HeavenHR Speaker Series: Growing your company by growing the people

Over the past few weeks, our team at HeavenHR has been working extremely hard to put together our first HeavenHR Speaker Series event. We are so pleased and humbled by the turnout, and even more encouraged to facilitate knowledge transfer within the HR community.


What are the HeavenHR Speaker Series?

The HeavenHR Speaker Series are monthly workshops for people interested in HR topics to interact with peers, discuss issues and exchange ideas. By bringing insightful minds in Berlin together, we want to build an HR community that benefits from each other’s knowledge and experiences. Expert speakers will weigh in on different HR topics – ranging from talent management and recruiting, to women in tech and HR in early-stage startups. The Speaker Series not only provide the opportunity for you to learn about the most current HR topics and trends, but also serve as a comfortable place for like-minded people to engage and exchange, inspire and innovate.   

For those who were unable to attend our inaugural Speaker Series event, or if you simply want to refresh your memory – we summarized each speaker’s main points on how to grow your company by growing the people.

Employee development:

Alexander Weber, Manager Strategic Projects at NUMBER26

Grow people by opportunity. Stretch people into roles they have to grow into, and allow employees to figure it out and develop themselves. Establish strength and weakness analyses, provide constant feedback and assess talent based on performance and potential. Have honest discussions with employees about their personal development goals, and be open about what is possible and what is not possible.

Achieving company development goals:

When teams are not aligned and priorities are not uniform, you have to set company goals to provide a direction for employees to work towards. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a great way to define goals and monitor outcomes. With OKRs, you form a clear objective that is qualitative and inspiring, and establish three key results that are measurable to track your progression in accomplishing the objective. Not only do OKRs make sure each employee knows what is expected of them, but also help employees contribute to overall success in a measurable way.

Finding and developing talent:

Mo Moubarak, Co-Founder & Head of Business Development at MoBerries

When you are a small growing business with limited resources, you have to figure out where you are in your growth process, what are the expectations you are laying down, and what are the talents you have at hand. If you don’t have the budget to hire the “Michael Jordans”, look for people with attributes similar to your company’s DNA. These are the people who can create magical moments and flourish alongside your company.

Companies also have to do a better job of understanding their talent. People are like fingers, and it is up to you to distinguish how each finger functions and make them work together as a hand.

Creating positive employee experiences:

Treat employees how you would treat customers. Be open and honest with people, and never underestimate the power of frequently checking in with employees to see how they are doing, and whether they need a pick-me-up. A simple club mate when someone is down can go a long way. Making the effort to build personal connections with your employees keeps motivation high, and it’s also what drives people to run through walls for you.

Stimulating learning and development:

Noor van Boven, Head of People at SoundCloud

Let employees form a learning community. Companies should facilitate the platform for innovation and encourage the exchange of ideas. Provide them with the tools and back off. To ensure the ball stays rolling in L&D, make things clear and easily accessible for employees, and broadcast employee accomplishments to boost morale and keep people inspired.

Empowering leadership:

You have to communicate two things – employees should know they are responsible for setting up career development goals for themselves, and managers should know they have to be proactive in developing employees. Make sure managers are equipped to be successful. For emerging leaders who are in touch with management for the first time, provide them with knowledge and assist them wherever they need. Senior managers and executives also have unique leadership problems that require HR’s support. 

Establish regular people management forums where all managers, disregarding levels can bring a topic to the table for discussion. Such forums should always be hosted by a senior executive and a senior HR member. To foster leadership within your company, it’s important to have HR and management working together.


Minimizing employee turnover:

Alex (NUMBER26): To mitigate turnover, you have to incentivize employees. Put top talents in exciting roles and projects where they can develop personally. People are driven to learn, and companies can attract talent to stay by having great existing talent who can offer them mentorship. Offering employees stock option plans can also effectively keep talent in your company for the long-term.

Mo (MoBerries): Accept that people are going to turn over. Millennials switch jobs every few years, and there is not much you can do to stop them from eventually leaving. Instead, focus on establishing your brand and developing your culture in your employees. Look at yourself as a brand. What do you want the outside world to think about you after this person leaves? How you treat employees while you have them will determine your company’s reputation and future ability to attract employees.  

Noor (SoundCloud): Company branding and working with other smart people are both effective in retaining talent. People are incentivized by personal development, and talented people want to work with other talented people. Another thing to add is, be open-minded and active in rehiring employees who leave. Your top people are constantly being approached with other offers. Sometimes the new position is not what they expected, or they may not enjoy the new working experience, and it’s in your best interest to take them back.

People also stay longer and in a more engaged way if you have an open conversation about everything on each side’s mind. If someone wants to leave to do something else, and you can have an honest discussion about why – maybe you can address those needs and keep them for another year. It’s all about having a mature and transparent conversation.


We would like to thank all the speakers for their insights, and Darja Gutnick, Founder & CEO of 12grapes for co-organizing the event and moderating the discussion. Our next HR Speaker Series event will be on July 28th (location TBD). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on future events.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s