grow-up.de meets Tania Mercado
Tania Mercado, from our Talents & Organization team, was recently interviewed for the brilliant www.grow-up.de blog about her position at trivago, and how a Talent Development role in a tech company differs from the more traditional ‘HR’ position. The original blog-post is presented in German, but we got our hands on the English version, just for you ;-)
Grow-up.de: Why did you choose trivago as an employer?
Tania Mercado: I chose trivago as an employer because I wanted to work in a dynamic and international environment within the tech industry, as I believe it is one of the most rapid growing industries. Moreover, I wanted to further develop my career in an environment that would allow me to learn much more than just what my department would cover.
GU: Why do you love your job in the team talent development & off-boarding? (I am assuming you really like your job!)
TM: I love my job because every day is different. We have so many new topics to work on. We like trying out crazy things that perhaps other companies have not tried before or have done in a different way. I always get excited whenever I hear that colleagues have decided to take the next challenge inside or outside their department.
GU: How is talent development in a company like trivago different from talent development in traditional companies like Bosch or Kraft?
TM: At trivago you are the owner of your own development. trivago gives you the tools and the opportunities to move forward in your career. We do not have fixed career paths where we tell you where you will be in the next years, instead you drive your own development at your own pace. Unlike other companies, age and seniority are not factors that decide if you should have a leadership role at trivago. Instead, we look very much into your knowledge, skills, vision and attitude.
GU: How would you describe the perfect trivago-employee?
TM: It is difficult to say what a perfect trivago-employee is like as we really value authenticity. I would say that perfect trivago employees are those who feel comfortable in being themselves, have thirst for knowledge, challenge themselves, grow and learn as a team and as individuals.
trivago offers a culture where talents trust in each other, discuss openly and speak from the heart. We are passionate drivers of change and we base our decisions on data rather than pure assumptions. We constantly strive for improvement and new ways of doing and thinking. To feel comfortable in this environment it requires intrinsic motivation and an open and analytical mind-set, that feels strengthened and challenged by our core values.
GU: What are key challenges developing young talents — especially since most of trivago’s employees are quite young? Please correct me if my assumption is wrong!
TM: It is true that most of the trivago employees are millennials. The average age is 29. As you know Millennials are constantly looking for new learning opportunities, are quite dynamic, appreciate a work-life balance, are quite savvy regarding tech and international trends.
However, I believe that these same characteristics have also shaped the way we work at trivago. We are constantly trying new things out, we encourage our talents to be authentic, offer flexible working hours and even the opportunity of working from a different location like Palma for up to four weeks after working for trivago for one year.
At trivago we have the following sentence quite in mind as they reflect how we are:
“We do not want to stand still. We develop further and never stop exploring. We want to learn more, create more, experience more. We are never wise, never great, never done.”
We have a very flexible organizational structure at trivago that gets reshaped whenever we feel it makes sense to do so. We know we are not married to a way of doing things and are quite open to new ideas.
One of the key aspects of developing millennials consists of empowering them to embrace opportunities, take full responsibility of their tasks and recognize their efforts and successes.
GU: What kind of talent development measures does trivago offer its employees?
TM: At trivago not only do we have the traditional development measures, such as online courses, work and study programs, classroom training and workshops, but also offer inspirational learning sessions such as academies (interactive presentations on specific topics), trivago Fridays (weekly meet-ups where we can have in-depth conversations with our Managing Directors), language courses, conferences and vitamin sessions (a platform that enables the exchange of knowledge across our trivago team).
We are aware that millennials like to be frequently challenged and after two years or less, they might be looking for their next career move. Our rapid paced growth enables us to offer new job opportunities for most of our talents where they can further develop in their careers. We encourage internal movement at all levels of the company. For example, this year we had cases where some talents moved from a Marketing department to a Tech one.
In Dusseldorf we are now well known for our Hackathons which are open to external people. This year we decided to take this to next level. For the first time we had an event called “Hack the org” where tech and business teams joined forces to exchange thoughts and collaborate intensively on developing business ideas for trivago. The wining projects received a coach who will help them to further develop the projects and put them in place.
GU: How would you describe the thirst for knowledge of the employees?
TM: As a matter of fact, fanatic learning is one of our company values. We encourage our talents to be curious, seek to continually learn and always strive to inspire others. There is always something new to learn no matter if it is related to their current working field or not.
For instance, talents usually sign up for the training courses themselves instead of having their team leads assigning tasks or workshops for them. They even take the initiative to exchange their non-work related knowledge with others, for example our internal trainers for yoga, French, photography and DJ classes are internal employees.
trivago is the space and people create the environment. For example, I am currently learning Mandarin and I have lunch with my “tandem”, who is from China, from time to time to practice. I often get invited to Asian pot lucks and Asian cultural events. And so, every employee creates their own
learning spheres according to their personal interests and goals.
GU: To what degree does individual responsibility for personal and professional development matter?
TM: Talents will make the most out of each situation if they take the ownership. Personal and professional development are equally important and we support both as we know that one will have an impact on the other.
For this reason, our recreational activates go beyond just sports. For instance, we have theatre classes, a trivago choir, mixing table and we even have experience academies such as sailing trips, meditation retreats or and a brand new experience academy called “take me home” where a group of employees go to visit the home town of a trivago employee for a long weekend.
We are always very open to hear the interests of our talents as they are the ones who come up with great ideas for their personal and professional development.
GU: How do you see the future of talent development?
TM: I believe that the future of talent development will continue changing together with the generations.
I think organizations will stop defining fixed career paths and start listening to the talents to see in which direction they want to go to and support them to continue developing even if it is in a completely different area or outside of our organizations. (After all, we want them to come back after collecting more experience and seeing other ways of doing things).
At trivago we are making changes in our leadership style to pay closer attention to the development of our talents. We are aiming for having more personalized approaches rather than having only one for everybody. Personalisation is nowadays very important and millennials appreciate it. At the moment we are over 1200 employees and have over 50 nationalities, as you can imagine the cookie cutter approach would not work.
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