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«Meet the Team»​ with Barbara

Today is International Women’s Day and we take that as an occasion to talk about work cultures in which women thrive. Thus, we release a slightly modified version of our series "Meet the Team"! We introduce you to Barbara, responsible for People&Culture at Helvengo. She is not only responsible for all topics around recruiting and onboarding, but also spoils the team on a regular basis with home made cake or cookies!
Vedran Pranjic

You work 80% at Helvengo and you are also mother of two kids. How do you manage work and family?

I asked myself this question a lot and I came to the following conclusion: I can only do it because a) I have a lot of support from my husband and b) I work for a company that has a lot of understanding and also gives me the flexibility to structure my work.  But honestly: Oftentimes it is tough and often feels like walking on a thin blade, but I’m grateful I am able to do both. 

What would you change about the workplace for women if you could?

I would not necessarily change the workplace itself, but more the mindset of people.  It should be normal that women strive for a career, voice their opinion and are listened to. Women are not suddenly less competent or innovative after they have kids and they’re also not always sick or have to leave early to pick up kids. It’s sometimes hard to fight against these stereotypes. I see the changes though, at the beginning I was often asked in the interviews who’s looking after the kids when they’re sick. Of course my husband was never asked the same question… 

Thanks so much for these valuable insights on todays women’s day. Now lets start with the Either Or Game!

  • Make plans or spontaneous? Spontaneous! 
  • Early or late? Early
  • Mountains or Sea? Mountains. I get bored after a while at the sea
  • Podcast, Movie or Book? I’m a book person. I love to hold a book and flip through the pages. I tried to use Kindle (since we’re in the digital age, right?), but it feels so impersonal. 

If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?

Somewhere with good food and great nature. I think the food part is very important!

Nature & delicious food – good choice. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with, but you just don’t get the point of?

Social Media. I really don’t get why people are so obsessed with it and ponder about likes and views. Plus how can people manage so many different channels? Maybe I’m just getting old… 

Who’s someone you really admire?

I really admire Patty McCord and Ursula Burns. Patty McCord has been one of my biggest inspirations, I don’t agree with her on everything, but she’s definitely broadened my HR horizon, changed the way to look at certain things and she’s a very engaging and smart speaker. 

Ursula Burns, the first black woman to become CEO in a Fortune 500 company,  is my ultimate Leadership goal. Unlike other leaders she is not ego-centric and uses her influential position to trust and listen to her team. Also coming from a low income housing and raised by a single mom she never let her background be a burden. I admire how she worked her way up until the highest echelon in Xerox and I totally agree with her: Impatience is a virtue😉

You are sharing about two businesswomen – this answer could not fit better for today’s womens day! Maybe not quite admiring, but is there a value of Helvengo that sticks out to you?

Yes. Passion. I like the wording we are strongly committed to show passion when dealing with partners, brokers and customers as a pleasant interaction with us will increase the probability for them to succeed on their endeavor as well. On an individual level: There will always be people who are better or smarter than you, but what sets you apart is that you’re passionate about what you do. 

Another value of Helvengo is “integrity”. In your own words, could you explain to us what it means in the context of work?

For me it means to have a moral compass. It goes beyond just following the law, for me it has to do with being a trustworthy person who’ll never intentionally hurt someone for personal gain.  In the context of work it’s someone who has the company’s best interest at heart. 

Other than our values, what made you decide to join Helvengo in the first place?

I always ask these three questions when joining a company: a) do I believe in the product/service offered by the company? b) can I imagine collaborating with these people? c) is there potential for me to grow in this role? In Helvengo’s case there was a clear YES in all of these aspects. To be honest I didn’t have a clue about insurance, but I liked the vision of the founders and I’m still excited about being part of the journey. 

At Helvengo, it is quite often a hustle. So last but not least: What is your go-to productivity trick?

I recently read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and it really helped me focus better on the important tasks, get rid of distractions and eventually be more productive.