The head of HR at Scorum.com and the creator of the Key People startup Helen Gladkova visited ItStarts! and spoke about studying and hooky at BNTU, people with brains at Svyaznoy 10 years ago, how to recruit nonexisting blockchain developers, and modern recruiting.
Where to go from the collapsing BSU Construction faculty?
I didn’t become HR immediately. After school where I had been attending the Polytechnic Lyceum class, I entered the BNTU on the advice of my parents on a specialty related to the design of ventilation systems and water supply. But I did not finish university. After a year and a half, I dropped out. It was my desire or, rather, unwillingness to study.
I was disappointed in the education system from the very first day. I looked at the collapsing Construction faculty, then at classmates, suffered a little and dropped out.
A week later I told my parents so they could no longer influence this decision. A scandal happened, then I worked as a sales assistant in Svyaznoy and so on. In the same year, I entered the Human Resources Faculty in BSU for distance learning.
I just realized that I couldn’t take anything from our education system, except for a diploma. Spending 4 years on this was no longer any interest.
I studied for 5 years, wrote the diploma on my own to amuse my ambition, and that’s it. Honestly, I can’t say that I studied at BSU. All basic disciplines such as higher mathematics after BNTU seemed just a cakewalk.
You could miss lectures and seminars, I used to just come and pass over.
But the experience of studying at BNTU helps me in terms of horizons, brain formation and learning skills. It was much more difficult to study at BNTU than at BSU.
I understand that in Belarus there are different diplomas. In my opinion, a Diploma in Engineering is much more valuable than a Staff-Management Diploma, good lord.
If I were choosing where to study now, there is no way in hell I would choose BNTU. I would choose something outside of Belarus or some fundamental faculty such as mathematics to get not a narrow specialization but a basic knowledge.
A bright asset in the “Svyaznoy”
I categorize myself as a “person with brains”. I think that for such people it is much easier to grow up in a company with a turnover.
I got to Svyaznoy by occasion. A friend of myself gave a flyer from there, they needed bright assets. I thought that I was definitely a bright asset and that I had to try.
Svyaznoy 10 years ago and today are two different companies. At that time it was a fairly innovative business. I liked the whole industry of smartphones, the Internet, mobile operators. We were trained quite well on the technical background. All retail employees go through the training center.
They didn’t hire according to the principle “he got arms and legs and looks pretty good”. Then there was a very severe competition.
I’ll give approximate figures to show the funnel: 100 people come for an interview, and about 10 people are hired as a result. Conversions were small. Before going to retail, a person had to undergo adaptation training, group interviews, competitive selection, a five-day training in technology, sales, and mobile operators. Having arms and legs and looking pretty good would not have passed.
I worked in retail just for 3 months but I even got interns. I was a good seller, and I liked what I sell. I was transferred to the store where the trainees were learning. I worked there for another 3 months, and then I was transferred to the training center as a trainer.
I am very warm up to the “Svyaznoy” of that period, to all this culture, which was created by the founder Maxim Nogotkov. Everything was modern, democratic and open. We provided high-quality service. The promise was not only that you would buy a phone here, but you would be provided with the perfect service and advised with something useful so that you would leave completely satisfied.
I worked at Svyaznoy for 5 years, of which 2 years as a coach and 2 as the head of a training center.
I was deeply immersed in the processes of what we teach people, what kind of people we select, what values were important to us, with what messages we turn to the client. I was agree with everything.
We had been constantly improving our competencies, attending to various training, trying to be customer-oriented inside the company.
What is Scorum
Now, I am Head of HR at Scorum, where I have been working for a year and a half. We have a blockchain product. It is a media platform dedicated to sports named Scorum.com. Content is generated by a huge number of bloggers, and the platform itself is monetized through advertising. We are actively working on SEO due to the fact that the content itself is generated by users. We also have a betting platform on the blockchain and great expertise in working with interfaces.
Our main feature was to simplify the blockchain and adapt it for average users.
I think that the company did it very well because we have the most convenient wallets, usability, and everything is so good.
Everything was fine until the market conditions turned on a dime in the fall. The company needed to review the product and plans for work and existence. There was no great need for recruiting, but still, we did not want to break up from Scorum.
I realized that I had a great opportunity while remaining in the company, to make the ideas I’ve been thinking about for a long time come to life: to recruit IT specialists, to show how it can be done well, efficiently and effectively in Belarus.
The Key People project was launched in November 2018.
How to survive the harsh in blockchain
The first things that allowed us not to burn out quickly and not to go mad about the amount of money that fell out were the founders' experience in business and a great desire to launch a working product.
The second point was a quick and sober realization that the blockchain project must be paused and that we should try to monetize other competencies in the current market, take some projects that would allow us to stay afloat and not lose the team.
We started looking for options very quickly. I will not say that all of these options were successful, but there were a lot of them. Now we are working on an outsourcing project, which we then plan to implement in our product to increase our product expertise. Besides, we still have Scorum.com, on which we also continue to work, but a little less active due to lack of finance.
Career at Scorum
I began to grow quickly within the company. When I joined it, the team consisted of 25 people. Within six months, we recruited another 25-30 people. We recruited mainly middle and senior developers which were very cool specialists. I believe that we managed just groundbreaking.
The most important step in the blockchain project was made by the founders when they invited Alexei Shkor as a CTO. In general, it seems to me that now he is the best specialist in this field. From the very beginning, he built the entire architecture as precise as possible. Not without jambs, of course, but this industry was completely new. Thanks to Lesha, we did not need to look for super experienced developers on the blockchain. We just needed strong specialists who wanted to develop in this direction.
It is important for me what kind of motivation a person has, how much time he can spend on his development. If a person has a great desire, he is not burdened with building a house and raising three children, then most likely he will understand.
A startup can offer nothing to a developer, except money, if he does not have the spirit of adventurism and the desire to do something cool on his own. There are such people, but they are rather few. It seems to me that the longer a person works in outsourcing, the lower the likelihood that he will then decide on entering some kind of startup, especially to the detriment of his financial situation.
HR secrets of recruiting blockchain developers
I didn’t have any magic wands in the search. We were looking for senior developers C ++. At that time, we already had Lesha and a lead developer, and we needed to find those who would help us. We did not look for people with blockchain experience, because they simply did not exist! And sometimes at that moment, this experience could even be harmful. There is no good expertise in Minsk.
I am against ageism. Age is not important in recruiting, it is rather family status and goals in a specific period that matter.
We had people who were inspired by the project, but some treated it as normal work. If I did the same again, I would prefer inspired and enthusiastic people with a higher priority for development than for a stable workplace.
In general, when you work in a startup most people should be lit on fire.
There are people aged, with a family, but they have a great desire to do projects and to develop.
And some twenty-year-olds want to work less, have a stable salary, to be disturbed less and to work from home or even preferably from Thailand.
Generation Theory from an HR Perspective
Recently we discussed with friends the topic of generational change, and I probably don’t see much of a difference. I am opposed to the theory of generations X, Y, Z.
If we talk about people aged 18-25 years, I hoped that this generation would be more courageous and free.
I work a lot with the junior vacancies and I can say that they are about the same as we were. There was no significant shift in minds.
There is a certain percentage of people in each generation who are more and less decisive, more and less ambitious, but there are no major changes in the age group.
I did not notice any global deterioration in education. It will take a long time to solve the problem of courage and freedom in our society particularly because of the education system which does not encourage those competencies that are needed in modern society.
The only thing that has qualitatively changed for the better is market awareness.
Previously, jobs.tut.by was a more or less adequate source of market information. There weren’t so many thematic videos on YouTube. People then made choices less consciously. Now there is plenty of information and there are lots of people who can guide you if you want.
The problem of our generation is that we listened more to parents. It was a voice that you really can trust.
But if your parents are not HR and are not top-level businessmen, then they do not always have the right advice on where the child is best to study.
I do not presume to advise anyone. Modern children have more information and there is an opportunity to make their own choices.
What is Key People?
Key People is an HR outsourcing project. Now we are mainly engaged in recruiting because everyone needs it and because there is a huge staff shortage in the IT market.
Personnel shortage in IT is relevant for experts from the middle position and above. Up to this level, the situation is normal.
The role of the recruiter is the generation of the cheapest traffic within the company in terms of personnel traffic. The more and more profitable you can set up a funnel for entering the company, the cooler it will be. An internal recruiter works as part of a business benefit. In an external agency, the goal also is to provide a customer with as much traffic of high-quality candidates as possible for optimal funds.
I believe that it is more profitable for small companies to work with external agencies than with an internal recruiter. Moreover, in the case of permanent problems with the staff the agency will close its positions faster and more efficiently.
Reasons for the success of Key People
The first factor is that I immediately started working on the request. I had already had several potential customers who wanted to work with me before the company was formed. These were the people we share value with and it’s easy to find a common language with them, they are adequate. That is, I managed to find and draw a portrait of my client. I have adapted to it and focused on it already. I do not need all, I need those with whom it is comfortable to work.
The second factor is the quality of service. It should be standard, even in terms of service for the company and the client.
The third factor is scaling and insufficient training experience. Besides the fact that I can recruit, I can also train people. I understand how to create, share, and control a knowledge system. In general, this is my thing and it helps me a lot.
Women in IT
There are very few women. I think that among all programmers just about 5% are women. I do not see growth trends yet.
Funny thing is that girls are less likely to transfer to other companies. They don’t even go for interviews to get work offers.
They are more permanent as employees. This is surprising to me, and it is also interesting.
Among testers, there is almost equal gender ratio already and this tendency is diffused. So I think that the situation will change in the developer market over time.
Telegram channel In the HR Head
I launched a telegram channel 2 months ago because I realized that I could use the traffic that I had on Linkedin’s for more relevant with better coverage of the communication channel. I re-post some of the old content there and then started to post new texts weekly. The channel began to grow very quickly thanks to links on Linkedin.
In the channel, I talk about everything that excites me as HR. I think the channel will be useful to those who are looking for a new job or just want to understand the situation on the market.
Social networks bring new customers to me. Moreover, they bring the opportunity to choose from them as I do not take all. Our service is post-paid, there are no guarantees of payment for our work. Therefore, it is better to choose initially good customers than not to receive anything from bailed customers. I don’t understand yet how I can monetize this all, I don’t do advertising and do not know yet how and with whom I want to collaborate.