Q+A with Kristin Garstka, Human Resources Manager
How do you describe your job to people outside of the industry?
I am the person who tries to make everyone happy in his or her day-to-day life at work (simply put!). I work on recruitment, employee / community relations, policies / procedures, performance reviews…anything that involves an employee at our company, I have some part in it (even if it’s a small part).
Why did you decide to go into HR?
I didn’t decide to be in HR; HR decided for me. I originally went to school to be a high school Spanish teacher. During my last semester, I decided that teaching might not be for me, so I answered an ad for administrative help. My manager at the time thought that my background would fit nicely in HR, and she decided she would “turn me into an HR generalist”. I am grateful for that decision every day because I simply adore my job. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself until I was introduced to it, and I have never looked back.
How would you describe life at Ghafari?
Life at Ghafari is wild! It is filled with such a variety of things going on. It amazes me that people can create and design the things they do in this company, especially when you see a completed project. I may not be the one doing the design, but I can be proud of the people I’ve hired to do those designs, and that makes me a part of the overall business.
What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time here?
There have been so many exciting things, from something little like coming in first place in the Ghafari Bowling League two years in a row to organizing Ghafari’s Milk Money campaign for Gleaners. Even working out in our gym is exciting!
What is a key idea or lesson you have learned while working at Ghafari?
Flexibility. Most people can go about their day with a plan: I will do A, B, and C today. In HR, your plan is A-Z, every day, and sometimes you have to do A, Q, and S, or someone comes along and introduces Za, Zb, and Zc. Or they will ask you questions about R and how it relates to C, and you have to be ready to answer those questions immediately. You never know what will come to HR at any time and what you might be asked to do at a moment’s notice.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I am part of JCI International, JCI Michigan, JCI Rochester Area, and the Farmington Area Jaycees. As a state board member, I am this year’s chaplain, but I have also held the roles of financial director, district deputy, and programming director. I train people on resume writing, recruiting, professional networking, conflict resolution, and things like how to provide constructive feedback or deal with difficult people. I help out the community at events like 5k races, blanket making for hospitals, spaghetti dinners. Whatever I can do to help other people, I do it.
I also love spending time with my nephew Benjamin, who turned one in July, or my grandmother, who turned 102 in July. The rest of my family is pretty cool too. I also love to bike, read, and hike and fish when I have time to head up north or can enjoy the day outside at one of the Metro Parks. Throw in some really good music that I can sing or dance to, and I am set for life!