Starting at a company as big and globally spread as Skyscanner can be understandably a little bewildering. To eliminate this feeling of being lonely in the masses, Skyscanner recently introduced the SkyBuddy programme.
For six weeks every new start in each office will be paired up with a Buddy, regardless of the work location, to ensure cultural exchange. During these six weeks, the Buddy will set up weekly meetings to talk about possible questions that can arise in the first months in a new work environment. During this period there will also be bigger social gatherings such as Welcome Wednesday, which allow all the Buddies and new starts to take a break from work, get together in the office and let the workday fade out with casual chat and the chance to get to know new people within the company.
Denis Khomyshin, one of the creators of the SkyBuddy programme and a passionate Buddy himself, tells us everything you need to know about the programme.
Hi Denis, you are not only part of the SkyBuddy programme, you are also on the committee and helped create it. How did you come up with the idea and what is the purpose of SkyBuddy?
Evodie Fleury and I created and became a part of the first committee of this programme, because we both believe that Skyscanner is a people-oriented organisation where culture and values are very important. With our fast-paced growth, many people join us every day and as I remember myself, it takes time to get to know essential things about Skyscanner. In many universities they practice an idea of a ‘university family’ where more experienced students provide peer friendly and non-hierarchical support for those who have just joined the environment allowing them to get easily accustomed to their new setting, and we thought that Skyscanner could also benefit from a similar system. It’s useful for both a new start and a Buddy, because on one hand this scheme allows new starts to navigate the friendly support system, transition more quickly and impact on the organisation more efficiently. On the other hand it’s good for the Buddies to improve their social and communication skills, increase their own confidence with regards to their knowledge of the procedures and values of the company and as a professional.
According to which criteria are the Buddies and the new starts paired?
To make the Buddies most professionally useful and at the same time pressure free, we decided that the Buddies should be from the same department, but not from the same team. So for instance if someone starts as a Content Executive, they will get someone who is from Marketing or Commercial, but not a member of the Content team. They also won’t be much more senior or junior to one another. When we can, we also try to match Buddies from different countries, but of course it’s not always possible.
The programme started in October 2013 – time to reflect: how do you think SkyBuddy is doing, what feedback does the committee get and what could be done better?
There’s definitely a lot more we could do for SkyBuddy. Because it’s supposed to be a channel for professional communication as well as for orientation, we said we’d only include new starts below certain seniority, but since the launch we have got a lot of feedback asking to include everyone, so at the moment we are working on the right way of doing it. Originally we also didn’t include the new starts who started in September, right before the kick-off of the programme, and it seems like we could’ve done it in a different way. Knowing these things now, we are planning to slightly change the programme and improve our communication, so look out for it!
How many new starts did you already have as a Buddy and what were your general experiences so far?
I have two new starts at the moment, and it’s absolutely brilliant. One of the crucial ideas of a buddy programme system is that we don’t tell when, how, for how long and for what reason you should talk to your Buddies, so that they can identify a way of communication that suits them the most as individuals. My new starts and I managed to do it fairly quickly and became friends rather than just members of the same programme and I’m really proud of it. We often have lunches together, sometimes meet up for a coffee; we also went to the Christmas market and even went shopping to Glasgow, so I believe I can consider myself a good Buddy.
Yes, you absolutely can! So, what does it actually take to be a Buddy and what would you recommend to a new Buddy?
We wanted it to be the way that people would find it most useful and enjoyable, so we didn’t set many rules. My advice here would be to take an opportunity and find out how you want it to work, so that it’s beneficial for both parties and also fun. Take time to get to know your new start and make it about communication, not about formalities.
The SkyBuddy program was established in the light of Skyscanner’s values “Master, Teach, Learn” and “Collaborate to Com(l)ete” to help new starts to integrate into and identify with the company faster, so they feel comfortable in their new role more easily.
The group of Buddies will also meet on a monthly basis to exchange their experiences and collect feedback. To become a Buddy yourself, you should be in the company at least four months, although the longer the better to have a full understanding of Skyscanner – six months in the company is usually the ideal time to become a Buddy. Training will be provided and you’ll participate in programme reviews during which progress and experiences are discussed.
It should also be pointed out that the Buddy is not supposed to be a mentor or supervisor, in fact the Buddy is not directly tied to work performance. The relationship should rather be an informal and supportive one. Negativity or gossip shouldn’t be part of the SkyBuddy meetings.
Interested to be a part of SkyBuddy? Just contact the SkyBuddy team or leave a comment! And in case you and your Buddy need new meeting spot ideas, here are cafés, pubs and restaurants in Edinburgh, recommended by Skyscanner staff. Let us also in the comments know where you go for lunch break or after work in Glasgow, Barcelona, Miami, Beijing and Singapore to help out your fellow Buddies and new starts!