Island Conservation Communications Specialist Sara Kaiser is interviewing staff that work “behind the scenes” of Island Conservation (IC). We are sharing a series of interviews with these staff to shed light on who they are and what they do to support IC’s mission. The following interview was conducted with Island Conservation’s Human Resources Manager Jonathan Steinberg or, as he’s known around the office and in life, “Steiny”.
Sara: What is your role at Island Conservation?
Jonathan: Presently my role is Human Resources Manager. My role and title have changed a bit as we have grown. I manage payroll, benefits, and insurance in the United States and other countries we’re involved in. I also manage the temporary worker onboarding and payroll. I do quite a bit of the facilities work and support IT function even though I’m not the IT manager. I also do a lot of vendor relations. Als one of the longest tenured admin people, I function as archivist and corporate memory. That being said, the focus of my job is human resources.
Sara: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Jonathan: Making sure that employees feel taken care of, that their benefits are high quality, their pay level is just, and that their check comes on time. Under my watch, I hope that people feel listened to and that if they don’t know where to go with a problem, they can come to me and I will redirect them.
Sara: What is most challenging about your job?
Jonathan: Business culture differences between the United States and some of the other countries we work in. That’s very difficult, there are such different structures. Payroll, taxes, and benefits are structured radically differently in different countries. Some of the countries we work with, the laws are very fluid–they keep changing and we have to keep up with that. We do our best, but it is challenging.
Sara: What has surprised you most during your time at IC?
Jonathan: I’m really happy with what an effective organization we are. I’m really delighted to work with so many motivated, intelligent, well-educated people. It’s a joy to go to a job in my neighborhood where I’m well-compensated with good benefits. Every day I show up, the world’s a slightly better place! I don’t know how I’d replace that.
Sara: What personally motivates you to work at IC and support our mission?
I care. That’s what motivates me. I care about the islands, I care about the endangered species, I care about the communities there where we’re working, and the well-being of the people that live on and near the islands we work on. I care about the people who work on our projects, both IC staff and our partners’ staff, and local people who are temporary hires or casuals. I care about the planet, I care about the planet’s economy, I care.
Sara: What’s your favorite island species that we have saved or are working to save?
Jonathan: Oh, gosh that’s tough. I don’t play favorites! But I’m just like everybody else–charismatic megafauna…I find the Pinzon Hawks and the Pinzon Tortoises very attractive. I love iguanas, they’re so snuggly. The snuggly iguanas. We haven’t really done directly a sea turtle project but I know that invasive species are problems for sea turtles. Oh, and the San Nicolas Island Night Lizard! I love that guy! Who doesn’t?
Sara: Have you been to any of the islands that we work on and gotten to see these species in person?
Jonathan: I got to go to San Nicolas Island twice. But, otherwise no I have not. My job’s not to go to the islands, my job’s to make sure the people who go to the islands get their paychecks on time and their health insurance works.
Sara: When you did go to San Nicolas Island, did you get a chance to see one of those Night Lizards?
Jonathan: We did! And then the Island Foxes, which are amazing. That was a favorite too. Island Foxes are astounding and it was so cool–they’d sit in your lap. They have no fear.
Sara: What are you excited about or looking forward to in the years to come for Island Conservation?
Jonathan: More of the same. I’m excited about creating opportunities for new biologists, for young biologists to come work here. Broadening the footprint of our mission and our work in the South Pacific. I’m really excited to work with Karen, our new chief executive officer. I’m really excited about our new office. Hope to continue to mature our salary and benefits system and performance review process to work even better.
Sara: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jonathan: This is a great place to work and we have a great mission, I look forward to future success and growth.
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