We, at e27, believe in Asia’s startups. As such, we value their insights about the ecosystem, put the spotlight on their contributions to their industries, and celebrate the wins that they have.
This community spotlight is on STORM Technologies, an HR tech firm that aims to revolutionise employee benefits and incentives. STORM grew from less than 30 people to over a hundred in a span of a little over a year.
We talked to Angeli Recella, Head of People Operations, about managing clashes, scaling, and what’s it like being a young HR professional in the startup world.
On what her function as head of People Operations entails
“Essentially, I mix HR practice, business operations, and research, all for the purpose of taking care of STORMers” [STORM employees].
On plans that change
“Funny enough, I went into HR knowing I’d leave in a year or two. I have always set my mind on practicing Clinical Psychology [Angeli is a Psychology major] in the clinical and academic sense. So I did just that: focussed on HR for almost two years.
What’s unexpected was when I shifted into other roles such as Marketing, Customer Service, Supply Chain, and Consulting, all because STORM let me. In the same process, I found that clinical practice in Psychology might be too overwhelming for me.”
…and somewhat goes in full circle
“I am still pursuing the academic side of Psychology, though, and happy that STORM allows me to run after both career paths.”
On the best part of being in human resources
“Being in the HR field is exciting because I get to deal with people. Impact is more real that way, I suppose. At the end of the day, as Richard Branson is quick to point out, I firmly believe that companies should take care of the employees, because employees will take care of your customers.”
On managing the transition from 30 employees to over a hundred
“Man, STORM is different company every year. In Blitzscaling, Reid Hoffman introduced the different organisational structures; I started in STORM when it just graduated from being a Family into being a Tribe. Now we’re a Village! Aside from the obvious challenges of growing the employee count as we grow the customer count, we also had to maintain and develop the culture.
We were, and still are, very purposive and careful with how we scale our core values.”
On how they manage friction between employees
“STORM is a God-led firm. Confrontations and clashes happen, yes. People hurt other people emotionally sometimes. But we always remember that compassion goes a long way – so we talk it out, find resolutions by listening to each other and really understanding where we’re coming from.”
On the truth about managing millennials
“In my experience managing mostly millennials, I can say that it’s not as difficult as others make it seem. I imagine it’s like how other generations would want to be managed – they want to be heard and valued. The difference now, I think, is the rate of change. Everything and everyone moves so much faster now. That means, managing the workplace should be just as agile.”
On what she loves most about her job
“Learning never stops, literally. Just last night, I found myself reading about design thinking and how we can apply that in policy creation and even internal communication plans. A couple of months ago, I was listening to Actionable Gamification to help me understand human motivation even deeper. I love that I get to explore different disciplines and bodies of knowledge just so I can apply it to people management.”
On her one piece of advice to HR professionals working in startups
“Occupy a seat in the executive committee, or at least, let your voice be heard by top management. You have to champion employees because they are the greatest asset any company can have.”
STORM Technologies is Philippine-based startup that combines proven Human Resources and organisational philosophies with technology to offer innovative HR solutions. They are the largest employee benefits and incentives firm in the country, serving over 100,000 employees across different industries.