In The Parodos: A Conversation With Nanni Sackmann

We continue our series in the parados with our Head of People, Nanni. She has a long career in leading strategy and teams around human resources and culture in multiple industries. Take a look and learn about how you can develop your Web3 career!

In The Parodos: A Conversation With Nanni Sackmann
Nanni Sackmann, Head of People @ Obol

Tell us a little about your journey. How did you get involved with the world of Web3?

I’ve always had a passion for Human Resources and people-centric work. I started my career working in the corporate and luxury industry, but I was always curious about the tech world even without having an engineering background. I love how innovation can improve people's lives. 

At one point while living in Latin America, I had the opportunity to work for a local marketplace company called OLX. From that moment on there was no turning back for me! 

The tech industry is fascinating to work in because it offers constant innovation, the opportunity to solve complex problems, and the potential to shape the future through cutting-edge technology.  In 2010, I got to better understand what Bitcoin could do, and I thought this was really a revolution! I bought my first Bitcoin at that time and continued my research on the potential impact of this novel concept.

Since then I also tried to find a job that worked around Web3, but it was not that easy because the company structures for most Web3 companies were not developed enough to need an HR function. I started reading and participating in some group discussions around what it would take to be hired, how to structure the web3 organisations, etc. to be ready when the opportunity presented itself.

In 2019, the Web3 space had matured to a point where organisations wanted to scale. Human Resources in tech companies plays a crucial role by recruiting and retaining top talent with the right skills and expertise. HR is also vital to fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous learning, which is vital for the development and growth of the company. This is when I dived into Web3.

Why Obol?

After working in Web3 for some time I wanted to find a new, disruptive project with a clear mission that proposed a solution to a real problem. Obol has a meaningful and lasting mission. Before choosing Obol, I met some members of the team. The company culture and their brilliant minds captivated me.

You cannot drive a People (HR) Department if you don't believe and commit to the company mission. I found that in Obol, its value proposition is unique, and this is just the beginning!

What does Head of People mean to you?

Being the Head of People in a company is a role that transcends old school Human Resources responsibilities. It means being the guardian of the company's culture and values, fostering an environment where every individual can realise their full potential and contribute to the organisation's success.

It's a deeply rewarding and challenging role, as you have the privilege of shaping not only the company's future but also the lives and well-being of its employees—creating a powerful connection between the human heart and the company's success.

My role is to work together with the CEO and the leadership team to drive Obol’s development and growth by strategically recruiting, retaining, and developing top talent. I strive to ensure the workforce is equipped to innovate and meet evolving business needs. Additionally, the People function plays a pivotal role in creating a supportive culture that enhances employee engagement and productivity, promoting the best team structures that allow people to grow and add value to Obol.

Can you describe Obol’s culture?

Company culture is the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that guide how employees work and interact within an organisation.

I would say Obol is a remote first, tech driven, multicultural, and diverse company. Our main values that define how we work and who we are: Reliability, Security, Synergy, and Innovation…and of course having fun!

Human Resources in Web3 is surely a unique challenge. What are some of the key differences in managing talent in this space versus traditional sectors?

The team members are the most valuable resources for a successful Web3 project, here is where HR/People becomes really important. 

One of the main challenges in Web3 compared to traditional sectors is hiring Web3 talent. First, there are less people skilled in some particular technologies we are looking for (because the industry compared to others is still “new”). Secondly, although you may have a very interesting project, there are many companies looking for the same type of profile, so engaging and recruiting people has become challenging.

Also, there are other challenges related to managing talent inside a Web3 company because benefits and incentives need to be different than the ones offered in traditional industries. Web3 companies are usually full remote and fast growing companies with different ways of working.

Additionally, strategies for career plans also need to take into account the speed at which companies grow and evolve in Web3. A career path in a company, like Obol, that finds traction and doubles in size in the space of one year cannot be the same career plans that I developed years ago for  traditional companies such as L´ Oreal.

The ecosystem is different, the needs are different, and so are the professional profiles and their expectations.

Web3 companies, like Obol, are known to be at the forefront of remote and decentralised work. How do you ensure a cohesive team culture when everyone is scattered across the globe?

This is one of the most challenging aspects of our company. As a fully distributed company, our team is located in 12 different countries, with different cultures and time zones. Having opportunities to chat about non-work related topics and meeting face-to-face as often as possible are keys to strengthening the company culture. We also endeavoured to define between all of us what our culture is. This was an interesting and collaborative exercise that brought us closer as individuals and reinforced the idea of one company.

Being in HR, you're directly involved in hiring. What traits do you look for in potential candidates to fit into a Web3 culture?

It is important to hire people that understand the basic concepts of the Web3 space. People that understand this, no matter what role they are targeting, understand decentralisation.

These profiles are flexible, open minded, innovative, not afraid to take risks, seek ownership, promote community involvement, and sympathise more with “flat organisations” that promote collaboration than with hierarchies. You will fit into the Web3 culture also if you are tech savvy!

Obol Labs seems to have an emphasis on team wellness and work-life balance. How do you ensure this balance, especially in an industry that’s evolving 24/7?

After some years of Web3 I can confirm that work-life balance is not the same at all Web3 companies, and it depends heavily on company culture. Obol is very conscious of the importance of remaining healthy. We have an  “unlimited time off policy” for everyone in the company.We make sure not only to encourage people to take time off to rest, but also to ensure the rest of the team respects this time when others are off.

Lastly, if someone is curious about joining the Web3 realm but is unsure, what advice would you give them?

If you are looking for your first job in the Web3 ecosystem, start by taking time to learn about the Web3 ecosystem, cryptocurrencies, and distributed systems, and if possible, actively participate in relevant communities to gain a deeper understanding about the Web3 space.

Something really bullish about this space is that people without formal experience but with personal projects or participation in Web3 communities can find a job to start their Web3 career. 

Landing your first job in  Web3 is not only about skills. The candidate's interest, understanding, and vibe play a huge part in who projects hire!

Anything else you’d like to share with our community?

If you are inspired to know more about Obol and our career opportunities check out our website or contact me ([email protected]) to find out how you can contribute to our community. I´ll be waiting for you! 🤝

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