Beyond Headcount: Navigating Tech Growth with McKenzie Hunter, People and Culture Expert

Carlee Snow

In the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry, scaling a company poses unique challenges, especially in the realm of human resources and company culture. In a podcast interview on The After (Business) School Special, McKenzie Hunter, People and Culture expert, shared her invaluable insights into the hurdles faced during the rapid growth of the leading SaaS company based in Canada.

The Tipping Point of Scaling

As 7shifts experienced exponential growth, Hunter highlighted the critical tipping point when the company doubled its headcount from 150 to 300. Reflecting on this period, she emphasized the importance of not only hiring individuals but also effectively absorbing and integrating them into the company culture. Hunter emphasized the need for strategic planning, acknowledging the challenges of onboarding and training amid the fast-paced scaling process.

Leadership Development as a Cornerstone

Discussing her journey, Hunter pointed out a vital lesson learned during different phases of the company's growth. She stressed the significance of investing in leadership training early on, recognizing that leaders serve as the highest leverage point for ensuring employee motivation, engagement, and overall performance. This insight underscores the pivotal role leadership plays in steering a company through high-growth phases.

The Great Layoff Analogy

Hunter explained that she loves analogies and in an excellent example of her admiration for the mechanic, she drew a parallel between headcount planning and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She likened it to a year-round commitment, much like a balanced diet and exercise. With a nod to recent economic challenges faced by tech companies, she highlighted the dangers of treating layoffs as a last-minute solution rather than practicing thoughtful year-round workforce planning. Hunter urged companies to take ownership of workforce planning, setting the tone for decision-making and communication.

Proactive Workforce Planning

Hunter's perspective on workforce planning extends beyond reactive measures during tough times. She encouraged companies to adopt a proactive approach, advocating for practices that maintain efficiency and strategic decision-making throughout the year. By doing so, organizations can earn credibility and foster open communication when faced with difficult decisions, such as contemplating layoffs.

In Summary

McKenzie Hunter's journey at 7shifts offers profound insights into the intricacies of scaling a tech company and the pivotal role of People & Culture in this process. From the challenges of scaling to the importance of leadership development and proactive workforce planning, her insights provide a roadmap for businesses seeking sustainable growth while nurturing a thriving company culture.


To delve deeper into her experiences and gain valuable perspectives from her and other industry leaders, tune in to The After (Business) School Special. Discover the untold stories, lessons learned, and strategies employed by professionals navigating the ever-evolving landscape of the business world.

Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur, a business student, or a curious mind eager to learn from thought leaders, this podcast is your gateway to a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Join the conversation, stay informed, and let the stories of success inspire your own professional journey. The After (Business) School Special is your source for in-depth insights and candid conversations.

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