Katie Drews, promoted to the new role of chief experience officer at education-to-work platform Avenica, is working to strengthen the company’s interactions with college student job seekers, employers hiring them and staff working in seven locations.
Drews’ goals include increasing a sense of community for Avenica’s nearly 60 employees as the company adds a dozen or so new staff members.
Half of them work in Avenica’s Minneapolis headquarters, others in regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Phoenix and St. Louis.
“When we have internal people who are really connected to the mission, they’re the best people to articulate the company’s value,” Drews said. “Then become our brand ambassadors and then turn our clients and our candidates into brand ambassadors as well.”
Drews, who earned an MBA in marketing from Hamline University, joined Avenica in 2018 as vice president of marketing from Ameriprise Financial. She continues overseeing marketing in addition to human resources.
CEO Scott Dettman said Avenica is adopting the Net Promoter Score system to assess the likelihood that employees, students and companies that hire them would recommend Avenica to cohorts.
Dettman joined Avenica in July after six years in leadership with ManpowerGroup, most recently as a principal in the Twin Cities.
He earned a doctoral degree in quantitative social science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“I’m a poor kid from the south side of Milwaukee,” Dettman said. “I was fortunate to have people open some doors and create some opportunity for me. I was taken by [Avenica’s] mission, the idea of doing that for tens of thousands of students.”
Avenica, formerly known as GradStaff, helps companies recruit and hire college graduates for entry-level professional positions. It works with students to identify and develop skills through in-person assessments and coaching and digital training content.
Companies hire students directly or through an “evaluation-to-hire” program, with 90% becoming full-time employees after a trial period.
Q: How do you approach your role as chief experience officer?
Drews: It’s centralizing and prioritizing the importance of all the people who interact with our brands, our internal employees, clients and candidates, to make sure we’re creating great experiences and meaningful connections to our value and our mission so that all of the people that we engage with truly understand this, stand behind it and are passionate about it.
Q: Why did Avenica need a chief experience officer?
Dettman: I looked at our chief needs and those were making sure that we were building an environment that created a bond between the people in our offices across the country and our end users, our candidates and clients. We needed to strengthen and optimize the experience that we have internally for our own employees to engender this increase in overall engagement with our customers and external stakeholders.
Q: What distinguishes Avenica from competitors?
Dettman: The scale, the level of distribution we have. Beyond that, it’s the level of interaction. We have a strong digital presence but we believe that the magic happens when you combine the digital experience with the human experience and that person working with (the student) cares about and is advocating for (the student). Our approach is more tailored to the job, in a lot of cases working from the student to the job as opposed to starting from the job and working to the student.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is email@example.com.