Employee Spotlight: Raina Johnston

When you call Parker, Smith & Feek HQ, it’s Raina Johnston who answers. In this week’s Employee Spotlight, she talks about her volunteer work, growing up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and the impact of sincerity.

What’s your role at Parker, Smith & Feek?

Being at the front desk, my role is to provide support for Parker, Smith & Feek clients and personnel in whatever capacity that’s helpful. That can mean a lot of different things!

How did you start working at Parker, Smith & Feek?

I started working here in 1999, and the idea was that I would work here until I was done with my degree from the University of Washington. When I graduated, I had the opportunity to go and tour Western Europe, so I left Parker, Smith & Feek for a while. I spent about a month traveling then I had to return home and “adult,” so to speak. Soon after my return, the person who took over for me at the front desk here at Parker, Smith & Feek decided to move out of state, so they asked me to come back. I’ve been here ever since.

What did you do in Western Europe?

I first traveled to London and made my way through Belgium, Amsterdam (although I’d visited previously because my sister lived there), Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and then back to London. I was there for about a month, and it was definitely not as long as I wanted. There were times when I was one of only a few Americans surrounded by Australians and Europeans. I really needed the break after college! I love to travel and wish I could see more of our beautiful planet.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

That to determine an employee’s worth, watch them do something they love to do, and then watch them do something they dislike. If you can’t tell the difference, they’re a good employee. It just stuck out to me among all the other typical business maxims floating around out there. After I heard that, I thought, “No one can EVER know when I don’t like doing something!”

Tell me about your volunteer work with NW Harvest.

I’ve organized a food drive here at Parker, Smith & Feek for the past couple of years for them. I also do a few volunteering sessions at their downtown location, depending on the year. NW Harvest is a really great organization that believes in giving people dignity through their hard times. Basically, I love the cause because the need for food is universal. It’s easy to understand, and it’s easy to help.

When you call Parker, Smith & Feek HQ, it’s Raina Johnston who answers. In this week’s Employee Spotlight, she talks about her volunteer work, growing up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and the impact of sincerity.

We talk lot about the Parker, Smith & Feek difference. How do you make a difference?

I’d say my attitude. Parker, Smith & Feek is a highly specialized broker that works on very serious client issues and problems. If there’s a large loss or event, even just walking through our doors can be stressful for clients and employees alike. But, when people first come in and see me with my can-do attitude and offering to help and be of service, it’s encouraging to both groups to put on a smile and walk a bit lighter.

You have to operate the phones and connect clients with the correct team, taking hundreds of calls every day. Do you have any tricks to remembering who works with whom?

The way I remember is…simply that I’ve been here for so long (laughs). Length of employment can be very helpful for that.

But what about new clients or callers?

You start to learn which business and industries tend to have more calls and when. Once again, my tenure helps on that. I pay attention to call volumes from previous years, and have started to notice when big renewals are coming up and can prepare for that. After doing this for so long, I’ve kind of internalized the intervals of change, what to expect, and who to connect with whom in order to solve problems.

How do you deal with stressed callers/visitors?

Well, it’s either that the tone of my voice is pleasing, or that I successfully convey enough sincerity in wanting to help that it relaxes them. Oftentimes, they’ve been a client for a long time and already know that I will answer the phone and be able to get them connected to the right people. It’s not as if they’re connecting to an automated call tree or something random where they have no idea who they’ll end up talking to.

In some cases, there are clients who have been with us for so long that they just call and say, “It’s me, I need so-and-so,” and they’re taken care of. Just from the sound of their voice, I can recognize them. I can even anticipate who to send them to next, should the first person not be available, before they call back. We have a ton of great resources like maps, charts, list, etc., that makes it easy for me to be able to visualize that information in my head.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I don’t have a specific mentor. That’s kind of a funny question actually, because I would consider everyone a mentor. I learn a lot from every person who walks in the door. Everyone has something to teach.
When you call Parker, Smith & Feek HQ, it’s Raina Johnston who answers. In this week’s Employee Spotlight, she talks about her volunteer work, growing up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and the impact of sincerity.

Any lessons learned that have stuck with you over the years?

That the level of sincere care between employees here (which is a lesson in and of itself, if you’re not used to it) translates into caring for the client. More times than I can count, coworkers here have come to me to say that a client was impressed with me for one reason or another. The fact that people here, who are very busy, take the time and energy to share that kind of feedback with me is really important and telling. It shows how much time and attention they really pay to the client, passing along small notes like that, and that time often translates into positive results. I think it’s important for us as a company to perpetuate that tradition of demonstrating that sincerity, both to our coworkers and clients.

What is something your coworkers would be surprised to learn
about you?

I taught a women’s self-defense class for 6 months in high school.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I wish I could say that I run marathons and save the world…but really, I read a lot, specifically murder mysteries, and spend time with friends and family.

When you call Parker, Smith & Feek HQ, it’s Raina Johnston who answers. In this week’s Employee Spotlight, she talks about her volunteer work, growing up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and the impact of sincerity.

Tell me what it was like growing up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill?

We moved to Capitol Hill when I was in 2nd grade because my father was an RN at the Group Health Hospital. At the time, Cap Hill was a fantastic place for being immersed in diversity. Socially, economically, even just people’s lifestyles were all over the board. If you went three blocks east of our house, there was public housing, while three blocks west was all million-dollar homes. We were in the middle, economically and literally. It was kind of like living on an island. When you left Cap Hill, people weren’t as open minded about a lot of the everyday things I was used to seeing.

My friends from outside of the city actually even made fun of me. They were mostly from the suburbs and thought Cap Hill was just a dirty place for transients. I mean, it’s always been dirty, but I really don’t feel like I missed out on things like…cul de sacs or having a big yard. Their lives sounded quiet, but I liked where I was from. I love meeting new and different people every day.

What did you want to be when you we’re growing up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. But, I soon found out that in addition to petting the puppies and kitties, you have to put them down, and then I didn’t want to do it anymore.

Are you a sports fan at all?

Absolutely! Although, here’s the thing about me and sports. I don’t particularly care about the rules, stats, or why the game is being played. I like to learn about the players themselves, team dynamics, and how they got to be successful. I’m big into the Olympics and football, go Seahawks!

You’ve been at the company for 19 years.
What’s kept you at Parker, Smith & Feek?

The people. We have excellent people here; I love my coworkers.

PROFILE:

Where are you from:Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Family:Mom, dad, older sister, husband, dogs

Favorite vacation spot:Hawaii

Favorite movie:A Few Good Men

Favorite food:Cheeseburger

Favorite Seattle hangout spot:Any of the local parks

Favorite quote:“[P]eople will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

Childhood hero:My dad, because he always demonstrated kindness and fairness to people. I think I only saw my dad get mad once in my childhood. He chooses people he likes based on who they were are, not what they are. My mom, too, because she is one of the most courageous women I know. She also has a huge heart with very little judgement of anyone.

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