- Oct 13 • 2 months ago
Walk & Talk with Federico Russo 2 of 3: NetRefer’s Recruitment and Career Development
Here, Federico takes us through NetRefer’s recruitment process, elaborating on the value of cultural diversity and the mutual bond established with each new recruit. Then, he transitions into the Company’s benefit package and team building incentives. He brings this part of the interview to a close by laying bare the Company’s tools and methodologies for continuous professional development of employees.
Federico, as Head of Human Resources at NetRefer, let’s talk about recruitment. Tell me a little about the key criteria across the board that your team are seeking to find when you interview potential candidates.
We are a company driven by efficiency and results. And this should be reflected in the candidate.
Technically, we are the employer and they are the employees. But the way we are starting to refer to ourselves is as a centre of opportunity – an opportunity provider – and we refer to them as our partners. So, when we’re establishing this new relation, starting from the interview phase, this is what we’re looking for – someone who’s willing to contribute to what we’re striving to achieve, our goals, our vision.
In our first Walk and Talk in the series, I talked with Jackey Backman. Chief Performance Officer (CPO) at the company. She described these three keywords in the company’s ethos – Clear, Fair, Trusted. Obviously, those are quite important concepts in terms of Human Resources operations. Can you talk about how you evaluate candidates with respect to these three keywords?
As Jackey said, these are not a marketing tagline or slogan; this is purely our DNA, which originated with our CEO – Raphael Arnold. These words shine through clearly during the recruitment process, which is made of multi-level steps, starting from the first screening stage in the interview. Then, understanding if someone is a good match from that perspective follows naturally. Being clear, fair, and trusted doesn’t only reflect our internal approach with our employees as a team, but also externally, with our customers. As Jackey said, our Platform embraces these values. So, once again, we take this into serious consideration during the interview process.
I recently saw a dynamic piece published on NetRefer’s blog about cultural diversity. Really beautiful images and cool concepts. Tell me how that factors into the hiring process.
Personally, I believe that brings value. Some companies may not see this as an opportunity. But personally, I’m a living example of this.
I was about to say that – you’re an example yourself. Where you based in Malta at the time when you joined NetRefer?
No, I had been working for 7 years in London. At that time, I was relocating back to Italy when I got this role, and so, I came to Malta. So, I have an international cultural exposure and I believe this can be a value – for me as an individual and for the business. So, the more you bring diversity into the business, the more the final output will be enhanced.
So, bringing in elements and outlooks from people who have different cultural backgrounds, all contribute to the company’s product and services.
Moving ahead, when people are busy and getting used to a new job, there’s a need for them to step away and take a breather and get a change of perspective. Tell us about some of the initiatives the company offers and the facilities for your employees to do that.
There is a budget allocated for quarterly events. Each department has a budget allocated for team building. There are also some institutional events organised by the Social Committee. I’m referring to the summer party and the Christmas party. But mostly, on any given work day, usually during lunch break or after work, employees can head up to the penthouse on the third floor. This is equipped with entertainment amenities, such as a pool table, darts, table-tennis, and more. We want to establish that clubhouse feeling with our employees, so that when working time is over, they can go up there and spend time with their friends – no longer their colleagues.
I read about a concept – the six-month bootcamp. I’m assuming it has something to do with this new process of onboarding, when new people are hired. Tell us more about how this works.
The Bootcamp is our way of tackling the probationary period. It’s a way for the company to observe new employees on the job. The Bootcamp provides the employee with those additional tools to be successful in their job. We don’t just show the levels of the Bootcamp the employee needs to clear; we provide them with the necessary equipment and dependencies – we call them SQUADS. So, let’s say for instance, I’m working in HR, and I’m doing payroll – maybe Finance. Then, during your Bootcamp, the area you’re on will be highlighted and you’ll have the time it should take you to clear that goal and level, and what the dependencies that will support you in doing so are.
This is a process that is monitored constantly by HR. There’s a huge involvement by the Management Team. There are feedback sessions. What this process does is it sheds light on every step along the way of the probationary period, avoiding unwanted surprises because everyone is aware at all times, and as soon as there is an alert, we already have the necessary actions set in place to address any potential issues. On the other hand, if we have someone who is extremely successful during the Bootcamp, we have the leverage to adapt and adjust the Bootcamp to potentially bring up the employee to a higher level.
So, catering to their level of proficiency, but also, helping them with forming alliances with other stakeholders in the company that they will need to work with.
Building on from that a little further, as a new employee starts to find his or her feet in the company, what kind of expectations can they have about developing their skillset, their technical proficiency and knowledge base? Does the company offer programs to help them with that, and make them feel that they’re continuing to develop as professional employees?
Sure, as I mentioned, we are a centre of opportunities, so it means that the company offers plenty of opportunities to grow. We are not a school; we are not training people to teach them what to do. Our talents are top calibre candidates. So, we don’t have to teach them, but we have to show them the way to develop towards the next level in their career path. We have some very innovative tools that we are just introducing into the business.
The main tool we’ve introduced recently is a Skill Matrix. This is not just used to measure performance, as this varies from one individual to the next, but rather, it’s also about understanding what the requirements of the role are. And this is a tool that can be used during the recruitment phase, during the performance appraisal phase – it’s a tool that can be used to develop someone. When you set your expectations in the Skill Matrix before starting recruitment – for instance, pre-establishing that a recruit needs to have certain specific skills, you can easily tailor-make your recruitment strategy around that. Then, when you onboard this individual, those will be the standards you’re setting for him or her. And his performance will be measured and assessed accordingly. And of course, in discussing what the requirements of the role are and to what extent he or she needs to perform, you are starting to define the development path for the individual in this role. And this path can be vertical – from a managerial position to Head – or horizontal – moving from one role to another one. And then, there’s another variable that is not just related to the role but to the individual per se. Because if, as an individual, I have an extensive background in Finance, even if it’s not an ideal horizontal path to move from HR into Finance, having that individual skillset background, one can make that horizontal move anyway.
So, recapping, it’s not just about what the role offers, but also what value the individual brings to the company. So, this goes back to the point I made about the necessity of striking a perfect match between these two entities – the company and the individual – in this partnership.
That makes perfect sense. Thank you.
Watch the 3rd installment of Federico’s 3-part interview here to learn more about the importance of a unified team mindset, team member guidance, and exciting new incentives.
A special thank you goes out to Andrew Bonello for conducting the interview.
After last week’s part two-of-three of our third entry in the docuseries – Walk and Talk with NetRefer – we’re back with Dexter Cutajar for the final part at The Lascaris War Rooms. In this final part of our conversation, Dexter will level with us about the company’s long-term strategies and the next step of entering exciting new and emerging markets and regions.
- Nov 15
After last week’s part one-of-three of our third entry in the docuseries – Walk and Talk with Dexter Cutajar – we’re back with the second part at Lascaris War Rooms. This time, Dexter sheds light on the vital role NetRefer’s Account Management Team plays in providing long-term value and a sustainable journey for clients and partners. He moves onto some of the latest tech and solutions upgrades the Company has been implementing, which pave the way for the future.
- Nov 10