‘’Diversity Hiring’’ series features world diversity and inclusion leaders and their thoughts on diversity recruitment, cultural diversity and equality.
Our guest today is Penina Soberman, Human Resources Manager, Quantum Networks, a Top 200 Seller on Amazon and a brand development agency representing over 100 brands on Amazon. As an e-tailer, Quantum Networks is revolutionizing a faster, more efficient shopping experience with its solution-based Blucoil bundles, adding value for brands and customers alike.
Before her career in Human Resources, Penina was a preschool teacher for 8 years. She heard about the culture and management style at Quantum and had the unique opportunity to take her passion for learning, people, and culture and bring it into her role at Quantum.
Penina, your career path is unusual, you took the leap from a preschool teacher to Human Resources Manager. What does diversity recruitment mean to you?
When we are looking to hire, we have guidelines and requirements in terms of work experience or background, but we always look at those who don’t necessarily meet those specific requirements. Although a person might not fit the exact qualifications, we sometimes make exceptions because we see they are a great fit within the company culture. Culture is extremely important to us and our team is made up of different people with different backgrounds, education, or work experience.
We always keep an open mindset and make a note of those candidates who’ve applied for different roles within the company. When we interview those candidates but see that they may fit better in a different position, we shift our mindset to see if we can envision them in that role.
People having different backgrounds are so important when creating a diverse team and especially those who fit the company culture. When people are aligned with our company culture, they are more interested and passionate about what they do.
We are a lean team, but everyone has a diverse background when it comes to origin, education or previous work experience. When I am looking at a CV or meeting a candidate, I try to see the potential beyond the skills that have been listed or the previous work experience. Sometimes, we create a role or shift the candidate to a different position that is open at the moment. More than once, I met brilliant candidates who were not fitting the role and simply asked them ‘’ Are you interested in another role that is currently open? I see how you will fit into our team and how your creativity and passion will add value to the company.’’ Even more, there are candidates who start in one role but realize that their strengths are elsewhere. At Quantum Networks, we support internal career development and would allow a sales manager to shift to a relationships manager if this is what inspires the employee and what s/he is good at.
Understanding each individual, what their passion is, what they are good at and creating the right role or shifting the employee to that role is paramount to our success. Bringing in people having different educational backgrounds and experiences and mixing them all together boosts innovation and creativity. When you see the same challenge from different angles, you can make the biggest impact.
Absolutely agree with you. Comparing your practices to those of other companies, I would say that many are hiring based on merit while you are hiring based on potential and business needs. This is a great example of what could be done in a small company to bring in diverse talent. Internal mobility is something not all companies embrace but is much needed to keep employees with the organization in the long run. Do you have examples of people who successfully developed their careers within the company shifting from one role to another?
The one thing we always encourage our employees to do is to come and speak with Human Resources if they are not passionate about their current role or see themselves as a better fit elsewhere within the organization. Unlike other companies, the moment they come and tell us that, it’s not ‘’goodbye’’. We start looking for an opportunity or create a new role if there is a business need for it. We had someone who started as an executive assistant, then moved to the purchasing side, became a buyer and then moved to business development. That’s what we explain to the candidates all the time – you can grow with the organization but not necessarily within the same role or even within the same department.
We had candidates who applied for several roles, but we were not able to bring them in at the time. Then, there was an opportunity for assistant buyers and they started at that role. For a few months, they did a great job but were always looking for opportunities within the operations department as that’s what they studied at school and that’s what they really wanted to do. Once those roles within operations became available, we shifted them to operations and they were very successful there. Another recent example is an intern who joined us last year, moved to an assistant buyer and then shifted to purchasing. Internal mobility and career growth are promises we keep, it’s not just words. Finding those opportunities is key to retaining talent. If we see someone who is very talented but not enjoying what s/he is currently doing, we start exploring the opportunities for an internal career move. Both the company and the employee benefit in such a situation as motivated and passionate employees add much more value and boost the company’s growth.
Open-mindedness goes beyond just telling our employees that we are open to career shift conversations. We encourage them to speak with their direct managers or even with the founders of the company and find a solution together.
That’s amazing! Indeed, when employees are recognized as an asset and the company invests in their internal development instead of in looking for candidates elsewhere, this adds value to everyone. Unfortunately, many big companies don’t encourage internal mobility due to various reasons. What makes an internal mobility policy successful?
To me, communication is the key to success. Regardless if they come from enterprises, small companies or startups, the one thing all candidates want is transparency. Open conversations about their career path and the opportunities within the company, but also open conversations about their performance and the impact of their work on the organization. Knowing what they are expected to do, why it is important, being able to see the big picture and how their role and responsibilities fit into it adds clarity and boosts motivation.
About the author
Lilia Stoyanov is CEO and angel investor at Transformify. A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission.
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