Interview With A Human Resources Manager
October 17th, 2023
We are back again for another interview with one of our incredible employees! This month we are talking to Human Resources Manager Christa Evans to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work in the HR department of UTOPIA Fiber!
What’s your name, your position, and how long have you been at UTOPIA Fiber?
My name is Christa Evans, my position is HR Manager/Executive Assistant and I have been with the company for about four and a half years.
What do you do as the HR Manager at UTOPIA Fiber?
So I initially started here as the executive assistant and that position was meant to be a support for the board and a support to our executive teams. But Roger (UTOPIA Fiber’s CEO) is very self-sufficient and doesn’t need a lot of my help, he does everything himself, but then the need kind of arose to be HR. We needed someone in HR, and so now my role is much more into HR than executive assistant. Executive assistant stuff only comes around every once in a while when we have a board meeting and stuff like that, but the majority of my time is taken up with HR duties now. So my job is everything from dealing with new employees coming in, to employee terminations and working through benefits with employees. I do the payrolls as well every two weeks and that’s a big one, and then there’s the not-so-fun stuff of dealing with employee issues and disciplinary things.
What inspired you to go into HR as a career?
A lot of people that I know in HR it more or less happened to them, it wasn’t their goal it was just one of those things that they just got led into. My degree is actually in accounting, so I’m more financially minded, but there are things in HR that it actually works really well with and I work really well with the finance department. So yeah it was just one of those things where the need arose and Laurie, who was the CFO at the time and she had known me for years, said “I think Christa can handle this”. So she suggested it to me and said “Hey do you think this is a direction you would like to go?” and she gave me the option to do some educational classes at the U to help me get up to speed on HR stuff, and I completed that certificate and got myself moving in that direction. So It’s not something I ever thought I would be in but I like doing it!
What’s the biggest obstacle your team faces?
I would say for me the biggest thing, is just if there is conflict between two different employees or an employee and their manager and just trying to stay neutral in it. I care about UTOPIA and about the success of the business, and because of that there are certain things that we need to require of employees so that our business can be successful. So in my position, you have to think of the company as a whole, but I also see specific individual issues with employees. I care about the people so I’m also seeing the struggles they are having on their side. They might have their own story on why a certain issue happened and then the supervisor has their own story, so it’s just trying to mediate between the two. It’s usually not all one side or the other, it’s usually somewhere in the middle of “Okay I get that you reacted not well in that situation, but I also understand why you reacted that way” and it’s just trying to figure out the best solution in those situations, while still being fair on both sides. Like I said before you have to think of the company as a whole, you can’t be so one-sided with an employee that it is damaging to the rest of the department, because that hurts the entire company. So it’s a lot of “Am I going to focus so much on one employee’s issue or the other hundred employees that this is going to affect”.
What’s your favorite memory you’ve made working at UTOPIA Fiber?
I think that some fun memories that I have are just interactions with executive staff and getting to know them a little bit more. It’s always fun to do company events like Top Golf and things like that too. Those events are always fun because you feel like you’re doing something that the employees are appreciating, and you are also showing them that you appreciate them as well. It’s always a little stressful to plan stuff like that but then once you get through it and you see everybody saying “Thanks that was so much fun!” it feels nice to know that they appreciate what you did and that you showed them appreciation. Just being able to put on good company events that show a thank you to the employees and then when you see the ones who come back to say “Thanks so much for doing that, it was really fun”. Those are probably some of the best memories I have.
What do you think makes UTOPIA Fiber Unique?
What I think is unique about UTOPIA is how we run. I have always worked, for the most part, in government. I worked for Midvale City for a number of years, I worked for the League of Cities and Towns, and government agencies run a different way than private agencies. I think what makes UTOPIA unique is that it almost feels like a mixture of both. We definitely operate under government, we are officially government, but we also have to compete with the private sector and so it makes us have to somewhat operate as a private sector company too.
Even when we are looking at employee salaries, most of the time with a city position you look at what other people in this position make in a different city. But we have a lot of positions here at UTOPIA that they don’t have in other cities. They don’t have network engineers in cities, they don’t have customer service reps in cities, and so I can’t always compare salaries and things like that to what our member cities do. For things like that, we kind of have to look at the areas where we compete with private sector companies so we have to keep it competitive. I think because of that it’s a good mix where you get the good benefits of a government company, but then you also get the competitiveness of private sector salary. I think that is one of the things that makes UTOPIA unique as an employer.
What’s been the weirdest experience you’ve had at UTOPIA Fiber?
Haha, probably some stuff that I really can’t say for privacy reasons.
What do you wish people knew about UTOPIA Fiber?
I think what I wish people knew is that there is a difference between UTOPIA Fiber and other people who provide fiber. It’s just not the same, It’s not the same quality, and it’s not the same purpose behind it. When we provide fiber to a city, we provide it to the entire city. We don’t pick and choose areas that we think are going to be profitable, and then only aim toward those areas and forget about the other ones. We provide it to everybody, and other fiber companies don’t do that.
For example, I live in Taylorsville and Google Fiber is building out Taylorsville City, but UTOPIA is actually the one that got the contract with UEN (Utah Education Network) to do the Granite School District schools, which are the schools that my kids go to. So the fact that Google Fiber is building in my city but they weren’t concerned about building to my kid’s school and UTOPIA was, is a big deal to me. It kind of makes me mad as a Taylorsville resident that they would never work with UTOPIA when I see the good service that we provide.
Outside of work what’s your favorite thing to do?
Honestly, to relax I go to my kid’s sports practices. I sit through those and it’s one of those things where I can sit and just casually watch their practices. It gives me a nice two-hour break where I can sit in my chair, maybe do a crossword puzzle, sit and chat with some of the other parents and it’s just the feeling where I’m not in charge of anything here. I’m just going to watch and have nothing else that I actually need to do right now, I can just sit and enjoy it.
What’s something in your office or the UTOPIA office in general that just cheers you up?
Toby my fish. I have a fish in my office and I call him Toby after Toby from The Office because he is my HR counterpart. He’s so ornery and angry all the time. He’s a beta fish, and I’ve always heard that they are really aggressive and it’s true. He’s the mean HR and I’m the nice HR. He has some snails in his tank that clean it and he doesn’t appreciate them at all. He’s always mad at them and trying to fight them if they get in his area, he doesn’t understand all the good that they do for them. But he always gets happy anytime I walk in, he gets in the front of the tank and just starts swimming back and forth because he knows I’m about to feed him. So yeah Toby and my snails make me smile, they keep me company in my office.
That’s all for today’s interview! We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look into Team UTOPIA and getting to know Christa as much as we did! We know we definitely couldn’t do all that we do without all the hard work and effort Christa and her team put in every day!