Giada Albertoni has been the HR Manager at Apparound for over 5 years and thanks to her background, in addition to managing personnel, she contributes to maintaining a positive corporate climate by helping people to achieve their goals both personal and in business. We took advantage of Giada’s experience to ask her some questions on how Apparound selects its team members, and trains and manages them for the purpose of personal and career growth.
What are you looking for in the people you select?
First we try to understand the compatibility with Apparound’s values and work culture.
I like to think that people who choose Apparound do it with enthusiasm and motivation. The job market in the IT sector is really very varied and dynamic, I always hope that a positive collaboration can be intertwined with the future Apparounder, a common path of growth that contributes to the achievement of the challenging results that the company sets itself.
But one element we are looking for, first of all, in both soft and hard skills, is the passion for what they have studied and would like to study, or for the work they are doing. The motivation, the curiosity… in short, as Dante said, “the love that moves the sun and the other stars”. As Apparounders we hope to accompany our colleagues in the path of achieving their professional goals.
Which soft skills do you focus on?
Although our sector is dominated by technical competence, it is precisely the soft skills that make the difference in our selection process. We are looking for people who have good communication and a predisposition to work in a team, who are critical thinkers, proactive and good problem solvers. In the company we have summarized the soft skills we are looking for in 5 groups of “core” skills.
Of course, in the company we appreciate a good sense of humor.
How is the selection process?
We admit it, our selection process is a bit long. There are at least 3 selection steps, divided into an HR interview, a technical interview (with an expert in the role) and finally an interview with the manager of the area for which we are doing the hiring. Between one step and another we can use assessment tools to deepen technological knowledge or language or writing skills. This depends on the profile sought and also on the experience of the candidate.
How have the rules of recruiting and managing people changed in the pandemic period?
Pre-pandemic, the selection steps took place in the company, in person, but in the last year and a half, we have “remotized” the whole process thanks to the possibility of interviewing candidates via Teams or with other videocall tools. While these tools have allowed us to continue to make selections in complete safety they reduced the “live” feeling of getting to know a candidate face to face and so for this reason in the final phase of the selection process, when and where it is possible, we invited the selected candidate to the company.
Obviously, in the pandemic, HR work has changed a lot: we worked on remote selection processes, but also redesigned the onboarding of new employees in which coaching is mainly “digital”, through Teams, instead of “live” with a desk mate.
We are in a phase of strong change in the world of work: digitization and the technological tools available today will be an indispensable help to grasp and face the next challenges.
What will then be the new role of HR in the era of digitalization?
This is much more than a question, it could be an entire treatise on the future of the HR role in companies but I will try to be succinct. Like all corporate functions, HR is also facing the changes introduced by technology. Society, business models, channels and communication tools have changed quickly and all organizations that want to consider themselves competitive find themselves answering questions for constant innovation, digitization of their processes and managing new ways of relating between organizations, staff and customers. As an IT company that works in the digitization of sales processes, Apparound is certainly an advantage in terms of digitization and as HR we operate in a business context in which the subject of process and technology innovation is part of the corporate DNA. But digitization for the HR world is not just using solutions and software for your processes, or “having a tool for everything”, but being able to read and use the data that are produced to contribute to future choices of the company. The digitization of HR processes also passes through the world of social networks regarding its employer branding and reputation processes, through platforms for recruitment and the attraction of candidates, through videocall tools for remote interviews or online training events.
In particular, we think that the role of HR in the digitalization process of companies passes through the management of a significant change in the way work is performed: we are talking about smart working, a topic that has become very hot due to the pandemic situation. In this case, the role of HR is to facilitate the development of a system and a work culture that allows you to provide your business even outside the company environment. This is made possible thanks to technological tools but also thanks to the rethinking of all business processes and flows, in which there are not only tools to facilitate communication between colleagues or organize virtual meetings, but also tools for sharing information and documentation.
What are the corporate values and what actions you take to ensure their compliance? Can you give us some examples?
Apparound’s corporate values are summarized in “Collaborate”, “Innovate” and “Achieve”.
- “Collaborate” represents team spirit, the value of teamwork, essential to achieve the challenging results that the company sets itself.
- This recalls the other “Achieve” value: in the company we try to support the development of people’s autonomy, their sense of effectiveness, promoting the importance of achieving results.
- “Innovate”… well, as an IT company, innovation is obviously an important and strategic value for your business. However, in Apparound it does not trivially represent only a focus on the technological tools in use, but is used in the broadest form of a continuous change and search for improvement of technologies, processes and solutions, involving ourselves, our product and our way of work.
We try to promote them mainly in three ways. First of all, by looking for the people who can share and reflect these values. Subsequently, once in the company, people are placed in a context where other colleagues are “ambassadors” and good examples of these values. Finally, the Agile working methodology adopted by the company represents and promotes these values: you work in teams and cross departmental teams with colleagues from different areas and roles, the contribution of each one is significant for the achievement of the objectives and all, without exception, they can express their suggestions and ideas to introduce changes and news. In fact, innovation is above all openness to improvement and change.
Do you also apply retention policies?
Retention in an IT company is certainly a hot topic. The labor market in this sector is growing rapidly and thinking of solving the issue by focusing on purely salary aspects would be reductive, as well as short-sighted. Clearly compensation policies are important but we like to focus on other factors as well. The first concerns the context and the working climate. We are committed to promoting a positive and peaceful working environment, in which to foster a constructive exchange of opinions and ideas. The second aspect concerns the professional growth of Apparounders in terms of skills and experience. The complexity of our product, our projects, internal work and training processes, the experience, professionalism and value of colleagues certainly offer a dynamic and stimulating context for growing professionally and personaly.
We are not a hierarchical or overly formal company, each Apparounder is inserted in a process of increasing responsibility and greater involvement in decision-making processes. If people are capable and their ideas interesting, they find a wiling audience, touching firsthand the importance of their contribution to the success of the company.
Another element we are working on is the balance between work and personal commitments, with the adoption of a “smart” way of working even after the health emergency. Smart working was a change imposed by the pandemic but which we have experienced positively all in all over the course of these months. The future challenge will be to be able to improve and dose our work rhythms, with the flexibility of the instrument and a context in which it is once again possible to move freely.
How are the skills and potential of people in the company managed for the purpose of their professional growth?
The professional growth of employees is essential. It is really important not to forget that the high qualification of the employees is essential to get the business off the ground. The development of skills is of vital importance, especially within a sector like ours, which is constantly evolving and very competitive.
Precisely for these reasons we have internally developed a Performance Management process that keeps track of the skills present in the company and identifies a series of growth objectives to be achieved over a period of one year. We thus have the opportunity to understand the desired direction of growth of the colleague, integrate with training, and also provide feedback on hard and soft skills. This process is strategic for the company, it also stimulates, motivates and increases the employee’s skills.
There are also various types of internal training events that are carried out on a frequent basis. These are updates related to releases of our Product, training on new features, ongoing projects, code paring and code review activities, training and alignments on new and in use technologies.
For new employees there is a project called Apparound Academy, which during several workshops provides a company overview of all areas and internal work processes. Obviously, the new employees are included in a structured onboarding process together with their team leader. During a period of at least 4-6 months, the new Apparounder is supported and trained by the team leader and teammates.
Unfortunately, the health emergency has partially changed our training plans. Participation in external events has turned into webinars and online training, but some training activities on soft skills have been temporarily paused. We will resume this type of activity (for example, communication lessons and exercises, public speaking or team building activities) as soon as face-to-face training is again permitted.
What advice would you give to a recent graduate who is now entering the world of work?
For new graduates, my advice is to choose opportunities that are able to increase their potential and help them develop the skills and experiences to reach the desired role or career path.
Surely the onboarding carried out in this period will be more complex and longer than in the pre-pandemic period: it will be useful to be prepared for a selection and possible assistance managed remotely, therefore it is and will be essential for a recent graduate to be familiar with all the tech tools. I also suggest developing a professional network on platforms such as Linkedin, where many jobs, refresher and training opportunities are available.
I also recommend that you never stop studying, training is essential and allows us to constantly develop new skills and be competitive on the job market and then… “luck helps the prepared mind”, as Pasteur said.
Last but not least, don’t underestimate an indispensable skill like English. Knowledge of the language can be a key to access the world of work, so if there is a lack from this point of view, I recommend improving it.
Can you tell us about a strange or curious event in your professional life?
Working with people, in different environments and contexts, I have seen strange and unusual things and we really see a lot of them. Some stories or situations have been funny, paradoxical, and comical, while others have been bitter or painful, all of them, however, have been important and have always enriched my own experience.