Kristina McDougall

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Sep 2014

I’m leaving you … but it isn’t you, it’s me.

You were really good for me, but things have changed. I’ve changed.

I have to move on, and try new things. This will be best for everyone. You’ll see.

I’m sorry. 


Break-ups are tough. And even though we’re talking about quitting a job, not leaving your  lover, it can be a difficult and emotionally charged event. Whether you're resigning from a big or a small company, the managers and colleagues who you leave behind can feel like they’ve been dumped. While you might be so focused on your future that you just want to pack up and move on, there are some good reasons to leave with tact and grace. Your personal and professional reputation are always on display. How you handle your resignation is a major event that people will remember. Your industry and community are really not that big, so you'll likely need to work with some of these people again, as colleagues, partners, or customers. And let’s face it, this great new job won’t be your last, so someday you’ll need these managers and co-workers to give you a positive reference. Here are a few tips on departing with dignity: 1. Save the hugs and high-fives for after hours.

You’re pretty excited about your new job, and your colleagues are asking questions. Do your best to avoid celebrating and openly discussing your joyous departure in earshot of fellow employees and leaders.

2. Focus on the positive

Whether in your resignation letter or conversations with leadership, explain your departure in terms of what you are moving towards, not what you’re moving away from. You may feel that you’re escaping an unpleasant workplace, but you’re talking to someone who has chosen to stay - or someone who owns the place. So be tactful.

If your boss was a big jerk, resist the urge to tell them to take the job and shove it.

3. Pre-empt the counter-offer

Unless you’re only leaving for the money (and if you are, why the heck didn’t you just ask for a raise!), explain that you’ve thought through all of your options and that you have no doubts. The compensation details of the new role need not be discussed. If you’ve presented your reasons as unrelated to compensation, you won’t have to go through the double-dumping of having to decline a counter-offer.

4. Don’t leave behind a mess

Part of the grief of an employee resignation is having to pick up their work and hope that nothing critical falls through the cracks. If you want to minimize the negative emotions around your departure, start planning for a clean exit well before you resign. Create lists of incomplete work and prepare sample plans for how to transition projects to other teammates. Tidy your inbox and files, so that no one has to decipher your filing system if they need to find a document or email.

If you know it’ll take more than 2 weeks to wrap up a critical project, offer to extend your notice period. They may not take you up on it, but it shows respect for your team and commitment to the ongoing success of the business.

5. Take the high road

I’ve heard stories of employers who become angry, resentful or even cruel towards an employee who has given her resignation - hell hath no fury like an employer scorned. If you’ve handled your resignation with tact, and been respectful towards your leaders and teammates, the response of an emotional leader is not something you can control. While there is no condoning this bad behaviour, you can maintain your composure.

When you leave your company, be mindful of their need to continue on effectively and happily in your absence. It might make you feel good to know you’re missed, but don’t burn a bridge. Starting a new job is exciting, and while quitting your old job isn't the highlight of your transition, it is an opportunity to display your integrity.
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Sep 2014
I grew up in Waterloo and have a great appreciation for our local tech community. I have a background in Marketing from Acadia University, and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. I previously worked in Advertising in Toronto, and enjoyed the experience of collaborating with a number of clients from different industries such as pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, and not-for-profit. What motivates me is helping others, and it is important for me to feel passionate about what I do. As a people person, eternal optimist, and a naturally curious individual, the executive search industry is a natural fit. I'm excited to be back in my hometown and see so many tech companies thriving. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and being able to play a role in helping companies grow and scale is extremely rewarding. Attracting top talent is so important to the development of our tech community. I look forward to meeting the talented entrepreneurs and leaders in our community to assist in making connections and partnerships. Amazing things happen when these collisions take place, and I am excited to be a part of it. In my spare time, I love to travel, spend time at my cottage, play tennis and volleyball, and host dinner parties. Over the next year I'll be in planning and Pinterest-mode as I'm getting married in the summer!
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Jul 2014
I'm excited to be the newest member of Artemis Canada and to begin my career as an Executive Recruiter. I’ve been part of the local tech community for more than 6 years, planning events and leading projects at D2L and BlackBerry. When I first met Kristina to learn about Artemis Canada, I was instantly fascinated and inspired by the potential of the role and the company. I am looking forward to connecting passionate and skilled individuals with exciting new roles within exceptional companies. During my personal time, I am the Co-Chair for planning the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope and a board member of WINC Waterloo a women's entrepreneur group. I’m also an entrepreneur and run own my own event planning company, Elite Events by Design. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, skiing and camping with my family.
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Apr 2014
I believe that I see recruiting in a way not shared by many. Where most see an HR function, I see Sales and Marketing. Where many see their recruiting challenge as one of ‘Talent Acquisition’, I quite frankly don’t get that at all. Too many recruiting departments are designed like purchasing functions, where orders are filled, scarce skills are sourced, candidates are treated like commodities and talent is acquired for the lowest possible price. Historically this made perfect sense. I am from a mining town. Decades ago, my grandfather and his peers would line up at the gates of the mine waiting to be chosen for work that day. The Foreman would walk out in the morning and select his workers for the day, making picks based on physical appearances – who looked strong and capable enough to get the job done. Labour was an abundant commodity, with plenty available to fill the order of the day. Personnel departments were designed around these economics, and were trained to be discriminating buyers of manpower. Perhaps general employment stats would lead you to believe that we can still hire this way. “Post it and they will come.” Maybe this is true in some segments of the economy, but certainly not in tech, and definitely not for any company that needs the best people to succeed. When there are lots of great mines and few great miners, we have a problem. It's time to throw all of our thinking about Talent Acquisition out the window. The fact of a skilled talent shortage isn’t news. So why then do so many companies behave like they have an unlimited supply of people and time? Are we so stuck in our ways that we can’t evolve from the commodity hiring mentality? I think something else is going on… There isn’t a people shortage, there is a talent shortage. Not the same thing. The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough resumes out there. It’s that most of them belong to people you shouldn’t hire. What if the wrong people apply to work for your company and you don’t keep them out! Yikes! It’s become the job of the recruiter to weed out the imposters and the time wasters that want to sit quietly and take a pay cheque! Hiring is risky business, because making a mistake is expensive. If you hire no one and blame the talent shortage, isn’t that better than hiring a room full of potential misfits? We have 2 problems that are in opposition. The wrong people want to work for you The right people don’t know you exist Look at these 2 problems and choose the one you’d solve. Most will chose the one that avoids risk rather than the one with the big upside. So a recruiting function is built to address the question of RISK, and it puts process, tools and rules in place to weed out the potential cultural misfits, technical lightweights and the unwashed masses. In fact, almost every HR person is trained to reduce costs and eliminate risk, and will focus on NOT hiring the wrong guy. If you look for imperfection, you will find it almost every time. I say it’s time we start working from a different set of assumptions. Think of what would happen if you recruited like a sales team. Of course, qualifying people is a critical part of the process, but focus your recruiting energy on attracting and bringing in the best, then expect greatness from the people you hire. Rather than looking for a perfect fit for your culture, you create a culture that is designed for the most talented people; that inspires their best work and accommodates their harmless imperfections. Accept that you’ll fail a few times before you get it just right. But in the process you’ll unearth hidden gems and build an environment that perpetuates success.
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Apr 2014
One of the most common questions I'm asked by individuals at all levels, is how best to answer the question of salary expectations. In a society where it is taboo to talk openly about the details of your income, people tend to break into a cold sweat when asked about their personal sticker price. As Canadians, we are a humble bunch and we're embarrassed to confidently state our required income. Will I look greedy or arrogant? Will I be asked to justify why I'm worth it? If my number is too low will I seem under-qualified or will I leave money on the table? Like it or not, salary is a key factor in the decision to hire and the decision to take a new job. There are many factors at play that will determine salary, not the least of which are the supply and demand of skills and your measurable value to an organization. If you don't establish early on that the general salary range is aligned between you and the company, you risk wasting time and resources. So, how do you properly handle the salary question? My general advice is to start by confidently stating your most recent salary, both base and target income. In most cases, the market has determined a salary that matches your skills and contribution. Then state whether you are flexible, hoping for a increase or looking to stay at the same range. If you are talking to a start-up and expect that equity will play in, bring up your willingness to exchange cash comp for an opportunity to have skin in the game. There are also several things NOT to say when asked about comp:
  • "I need to make $X so that I can afford to commute/pay my ex/pay off debts etc." I've heard it all, but the fact is that you'll be paid for what you deliver to the company and they won't pay you more just because you have an expensive lifestyle or an inability to budget.
  • "Before I answer, can you tell me what you're willing to pay?" Didn't your mother tell you not to answer a question with a question? This sends a clear signal that you don't know your worth and will be setting your expectations based on their range. It's also rude.
  • "I'd prefer not to say." Don't refuse to answer or dodge the question. Sounds odd, but I have often had people say that they want to wait until they know more, or that they want to see the best offer before they talk money. It isn't a hard question and it is ok to give a range and explain that your expectations will vary in that range depending on the whole package. If you don't know what you're worth it sends the message that you lack confidence.
Follow-up your response by asking how this compares to their expectations and budget for the role. If there is a disconnect between what you expect and what a company is willing to pay, it is always best to put it out on the table, as it usually points to a mismatch of skills or level of contribution. Here is how the conversation might go: "Tell me, what are your salary expectations?" "In my last role at Acme Corp, I earned a salary of $120k and had a target income of $150k with bonus. I would be therefore expecting something in a similar range. How does that align with your expected salary for this role?" Not so uncomfortable or awkward is it? So when you are in that interview, don't apologize for your salary or feel the need to explain why you need the cash. Put your numbers out there with confidence, and know that you are worth it.
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Mar 2014
The success of innovative companies depends largely on an ability to identify and engage the unique individuals who can create brilliant new products and bring them to market. Companies do not innovate. People innovate. Technology start-ups are often founded by innovators, and as these companies grow they need to round out the team. To sustain growth and survival in any quickly changing market, companies big and small need to continually attract the innovators who will keep them relevant. So the question looms, "are there tell-tale signs that will help you identify an innovator?" I was excited to read this piece, How to Hire Innovators by New York's Fahrenheit212, a successful innovation consulting firm, that provides some insight into how they select and hire their team. "Money and Magic" The Fahrenheit212 team has coined this term for an ability to marry creativity and commercial strategy. In Designers, Product Managers, Engineers and Architects, it is the ability to not only innovate but to deliver big ideas that someone will pay for. While it is tempting to simply choose someone who has innovated in the past, it's not that easy. You need to find someone who can be innovative in your environment, as part of your team. But just how do you see that in a resume, or listen for it in an interview? These tips go beyond the qualifications on a resume, and get to the qualities that define an innovator:
  • Ask about interests and hobbies, passions beyond what is on the resume.
  • Are they passionate, interested, curious? Innovators love to ask questions. They devour new information, constantly seeking insights, stimulation and opportunities.
  • Look for travelers. Restless people take holidays in unusual places and come back to share what they’ve learned.
  • Have they lived abroad? Ex-pats are, by definition, confident risk-takers who share that ex-pat sensibility of looking to see what’s around the corner. Understanding different cultures fuels an ability to understand what people might want.
  • Are they an omnivorous eater? People who explore new foods, restaurants and concepts are curious seekers.
  • Find constructive critics. Folks who are fascinated by and opinioned about films, architecture, fashion, hotels, and web sites are interesting and important to conceiving innovative solutions.
  • Hire readers. Look for those people who walk down the street reading. They know stuff you don’t, but should.
  • X Factor. Be alert to the unusual quirk that catches you off guard and suggests that the box you might expect them to be in is not all it seems. A passion for acting, bagpipes prowess or being a leading expert on poodle behavior indicates commitment.
Whether you are a consulting firm looking to deliver innovative solutions to your clients, a tech start-up looking for the next break-through, or an established company looking for the sparks that will keep you competitive, unlocking the secret to hiring for innovation is critical.
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Jan 2014
After recently being invited to speak to a group of UX professionals in Waterloo, I paused to reflect on how this role has evolved over the past 10 years and what makes for a great one today. I really only started to see UX emerge as a proper function in a software company about five years ago.  Before that, we would see demand for user interface developers who could perform double duty in UX design. We looked for the rare candidates who really understood the user, but who would spend the bulk of their time coding. These roles typically rolled up to engineering. Now we see almost every progressive tech company hiring UX professionals and leaders of UX at the start-up stage, and into roles where they have significant influence across both products and services. At every point of customer interaction, the experience is considered. UX is still very close to development, but a top professional doesn’t typically double as an engineer. In fact, the evolving UX professional often looks more like a product manager, absorbing the needs and wants of users and then distilling this insight into practical blueprints for product development and service delivery. So if you’re building a career in UX, or looking to hire a UX professional, what can you expect? As in any interview, a hiring manager looks for great questions and great listening. Candidates need to have samples of their work and lots of great stories of accomplishments, challenges and successes.  A history of great work is important, but values, soft skills and an overall passion for the work are key. Some of the key traits of a great UX professional today include:
  • Customer facing skills – professionalism and communication
  • Personality, values and attitude that align with the company
  • Insightfulness – the ability to listen well, empathize and pick up subtext
  • Technical savvy & the ability to translate the needs and behaviour of users into practical terms
  • Business savvy and the understanding of how and why user experience impacts bottom line results
  • Influence – the ability to understand the objectives of others in the organization and add value across functions
And of course, the final characteristic that any employer will look for is passion – about UX, about the company mission and about the job. (Note this piece was original posted to - an incredible resource for digital media research and information about product commercialization in Canada)  
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Dec 2013
I recently read this post, Closing Canada's Tech Gender Gap, One Line of Code at a Time in the Financial Post by HootSuite CEO, Ryan Holmes. The article itself was insightful and pointed to some excellent and forward-thinking programs aimed at encouraging women to explore and pursue careers in software development. But what got to me, and many other readers I'm sure, was the discussion that followed.   Several readers took obvious offense to the implied feminism of the gender gap debate, and they missed the point. "Why does every "gap" have to be filled? Males enjoy coding; females do not. Pretty simple... & requires no intervention." "...Girls are given equal opportunity, anything more than this is coddling infantilization that only reinforces the stereotypes that girls can't cut it on their own. The more we use "boys clubs" as an excuse, the more we need to prop these girls up artificially." Mark Noel "Nothing less than equal for women, nothing more than equal for men. It seems to be the motto of modern feminist governance." Mark Neil And don't get me started on the comment about the legitimate bias against hiring women because of their inconvenient tendency to have babies! I actually agree that there is a good case for exploring gender gaps in every field, regardless of which way the pendulum has swung. Sure, we also need more men in education and more female plumbers. But we've missed the whole point of WHY we should address this gap. It isn't because women are missing out on the opportunity to code, or because we are individually lamenting our exclusion from the tech boys club. This is a big issue because as a tech community we need MORE skilled technical people. Not more women, just more - period. The tech economy isn't an elite club with limited opportunity. We are hungry for talent. More women doesn't mean less men. Sure, competition for top jobs will escalate when a new generation of technically savvy women hits the market. So yes, perhaps the mediocre developers should be fearful, but there will be plenty of room for those with skill. If more women pursue careers in tech, the whole sector will grow and the economy will be stronger. Individual companies that foster work environments where women can thrive will have a distinct advantage. And I'll bet that those environments will be great for the men too. I'm interested in what you think. How can we increase the number of women in tech - or should we bother trying? (Image courtesy of [contributor name] /  
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Dec 2013
In Waterloo, Canada's hub of technology and innovation, there are mixed emotions about the arrival of some significant US tech employers. Companies like Google, Sybase and EA are already woven into the fabric of our bustling University town, offering interesting technical challenges and attractive comp plans to engineers who want to be part of something big. And now there are more international players, like Square and Motorola, who have set their sights set on Waterloo as a new home for engineers and innovators. Tech companies that are faced with talent shortages in their US backyards are attracted by a combination of newly liberated BlackBerry employees, annual crops of engineers from top local schools and a community that embraces entrepreneurship and innovation. Yet the question hangs "is it good news when non-Canadian companies come to town and hire our best and brightest?" On one side of the debate, some worry that the fruits of Canadian workers, their innovations and resulting revenues, are lost to US head-offices. There is fear that young talent will be lured by exciting relocation opportunities in California or New York, never to return. But there is also a bright-side to this evolution in our local tech economy. Here are just a few things to consider: Our personal and professional networks will expand as our connections become more global. Where geography puts distance between tech hubs, bringing global companies to our community makes the world much smaller and more accessible. Canadians will gain varied experience in large global enterprises. These innovators and future business leaders will be inspired to think bigger. This experience will transform the next generation of domestic start-ups and will be carried with individuals as they move through their careers. With greater career opportunities locally, Waterloo will become an even more attractive community for individuals considering the region as a home. I see a significant upside in inviting global companies to invest in Waterloo.  But I'm interested in what you think. Do you agree that we should welcome the tech giants to our community, or do you think that there is a case for protecting our Canadian employers and preventing a talent drain?
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Dec 2013
About 3 out of 4 people who you hire, will turn into unenthusiastic or actively disgruntled dead weight. That’s right, our tech sector is failing miserably when it comes to employee engagement. You may disagree, but this is the truth that came from a survey that published on RedCanary. The short story is that most of your employees don’t love you, are not committed to your business and are not giving you the effort and results that you were hoping for when you hired them. How does this happen? You take time in selecting each employee, matching them to a carefully defined job spec. What could have changed between the hopeful infatuation of your pre-hire courtships, and the sad reality of your uninspired workforce? You can focus on ways to improve management, build reward systems, or plan a cooler company picnic. But the problem goes right back to who you’ve hired and why. The WHY piece is what has me most curious, as I see the same mistake happening time and again. A company sets out to find an expert when they see a problem that needs solving. The problems are short-term and tactical, and there are fires burning that need a quick and clever fix.
  • You need technical expertise for the next gen product.
  • You need a genius marketing campaign to drive sales.
  • You need a product roadmap based on deep industry know-how.
  • You need to replace that guy who just quit, before the place falls apart around your ankles!
So job descriptions are written, resumes are collected and your panic-stricken manager aims to hire the person most capable of plugging an operational hole. But beware the quick fix. With great intentions, your manager will make the best decision for the short-term problem. You’ll hire a long-term employee who has the top credentials for the problem of the day, but who lacks the values, passion and potential to grow with your team. Today’s hero, could be tomorrow’s liability. Like signing an athlete on a long-term contract, just so that they can score a goal in your next game, you are making an expensive investment without considering the type of players your team needs for long-term victory. So before you set out to make that next hire, stop. Understand what the short-term fix needs to look like, and then consider what kind of team member you’ll need to help your team succeed into the future. Hire for a passion that is aligned with your business. Hire for smarts, positivity, initiative and drive. Hire for the team you need today and tomorrow. (previously published on
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Artemis Canada – Executive Search

We are a boutique executive search firm exclusively serving Canada’s Innovation Economy.

Our partners are the inventors, builders and leaders who are changing our world, enriching the lives of their teams, strengthening their communities and delivering valuable innovations to global marketplaces.


"I have worked closely with Kristina for approximately 15 years, reaching out to her whenever we are searching for the hardest to find skills. She understands the industry, she’s smart, she listens to exactly what we need, and she never wastes our time. Kristina, and the Artemis team, deliver time and time again. When we need an external recruiter, I find it hard to work with anyone else!" Pete Devenyi, VP Global Software Dematic

Contact Artemis

  • 22 Regina St. N Waterloo N2J 3A1
  • 519-594-0913
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