Q & A with NANA Employees

A Conversation with Todd Whited, Recruiting Manager

This is part of a series of interviews to learn more about our diverse employees throughout the NANA family.


Recruiting Manager Todd Whited works closely with hiring managers at NMS and NANA to fill camp services and security positions on the North Slope, at Red Dog Mine, and other locations within the state and in the Lower 48. Photo by Craig Billingsley.


Where did you grow up?

In Harrisonville, Missouri, about 45 minutes south of Kansas City (KC). It’s a small farming town. Back then, the population was about 4,000 and everybody knew everyone. It’s a bit bigger now. Its proximity to KC now makes it a bedroom community for commuters.

What was your first job?

I did chores on the farm: cleaning barns, mowing everything, throwing hay, cutting wood all summer for the winter. After school, I washed dishes at the deli. I didn’t clock in; I just did the work until it was done. When it was busy, there were dishes to wash. When it was slow, I did the back-of-house deep cleaning. I also cleaned up at construction sites for my uncle, following his punch list.

The job every kid wanted was to be a bagger at the grocery store, because everybody went there. So at 16, I was excited to nab that job and held it through high school.

Where did you go to school?

After high school, I attended Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri), but I didn’t finish. I got a job at Barnes & Noble (B&N) in Kansas City.

Incidentally, that’s how I met my wife. We were introduced by her cousin who worked at B&N. My wife was in nursing school in KC. When she finished, she wanted to come back to Alaska and was offered a job at Providence (Alaska Medical Center). I put in for a transfer, followed her up, and became the assistant store manager in Anchorage.

Do you like to read?

Yes, and I like coffee too. While at B&N, I got a recruiting call from Starbucks. That was in 2006. They were opening stores here and hired me to be district manager. While doing that, I took classes at Alaska Pacific University (APU) to finish my degree, but my work schedule only allowed about one class a term.

In 2010, I took a job at SteamDot Coffee. They were launching cafés and needed help with hiring, operations, and setting up a flow. They offered a more flexible schedule so I could accelerate my efforts at finishing college. SteamDot was fun. They were constantly tinkering with new batches and experimenting with menu items. It was like a laboratory.

What brought you to NANA?

At APU, I got my degree in business management and administration and earned my professional HR certification (PHR). I took a class from Patty Hickok (senior director of employee relations) and when I saw a recruiting job here, I applied.

The only downside is this: after 15 years at Starbucks and SteamDot, I created a coffee habit that I never had to pay for. I asked my wife, “When did coffee get so expensive? It’s out of control!”

What do you like best about working at NANA?

I learn a lot. I’m recruiting for everything from dishwashers, which I know something about, to wastewater treatment operators, which I don’t, so I have to research what they do. I talk to the hiring manager to find out what they’re looking for.

There’s a huge range of jobs. There’s something out there for everyone. I look at the job list every day and review the applications.  If the job is physical, I see if they have that kind of experience.

What’s the interview like?

It’s a conversation. I talk to the applicants to find out what they want. I never try to assume anything. If there are breaks in someone’s job history, I try to find out why. I try to be honest and I want them to be honest with me.

If they’ve had problems in the past with ground transportation, a remote job might be a good fit. Once they’re on the site, they’re at work. From Anchorage to the North Slope and back, their air travel is taken care of. Recently a guy’s application said he lived in Noatak, but he actually had moved to Anchorage, so a Slope job became viable. If he had to pay his own way from Noatak to Anchorage and back, that cost is prohibitive. So my advice is to keep your contact info up-to-date.

What happens once an offer is made?

It’s not over. It’s another beginning. Once an offer is made, they meet with our onboarding team. The applicant is responsible for paying their way to Anchorage to complete paperwork, drug testing and fit-for-duty screening.

What have you learned?

Not to be afraid to give someone a chance. A lot is up to them. It may backfire. You never know. One of my favorite parts of my job is offering a job to someone who’s been looking. I can’t imagine the stress, and the relief, that they must be feeling.


Todd Whited was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.