From being Sparc’s second hire to launching her own talent agency, Christina Lock knows a thing or two about putting the right people in the right place.
Lock currently works out of Daniel Island’s first co-working space, Holy City Collective, home to another Boss Lady, Alesya Opelt, with her new team of 4. They work with brands to connect top talent and assist with creating the culture to keep them there. She’s also on the Advisory Boardo of Charleston’s heralded tech bootcamp, The Iron Yard, cultivating tech talent in the Lowcountry.
I sat down with Christina to learn more about her time at Sparc in the early days and hear how she made the switch from team player to CEO.
How did you get your start?
I went to college and studied Business Administration hoping to prepare myself for a career in sales. I love working with people and fell into recruiting 13 years ago, and just loved it! It all began in Charlotte, I was working for a technical recruiting firm there, Aerotek and came to Charleston to open their new branch here.I then worked on the outside for other companies and in house at a Fortune 500 company in Philadelphia across multiple departments.
How did you get started with Sparc?
I knew the person starting Sparc and was intrigued by the idea of working for a technology start-up. I was the second person and in the beginning did everything from accounting to payroll, HR, recruiting, and even ordered office supplies! As we grew and hired more people I zeroed in on HR and recruiting. I saw the company go from 2 to all 300 current employees. My team and I had fun watching the ups and downs and I learned so much having a seat at the executive table about growing a brand in the technology world. Sparc is full of extremely talented engineers and developers and I got to see innovation first hand, not to mention cultivate award winning culture. I learned you can have an extremely qualified candidate but if they don’t fit your culture the environment just won’t work and it won’t be a good match for either party.
How did Catch begin?
Both my parents are entrepreneurs and I always knew I wanted to own my own business. I knew firsthand how to create culture in corporate environments and I wanted to share my knowledge with the world. My dream was always to grow a business and take my experiences to my clients. So here I am, I launched Catch 3 months ago and I have a growing team of 4.
What’s the advice you give to other people?
As a fellow entrepreneur – relationships are more important than you think. Relationships you make with people can completely alter your life, personally or professionally. I’ve had connections I made five, ten years ago that are just now coming into play. Networking and building a solid foundation of networks where you can seek advice and talk business day to day are so important.
As a candidate – pretty much the same. It’s all about who you know. Applying to jobs is great and people certainly get hired that way. But when you are in school, finding a mentor, becoming a mentee, it’s a relationship that will pay in dividends in the long run.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
Be a sponge for information, learning as much as you can from everyone you meet. Out-hustle your competition. Take advice people give you to heart and pocket it for later. You never know when you might need it. I look back at my experiences and see my hustle came from my Dad. He came to this country, started a life and business from scratch. I’ve taken that same approach to my personal and professional life. Work on the things you are passionate about and realize everything worth having takes hard work.
Looking back at yourself as a child, what traits did you have that make you the best CEO?
I was the oldest child and being an older child, you really learn management skills. I think having a little brother helped me a bit. But I was always outgoing and talking to new people on the playground. I would start pretend businesses and create imaginary games. At one point when I wasn’t old enough to work yet I got an allowance from my parents and I told them I would prefer to have more allowance. So as soon as I was legally able I started to work and earn my own money. If it wasn’t possible with what I had, I would find a way to make it happen myself.
Was there ever a moment when you strayed from path?
I never ventured, I always knew recruiting, working with people in business was where I was meant to be. Recruiting is unique and gives you so many life skills. You’re about to connect with and learn about people easily and find out what makes them tick. That’s one of the most valuable things about what I do.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love connecting people! Everyone I meet I try to connect, like I’m putting together a puzzle and I’ve made a career pairing complementary people and companies together. I always want the right fit and that’s the exciting part.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
First and foremost in my personal life is my son. In my professional life I will truly say my work at Sparc. It gave me exposure to so much I could learn from which is what allowed me to create Catch. My dream and where I am today is because of the work I did there and I am so proud.
Who is your Charleston fan girl?
Anita Zucker. She is a business woman and a great mom, which really speaks to me because I have a son. She’s also a philanthropist and very passionate about our education system. Being in the tech industry and having a young child, I ask myself all the time, what’s the best education I can give him? How do I give him the most opportunity? She’s done phenomenal things in the community and I have a respect for her in business as well.
What’s your spirit animal?
I have a dog but I always grew up with cats. With cats, you have to earn their trust but once you do they are loyal to the very end. That’s me.
Find out more about Catch on their website and keep up with all the fun on their Twitter. If you’re looking for a new career, reach out to her team and browse openings here.