Get to know the Berlin talent acquisition team. Barbora Jumrova, Mark Serunjogi, Vaughn Morgan, and Vikki Broad share insights and advice on the challenges and opportunities that come with scaling a company during hypergrowth.
This article is part 2 of a 2-part series, where the team members talk about their career development and building skills in sennder.
If you haven’t read it already, you can find part 1 here, which covers how they reflect on the status quo and the next steps of sennder’s approach to talent attraction.
In this article, we continue our conversation with some talent acquisition (TA) Berlin team members. Berlin hosts our biggest local TA team, with 10 employees led by the senior manager of TA who reports to the senior vice president of people. It’s also one of six local teams that make up sennder’s global TA team. The other teams are located in Madrid, Milan, Paris, Riga, and Wrocław. TA Berlin focuses on hiring for the Amsterdam and Berlin offices and our Paris tech hub. The four verticals within the team are:
And the recruiters are divided into three recruitment focus areas, corresponding to sennder’s business units:
Business & strategy
Along with people development, people experience, and people operations, TA is part of the people department which sits within the business & strategy unit.
In this second half of our video call, the four team members talk about their career progression and what skills and experiences have helped them grow. To dive into what they specifically do, please see part 1 of our conversation. Otherwise, here is a short recap:
Barbora Jumrová (she/her) joined the TA team in July of 2020, and does operations recruitment focusing on roles in our account management, sales, and value-added services teams across Berlin and Amsterdam.
Mark Serunjogi (he/him/they/them) is the senior employer brand partner and joined sennder in January 2021 to build our employer brand function. Based in Berlin, he supports the entire global TA team by focusing on producing content to showcase our employee stories and experiences.
Vikki Broad (she/her) joined the team in August 2020 as the first recruitment coordinator. Fortunately, we now have two coordinators, so she can focus on supporting engineering, product, and data hiring. She also takes care of onboarding people to our recruitment operations systems like Greenhouse, our applicant tracking system (ATS), and Starred, our candidate feedback tool.
Vaughn Morgan (he/him) came into the company in October 2020 with 10 years of experience as a tech recruiter. He does almost all the hiring for the tech department in Paris and a couple of roles in Berlin. Additionally, he focuses on the team’s data analytics and defining the recruitment strategy for the tech unit.
How would you describe your career progression so far?
Barbora: When I started, I was recruiting for sennder’s people, marketing, and sales roles. I switched to my current focus about 6 months into my role. Our senior manager suggested this change of roles as I was already considering it. It's beneficial because it gives me a deeper understanding of the whole company, the structure, and what different teams do. I get more insights from working together with hiring managers of various teams.
Before I joined sennder, I did everything from business to tech to finance recruitment. Now I'm working towards becoming a senior recruiter, so I want to focus more on operational roles. Our senior manager and I have talked about doing another rotation to try another division, gain even more insights, and learn how to work with different stakeholders within the next couple of months. This is all a part of the next steps towards becoming a senior.
Mark: One of my goals is to look at the company's employer value proposition and how we can position ourselves in the talent market. This involves questions around organizational change and market research, overlapping with people development and experience topics. It also includes considering how we make sure that all employees have an aspirational sennder experience and how we tell that story externally as a competitive advantage.
I love that I’m continuing to grow in employer branding and incorporating more UX and inclusive change management topics into my practice. I’m at a point where I'm enjoying being a subject matter expert. The immediate next step from a senior position would be to become a principal, but I’m not opposed to leading a team either. It’s an open conversation with our senior manager depending on how the team grows and evolves and what makes the most business sense.
Vikki: Unlike many recruitment coordinators who aspire to become a recruiter, I'm interested in going in the direction of recruitment operation and program management. Looking into new tools which increase our efficiency and make recruitment easier is something I love doing. I especially like focusing on the candidate experience. Through our feedback tool, I can look at how we can go above and beyond for our candidates within the hiring process, whether it's about merchandise or how we communicate. Making sure that the hiring process runs smoothly, training interviewers, and bringing down our time to hire are areas I like to tweak by using our key reporting points.
Vaughn: The next step that I'm working towards right now is to move into a team lead position, which makes sense at this point of my career. I'm moving towards that by being more strategic and helping with some of the people management topics, without having direct reports.
From very early on in my time with the team, I’ve had leadership development talks with our senior manager, which have been a big help. It's also helpful that we have an overview of the career levels within sennder with clear descriptions of what they mean and what steps are required to advance.
What has prepared you to be able to do the work you're doing now?
Vikki: Having seen a mix of big and smaller companies at many different levels has been helpful. It has helped me come in with a good sense of judgment of what could possibly work at sennder with the problems we are trying to solve. So my previous experience set me up to tackle the things that get thrown at us daily, which makes it a good and interesting experience.
Vaughn: I also have previous experience from being at a scaleup that became big. I think the amount of time that I've been doing tech recruitment specifically has helped me a lot. I've worked with so many different types of managers and different skill sets that I know how to navigate certain situations based on having faced them before. Even if I'm recruiting for different markets or certain types of managers. I wasn’t as sure of myself as I am today at the beginning of my career.
Barbora: What drives me is my hunger to learn, and that has helped me to succeed in my role. The main reason why I left my previous team was that I felt stuck at the level I was at without the possibility of learning much more. I was really excited to come into a bigger team in a company like sennder that is growing. I feel like I can take on any challenge with a can-do attitude, and I'm eager to really understand things and bring success to what I do.
Mark: That resonates with me. I'm really driven by my eagerness to learn more and be better than I am. When I started in the team, I mentally prepared myself for the challenge of contributing to sennder's growth by remembering that it's a marathon and not a sprint. Branding and organizational changes take time in the long run but are also the sum of the groundwork laid down in the present. I also embrace that making some mistakes is a part of learning. I'm not afraid of making decisions, I'm not afraid of those choices turning out to be wrong, and I'm not afraid to apologize when it happens, because I'm always trying to make the best decision with the information that I have at the time.
What would be good skills to have to thrive in a team like yours?
Barbora: Happy vibes (haha)! We are a very happy group of people. I think that is definitely necessary, at least for me. In general, I think it's important to enjoy the work that we do because it's a challenging, quick-thinking, and fast-paced environment so we need to be able to joke with each other and not take ourselves too seriously, while still being professional and knowledgeable. And other important aspects that I would mention are being assertive, able to share your opinion, and in general, being open in your communication.
Vikki: Yeah, having your own opinion about things is important. This isn't the kind of place where answers are going to be given to you. You have to be curious, draw from your past experiences, ask around, and figure out the answers for yourself. E.g. when I joined there were no previous coordinators, so it was totally up to me to see how that would work on the TA team. Figuring out how we were going to partner with each other, how I'm going to schedule requests, how I'm letting recruiters know what I'm working on, and ensuring them that their candidates are all sorted. From reporting to improving efficiency, it's all up for grabs, so you need to be someone who embraces that environment rather than gets overwhelmed by it. Being adaptable and flexible where you don't take yourself too seriously are also good skills. Being able to stay chill though the expectations are high and there are a lot of things happening. Because part of it's also the many opportunities for personal growth through taking ownership of all the things that need doing.
Mark: When I joined the team it felt like everyone had been friends for years. I was really shocked to find out that most of the Berlin team had only worked together for a couple of months. And it's really hard to not be infected with those "happy vibes," as Barbora phrased it. Even though what we do is serious business, there is a lightness in the team that makes communicating and collaborating very easy and matter-of-fact. Everyone’s personality is easygoing, and everyone is eager to do better, learn more, and evolve. That lightheartedness, mixed with being an organized go-getter who can clearly set goals and priorities, is a good starting point for thriving in this team. Our group has a good combination of working autonomously with a strong team spirit. I think that balance is really necessary at our current stage.
Vaughn: I agree with all of the above. People will thrive if they enjoy a decent level of autonomy in their role. Our managers don't have the time to micromanage, nor do they want to, so we are a very team-collaborative kind of place. We all like to work with each other, but ideally, in this team, you like to be on your own and do your thing. No one will check up on you every two minutes to see what's happening. That self-drive is deeply rooted in the team. And especially in a scaleup too. Many of us have been in other growing companies and teams, and we know that things change so fast. Things happen, the company gets bigger, and we need to take on new challenges. And you've got to be looking forward to doing that on your own too.
What would you say to someone considering joining your team?
Mark: Though it can sound daunting, a hypergrowth company also means personal hypergrowth opportunities. If you’re looking for that, mixed with a friendly team and smiling faces, this is the one. And I’ve still only worked with the team remotely due to COVID-19.
Barbora: In regards to the diversity of our team, I can say that it's a major part of my excitement about working in this team. I grew up in an international environment so I would be very bored in a team with just like-minded people.
Vikki: I'd say that I feel like all of us give our authentic selves at work. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but I read the team as being very genuine. We all know something a bit personal and dorky about each other that we can laugh at. So bring your authentic self, as cheesy as it sounds.
Vaughn: I'll extend that to working with hiring managers as well. Just be who you are and genuinely show how you work. They will appreciate that, and if that works out well, you’re set up for success.