Who's this Klanger? An interview with Elena Leon, Head of People and Talent

April 17, 2020

Elena is responsible for Klang's People department, running People Operations and providing support to leaders and employees. When not at Klang, Elena usually is enjoying the outdoors, either climbing, swimming, or cycling - sometimes all at the same time. Before joining Klang, she previously worked at HelloFresh and in the adtech industry.

So Elena, you are an experienced HR Manager and now Head of People and Talent, what inspired you to work in this professional field?

It’s a long story. I originally wanted to be an English teacher, but after doing an Erasmus year in the UK, going back to my small town looked like a step back to me, so I decided to move to Berlin without having a clue what to do. After doing a few gigs here and there, I became closer to the HR field doing project management for education: we trained pupils to prepare for their mandatory internships. Once the project ended, doing a certification in HR Management looked like a reasonable next step. While doing a traineeship in HR, trying to improve the working life of managers and employees became a passion for me. We all know stories of friends and family members who complain about the treatment and conditions they suffer at their jobs - most of us have experienced them too. Most of us do need jobs, but businesses also do need people, so I decided to focus on creating better conditions for both employees and managers while making business conscious decisions.

So the gaming industry is rather new to you. How did you find your way to Klang?

Indeed. Ryan, our COO, headhunted me with a LinkedIn message. It was a standard message, but the link to SEED’s trailer made me really interested. Even for someone who is not a gamer like me, SEED struck me as a very innovative and ambitious project. Check it out exploring the new SEED website!

What goals are you currently focussing on with your work?

The focus last year was on creating basic structures, more automated and scalable processes. A few examples are payroll, on- and off-boardings, probationary period feedback, relocation. As the company and the People team continues growing, we are currently working on improving our workplace and the support provided to employees and managers, continuous feedback (360 and engagement surveys). We are also looking forward to having more efficient and transparent hiring processes and collecting data on how the new processes and initiatives are improving the Employee Experience.

How do you improve your skills? Do you exchange knowledge with others in or related to your professional field?

It depends. For HR related topics: reading a lot, being a member of HR organizations and HR Slack groups, having a coach, talking to peers in the field and keeping an eye on what other companies are doing. To improve my soft skills: I reflect on how I do my job and my interactions with my superiors, peers and team members. Another thing that’s really helpful is proactively asking for feedback, discussing areas of development, setting your own goals and doing self-reflection and evaluation.

Have there been any particular challenges or learning processes since you joined?

Definitely! We are now facing the typical challenge that most companies experience when going from start-up to scale-up. Not everything runs smoothly, but we have very motivated and talented Klangers who thrive on solving challenges and adjusting processes and structures that align with our growth and mission.

What are your favourite things at Klang?

That’s a tough one! There are tons of things that I like. On a company level, Klang is an awesome team - this is something that almost everyone can say but it’s true! We are a bunch of very creative and talented people with a huge drive to build a great and unique game. For those of us who work in operations and do not have a direct impact on SEED itself, our motivation is helping Klangers and Klang achieve that goal. Another thing that I love is our benefits: free lunch, so many snacks and drinks, yearly transportation card, adjustable standing desks, and mobile aircon units for hot summers, etc. On a personal level: I see the impact of my work and have the opportunity to work on big projects that will bring changes in the company besides my day-to-day tasks. This has really pushed me outside my comfort zone and cannot believe I’ve grown so much personally and professionally in such a short amount of time! So looking forward to the next projects, challenges and years at Klang.

What can new Klangers expect on their first weeks at Klang?

As the onboarding process varies depending on each position and department, I will focus on the general onboarding that every Klanger goes through. Before a new Klanger starts, we send out information about what we need from them to ensure a smooth admin onboarding, which includes payroll, equipment, etc. On their first day they receive the equipment which has been set up previously, get to know their team, are introduced to the company OKRs and their probation goals by their manager. There are other sessions like introduction to our HR System or vision with our CCO. A new Klanger will also go through our internal wiki where we have tons of information or recordings of the past company meetings. We also have catch ups to find out how their onboarding is going and whether they need any other kind of support. New Klangers will review their probation goals with their managers after a month, and have formal check-ins on their 3rd and 5th month. During those check-ins, they discuss their 360 feedback which has been shared with them previously and go through the constructive feedback: two areas in which we have seen potential, and how focusing on those two areas will benefit them on their personal and professional growth

You say not really being a gamer. Any examples of games you enjoy?

Mostly playing Mario’s World and Yoshi’s Island on my Nintendo Switch. As a kid, Monkey Island and Heroes of Might & Magic were my favourites. Baldur’s Gate is a game I enjoyed a lot as a teenager, mostly after reading the books.

In your role, do you have any ambitions for the company that often seem particularly challenging?

If I had the superpowers, I would magically bring more diversity into Klang. We are doing pretty well compared to other gaming companies, especially on the male-female ratio and having women in management positions, but of course it could be much better, not only on gender diversity. We are aware it will not happen overnight: it’s not something achievable with one measure, it’s a lot of ongoing work. We are definitely discussing it and will make it one of our priorities in the next quarters

What do you think of when you hear Avesta?

Two things: The new home of the Seedlings, a world with endless possibilities. Avesta is also the name of our new office space with the Avesta Kitchen where we serve daily catered lunch for our employees for free. It’s a truly unique benefit for employees, as everyone can enjoy a soup and a salad and a main dish. It’s delicious and honestly a lot of food! We have vegan and vegetarian options, as well as meat and fish. I really miss it during this Covid-19 time where we are stuck at home. The quality is really good, it saves me time and money and I like hanging out with Klangers in the Avesta space during lunch.

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