If you’ve been following Southland Data Processing for awhile now, then you know that typically we highlight one of our clients each month in our SDP Client Spotlight. This month, we’re doing something a little different by highlighting a member of our awesome team instead.
For our first SDP Employee Spotlight, we sat down with our Director of Compliance, Brett Strauss, Esq. Get to know Brett and his role on the SDP Team in his “20 Questions”-style interview below!
1. How long have you been with Southland Data Processing, and what do you do here?
I’ve been here for 10 years, having started in July of 2010. I am our Director of Compliance, which means I manage all of our internal compliance and HR, as well as client-facing compliance and HR.
2. How did you first learn about Southland Data Processing?
Well, I grew up just down the road in Claremont. When I first started at SDP, I was managing a Wells Fargo branch in Victorville, and was driving from Upland to Victorville every day.
On the weekends and after work, I volunteered as an Assistant Coach for my nephew’s little league team, and one of the kids on the team was Connor Reis, the son of SDP’s VP of Sales Michael Reis. Michael was telling me about SDP, how they were looking to grow their team, and that it was just down the street.
Honestly, that was all I needed to hear. It sounded so much nicer than driving up and down the Cajon Pass every day. And it’s been perfect ever since!
3. Before working at Southland Data Processing, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
The summer between my Junior and Senior years of High School, I was a lifeguard at Raging Waters down the street in San Dimas. It was a lot of fun and very interesting.
However, from what I learned and what I saw as an employee there, I don’t think I’ll ever visit there again. We can leave it at that, but let’s just say there are a lot of kids walking around, and there is definitely a term called “code brown”–if you can imagine what that means!
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day there’s something new, which is actually what I love best about this job. I have a great team with Rica and Larissa here in the HR Department, and we all work together to navigate internal or client issues.
I also do lots of educational webinars and trainings, and love the interactions with our clients and partners. I truly get to learn something new every day.
5. How do you balance your career at Southland Data Processing and family?
That’s always tricky, but it’s actually something that attracted me to SDP in the first place. This place has always been somewhere that if you come in focused and committed to serving clients with unrivaled performance, then you really can go home at the end of the day and shut everything off.
There may be a handful of times where you need to attend to business after hours or on the weekends, but it’s very minimal. If you come in and work hard during the day, then there’s plenty of time to have fun with your friends and family after work.
6. What is one of your proudest moments you’ve had while working at SDP?
There’s a handful of them, but I really like helping our clients with what I call “proactive compliance.” Sometimes we’ll get calls from clients who are having issues and we develop a plan to help fix what’s already happened.
That’s always gratifying, but what’s even better is when we can help clients before that. When they reach out to us to let us know they’re growing and may need help as things get more difficult. We’re able to put controls in place and prevent issues before they happen.
7. If you could switch your job with anyone else at SDP, whose job would you want and why?
I would have to say Kelli in our Marketing Department. I have an undergraduate degree in marketing and really like engaging with clients and spreading the word about SDP. I wouldn’t be nearly as great as Kelli, but I’d certainly try for a day and give it my best shot!
8. What are three words to describe Southland Data Processing?
Service, dedication, and compliance! That’s really what our organization is built on.
9. What SDP client do you think everyone should visit?
That’s a tough, tough question! I’ve learned so many different things from a lot of our clients. Especially some of our restaurants like The Meat Cellar and Packing House Wine Merchants. It’s been amazing to learn about how they approach their business and have been so successful.
I also had the pleasure of visiting Texas De Brazil when I visited Texas earlier this year and had the opportunity to see how they run their operations and strategize as a larger business.
10. What do you like to do in your spare time?
The most important thing for me is spending time with my kids. They’re almost 3 and 7, so they keep me very busy. They love spending time outside, swimming, and playing golf, so when it’s not 115F or blowing smoke outside, that’s how we like to spend our weekends!
11. What are your top 5 Clifton Strengths and what do they say about you?
Harmony, consistency, includer, communication, and deliberative! They fit my personality and role perfectly. As an attorney, being deliberative is essential when taking the emotion out of situations and listening to get to the bottom of things. That meshes well with harmony–getting in the middle of a situation and resolving it so it works well for both sides.
As an includer, people in general are very important to me. In the HR sphere, if you can include everyone, you will get better results across the board.
12. Are you messy or organized?
I’d say I’m right there in the middle! If you could see my desk, I have “organized piles”. I’m a very visual person, so I still use notepads for to-do lists, but I know where everything is! There’s definitely a method to the madness.
13. Any random facts you could share with us?
I coach both my son and daughter’s soccer teams!
14. What is a motto or personal mantra you have?
Show respect to everyone. As a leader at SDP and an attorney, it puts in me in the crosshairs a bit to make sure I’m always doing things correctly and leading by example. I try to treat everyone with respect so that I can get honest feedback and push through any issues that may arise.
15. What was the last book you read?
Our Leadership team just finished The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a great book that is a parable about leadership and how to build a team full of team players. That’s something we’re working on here, so I found it very interesting.
16. If you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
One of my favorites is Last Name Brewing’s California Black Beer. I’ve been drinking it since they were still the Dale Brothers down the street from us in Upland. Since then they’ve grown and become a regional brand, but it’s one of my favorites!
17. What is something that’s on your bucket list?
I would love to take my family to Europe and spend a few weeks in Italy. That’s where my grandparents came from and I still have some roots there, so it would be great to see where they grew up and where my family originated from.
18. What is one of your all-time favorite “dad jokes”?
When does a joke become a dad joke? When it becomes apparent!
If you see a crime at an Apple store, does that make you an iWitness?
What did the pirate say on his 80th birthday? AYE MATEY!
19. How do you define success?
I think everyone has to figure that out for themselves because it’s different for everyone. You have to find what makes you feel fulfilled to where what you’re doing doesn’t feel like work anymore.
20. If there was one piece of advice you could give to business owners and HR leaders in the midst of COVID-19 at this phase, what would it be?
From what I’ve seen, the clients who we’ve been working with for a long time who have been implementing the policies and techniques we’ve recommended and who have an open-door policy and good relationship with their employees are faring better in this crisis.
From that, I’d say to be empathetic and understanding. Know that what your employees are going through at home will transfer to how they perform at work. Communication is key!
SDP Employee Spotlights: Celebrating Our Team
We hope you enjoyed this month’s employee spotlight! Here at Southland Data Processing, we’re in the people business, and we know that our success is due to our amazing team. What did you think? Is there another employee you’d like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below!