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Meet Johan Peñates, from one to 100 in Colombia

Headshot of Johan with a design that reads "Kin+ Johan Peñates"

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Kin+ is a series that uncovers the experiences, stories and lives of the people who make our collective “Kin” exceptional.

Less than two years ago, Kin + Carta opened it’s office in Bogotá, Colombia, and has since grown to over 100 Kin based in more than 20 towns across the country. It’s been an exciting period of growth and an incredible investment in the firm’s Latin American presence. Beyond this, our Colombia-based employees have added new expertise and perspectives, strengthening the workplace culture of Kin + Carta that we’re so proud of.

It’s people like Johan Peñates, Talent Acquisition Specialist, who have contributed. Johan was the first individual hired into Kin + Carta from Colombia, and his role as a recruiter means he’s directly impacted Kin + Carta across the globe and in Colombia, alike. We’re proud to introduce you to Johan, our Kin who saw the potential to join-in and build something bigger.

Johan posing in front of Colombian mountains using a Kin + Carta hoodie

Some Kin know me as the first person to be hired at Kin + Carta in Colombia, but a little about me? I’m from Santa Marta, right next to the Caribbean sea. I decided to study psychology because I knew that I wanted to end up working in Human Resources. And after graduating, I joined the technology field where I’ve had all my experience working with companies across Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and even Peru.

I’ve used this experience and knowledge quite a bit since joining Kin + Carta. On my very first day, I sent a list of benefits that are important to people in Colombia right to our Employee Experience (EX) team. This definitely came as a surprise for everyone on the team (as I was new and should have been focused on on-boarding), but I wanted to ensure that my insight into the market wouldn’t go to waste. Since then I’ve been able to support a lot of work around the benefits offered in Colombia because having strong offerings for our employees is something I truly care about. It makes my job of attracting top talent easier, all while improving the lives of my Kin. I’ve also remained involved in supporting the firm’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness (IDEA) initiatives. Not many companies across Colombia focus on DEI efforts so it’s absolutely a differentiator. Supporting and contributing to IDEA is so important not only to the Colombian market, but to Kin + Carta’s global footprint and impact at-large.

 Johan with some Kin from the LatAm Talent Acquisition team
Johan with some Kin from the LatAm Talent Acquisition team

Even though my week-day-job is as a recruiter, I still work as a psychologist on the weekends, providing couple’s therapy. It's interesting to see the connection between my work in those two fields. Throughout both areas, listening is an integral part of what I do. When meeting with a job candidate, you find out their motivation, story and why they want a new job. It's very similar to therapy, as listening is core to helping find a solution.

Looking back at the last year and a half, it’s incredible to see the Kin + Carta Colombia office grow from just me to now more than 100 Kin. It’s been such a privilege to have been able to have met, listened to, and been a job-searching steward for so many of these employees and the endless amounts of candidates, alike.

Johan with some of the first Kin in Colombia
Johan with some of the first Kin in Colombia

One thing that stands out about my time here has been just how interested in Colombia the entire firm has been. A special memory was when we created a presentation to introduce the country of Colombia to the global team. It included everything about our food, culture, music and actors. I also remember when I was in Buenos Aires at a dinner with our leaders, and they asked us: ‘How is Colombia? What is the weather like? What is your culture?’ It was those questions which really showed me that they wanted to learn more about Colombia, our talent, our environment, and how we work. To see such engagement and interest, especially from our firm’s leadership, really meant a lot to me.

Another great memory was an experience that happened earlier this year. Since I work remotely, I don’t often get the chance to meet many of my new hires (now current Kin!) in-person. One day, I decided to change that. So I traveled across the country to meet some of our employees who are based in different cities. I organized a dinner all together for us, and it was just terrific. I was one of the first employees from Kin + Carta to visit them, and we had great conversations about our experiences so far. I loved this so much, as it allowed me to meet new people, connect with them and listen to their experiences. During this time together I learned a lot about how Kin + Carta motivated them to change jobs or to make a career move. This has been really beneficial to my role as a recruiter, as the more I know about our people and why they prefer to work with us the better I can do my job.

Johan visiting the teams in Santa Marta and Medellín
Johan visiting the teams in Santa Marta and Medellín

Listening is the best way to understand people's motivation, and this is something I’m reminded of every day through my role as a recruiter and my role as a couple’s therapist. For that reason, I go out of my way and try to meet with everyone on our team. Each person has different motivations, but there are little, consistent lines that connect us. Those connections are wildly apparent when I meet with our teams. We are builders. We know that we are creating something big, and even though we have different skills and perspectives, we converge to one goal, and that’s working as a team and sharing the same values.

Each person has different motivations, but there are little, consistent lines that connect us.

I’ve been a part of hiring so many people to Kin + Carta, and it’s seeing these individuals grow within our firm and get promoted that feels like recognition to me. This shows that they’re succeeding and developing their career. And, that Kin + Carta believes in them. They are creating a career path here, and that's just what I’d hope for them since our very first connection. When I bring someone on board, I see it as a chance to develop their career and connect their motivation with Kin + Carta's purpose. It's not only about hiring talent but making sure everyone is happy and feels like they're part of something bigger.

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