Ahead of a Think Tank we’re running this 4th July on ‘Employer Branding‘, we caught up with our host Thomas Forstner from Paddle. Below, Thomas discusses several of his career highlights, reveals what it’s really like to work at Paddle and shares one of our favourite ‘tech hacks’ to date. Read on to find out more…
For more information on Thomas’ Resourcing Think Tank and to book your place click here.
1. What does it feel like to work at Paddle
I haven’t regretted a day of coming to work since joining Paddle. The atmosphere both in the Talent team and across the office is always inviting, open and full of ideas. When we argue it comes from a position of care, with perspective for each other’s viewpoints and always in the interest of doing the right thing for the business.
Throughout my year-and-a-bit with Paddle I’ve found that everyone – from leadership to the wider team – truly does value the importance of culture. We live our core values in the way we conduct ourselves (Take Ownership, Stay Curious) with each other (Open & Transparent) and with our stakeholders (Focus on The Impact, Do The Right Thing). What’s more, our perks and benefits align with these values, from unlimited paid holidays (taking ownership of your time) to an L&D budget for every Paddler (encouraging you to stay curious) to equal parental leave (it’s the right thing to do) and more.
From Day One I’ve always had ample opportunity to get involved in projects outside of my core role – from leading Paddle’s social committee to naming our mascot to organizing a Pride event – to diversify my skillset and progress as a person and a professional.
2. What do you do to enjoy a positive work/life balance?
When I’m at the office I tend to work long hours and give it my best so travel becomes my counterweight. With four major airports scattered around London I like to escape the city and explore the various corners of Europe with lots of extended weekend trips. Having an unlimited paid holiday and flexible remote working policy comes in handy there, so does our office location near Liverpool St – under an hour from my desk to Stansted Airport!
Even when I have no trips planned, Paddle does lots of activities to enable a positive work life balance. From in-office yoga to some teams working from home once a week to subsidized gym memberships to receiving an additional £30 in our monthly paychecks per month to spend on health, fitness and wellbeing. Our managers at Paddle recently became Certified Mental Health First Aid champions to serve as a safe contact for anyone struggling (work- or otherwise) and if you want to talk to someone outside of Paddle we’ve partnered with Sanctus who provide certified external coaches.
3. What’s your greatest success to date in your role at Paddle?
I’ve only had one recruiting role prior to Paddle so I’m proud of the long way I’ve come since and grateful to everyone who’s mentored, supported and taken a chance on me so far. As part of an initial team of three I’ve helped more than triple headcount at Paddle from 40 to 140 people in ten months. Many of the roles I was responsible for were new to us so initially we had nothing to assess against, our hiring managers and their teams needed interviewer training, interview processes had to be formalized in scorecards and so on – all that on top of understanding a role and its position within the business rapidly (hello, AML & Credit Risk Analyst!).
So far I got to work with and hire for every member of our C-level leadership, every one of our five departments, and most recently began working with our Marketing team to take charge of updating our EVP and employer brand. Even with our challenging headcount goals, with great teamwork we’ve managed to hire everyone within time, and I got to hire talent across every single department and seniority (from interns to Heads-of), in both tech, hybrid and non-tech roles. I can’t overstate how thankful I am that Paddle – and especially my team lead Georgiana – has given me these opportunities to succeed.
4. What’s the first thing you do in the morning to set your day up for success?
I feel most productive in the mornings so I usually walk to work. I feel the drain of technology more these days so I’ve made a habit of starting with breakfast and tea in our open space, and not opening my laptop for first 20 minutes of my day. I find it easy for the day to get the better of me and feeling like I’m behind before I even started so I’ve started using an app called Fabulous, which slowly trains and reminds you to incorporate small routines into your daily routine – like taking five minutes to just breathe, or to drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up – and build them up as habits over time.
5. What books or articles have you read recently that have inspired you?
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami is one of my all-time favourites. It’s this strange mix of autobiography, journal and… something else… and it talks about how running has given Murakami the energy to be a novelist. It may sound weird but as a runner and writer myself I can relate to that.
6. What’s your favourite technology hack that you’d recommend to your peers?
A while ago I read this tech hack that’s supposed to help you spend less time on your smartphone: I group any app that’s related to work (Slack, Mail, calendar, etc.) together on a separate page to prevent me from unnecessarily looking at work-related stuff during down time. The first page of the home screen is largely empty except from some essential communication, and all notifications for other apps turn off automatically after 6pm (on an iPhone that’s via a feature called Screentime). As for all other apps, I’ve sort-of started to try out the Marie Kondo approach: anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ gets deleted or pushed to the back. Some people I know have blank picture with the sentence “Do you have to?” written on their lock screen. All this probably sounds trivial but simply having a mostly empty home screen has actually reduced the amount of time I spend on my phone by about an hour.