbers in your head — whatever it is, spend time really soaking in your own power and skill. Then, when you are interviewing, you can talk about your own unique strengths with lots of authority and authenticity. And you can talk about them unapologetically.”
She also advises women not to sweat the small stuff. A career failure can actually be a career win.
“Think of your career as a jungle gym, not a ladder.”
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