Interview with Lisa Quam of the Middleton, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (August, 2020)
What do you enjoy the most about your industry? Variety is the spice of life. No data set is the same. Work is always custom. There is never a chance to get bored while stoking the furnace of my intellectual curiosity. My clients around the globe are typically in transportation, manufacturing, education, financial services, technology, and retail.
How do you define success? Seeing my clients take the workforce insights we provide to hire, promote and coach more accurately is my definition of success. More specifically, success is turning “so-so” pre-hire assessments and surveys into super-charged tools. Recently, I helped a Skills Test Publisher shorten a test by 58%, increase the value by 59%, and reduce the systematic error in predicting employee performance from 1 in 20 to 1 in 1,000.
Who inspires you? Through conscious effort and willpower, the way people can slightly modify their behavior in the workplace and significantly increase performance inspires me to no end.
What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them? The PRE-HIRE ASSESSMENT industry, in general, has done a poor job providing value to their clients. After the sale, they have not re-validated old and tired models pulled down from a generic library. No real, consistent custom work was done to increase utility. Scoring algorithms were never updated. Data mining methods have not been engaged. Kunze Analytics overcomes these challenges by yielding the most advanced optimization, simulation and data mining techniques and tools with pre-hire assessment results. For nearly any assessment tool designed to aid personnel decisions, we elevate baseline value by 25% to 60%. For some of our clients, this is worth millions of dollars of value per year.
What advice would you give a young professional starting out today? My advice to young professionals is to never be without a mentor. Never go through the week without reading some book that will help you in your career. Listen to the voice of your conscience when making important decisions. Don’t let people who flatter others hijack your time and attention. Think big!
In what ways has your chamber membership benefited your business? The chamber gets me out of my bat cave to shake hands (bump elbows). I manipulate spreadsheets all day and meeting people face-to-face keeps me grounded. Last year, because of a business introduction facilitated by one of the chamber’s leadership team, I got to meet with two senior executives at a multi-billion-dollar company. That was priceless.
What is something you cannot live without? There was a time when I lost my health, forgot how to speak English, and almost despaired of being able to leave a cult-like organization. What I know is I cannot live without God, family, and being an entrepreneur. So much to be grateful for.
What’s something about you that most people may not know about you? My late father came to this country from Germany in 1958. He had a sponsor in Milwaukee but had no money and did not know a word of English. Being a cub scout, Dad played baseball for the first time and hit the ball out of the park. He stood at home plate and did not know he had to run around the bases. When they yelled at him to run, he figured out where to go and stopped on third base. By that time, the outfielder caught up to the ball. It is my legacy in life to run to home plate. My Dad had to do the hard part. I am just reaping the benefits of his optimism and courage.