29. October 2020

People @ Personio – Martina Ruiß, Head of HR about Choices, Chances and Changes – and what she has learned about herself


Today I would like to share a very personal update.

More than 1.5 years ago, I told Hanno – our CEO and my direct leader – for the first time that I would like to step away from my role as Head of HR, meaning actively taking a step down. From November on I will take over the role as Head of Talent, mainly focusing on hiring the best talent for Personio, instead of leading the overall People Function.

Looking back at when I joinedPersonioin April 2018 I have to admit that I was not prepared for that role. After having done recruiting in a consultancy for several years, I was up for a good challenge, wanted to work broader and extend my responsibility in the HR field. Personio seemed to be the perfect place and Hanno trusted me that, despite my lack of HR experience, I would be up for it.

I've always been a problem solver and don’t shy away easily. But let’s be very honest: The beginning was hard. I was overwhelmed by the seemingly endless amount of problems piling up on my desk, way too many for our back-then small team. And while the pressure I felt was mostly created by myself and my very high standards, it led to a situation where the balance between my professional and personal life was off.

And then there comes a point when you start thinking about what is most important to you – and you make a choice.

However, our hard work paid off. It was amazing to see the first results after some time, how every new process made us more efficient in our daily work and how things finally started to take effect. And it got easier. Still, during this time I discovered a surprising fact about myself. While it was interesting and a great experience to implement the first internal people processes such as performance reviews, onboarding and engagement or merging with another startup, I also realized that it didn’t come naturally to me. I enjoyed the learning experience, but up until today, what really drives and energizes me the most is hiring and winning the best talent. And this is also where my strengths are best used.

It was time to face this and I actively addressed Hanno that I think Personio deserves better. This beautiful company deserves someone who is driving all people related matters with the biggest passion and ideally can look back on a broad range of experience, mistakes and learnings. Looking back I believe that – even if I didn’t always feel like it – I did a decent job in building the people foundation of this company and helped grow it from 80 to 500 people in 4 offices in 2.5 years. Now we are not a small company anymore. Scaling it to 1000 team members and above in potentially even more offices is a different level. Could I do it? Probably. Could someone else with more experience do it better? Yes, I believe so!

I know that not everybody will fully understand this decision and for some, it might look like a failure (and I’ve even had someone telling me, that as a woman it’s ok not to play with the big boys). However, I know it’s the right one for me. I’ve always been very career-focused, but my perspective on career development changed a lot over the past few years. Instead of always up, up, up, the best next career step for me is to follow through with what my heart tells me to do and focus on topics that excite me the most – which is winning the best talent.

I would never say never, so maybe at some point I’m transferring into a broader HR role again. Until then – and as we will not slow down hiring any time soon – I know there are still many challenges ahead of me and great room for development in my new role.

I say with no regret at all, that I’m super excited to have Ross Seychell join us as Chief People Officer in November and I can’t wait to learn from him and work with him to proceed in our success story.

While the search for him took us 1.5 years, mainly because we were not willing to make any compromises for this highly-important role, it was worth the wait and I’m convinced that we could not have found a more inspiring, experienced and passionate people leader than Ross.

A whole-hearted thank you goes toHanno, who has never stopped believing in me even when I didn’t, who motivated me and stayed calm during my emotional ups and downs, but also personally cared about my well-being and finding the best solution for me. You never fail to impress me!

Also, I want to thank my People Team (see picture). You guys are what I’m most proud of – and building such an amazing team is what I see as my biggest achievement within Personio so far. Only with some melancholy, I’m handing over the People & Culture team to Ross, but I look forward to keeping on leading our Talent Acquisition Teams in Munich, Madrid and Dublin through our next chapters.

Talent Acquisition Team

And I’m so happy to keep on building this amazing company. I believe with my full heart that Personio is the best company for outstanding people!

Do you want to work with Martina and her team? Check out our open positions and join our journey.

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