For the Record with Kristin Gaarder, Senior Vice President of HR & Corporate Services for Amplifon Americas – Medical Alley Association

For the Record with Kristin Gaarder, Senior Vice President of HR & Corporate Services for Amplifon Americas

Kristin Gaarder is an international human resources executive who creates business value through an engaged employee population. She is a visionary transformer who orchestrates sustainable change and leads enterprise-wide initiatives leveraging data and analysis. Known for her ability to deliver results, she removes barriers to ensure conditions exist for every team member to achieve success. Currently, Kristin is the SVP Human Resources & Corporate Services for Amplifon and was previously the General Manager of Nilfisk High Pressure Washers and VP of Human Resources. She is on the board of the HR Executive Forum and is recognized as a Top Woman Leader in Minnesota. 

Give us Amplifon’s elevator pitch. 

Amplifon is the global leader in hearing care retail, empowering people to rediscover all the emotions of sound. Unique knowhow, a global presence and an innovative business model have allowed the company, founded in Italy in 1950, to grow continuously over time and to strengthen its leadership in all the countries where it operates. Today, Amplifon has a global market share above 11%, is present in 27 countries on 5 different continents with more than 11,400 points of sales and more than 17,500 people worldwide. In the Americas, Amplifon planted its roots in downtown Minneapolis, and out of those headquarters, Amplifon continues its innovative journey in the hearing care market through three distinct brands: Miracle-Ear, Amplifon Hearing Health Care and Elite Hearing Network – each striving every day to understand the unique needs of every customer and deliver exclusive, innovative and highly personalized products and services to all. 

What does Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion mean to Amplifon? 

As a global company, we view DE&I through a broad lens and focus our efforts on measures and initiatives that are meaningful to the specific regions and localities in which we do business. We see DE&I as an evolving platform, embracing many perspectives, including gender, race, sexual orientation, and nationality, as well as age and intergenerational inclusion. For example, in the next few years – for the first time in history – several countries’ labor markets will see the participation of up to 5 different generations in the same workplace. While the work we are doing across the globe may differ from country to country – we are united as a company behind a few core principles that put the value of our employees – and the communities we serve – front and center. As a health care organization, we strive to meet the needs of any one in need of hearing care – increasing the accessibility of a wide range of customized hearing solutions. For example, through our Miracle-Ear Foundation, we have donated the Gift Of Sound to more than 16,000 children and adults since its inception in 1990.  

What progress in the DE&I space have you seen for Amplifon and what is on the horizon? 

In the Americas Region, this work has recently taken on even greater significance, and across the corporate landscape, we are seeing employees demand increased accountability and transparency from their employers. We are incredibly proud of the fact that our workforce is more than 70 percent female with strong representation across all nationalities and ethnicities. That said, we still have work to do, and we recently launched a series of listening sessions with our employees to better understand the unique needs of our team members, who range from corporate staff to field staff to hearing care professionals working in our stores. This was a critical first step for us before further embarking on our journey – truly understanding the needs and concerns of our team and hearing their thoughts on what we are doing well and where we can improve.  

What are the big milestones to come in the next few years for Amplifon? 

Our listening sessions uncovered a wide range of hopes, needs, and desires, and it is now our job to take those insights and develop initiatives and goals that will resonate with our team. In full alignment with the targets defined in our first global sustainability plan “Listening Ahead,” we have already strengthened our internal systems and structures to ensure inclusivity and measure our success on a quarterly basis. We have also started working with our people leaders to ensure they are actively maintaining a workplace that always encourages and allows open conversation and sharing. In addition, we have expanded our recruitment efforts, enhanced our internal training initiatives, expanded our outreach efforts and will continue our listening sessions with employees to monitor our success and course correct as required. 

What does leadership look like to you? 

Leadership is empowering people to realize their greatest potential and maximize opportunities. It is working to propel teams and organizations forward by leveraging the strengths of each individual. I aspire to create a space where “anything is possible” and teams work cohesively together to eventually “make more possible.” 

What is the best advice you have received in your career? What is the worst? 

Best Advice: You have a point of view – never be afraid to voice it. 

Worst Advice: Wait until you are spoken to. 

What have been the most rewarding moments in your career? 

I gain the most energy and excitement when a person or team gains clarity on the vision and are excited to drive that vision. That energy permeates the entire organization, and the excitement is tangible.   

What is one personal goal for the upcoming year? 

Personally, I focus on finding balance and redefining normal for myself and my family. The past year impacted everyone profoundly and requires reflection, acknowledgement of the events and the creation of a new normal. 

How do you relax / decompress? 

I take advantage of the Minnesota parks for hiking, bicycling, skiing and snowshoeing. We are lucky to have a wealth of nature to appreciate and escape within. 

What do you enjoy most about the Medical Alley community?  

Amplifon has leveraged Medical Alley for job postings, learning sessions, partnerships and idea generation. We appreciate the ongoing support of the whole community! 

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