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The Arkadin Buddy Program: Onboarding Made Easy

Joining a new company is challenging for anyoneyou have to suddenly adapt to a new workplace environment and culture, all while meeting dozens of new people (not to mention trying to remember all of their names), and rapidly learn to deal with new working procedures and even technologies.   

In those first few hectic weeks of onboardinghaving an experienced colleague you can turn to for guidance and support can take some of the pressure off and make things a lot easier for you. 

That’s why Arkadin has a Buddy Program for new joiners. It works like this: when a “newbie” is about to arrive, their manager assigns an experienced Arkadian to them as a Buddy, with the goal of ensuring their warm welcome while helping them settle in and get up to speed as quickly and easily as possible. 

What a good Buddy is and isn’t 

A Buddy should not be confused with a mentor: Buddies are friendly faces that can help a new hire find the cafeteria or acclimate socially, while mentors help both new and experienced employees with role-related advice and longer-term career development. 

 Buddies are responsible for: 

  • Introducing new joiners to their new colleagues, whether IRL or virtually (some of our Buddies and their new joiners aren’t always located in the same offices) during the first weeks  
  • Establishing a positive, mutually-respectful relationship in which the new joiner feels comfortable asking even the most mundane questions (“Can I bring my own lunch to the office?”) 
  • Tell the new joiner about social and internal events at Arkadin, such as Happy Hours, Sport Events, and Solidarity Weeks, as these are all great opportunities for social interaction, teamwork, and integration into the company’s culture and lifestyle 
  • Being a Buddy is also the most effective way to transmit our cultural DNA – our values – to each new hire. 

 A conversation with Buddy Don and new joiner Justin  

 Don Pameli, our Senior Customer Success Manager in Toronto, is Buddy to new joiner Justin Lee, a Customer Success Manager based in New York. Justin started working at Arkadin in July 2019. We asked them a few questions about their Buddy-New Hire relationship. Here’s what they had to say. 

  1. What was your first meeting like? What initiatives were taken to get to know each other and the company better?

Don: My first meeting with Justin was great. Justin was open to working together and leveraging our time for any and every question that may hit his daily workload. Like every new hire with Arkadin, it can be a bit overwhelming – especially with getting your arms around our solution silos and operation support platforms. That being said, I assured Justin that the first 3 months would be all about gaining access to all the right tools and taking the initiative to shadow as many clientfacing meetings as possible. Justin and I have set-up a weekly touch point cadence covering the previous week’s outstanding items, challenges and aligned support requirements. 

Justin: Our first meeting was virtual as we sit in different offices. We just chatted about who we were and what we’ve been doing professionally. Don set up weekly touch points on Mondays so we’d have a set time to touch base. During this we went over various things. Aside from the set time, Don’s always willing to help out. I’d say we probably speak about 3  4 hours in a given week to review things I need some help with. 

  1. Were there any difficulties or constraints (time, location, etc…) that you encountered along the way while participating in the Buddy program?Do you have any suggestions for improving the program? 

Don: Zero concerns on time constraints. We just made sure to agree on a time that would have zero impact to our day of week and time of day. Having a way to track and document would be helpful as a resource and to see progress. A Buddy checklist would be a great start – highlighting key training items to digest in the first 30, 60 and 90 days. An application tool access checklist, ensuring that all New Hires have proper visibility and access to all helpful job-related tools would be good too.   

Justin: As for improving the programI think it’s of course best to have a Buddy in the same physical location. This just makes it easier to coordinate and communicate. However, we can still do all this virtually. We don’t have too many constraints, but we do sometimes run out of time which is natural as we both still have our day-to-day work to do. I think a bit more structure can help in the beginning. It’s sometimes hard for newcomers to even know what gaps they have. I’d be based on job function/position, but having a way to track and document would be helpful as a resource and to see progress.  

  1. Can you tell us a personal story about something that happened during your Buddy adventures? 

Don: Nothing happened from an “adventure standpoint outside of the typical entanglement of client billing. But definitely took the time, when allocated, to better get to know Justin, his previous roles, personal goals, outside interests, and what he is looking to accomplish here at Arkadin. 

Justin: There hasn’t been a specific personal thing, but I’d like to mention our usual cadence, which I really appreciate. If I can’t figure out an issue/situationI typically schedule 30  60 minutes with Don. This is huge for me, because it helps me learn and resolve issues that I couldn’t without him. I am especially appreciative because I know how valuable his time is. I’ve been at other companies with similar programs and being a Buddy is a huge time commitment. I’ve been on both ends before, so I never underestimate how important this is. Anytime I need help or need to be pointed in the right direction, he was always able to help!  

 

About the author

Magali joined Arkadin in 2011 as Global Head of Internal Communication and Values Champion. Her objectives were to underpin delivery of our company’s business strategy, ensure strategic support across all of Arkadin’s business areas, set up global processes and programs, and deliver measurable impact in helping people explore and understand our 4 core values and the part they play within our company. In addition to her initial role, she is now in charge of our employer brand and focuses on refreshing our positioning and content through a strong digital media strategy via a new careers site and social media content. A graduate of the Paris - Sorbonne Nouvelle University, she spent her early career working with several consulting companies before joining Arkadin.

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