The Novas behind Novas

Why your principles should always drive your actions

September 29, 2022

And why you need to have them in mind during your selection process.

Do you recall preparing for your first job interview? Or applying to join the Nova network? What I found out while working at Nova as a Talent Manager and then Talent Scout Lead, is that candidates focus primarily, and sometimes exclusively, on their academic and professional path in a technical way. They highlight facts like being among the top 1%-3% of the promotion, being accepted in renowned student organizations, having worked in top-tier companies, and how they excel at certain skills. Don´t get me wrong: all of this is relevant and we do take it into consideration in our selection process. But it is not enough. What drove you to do all this? What lay behind being the first student of your promotion, being the founder of a successful start-up, or holding one of the positions with the highest responsibility of your company? Which are the principles that drive your actions?

Nova network is made not only of people that excel academically and professionally but also that have a strong willingness to help others and improve things around them. In the end, Nova is a community. We want to have people that are willing to listen, share, connect, and help others accelerate. It is this, all together, that can lead to a positive impact on our society. And here is where core values and principles come and take their key place in Nova’s selection process.

According to Lencioni, “core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions; they serve as its cultural cornerstones”.  Having your own principles and making sure they align with the company or community you are applying for, is more than just writing a nice list for your website or your LinkedIn post. You can’t just have them, you need to live them. I have the feeling many people don’t do that and that is the reason why principles do not come to our mind when preparing for an application process: we believe values are not really important or relevant. In this article, I would like to share with you how we live our principles at Nova day by day and how we pay attention to them in our selection process.

How we live our principles at Nova

At the beginning of this year, TVE 1 (one of the main TV channels in Spain) was making a documentary about young people that found a job during the COVID-19 pandemic and I was one of the testimonials. When it was broadcasted, they highlighted how important my educational background and effort were to find my first job. I felt really disappointed, as that was not the message I wanted to share and it was missing one of the key factors that led me to that job: principles. What do I mean? During my first months at Nova, I was guiding an online event with our members when I noticed that my managers were staring at me smiling: "Anabel, we really liked the way you spoke to the Nova members. In the interview, we had no doubt that you shared our principles and values and this is proving it."

That was the first time I realized how much values were driving every action at Nova: during the interview, they asked me about my core values, but back then I didn’t realize how crucial this question was. During our Big Bang Conference (an annual internal meeting for teammates from our three main offices in Italy, Sweden, and Spain), there were slides explicitly devoted to showcasing Nova’s principles:

  1. Member Obsession
  2. Passionate and energetic
  3. Excellence
  4. Hire and develop only Novas
  5. Impact
  6. Humbleness
  7. Innovation and bias for action
  8. Data driven
  9. Big ambition
  10. Frugality
  11. Ownership and autonomy
  12. Challenge and critical thinking

Not just listing them - as I did here now - as they were ethereal concepts, but bringing them into life, incarnated in each one of us: next to each principle, in fact, there was the picture of a team member who embodied that principle the most - and it’s something that we kept doing in our internal monthly meeting!

Slides on Nova Principles in our Big Bang 2021

As Cristina Mateo, Head of Talent Agents in Spain, perfectly summarize it on our website:

"The best thing about working at Nova is to see that those principles that were mentioned in my first interview are not only hanging on the wall but are real and are lived authentically by the team every day."

In September 2021, we created another company within Nova, in charge of Nova’s selection process, Orion. I was in charge of creating and leading this new group of people that would have the responsibility of keep building our community. Based on the previous experience of my own selection process, we also decided to build Orion on core values and principles, and we included them in the selection process. One year later, I can assure you that the most important asset we have in Orion is the people within it. And this would not have been possible if we were not placing principles first and if we were not keeping working driven by them, living them.

Let your principles guide you

During a youth program I attended this summer, I was asked: “If in your selection process you could only ask one question, what would it be?”. After thinking carefully about it for a few minutes (for those who know me you know how much I love doing a lot of questions, so, it was not easy), I had my answer. “What is that thing that drives your actions?”. Try to stop for a minute and think about it. What guides you? What are you willing to achieve? What is the motivation behind doing what you are doing? Why are you doing it? For whom? What is it that you could never give up for anything when working?

When listing your achievements and skills, keep these questions in mind. It would also help you when answering the questions of our interview or explaining why are you willing to join our network. At Nova, we want to know who the person behind that exceptional student or outstanding professional is. We want to see what your drive is and how you are willing to contribute to this world. Think about it, write it down and keep it with you when applying to Nova, or for a job. Make sure you are seeking to be part of a place that will foster your principles and values. In the end, they are what truly drive your actions.

I’ll finish this article with a quote from Ignacio García-Miguel, a member who recently joined Nova. During the application process, he was asked what was the motivation that was driving him to apply for the network was. These are his words:

“My life is all about networks. My family is my first and most important network, and growing! The company I work for, sports, friends, neighbors, church, or even my children’s school. And all of them are linked, not only by myself but by common interests, activities, etc. Thus, the concept of a talent network is more than LinkedIn to me. It is not enough that I have the chance to keep close professional contacts. I miss being part of a network where the points of connection are the way we do things: finishing a task properly (important or insignificant), smiling when we do not feel like doing it, growing internally to be able to give (talent, solutions, sense of humor...). If this is what Nova offers, I do want to be part of it.”

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