Q&A: Web3 HR - Simple Steps, Big Changes by Srushti Shirsat


Q: How did you get into HR? What's your experience been like? And can you share your journey?

I started off as a CA student, and when I began working, I realized I wasn't enjoying it. So, I decided to explore by doing an MBA in HR and tried internships to understand practical work, considering my experience with C.A. studies.

After experiencing HR practically, I decided to pursue a proper MBA in HR. Once I finished my studies, I entered the Web3 world for a full-time job. Although I didn't explore much of Web2, I did learn a bit about HR principles and analytics, which fascinated me. Managing people, teams, and the challenge of keeping things engaging interested me a lot.

In my journey, I worked for two years at GravityX Capital, a venture capital firm. I handled HR, managed a team, and took care of talent acquisition and operations for both Gravity and the invested startups. I also introduced new initiatives like stand-ups, game nights, buddy programs, and OKRs.

Later on, I joined a product-based company, NORDEK, to understand tech and non-tech hiring. There, I learned about the product ideology in Web3 and implemented new policies. I grew the team from six to 46 people in a short time, hiring more than 50 people. I learned the importance of not only hiring but also retaining employees.

Now, I'm in bitsCrunch, where I landed after meeting one of the VPs in 2023. They were facing challenges related to hiring, employee issues, and legal matters. My proactive nature and the opportunity to solve these challenges got me interested, and I'm enjoying the work so far. Every day, I'm learning and implementing new things, making my journey quite fulfilling.

Q: In Web3, what specific challenges do HR professionals face that might have unique nuances compared to Web2, and how can addressing these challenges provide valuable insights for HR practices in general?

In Web3, what I've observed as a crucial aspect for HR professionals is the need to shift from just looking at technical skills to valuing a proactive attitude and adaptability. In this dynamic environment, I've interviewed individuals who've faced bans on LinkedIn, emphasizing the unconventional nature of talent acquisition.

The key takeaway for all HR professionals in Web3 and beyond is to prioritize candidates who not only possess the required skill set but also demonstrate proactiveness, a readiness to learn, and self-motivation—especially in remote work setups. This has been a significant learning experience in my journey.

As for the future of Web3 organizations becoming corporate entities like in Web2, I believe certain aspects will persist. Despite growth and increased formalization, a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and flexibility in work arrangements will likely endure. Web3, with its youthful and exploratory nature, may always encourage individuals to multitask, learn new skills, and maintain an open culture of asking for help or guidance. These elements could remain differentiators, even as Web3 organizations evolve into more corporate structures.

Q: For a senior HR professional shifting from a traditional setting to Web3, what skills and learning are crucial to grasping the unique culture, hiring processes, and nuances of the Web3 industry?

When transitioning from a Web2 to Web3 environment, one crucial mindset shift is to leave behind rigid rules and concepts of hierarchy and development. In Web3, it's all about exploration, learning, and experimenting with new ideas. While the fundamental HR parameters may stay similar, the approach to implementing and exploring new concepts changes significantly.

In Web3, especially when dealing with the younger workforce, sticking to the traditional strict schedules won't cut it. Flexibility is key; understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.

Whether it's a service-based or product-based company, every organization within Web3 has its own unique culture. Personal experience, especially in Web3, has taught me that adapting policies while considering diverse ideologies is crucial. Being flexible and understanding the individuality of each person contributes to their motivation. So, entering Web3 requires shedding the strict mindset and embracing a more flexible and adaptive approach.

Q: As someone involved in HR, what specific differences or key separation points should be considered when working in a startup in the fintech space compared to one in the EV space, considering factors like the nature of projects, team sizes, and industry nuances?

In HR, dealing with startups, particularly in the fintech or EV space, demands a unique approach. Trusting individuals from diverse backgrounds is crucial, recognizing that one-size-fits-all processes may not be effective. The key differentiator, especially in early-stage startups focusing on DeFi or wallet development, lies in openly facing challenges.

Navigating the legal intricacies of these novel spaces is inevitable. Whether it's fine issues or fundraising uncertainties, being open to the unpredictability is vital. Maintaining top-notch work quality despite funding uncertainties becomes a priority.

Flexibility is key; creating contacts and adapting to the dynamic environment of the Web3 industry is more critical than strictly adhering to a set playbook. This adaptability and acceptance of the unique challenges define the major differences in managing HR for startups in Web3 compared to other industries.

Q: How would my hiring process for a fintech startup benefit from incorporating qualities learned in Web3, and what advantages could this approach offer over those with experience solely in Web2 environments?

In HR, when hiring for a fintech startup with insights from Web3, I'd maintain the fundamental hiring principles but prioritize a deeper reference check. Time is a constraint, and Web3 talent is limited, so understanding a candidate's legitimacy in the Web3 space becomes crucial.

Rather than subjecting candidates to multiple interviews, I would lean towards thorough reference checks, focusing on their skills, and giving them a chance to showcase their capabilities. In a smaller team with significant responsibilities, clarity in role expectations becomes paramount, surpassing the need for extensive interviews.

Q: In HR, while maintaining the fundamentals of hiring, what unique Web3 insight would guide my approach to effectively filtering out candidates and identifying the right fit for a position?

In shaping my HR approach, I prioritize non-technical attributes, recognizing their pivotal role in the dynamic Web3 industry. Here's the structured breakdown:

  1. Taking Initiative:

    • I like people who take the first step and don't just wait for instructions.

    • It's good when someone brings in new ideas and solutions.

  2. Eager to Learn:

    • I want people who are excited about learning new things.

    • Being open to picking up new skills is a big plus.

  3. Self-Driven:

    • I prefer those who really want to achieve their goals.

    • I like people who keep going, especially when things get tough.

This way of looking at things helps build a team that can handle the constant changes in our work. It's not just about technical skills; it's about having the right attitude to thrive in our fast and sometimes unpredictable industry.

Q: In the context of Web3, what are your thoughts on the concept of "proof of work"? Do you believe it could be a transformative idea for the entire world, encouraging individuals to showcase their capabilities rather than relying solely on traditional job-seeking approaches?

For hiring in technical roles, I already ask candidates to show their previous work as proof of their skills. It helps me understand what they can do. But, you know, there are good and not-so-good sides to this.

I had situations where people did interviews on behalf of someone else, kind of like a substitute. For example, there was a person from Nigeria applying for a smart contract developer role. We had a good chat online, but during the interview, things felt off. The person on the call seemed different from the one I had spoken to before. When I asked them to share their screen, they suddenly disappeared, and later, they got banned from the platform we were using.

Another time, a designer I found on LinkedIn or a Web3 job platform left the interview abruptly. After a couple of minutes, they just disappeared. They deleted their Behance profile and all the cool work they had done in NFT and Web3. These experiences show that while proof of work is good, we also need another way to make sure things are genuine.

Q: In Web3 hiring, what are some common mistakes that people tend to make?

In Web3 hiring, one mistake I often notice is the rush to make decisions too quickly. There's a tendency to skip proper reference checks, and it might be impacting the overall process.

The fast-paced nature of Web3 can sometimes lead to hasty decisions, particularly when there's a need to get things done quickly. This might be a common error happening to some individuals. While it's not a universal issue, it's something to be mindful of.

In contrast to Web3, where candidate evaluation is thorough and time-consuming, in certain instances of Web3 hiring, decisions are made hastily, possibly leading to candidates taking the process for granted. This is an aspect that could use improvement.

Q: Since joining the Web3 space, what notable changes, whether positive or negative, have you observed in its evolution?

Since joining the Web3 space, I've witnessed a notable shift in stability. Initially, the environment was less stable, and decisions were made hastily, leading to consequences. However, there's been a positive evolution towards bringing more stability.

Companies, including where I currently work at bitscrunch, are introducing measures like insurance and PF policies to provide employees with a sense of security. While this is still in the evolving phase, the focus on stability is becoming more prominent in Web3, aligning with the long-term career goals of individuals.

Additionally, there's been an improvement in the quality of understanding about Web3. After experiencing various scams, people are now more discerning, and those who have survived in the industry showcase a genuine knowledge of the space.

Q: In your view, how do you anticipate the future evolution of Web3 hiring, and what changes do you foresee in the approach?

Looking into the future of Web3 hiring, I see a significant shift. Initially, when I started hiring in Web3, there was a lack of knowledge among college students about blockchain and Web3. However, now, colleges have dedicated blockchain committees, and students are actively pursuing careers in this field.

The evolution of Web3 hiring is happening on a large scale. Moving forward, I anticipate a continuous growth trend in Web3 hiring, with more individuals getting involved and a heightened focus on quality skill sets and backgrounds. The current momentum suggests a promising future for Web3 hiring.

Do you work in HR?

Email abhash.kumar@springworks.in and let’s talk :)

Note: All views expressed in this interview are personal and not linked to any organization.