‘Passing over the torch’
While our Chief of Staff, Vicky, was on maternity leave from summer 2017, Rajashri Chakraborty stepped in on a fixed term contract to run the HR operations of the business.
Rajashri quickly got to grips with the opportunity, assisting with and leading some major projects including launching our flexible benefits platform, which enabled Automation Logic to offer its employees the kind of benefits usually only available to far larger companies, and our Great Places to Work submission, which resulted in us placing 3rd in the UK for 2018! And she achieved all of this while working part-time.
Now Vicky has returned in a project specialist role and as the company expands through 50 towards 100 staff and beyond, our aspirations to continue pushing the bounds of being an award-winning employer mean we need a full-time HR Manager.
Although we would have loved for Rajashri to stay with AL the full-time opportunity wasn’t right for her and locating the right job-share partner in time didn’t happen despite our best efforts. There will be a Rajashri-shaped hole in AL for a long time to come but she leaves a fantastic legacy and we are delighted to say that Rajashri is also helping our new HR Manager, Tina Costi, to pick up the reins before she heads off to her new position.
Tina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from supporting agile tech businesses through their high growth stages and we are very excited to have her join us.
We got together with Rajashri and Tina to gain some insights into how to effect a successful handover, what insights and advice Rajashri will be passing on to Tina and, from Tina, to hear about her experience and what she envisions for the future at AL.
Rajashri, how does it feel to see just how much you’ve achieved in AL in such a short time?
It feels really great. To know that I’ve helped people and supported the whole team. It took a lot of collaboration between different teams, the directors, heads of departments and so on. Whatever we achieve, it is always a joint and collaborative effort. That feels really good. When I started here, Vicky (Chief of Staff) introduced me to the team. I’ve tried to continue on with her journey while she was away. I wish all the best for Tina to take it even further and see the company grow even more.
Tell us how you feel about helping AL to place 3rd in Great Places to Work 2018.
At first, when I started working on the entry, everything was very new to me. So the process, to begin with, was difficult. I had to look at lots of websites to see how I could add value. We were definitely doing a lot of good things that we could talk about, but it was challenging to put these processes into words. I spoke to a lot of the engineers, support function employees and the directors and they told me about all the good things that had happened before I joined. Then I worked with Accounts to gather information on the data side of the submission. What started out as a 10-page document ended up as 60 pages plus! But it all came together and I’m very happy that it worked!
What do you think the benefits platform has added to our staff’s happiness and wellbeing?
I think people really appreciate it because they took a real interest. Staff use it all the time; that shows it’s working. Almost 100% of our employees have selected their benefits. It’s a great thing for a company of our size to offer so we always encourage people to make the most of it.
People are allowed build their own suite of benefits which works well. Some people go for medical and dental; some people prefer the childcare vouchers; some go to the gym or take up the financial advice. There’s something for everyone.
The benefits we offer came out of our annual staff survey Our staff asked for these benefits and we provided them.
What advice do you have for Tina as she takes the reigns here?
Just go with the flow. It’s a very good company to work for, you get a lot of autonomy and independence to do your own thing. You’re mostly your own boss and it’s up to you to make your own decisions. People are really nice here, you only need to communicate with them and have that personal touch; they’ll love you for it.
It’s your thing now, do whatever you want to do. Flexibility is one of the very good things about this company.
Tina, Can you give us a little bit of your history and your best methods?
My history, well even when I didn’t work in HR there were always elements of it in my work. Like running teams. My approach has always been to treat people like people and, although you always need a level hierarchy for business when we finish work at the end of the day we all go home and sleep/shower. I also think it’s really important to recognise what people are stronger at rather than focussing on their weaknesses… that is my Strengths Coaching coming out!
What’s your vision for growing the company with us and keeping a great culture?
Initially, to learn as much as I can about the business, how it works, and all about the people who work here. My plan is to meet with all the managers and get to see how their teams work, then start meeting everyone individually and get to know them as people.
I believe in ‘Stop, Start, Continue’. Stop what isn’t working and isn’t impacting the business in a positive way, and look at what we should we start doing, and what’s going well.
I’m a qualified Gallup Strengths Coach, so I’m looking forward to doing an assessment of the top 5 strengths of everyone that works here. Then everyone will have ideas for how to be their best in both their work and personal lives.
So, what are your top 5 strengths?
Ideation, Individualization, Developer, Relator and Strategic – Very HR qualities!
What’s are you most excited about starting here?
It’s really exciting to walk into somewhere where people are happy to come to work. It seems like there really is true autonomy and excitement for making things as good as they can be, which is Wonderful.