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Future of Work

People Over Perks podcast ep. 3 – Ulrike Schadeberg, Head of People & Global Executive Recruitment at Cherry Ventures

Leapsome Team
People Over Perks podcast ep. 3 – Ulrike Schadeberg, Head of People & Global Executive Recruitment at Cherry Ventures
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Welcome to another episode of the People Over Perks podcast by Leapsome. Each episode features an HR and People Operations leader, sharing behind-the-scenes details about their role and the processes they’ve put in place to build a high-performance culture in their company. We’ll also discuss the future of work and how to make workplaces more humane and diverse.

Our guest on this episode is Ulrike Schadeberg. Ulrike is the Head of People & Global Executive Recruitment at Cherry Ventures. In this episode, we discuss how Ulrike balances wearing multiple hats, how she supports the early-stage startups from the Cherry portfolio with all HR topics, and much, much more. Enjoy the discussion.

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Full episode transcript

Andy Parker (Host) (00:02):

Okay, so Ulrike thank you for joining us.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (00:06):

Yes, my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.

Andy Parker (Host) (00:09):

Whereabouts in the world are you right now?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (00:11):

I am sitting in our Cherry offices in Berlin on Linienstrasse. So I'm broadcasting out of a Risikogebiet, so I'm sitting in Mitte.

Andy Parker (Host) (00:23):

Okay, nice. Excellent. And so you are the Head of People and Global Executive Recruitment at Cherry. Tell us a bit about Cherry ventures and how do you describe your role there?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (00:34):

Yup. So Cherry ventures is a Berlin-based, but European-wide investing seed-stage fund. So our, our sweet spot is seed-stage meaning we invest in founders that have no numbers, no traction, just great potential and a great idea. And we are usually among the first investors and that's basically our business and then we support and grow and build sustainable companies with them, which turn into unicorns, hopefully within the next five or 10 years.

Andy Parker (Host) (01:11):


Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (01:12):

This is what Cherry Ventures does and what do I do? So I am everything people, so I'm in charge for everything that's for our organization; so for Cherry directly, and it's as little as all the people related admin stuff over to recruitment, cultural aspects, leadership topics. So it's all-in-one and then I also work with our portfolio with our founders.

Andy Parker (Host) (01:40):

Yeah. Interesting. And so I think that's super interesting for your role specifically that obviously you get to do the internal side with Cherry and also support your portfolio. And I'd love to come back to that, but to begin with, it'd be great if you could take us back to the start a little bit. So how did you, how and why did you get into HR to begin with?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (02:01):

So actually there is no glory fame and glory story behind. So it was actually by accident because I actually started to study to become a teacher. An English and a history teacher. But loving that in high school and actually studying to become a teacher is totally different. So after four semester after the German vordiplom, I decided that's not the route I want to go because you can only be teacher – there's no, no left and right so to say. And then I decided to, you know, for a new bachelors program and in between, I had a bit of time. And then I was just curious to see what's out there. And I ended up doing an internship in the field of HR and the field of recruitment with back then it was Daimler-Chrysler, which is now just Daimler.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (02:50):

And this was my first let's say a step into the role. And then I did a few internships throughout all my studies, but I always ended up in HR and and just like at the most, because I am, I'm very curious, so you know, if I learn, I like the process of learning and not, not so much the result, but I actually know something new and then that really helps with with HR. So there was a lot to explore and a lot to, you know, ask so many people around and that sound how it all started.

Andy Parker (Host) (03:25):

Interesting. Cool. Thanks for sharing that. And and so remind me again, how, how large is Cherry as an organization right now in terms of head count?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (03:33):

Our total head count we are at 19 people with one person, being at the MIT, doing an MBA at the moment and the other one being on maternity leave. So we are, 17 active.

Andy Parker (Host) (03:47):

Great. And and so, I mean, your early, some of the early roles you had in your career were at KPMG and Zalando. Obviously KPMG being one of the top four, you know, consulting firms and Zalando being one of Europe's largest employers, on the tech side. And so, when it comes to headcount, obviously very, very different organizations. What would you say are the biggest learnings that you took away from those experiences that you could apply to Cherry? And what are some of the things that you had to, you know, perhaps relearn along the way?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (04:21):

Yeah. That's an interesting question because the two organizations I worked for before they're like left and right. Yeah. It's like they are day and night it's completely different. But what I learned at KPMG and that, was with me through all of my, my career, was definitely processes. So KPMG is a machine and comes through processes. I mean, they also sell shared service centers to, to other companies. So, you have a process for everything and even, HR is structured by processes. So here, I mean, when you are in that machine, you sometimes hate it because it's, everything is broken down. But, you know, after, you know, taking, taking a broader view on it, it really helps to have clear responsibilities and to grow based on stable processes and also avoid mistakes. And it makes you, it makes you much faster and you can always look back and say, okay, this is, this happened because of this and that, and this is why we need to change it.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (05:23):

So this was something I learned and the hard way, because it was something that I could then embrace at Zalando. I'm also somebody that actually doesn't like to follow processes. So I always try to find my way around knowing that, you know, the, the process needs to, it needs to stay, but business comes first and if you have to take a small detour, then we try to find a detour. And so this is something I learned at KPMG, which, which I think is really valuable. And something I also learned, which is something I could apply later on is if you have too many interfaces, things slow down. So it's sometimes it's good to pull responsibility in one person and, don't split up too much. And, if you split up too much, then responsibility and ownership gets lost along the way.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (06:21):

Yeah. Then always somebody else thinks the other person is taking care of it. And this actually really helped to then step into Zalando where there were no, I mean, there were when I started, there were already was an HR department. They were doing, you know, for, the stage they were at where they were doing great HR work. But of course there was a lot to be built because you were like hyper growing and here it was good to always have the fallback of saying, okay, we have clear processes. We know how it works responsibilities within the person. So that, that really helped. And what have I learned at Zalando, which I could take over now? A lot, a lot, a lot, a lot. So I, I stayed there six, six years and I started at Zalando when the company was about 2000 people and roughly two warehouses.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (07:12):

And I left after the IPO, after Zalando had 16 countries opened up and had roughly 11,000 people. So there was it was a lot of growth. And when it comes, when it comes down to what I said before responsibility here, I learned a lot. So if you see something you said, this needs to be done, it's not somebody doing it, you do it. And then you can really have an impact and change things. And you also learn, learn a lot along the way. Because some things work and some things don't work and you can also be thankful, thankful for the things that don't work, because they also teach you a lot. So this is actually something I learned, learned there. And at the end of course Zalando became more I mean, bigger and bigger, and there were more stakeholders involved. So I had the learning also that if there are too many people involved, you slow down.

Andy Parker (Host) (08:08):

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And, and were there things that when when you started your role at Cherry, you thought to yourself, Oh, I could just drag and drop what I have learned at Zalando into Cherry and then realised that actually, that just didn't work at all in the new environment?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (08:25):

You mean things that did not work here because of, of size and business model, because we're so different.

Andy Parker (Host) (08:31):


Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (08:33):

So the majority of learnings that did not work well actually due to due to size and we are a partnership, you know, so our, our partners they've started, started Cherry and they're, I mean, for them, it's their, you know, flesh and blood, as you say, in Germany your fleisch und blut. So they are still involved a lot and they are, you know, take a lot of things really seriously where I would say, okay, this is, you know, not management topic anymore, but because they, you know, they believe that they need to be involved. And it's management should, should not delegate things that they believe it's too small. So here we had some, some topics where we said, okay, this I tried to do stuff that was a bit too corporate for our size. Yeah. So when, when we had something we wanted to to change or not to change, but to start like saying, Hey, we need to draft our values again. And then I was, you know, in my corporate HR style saying, okay, we need a storyline, you know we need to talk to these people and da-de-da-de-da and then they said, okay, there are no hierarchies don't need that. We will just talk to the people at the coffee machine. So this is what, what was different!

Andy Parker (Host) (09:55):

Yeah. I can imagine, I can imagine this. Yeah, as you say, when there's a process for everything and you you want to apply that and and realizing that as you say, the coffee machine also just does the job.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (10:08):

Yeah. It does the job. And then there's also something that's really unique to VC - to venture capital - is that relationship building is really important and your network is really important. So from the outside sometimes do the whole business seems to be very close. So it's kind of hard to sneak in until, you know, and not a lot of people know how it actually works. And so we always have to watch our relationships in our network. So you cannot burn bridges because you might need them sooner or later. So that's, that's something we need to, we need to always have in the back of our heads.

Andy Parker (Host) (10:47):

Yeah, absolutely. Interesting. And then so with with your career would you consider yourself a, a generalist, or would you say that you have a specialty in a certain area?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (10:57):


Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (10:58):

I mean overall I'm, I'm becoming more and more of a generalist, although there are aspects of HR, which I've just touched. That's why I wouldn't, I wouldn't say I can develop like a leadership learning journey from beginning to end. Yeah. So I've, you know, as a business partner activated and driven those topics by the head a great set of expertise behind me who were then, you know, doing all the little tricks and the concepts. But so I'm a generalist, but I do have a specialty and this or something I see myself standing for. And then also get feedback that a lot. And that is clarity. So I'm, I like to have lean processes. I like to do clear communication, which also involves honesty, which sometimes hurts. Yeah. If you, you know, I'm also a big fan of, of regular feedback and it, it helps you grow but in the beginning, you don't, you know, you don't want to hear it. And I feel that myself the same way. So I also, you know, when, when somebody is giving me feedback, I'm blushing, I'm like, Oh my God, you know, it's a bit embarrassing, but then I walk away and I'm like, Oh my God, thank God that person told me, and now I can finally change it. So that's one thing. And then I have a coaching degree and, which means I like to do a lot of discussion and a lot of let's say relationship building and a lot of convincing through one-on-one talks. Yeah. I'm, that's, that's also something that I would say is a specialty of mine. Yeah. It's not super special. I, I believe a lot of HR people have that too, but this is how I can describe myself.

Andy Parker (Host) (12:51):

Absolutely. That was really interesting. And and so you, you mentioned you're in Berlin, in Germany right now. And obviously you know, a topic that's on everybody's mind here is is the whole COVID-19 pandemic. How has that changed your work setup at Cherry and, you know, what is the current situation like? I know you're in the office right now, for example. But yeah. How does it look like for you?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (13:22):

So for Cherry itself? So for our fund let's say we became from, I mean, we were remote friendly before because our investment team is all over Europe, meeting founders, meeting other VCs, joining panels joining meetups. So they have been out and about a lot and they now travel less. So we moved them into, so they are not all headquartered in Berlin anymore, and then travel to the locations, they are now relocated through the areas they they work in. Yeah. So we have people on the ground in Paris, on the ground in London. So there's a lot, a lot less travel. And for the Berlin team we said we change into, we changed it to a hybrid model because at the moment also from, from a security side, we, as a company, we don't want to force anybody who doesn't feel safe into, into the firm.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (14:16):

And especially if you look outside, you know, with the weather, then they all have to take the subway. And, you know, you never know. And like I said, we are in the middle of Berlin Mitte, so I rather have the people sitting at home being safe. And so everybody can decide if they want to work in the office or in home now. So this has actually actually changed. So we were a bit more office centric before, and we now moved into the new new set up. So does, this has actually changed for Cherry. And now I forgot the second question. I'm sorry.

Andy Parker (Host) (14:51):

I'm wondering as well, if do you have a certain measures in place in the office to keep, to keep people safe?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (14:56):

Of course, of course. I mean, our office manager was really you know, all over it. She even removed you know, when you want to open the cupboard to get a cup, she even remove the doors and don't have to touch it anymore. You can just take it out. And at the beginning, it was a bit weird, we were looking at her, ok so what is going on here, but of course we are handshake free and everybody in the office has to wear a mask. And we also ask them all meetings that come in to wear a mask. So we tell them before, so nobody can say, Oh, I haven't heard of it. We have masks here so if you forgot yours, you can, you can have ours. And you know, we have stocked up cleaning and all of that. So basically what the majority is, is doing out there. And we prefer, of course we prefer virtual meetings, which is also in line with our strategy for our employees that we say, okay, so we have remote first. That means that we do meetings virtually. So everybody has the same. How do you say it? Prerequisite? Yeah. So it's not that there are five people in your office and one poor guy on the screen needs to somehow make his way into the meeting. So everybody is everybody's on a screen. So you have, everybody has the same prerequisites.

Andy Parker (Host) (16:14):

Yeah. Creating that experience, by being remote first is obviously, you know, it's something that everybody's having to learn, to adapt to. Yeah. It's challenging. Interesting. And so just jumping back then to you, to your team at Cherry how is the HR team structured or the people team as you, you might refer to it?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (16:34):

So there are some clear HR topics and processes, which my people team takes, takes care of, and the people team is really small. So it's myself and my colleague, I have, I have a colleague supporting me basically only taking over on the majority of the recruitment topics, but I have a great we call it strategic resources team around me which also support with topics that would be purely HR in other companies. So our executive assistant or office management does does take care of some, some stuff like helping the team events and, and all of that. So that's, that's with them. So and then also with our platform manager, she does, she does some stuff that would in other companies be with HR and also vice versa. So when we talk about learning resources for founders like setting up webinars and so on and so forth, this is sometimes done my platform, sometimes I'm by myself. So you know, a bit of, you know, fluid.

Andy Parker (Host) (17:39):

I see. Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. And and who do you report to?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (17:45):

Well, that's also interesting cause we, you know, with 17 people and no clear hierarchies I have a, let's say a clear reporting line on paper and that's our CFO, but it really depends on the topic, but some topics like our values, for example, I work with one partner with some recruitment topics with another partner. So I basically work with everybody and this is also reflected in our performance review. So every, so we do performance review twice, twice a year. And then I, it's usually two different partners every time, so I get a lot of feedback from different people.

Andy Parker (Host) (18:23):

Okay. Okay, great. And and so you've been with the business for two years now, is that right? Yeah. And so like throughout that time, how, how do you measure your success in your role?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (18:37):

Yup. So I mean, I can, I can talk about how I would measure it for Cherry, for us as a fund, and also for myself. So there are some clear KPIs for Cherry and I mean the most obvious one is hirings we have done, which covers the executive hiring side. So we look at all the, all the positions we can fill or we could, could fill our portfolio with. So this is pretty clear and we do have some KPIs and they are measured by impact roles. So there are of course the numbers for C-level hires a bit lower than for, let's say junior or other hires that we have facilitated. So and here, I do have some KPIs. And then for the rest it's, well, you could, you could say it's employee happiness, so it's attrition rate, how fast we hire, how fast or slow we lose people, how we tackle topics and how, proud everybody is to, to work here. Also looking at development of people, what we have done, projects we have fulfilled. So this is, this is rather soft, but it's, it's along the HR value chain.

Andy Parker (Host) (19:54):

Okay. And that makes sense. So so it's really, you've just covered like that you have two separate sides of your role. So there's the Head of People side and the recruitment side. And so, how, you know, on your average week, perhaps, like how are you splitting your time or do you consider them two very separate roles? Or how do you feel about that blend?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (20:15):

It's actually, it is two separate roles, so I have two, two different hats. So actually three, I have the Cherry hat, I have the portfolio hat, and then there is, you know, the recruitment or is it rest, which is, you know, head of HR. Um, how do, I mean, there is, of course there is no average week, but it's like, I, like I said, since my colleague supports on the recruitment side, I do the overall steering. So, I set up the strategy and then I work with her on recruitment channels, on recruitment automation, on tooling, and also work on resource building for founders when it comes to recruitment, like, you know, our last resources or last white papers we wrote was about how to draft a role description. And for all the Germans, the hiccups around the Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, around the AGG *laughs* you can tap into.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (21:16):

And but my colleague actually does the day to day recruitment work and what, what I do, I have a lot of calls with executives that come in from our network. And I elaborate on what would we have, if there are any roles within our portfolio where they could fit, I, you know, talk to them what they're looking for. So it's actually all, they call it like talent pipeline management for the executive side. And I do have like a network or a curated list of headhunters and interims manager I talk to and I, you know, select, and this is, there's also some, some work involved. So I meet, meet a lot of them, talk to them, see what they do, if they can help or not help. So this is the recruitment side.

Andy Parker (Host) (22:08):

And what are the biggest challenges that you're seeing at the moment with regards to the recruiting side?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (22:16):

The biggest challenges I see with the recruitment side? I mean, when COVID started that talent market has a bit collapsed. But since, I mean, especially for Berlin, since it was so heated up, it actually felt, it feels, I mean, for me knows that it feels, it feels good and it feels like, okay, we are, you know, getting a bit grounded now, also when it comes to, you know, expectations and salaries and so this, this happened, but I could also see that senior talent and specialists for them, it hasn't really changed. So it's still hard to hire great product managers. And so, so that is, that is good. And then it has recovered really fast. So I would say the challenges and the challenges for recruitment I see at the moment and are not as different as they have been before. Yeah. So yeah, that's how I would describe it. At least for us. Yeah. For, I know for the people looking for jobs it's different, but for us as, you know, as somebody hiring the challenges today, the same thing.

Andy Parker (Host) (23:28):

And so the that the recruitment side is obviously one of the ways that you support your portfolio companies. Can you give us an overview of some of the, the many other ways that, that cherry,uas an organization support your, your portfolio?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (23:43):

Yeah, of course. So I actually call myself the HR, the HR hotline for everything. So there is no speciality where we can not help. And if I don't have the answer, I usually find somebody that has the answer. And but maybe if I can describe how we, how we work with founders and then it goes, it goes along. So as soon as we have invested I have an HR onboarding with our founders and they talk to me where they stand and, you know, talk to me about the first year roadmap or milestone planning. And then we start thinking about, okay, so what kind of organization are they looking to build? Is it international, is it German? What's the language like, because this has all implications on hiring and so on and so forth. And then we also say, okay, so look at hiring today that they want to make, and then we, you know, have the first, let's say working package for us, because then we support, we support them with hiring. That can be a senior as they need, but it can also be okay, we need five marketing managers on the ground, we have no idea where to find them. And then, Oh yeah. So then we have a talent pool. We tell them, okay, this is an ATS system you need, or you don't need, this is how you set up a recruitment process. This is, you know, the contract templates you need to have in place. So we have like an HR starter kit. We can just, you know, push across the table and say, okay, now you can, you know, you can start, this is how, where, and you know, what you need to do. And then my, my colleague starts with the, with the operational work depending on what they're looking for.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (25:24):

It can be, can be Linkedin research, it can be looking in our talent pool, can be you know, starting with job descriptions and so on and so forth. And then we just, you know stay in contact a lot at the beginning because then, you know, topics like, okay, should we offer ESOP? And how does it work? How do we split? Do you have salary benchmarks? You know, just like all those questions that are coming in. So I talked to them quite a lot at the beginning and since it's only me and we have more and more founders, since we do more and more investments, I also try to leverage our our founders network and the broader network we have and the expertise in my team. So what we do is if they,if I get a question, like how do I split up my ESOP pool? I usually have two or three other founders I can connect them to and say, okay, they've done it really well. Talk to them, you know, me, I'm talking like the, you know, the blind of color as you would say, wie die blinden von der farbe, so I make a lot of connections. And if I see that, I get a question, ask, asked two or three times, I just write like blog posts, like, like a blog post about it. It's a, it's a Google, you know, it's super quick and dirty. It's a Google sheet. And then I can send it out again. It's like, okay. So how do I, you know, convince somebody on the phone to work for me? And then it gives some tips, write it down, and then I can send it out again and again and again. And, this is actually what we do at the beginning.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (26:52):

Questions are really the same over and over, but then it really depends on, you know, is it a serial founder? Is it the founding team? Is it German base? Is it international? So questions are, come, can be completely different. And then you help them usually through the first six months, and then then they, they build up their business. And then when the series A or B is coming, we do follow on investments, follow on investments, but other VCs also started investing and then they, you know, work, also work with other HR teams. And then I, I'm less involved. And then later on when C-level hires are needed to be, I also try to support with the C-Level hiring.

Andy Parker (Host) (27:38):

That makes sense. And and then at what point do you typically see your portfolio companies hire their first internal HR person? And and what typically do you advise them in terms of the skillsets that they should be looking for that person?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (27:55):

So I mean, you probably can already guess my answer that I like them to have an HR person as soon as possible, like right at the beginning. And it can also be somebody that grows with the company and it can also be somebody that helps with other topics as well with like office management or I don't know, contracts and so on and so forth. So you don't need like a full fledged Head of HR at the beginning, but for founders, I'm, it's like a vicious circle. Yeah. You need to hire, you need to do value-based hiring. This takes some time as a founder. When do you, I mean, screen, I mean, you get, you, you reached out through LinkedIn or you, you to find time to actually post that job description, but then, you know, you need to screen the CVs, you need to make all those interviews, you know, like actually, you know, I can do Monday or no, I can't, but then you also need to build your business. Like, my question is when do you, when you plan to do this, like at 4 at night? So I try to you know, talk a bit of, you know, what the benefits of somebody being in charge for HR can be. And it's also about what I said before. It's the value-based hiring. You have somebody that can actually do interviews with, you can build a good recruiting process with you; that is valuable for the next five or 10 years. So that's why I hope that the majority goes with somebody for it early and over clear responsibility. We do have companies where, where the let's say the expansion manager is doing it or where the growth hacker is doing it, but there needs to be clear responsibility and not okay. We, all of our founders do it somehow. Yeah. I mean so this is what I, what I would say. And does that make sense?

Andy Parker (Host) (29:53):

It makes sense. And and so, and then flipping that question as well, if I'm, if I'm an HR or people operations professional, and I'm thinking that maybe you know, becoming the first first HR hire within a reasonably early stage startup is something that I'm interested in. What, what would your advice be for me in terms of then you know, evaluating whether it is the right thing that I should pursue. And and what would, what advice would you have for me to land a position?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (30:25):

Well, how do you find out if it's the right thing for you to do? I mean, if you really thought, if you, if you really enjoy building things up from scratch and get your hands dirty, yeah. And get your hands dirty, I mean, you need to, you know, buy the paper for the contracts. So, then this, this will be, will be good. And the HR person will be super close with the founders. And this means you also can, I mean, you, how, how do I describe this best? You are a vital a part of actually building the culture and building the company for the next years because you discuss strategies, you discuss profiles, you discuss team setups, you discuss organizational structure. As soon as there is somebody with, you know, the HR head in the room, they will all look at you.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (31:19):

You know, if there's a question like so do we do English now or German, so what's best. So they look at you. So what do you advise? So you, you, I mean, on the other side if you find the right set up and if you find the right founders that trust you, you are part of the majority of meetings. Yeah. So you get a lot of insights and you learn so much also from the business and commercial side. So this is this is actually the, the thoughts I would have to think about would that be the right, would that be the right job. And then, I mean, there is that, that HR thing everybody says, and it gets boring, but you, I mean, you don't pick the job, you pick the people you work with, and then, and then this is something I would, I would really pay attention.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (32:06):

Yeah. I mean, first of all, do I like the product? Can you know, do I like what the company will build? But can I work with the founders? Are they inspirational? Can I trust them? Do I think I can, you know, they will trust me? Is that somebody I have fun working with? So this is what I would actually look for. And then it's a bit of an investment. Yeah. So you may not earn as much as you would with Zalando. But you learn so much, so it's, it's definitely an investment in your career. And then, you know, once you're put in the next unicorn, you also have a big, you know!

Andy Parker (Host) (32:44):

Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's a lot, lots of valuable experience in there. Interesting. And then would you say that there are any like really common mistakes that you see, like not necessarily your portfolio, but just like the earliest stage startups making again and again, that you have to help them navigate?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (33:06):

Yes, but that's not, not just true for early stage founders. At the beginning, I mean, as a founder or as a manager or as a leader, you have to make trade off decisions all day. And it's always like, do I join the management meeting, or do I go for lunch with one of my teammates or do I watch our numbers for business. So you always have to make trade off decisions. And therefore, especially at the beginning, when there's a lot of speed and a lot of pressure, there is some, there are hiring mistakes happening. And this is the first I would say, I don't want to say mistake, but this is something I see a lot that you hire somebody that doesn't really fit, but is available and meets your budget or, meets your budget.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (33:56):

And then you find out it's, it doesn't really fit. And then the second problem comes in, then you say, okay, he's better than nothing. Even though the person is only 80%, I will not let him go. And then, you know, it goes down then it's only 50%. And then it's like, Oh, you pass the probation period. What do we do? Of course the person also can see and feel that. Yeah. So you have somebody disappointed on the other side, but, you know, dreams were so big. And and then how, what do we do now? How do we, you know, how do we manage? Yeah. So how do we tell him, you know, employee number five, that he was a wrong hire? So what do the others think? So it's this whole issue around, and this is, I see a lot. So I do, I do a lot of personal coaching with founders that have to have that have to do the tough talk, you know, and it, it's not necessarily saying we don't see you in this company anymore, but, well, you're not our CTO. You are our best senior developer, but you're not the CTO. And this is yeah, I mean this is hard.

Andy Parker (Host) (35:10):

And what does that coaching conversation look like? Do you role play that conversation with the founders or how do you guide them through that?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (35:17):

And that too, if it's necessary that too. But I mean, we do invest in, in strong people, strong and smart people. So they that they're usually good in, but it's, I mean, first of all, it's all the legals and what can we do, but then it's really like, okay, so how do I phrase that, you know, what is, you know, I'm, I'm basically mirroring the other side. I'm like, usually either the employee or the team or the investor. So I'm like, okay, so what would your team say, if you would deliver that message and then it's like, Hmm, they would probably think that's the right step. And I'm like, ha yeah. So, and then I'm, I'm, I mean, the other person I'm like, okay, so I imagine you're in a conversation now. What would be important for me?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (36:04):

Why do you think I did this and that? What, what would I, what would I need and so on and so forth. So we'll be looking from a lot of different angles and really thinking about the situation, and then I can, I can help, or, you know have the founders with experiences from, from tough conversations now. So I'm saying, okay, you, you know, I mean, what I always say, okay, the message is clear, so you need to be strong with the message, but it's how you deliver it. Yeah. You can, you can go out. I mean, out of that meeting, you say, Oh my God, I just heard that I've been downgraded, but we had such a good conversation. I really understood why the relationship isn't broken. Of course I don't like it. And I'm a bit furious at the moment, but I haven't lost my face. Yeah. So I'm still, I'm still okay. So I've been respected. I understood everything has been clear. So that's actually outcome you want to have, and this is how we somehow, you know, try to develop product conversation goals.

Andy Parker (Host) (37:08):

Okay. That makes sense. And you, you mentioned that you know, you have your sort of like playbook as such for the first six months that you are able to give every, every portfolio company. Are there any like trainings or anything that you like absolutely insist on or even just recommend that everybody went through?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (37:28):

You mean for our founders?

Andy Parker (Host) (37:29):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (37:32):

Actually, no, we have nothing we say, okay, we insist on, because we do believe that. I mean, at the point we invest, we, we do believe in those people. And what we, what we do is we try to give them a family of founders and experience. So what we have is we have we call it the founders offsite. So we, we bring all founders together. So they know about the other superpowers and then and also start building relations and then actually work with work among themselves. So this is one thing. And then we also offer learning sessions on the go when it's, let's say when the topic is important. Like when Covid started, we did a lot on kurzarbeit on, on all of that. So, and then here we say, okay, it's important for you.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (38:22):

I think I want you to join, or this is this is actually what we do, but since founders are so different there is no like one size fits all and no, how do you say no, Uh let me see, okay, we all need to do this and that at the moment. So we really try to...I mean, one of our values is founders first, so we really try to take a look at them and what they need in that moment. And I usually also usually ask, so where do you stand? What do you think is best now? How can we support versus, being a bit, I mean, I probably wouldn't say, okay, I think you need to do the leadership training now.

Andy Parker (Host) (39:08):

Makes sense. And and then switching back to your, you know, the people side of things within Cherry what is the, like, what does a typical HR calendar look like for you? What are the processes that your team is responsible for? And you know, what do you, what do you run? How frequently do you run them?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (39:26):

So I mean, we do a yearly strategy. So these are the topics we want to tackle this year. This is where we want to become better at and so on as well. So this is on the, on the yearly basis. And then twice per year, we run the performance review, which we do, which we do with Leapsome. So this is twice per year. And then in the, in the meantime, let's say, so we do, we do we do performance review June and December, and then March and October, we either do a bottom up feedback. So our, our partners get feedback from, from the team. And in, in, in March, we take a look at your organization itself and run a quick survey saying sometimes it's, it's connected to our to our performance evaluation, they ask, okay, so where are we good in what needs to be improved?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (40:23):

Where do you need help with? Where you see our organization needs to develop towards to? So this is, you know, the yearly, the yearly plan. And like I said, I think I did say it. We do performance evaluation and then on a monthly basis, I mean, I have to payroll, this is most important for my team. So this, I run every month and on, and we also have I mean, this is new. This is after homecoming. After COVID came in, we have a monthly, a monthly homecoming, we say, okay, we'd like to, you know, if it's safe and numbers are okay. And, you know, people feel safe, we have everybody coming into, into the office. Cause we said, we don't have those spontaneous water cooler talks anymore since we are such a distributed team. So we have everybody coming in and have some focus and dedicated team time.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (41:22):

And the other three weeks, we don't see each other every month. We try to have virtual team stuff. It can be like a team trivia or can be an escape room game of virtual, but can also be a value deep dive or, last thing we have done with, a "Read Me", you may know the manager Read Me. You know, where all the managers like draft out how they work and, you know, and so on and so forth. And we have done this for each of our team members, but a bit more personal. So they share their life stories and how they became the person they are at the moment. And, they've had some pictures of their childhood. So and then, we will do a trivia based on that too. So I will show pictures of, childhood pictures of my team, and then they need to guess who is it. And so this is what we do on a, on a monthly basis and on a weekly basis, I have like, you know, almost probably everybody else, I have a jour fixes with my team, with the broader a team, with the partners, just to, you know, be on top of things and, and, and work.

Andy Parker (Host) (42:35):

And, and do you have frequent one-on-ones with everyone as well?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (42:38):

Not with everyone, because then I wouldn't, wouldn't be able to work anymore, but I have frequent one-on-ones with my colleagues or with the HR team. So we have, we have Monday and then we have a check-in on Wednesday and then I have a frequent one-on-one with our CFO, and then we catch up with one other partner based on the topic and if it's necessary, I also join the management meetings.

Andy Parker (Host) (43:02):

Okay, excellent. And and so for HR professionals on the outside into Cherry is there anything that you think is particularly unique about the way that you work or the structures that you put in place, or what would be most surprising for somebody learning about the work that you do?

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (43:23):

Most, I mean, I can, I can share what was most surprising to me. I mean, at the beginning I thought I would, I would work a lot with our portfolio, but even if it's only 19 people, I'm, I'm quite busy with Cherry topics, which is not bad, but I didn't expect that. So I actually thought, you know, I worked with 50 founders and here, you know, things run themselves, but it doesn't matter if you're 19 or 200, topics, topics are the same. And then we started having people on, I think I said that before we started working or having people on the ground in our different hubs, like in Paris or London or Stockholm, and this need, this meant setting up international payrolls. So in like the, in the hard times, I thought I'm turning into a global mobility specialist and this is something I never wanted to be.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (44:16):

This was quite surprising for me. So I always said, I moved into HR because I don't like, you know, tax and Excel. And then I had it at my desk, which is also, you know, something you learn in a coaching training that always those topics come to you that you expect. We thought this was, this was quite surprising. So I have I have more like tax and law topics on my table then I would have expected, which is, which has not been, you know, I, I learned a lot. And it's also a personal challenge to overcome the, the, the blockage of saying I don't like it.

Andy Parker (Host) (44:54):

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's an interesting interesting point that you make that, of course, as companies continue to hire more people remotely, then there's always going to be these issues of hiring people or, you know, where they're based and overcoming those challenges. Excellent. And and so final question from my side where do you see HR heading? What are you, what are you excited about? What are the trends that you're, you've got your eye on and and you're hoping will you know, happen over the next couple of years.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (45:26):

So where do I see HR heading? I mean, HR is becoming more and more a strategic, strategic business partner. Yeah. So we, as HR professionals really moved out of the reactive HR. I do everything I'm being told. Yeah. So HR, talent acquisition also that is what talent acquisition, business partners, learning and development, they more and more sit at a table with the decision makers because having the right people in the right jobs is, is business crucial. And you can, I mean, with the pandemic, you can also see that at the end, everybody's looking at HR. Yeah. It's either hiring or at the end, if it's kurzarbeit in our office is at home at kurzarbeit and who's sitting there has to, you know, proceed all of the processes. It is it's HR.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (46:20):

Yes. This is Crucial. And therefore I, I can see this. There's a lot more coming. And especially now, when, once the pandemic hit us, I was looking for playbooks or best practices on how to approach the new work working world or the new, you know, the new work. And there was nothing that really fit. Of course there were companies that work, we work remote and some of them have been for a long time, like Yahoo!. And I think, Yahoo! even moved back to in the office, but I think also was it IBM? I don't, I don't remember, but nothing really fit the current situation. And then it became exciting because then I talked to all the HR people within our portfolio, they had the same, and then we were really looking at each other and saying, okay, so it's us. So we now need to decide how we are going to continue for the next five years. So we're writing the playbooks now. And then at the beginning it was a bit overwhelming. So where do I start? But then it also became really exciting.

Andy Parker (Host) (47:27):

Excellent. Well, that's a good, good note to end on I think. So Ulrike, this has been really insightful and thank you for joining us really, really appreciate your taking the time.

Ulrike Schadeberg (Guest) (47:37):

Thank you. It was fun.

Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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