New Joiners Series: Welcome Veronika

Mar 17, 2023

Welcome to Giant Swarm's New Joiners Series where we get to know some of the newest members of the Swarm. This week, we meet Veronika Stamos. 👋

Role: HR Manager

Most used Slack emoji: 👍🤣💚

Current location: Ladenburg, close to Heidelberg, Germany – and a lot of my time Chania, Greece

 About me

Looking at my CV, there's no clear career path that led me to my current profession. I started my career as an apprentice in a bank, then transitioned to becoming a sales manager at a bakery. After that, I worked at a real estate bank as an assistant, eventually becoming a project manager over the course of thirteen years. When the bank closed down after the real estate crisis, I took the opportunity to pivot to a new career and applied for a job as an HR Manager, which has been my profession since 2012. Before joining Giant Swarm in October 2022, I worked for a bank in Karlsruhe, Germany, and an industrial company in Brühl, Germany.

If I look back on my CV now, my passion for working with humans started very early. In my job as a sales manager back in 1997, I was also responsible for hiring the right people (bakers, drivers, and salespeople for the shops). I loved the parts related to hiring and talking to people, motivating them, and giving them hints on how to grow their sales in their shops. The parts I didn't like too much were the conversations where I had to be direct and strict and sometimes had to fire someone. But even at that early stage of my career, I realized that being authentic and honest is always the best way to communicate with people.

In the bank where I started as assistant, this “HR-thing” continued. Not to the same extent as in the bakery, but whenever there was something HR-related my VP handed it to me. During my thirteen years there, we expanded business throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Building up these subsidiaries abroad required the company to get familiar with local labour laws and regulations and to get the right people on board to grow the business. And this was my part — I did all the research, setup the labour contracts and accompanied the whole hiring process. This was fun and I had the chance to travel to some nice places in Europe and Asia. The real estate crisis hit that bank too, and we had to close down, so labor-wise, this again was my part.

I have been "officially" working in HR since 2012. Although I was in two different companies before joining Giant Swarm, my tasks in both companies were very similar. Finding and hiring the right people, consulting and coaching leaders, and assisting with projects such as organizational changes, implementation and rollout of HR software, establishing personal development and setting up training. 

My desire to move somewhere else — in particular, Chania, Crete — suddenly struck me in 2019. As this wish settled, I started looking for a job in a fully remote company that also has a nice attitude towards people. That's how I came to join Giant Swarm, where I'm experiencing the joy and freedom of contributing to a great team remotely.

My candidate journey and why it matters

When I began my job search, my top priority was finding a company that would support my move to Crete. But as I looked for jobs and went through interviews, I realized that I wanted more than just a location change. I wanted to work with caring colleagues, add value to the company, and do what I love most – communicating and working with people – without being hustled every day and not really being present in the meetings I have with people because there is too much work. 

From my very first interview with Giant Swarm, I felt like I had finally found what I had been looking for all these years. And everything unfolded like it was meant to be. The second interview with my PO was also pretty nice and it confirmed what I experienced in the first interview: nice people, very open minded, space to grow, space to contribute, lots of work, but still space to have a good talk. 

When it was time for my hiring presentation, I was a little nervous – it was my first time giving one. But the tasks I was given were just right – a perfect balance of recruiting, interviewing, and creativity. I felt confident with my work, but still anxious since the whole company would be watching. However, I managed to present everything on time and was happy with how it went. 😀 What I loved most was the Q&A session – not just because I got to ask my own questions, but because I got some amazing answers from engineers and salespeople who showed me that everything I had experienced so far was not just talk but a reality throughout the company. 

The biggest challenge I've faced so far 

Well, I was confident in my role and thought, "Okay, I need to get into the processes of Giant Swarm, but there might not be any big challenges for my job". Hahaha — how wrong was I? 🤣 Yes, I had to become familiar with the processes, but that was not the biggest part for me. What I underestimated was the fact that we use very different tools compared to what I have been used to so far. When we were setting up my GitHub account, I was like, "Git what?!?" 😧

And besides that I also underestimated that working remotely requires a lot of other approaches to collaboration. I was not used to communicating with my team so openly and frequently. I was not used to having so many fixed meetings with my team throughout the whole week. I was not used to a daily standup. It was a challenge to get into that at the beginning. And it was causing some pressure on myself that no one else created but myself. 😉 But I felt so comfortable within my team that I raised these issues so I managed to cope with this in a very good way. 

My greatest source of happiness when it comes to work

I love working at Giant Swarm. There has been no day where I logged out in the evening and felt drained. Yes, of course, I have had busy days so far too. But being in an environment where I feel safe, where I feel that I can speak openly to people — about the fun stuff as well as the challenging stuff — without being judged, where I feel welcomed after such a short time by everyone I talk to fills up my energy on busy days. 🙏

It makes me happy to be in a company that not only states some values on its website, but also lives them in daily life. I feel empowered and seen working here. We love to have fun but also create results. For me, it's a good mixture between “We need to do this to be effective and successful” and “We do what we love and have enough time and space to do that”. 

Last but not least, I like how we communicate in general. When I log in in the morning and go through the unread Slack messages, I have to smile. We communicate in a very open way and also share private stuff on Slack. This shapes a culture of trust and understanding in my opinion, which to me is one of the most important facts to feel happy at work. 💚

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