Welcome to the first blog in our Skimprofile series. In it, we’ll interview key people from across our business, talk about our culture, their Skimlinks story and as if that wasn’t enough, they’ll discuss the day job too! Up first is our People Director Niamh O’Reilly, who tells us about her progression at Skimlinks, the challenges of hiring for startups in London’s competitive tech scene, all about #Skimlove and much more.
I joined Skimlinks three and a half years ago. I was living in the US, looking for a job in London, saw an opportunity at Skimlinks for a lead recruiter and I applied. I felt enthusiastic as soon as I read the job description and once I started interviewing there was such a clear sense of personality and culture that I really liked. Eventually I was lucky enough to get the role.
I’ve had amazing career progression. It’s been a real steady growth pattern since I joined. I started out heading up recruitment and then over time started branching out into HR too. I already had a bit of a background in HR, so I started to grow even more into that function and then earlier this year became People Director so I now lead the HR and Talent function.
Daily life is very frenetic. I still have a lot of ownership for recruitment. That means I screen candidates, conduct interviews and focus a lot on how find the very best new members of the team. On top of that I meet people from across the business in regular check-ins. Together with Carly, our People Advisor, we basically find out how they’re getting on, what they enjoy and what frustrations they have (if anything!), and how we can help them with training, career planning etc. It’s a cliche but no two days are the same!
Our culture has really been driven by our founders Alicia and Joe. It wasn’t forced, it just evolved organically out of their genuine commitment to making Skimlinks a great place to work and their desire to see people enjoy working here.
Skimlove is central to our culture and goes back to the very beginning. Way back when Skimlinks was a tiny company, the team celebrated every deal they signed, because it meant a huge amount when we were starting out. Skimlove started life as a hashtag the team would share when we had a win and over time it has grown into the word we use to embody our culture. It now shapes our values and those we look for in people we hire. It’s what we encourage in how people behave too. It’s an acronym that covers all the characteristics we look for, so “S” stood for Sparkle and cheesy as it sounds, we looked for people who had a real passion for their job. Now it’s evolved, so as well as focusing on our values, Skimlove also refers to the commitments we make as a company to our team and to each other.
My favourite letter in Skimlove is “L” because it stands for Learning and Development. It also stands for “likeable” and that’s actually key for me too. We put a big emphasis on skills development because we believe you’re never finished learning. We recognise that if you stop learning, you stop growing, so we want to really encourage that. And then on the likeable front, as a rule of thumb, although not everyone we hire is going to be your best friend, we have a rule that if you ended up stuck on a train station platform or went to the pub with anyone in the business, you’d be able to have a good chat and wouldn’t end up pulling your hair out.
We say we help you ‘be the best version of yourself’ a lot. It shapes the contributions and commitments we make to the team. Being the best version of yourself is not confined to the office either. That’s why we give everyone an individual learning budget for example: to give people ownership of their own development and give them freedom in what their learning.
The KickAss Award is our version of employee of the week. It’s our way of rewarding people who are really great at what they do, have gone above and beyond in their day-to-day work, and really excelled. There’s a company vote, people nominate whoever they think deserves it that week, and then the winner gets a voucher, massive round of applause and drinks served by the founders all evening. It’s a way of celebrating everything we do together.
Hiring for a startup is very competitive. There are a lot of heavy hitters out there, so you have to be creative in finding the best candidates, how you win them over and I think the experience we offer is what wins the day. The people we hire tend to be obsessed with learning and if you’re willing to have a lot of responsibility you’ll flourish here. We move at a very fast pace and on a given day you’re probably doing two or three things that are outside of your daily responsibilities which gives you a huge scope for growth.
I love the ownership Skimlinks gives you. I would have said people, but anyone here will say that because we have such a great team. In terms of ownership, I think the fact you’re attuned to what’s going on everywhere in the business and can see the impact you have on it is massive. Being able to know how you contribute to success puts you in charge of your own destiny.
We were in a pantomime last Christmas. And a choir too! It doesn’t sound like the most wildest of Christmas parties, and is probably some people’s idea of a nightmare, but it was one of the best nights that we’ve had in ages!