Interview ∣ Caralyn Cooley, Chief People Officer at Nordeus
November 16, 2018
Caralyn Cooley joined Nordeus in May, 2017 as Chief People Officer. She has a vast experience working in the HR departments of major companies like Jet.com where she previously led the HR team. At the Future is NOW Conference, she will participate as a speaker on the panel discussion “HR: where we are and where we are going?“. We asked Caralyn what it is like to work for Nordeus, how they find the right talented people and is the myth real – are they really having fun at work there?! Continue reading to find out what are Caralyn’s thoughts on these and other topics.
When you were first offered the job in Nordeus, what were your first thoughts?
From the first time I stepped in the building, I knew I wanted to work at Nordeus, so I was thrilled to be given an offer and proud to accept it. I saw a place where I could learn from brilliant, creative leaders, while experimenting in the People space, so my first thought was literally: ‘YES!’
Can you tell us how your usual day at Nordeus looks like?
Every day brings a set of new and interesting challenges for the people team to solve, so I spend most of my time working with the team to design custom, premium experiences that meet our unique needs. In addition, I spend a good deal of time with our business leaders – whether it’s company strategy workshops, game play sessions or product reviews, I believe going deep in areas like technology, finance, marketing and operations is key to developing meaningful, strategic HR Plans that drive the business forward.
Nordeus is in the top 3 gaming companies in Europe. Besides that, can you name three more reasons which made you think: „Yes, I want to stay in this company and in Serbia!“
The people, the projects and the experience of being an expat. The people: at Nordeus, we like to say our people are individually amazing, but when we join together as a team, we are unstoppable. I am constantly learning from the brilliant people around me. The projects: I’m working in gaming, so you can probably imagine how cool and interesting the projects are – every day is new and fun. The expat experience: I think you have to take chances in life, and for me, pushing outside my comfort zone has accelerated my personal and professional growth.
As someone who has more than 15 years of experience in working with people, in your opinion, can you tell us what are the most important qualities of a successful HR manager?
I’ve been lucky to work with so many talented HR Managers throughout my career (including the incredible HR team at Nordeus). Some of the qualities I have consistently seen among the best HR professionals include intelligence, optimism, empathy, resilience, and a great sense of humor.
Are there any differences between approaches to employer branding, candidate recruiting and employee development in the USA and in Serbia?
To be truly effective, people programs – including things like branding, recruiting and development – must be customized based on the needs of your company and employees. My recommendation is to stay up-to-date with best practices in the people space while designing programs that work for you and your people.
What do you think characterizes HR management in the gaming industry and what sets it apart from HR management in other industries?
I think it’s best to look at individual companies rather than the industry as a whole. There are great examples of HR management in the technology industry, however the key is that they’re doing what is right for their company and their teams. Here at Nordeus, rather than focusing on purely tactical or administrative aspects of HR, our team works as business partners, collaborating with leaders to develop custom people solutions and drive the business forward. The entire people team challenges ourselves to use many of the same tools and techniques that our business partners are using – things like human-centered design and fast prototyping, plus we constantly look for ways to make our people programs more game-like and fun.
What are your methods for recruiting and retaining the most talented people?
Our games are played all around the world and we big goals to continue growing our business, but we plan to do that with a relatively small team, so every single position counts. We focus on finding the right people – super smart people who live our values, then we all stretch ourselves with challenging goals and projects. Learning, growing and being stretched each day is much more important to our people than any perk or party we can offer (although we do have pretty cool perks and parties too!).
What do you think are the most important things about the company culture? Do you believe that the myth is real: Can the workplace really be fun? If so, how do you try to achieve this?
Yes, absolutely a workplace can (and should) be fun. We have a group of smart people working together to solve incredibly hard problems in creative ways. To me and the rest of the Nordeus crew, a job couldn’t get more fun than that. Of course our HR activities are complementary and help maintain our special culture, but it’s truly our people and business, not our activities, that shape our culture and make this such a fun place to work.
What is the role of talent development in your company and how would you assess the impact of those activities?
We focus a lot in talent development and have tried a number of programs and approaches with varied levels of success. For example, we implemented a company-wide online learning platform and the feedback wasn’t great, but then when we leveraged our internal team to share their knowledge and expertise across the company and it was amazing. The takeaway for the HR team is this: people have different learning styles and preferences, so we can’t have a “one-size-fits-all” approach to development. Being more flexible and offering a variety of learning experiences based our employees’ needs has had a really positive impact.
What are you looking for in a potential new employee? How do you know if the candidate fits into the Nordeus family?
At Nordeus, we only hire smart, kind, optimistic people who live our core values. Our team is diverse – coming from all over the world (more than 20 countries) and while we look different, come from different places, have varied backgrounds, communication styles, experiences and perspectives, we share the same values and are truly passionate about giving the world more champions.
Interview prepared by: Marija Tomić