As CEO of HireSynergy, a $10.6 million executive placement company, Birgit Kamps is well-known as a savvy businesswoman who has garnered accolades for her business, including being named to Houston Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list for several years running.
But Kamps, who graduated from C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in 1988, has also earned a reputation for leading with her heart, rather than viewing business opportunities strictly from a bottom-line perspective. In the aftermath of the Enron collapse and demise of Arthur Andersen LLP in 2001, for instance, Kamps’ business reached out to displaced employees by helping them brush up on their interview and resume writing skills at no cost to them.
The generous offer came in the midst of an economic downturn, a period of time when many of HireSynergy’s competitors were going out of business. Though risky, Kamps’ decision to assist those in need ultimately paid off, helping to expand HireSynergy’s services to include consulting, resulting in referrals, as well as considerable goodwill from the business community. Kamps’ compassion also extends to her own employees. Adopting a “servant leadership,” approach, she makes sure her employees’ needs are met – offering on-site wellness classes, communication coaching, educational opportunities and more — so that they can better meet the needs of the firm’s customers.
Not surprisingly, Kamps, a former tax accountant with Arthur Andersen, has also allowed compassion to drive her relationship with Bauer. Though it might have made more business sense to strengthen her involvement with Bauer academic departments that more closely intersect with HireSynergy, Kamps instead chose to fund Student Leader Scholarships for graduates of Charter schools like YES Prep Academy, which prepares low-income students for college. “My heart goes out to people who want to do so much in life and are very interested in growing themselves, but just don’t have the resources,” Kamps says.
Kamps had previously extended her company’s services to Bauer Accounting students at no charge. When she returned to the U.S. after working abroad for several years, she reconnected with Bauer through UH Board of Regents member Jim Wise, BBA ’66, who also serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board. Since becoming involved, Kamps has seen Bauer’s reputation grow. She points out that one of its biggest strengths is in “helping people connect.”
As a student, Kamps transferred to UH from the University of Texas during a family crisis. She found it transformative to attend school with people whose life experiences were so diverse.
“The education was so much richer for me,” she says, “and very powerful.”
Opportunities for growth at Bauer have only increased since those days, Kamps says.
“Students have the ability to cross over disciplines, to network, and it’s all woven very well together. In life that is really what it’s about, the relationships you build, seeing things from different points of view,” she says.
By Julie Bonnin
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.