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The Odyssey to Primephonic - Onboarding a new hire from Colombia to Amsterdam during Covid-19

At Primephonic, we compete with big names such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer in creating the best music streaming service for classical music fans globally. Being a niche player, our users not only expect the same features in an established streaming service, but even more ‘wow’ features in relation to enjoying classical music.

We can only achieve that goal with truly talented experts in software development, engineering, marketing, metadata, etc. To not compromise on quality, we relentlessly hunt for the best hire. We hire talented people from all over the world. To date, the Primephonic team of 50 is made up of people from 25 different countries.

In a competitive tech environment, making a good tech hire is just the beginning. Onboarding talented professionals and keeping them onboard is the next challenge, as they are in high demand. However, during the Covid epidemic, our challenge to retain a hired foreign talent further heightened - how do we get them to Amsterdam? 

I want to share with you a great example of what can be achieved if a full team really goes all out.

Introduction: Please Meet Cristyan

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Cristyan is a highly skilled back-end engineer from Medellin, Colombia. Our hiring team met him virtually in January and offered him a contract in February. The paperwork to arrange for Cristyan’s employment visa went into full swing right away.

However, before we received the final work permit approval from the government, the Covid pandemic broke out and hindered our plans to fly him into Amsterdam as soon as possible. It meant that we would have to wait until the travel bans got lifted, which in the case of Colombia, meant waiting until September at the earliest. This was definitely not what our team nor Cristyan wanted as he was very eager to meet the team and get cracking immediately.

With a true team effort, several members of our team went full out in ensuring that the Covid-19 pandemic will not stop us!


Meet Carlotta, our HR Manager with the warm welcome

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After much relentless lobbying with the Dutch embassy in Colombia, Carlotta managed to get Cristyan on a ‘repatriation flight’ arranged by the Dutch government. The day of Cristyan’s flight, Carlotta was on the phone with the officials and airlines, to ensure Cristyan got on the flight without a hitch. When Crystian landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport for the first time ever, he was warmly welcomed by Carlotta in person. She had woken up at 6am to be there for him, even during these special Covid times. 

She then went with him to his temporary apartment which she had arranged for him and explained to him all the Dutch peculiarities and how to survive, living all alone in Amsterdam during Covid times. 

Meet Thomas, our CEO who shows care with food & wine

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To minimize health risks for the team, Cristyan would have to work for the first two weeks in Amsterdam from his new home. Therefore, to facilitate his assimilation into Dutch society, Thomas went to Christyan’s apartment and took him round the corner (1.5meter from the door) to a restaurant with an outdoor terrace for a lovely three-hour long dinner. During this whole time, Thomas wore a mask as much as possible, even when it was uncomfortable! 

Meet Francesca, our CX Specialist who loves the great outdoors

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Cristyan loves sports. During his first weekend in Amsterdam, Francesca invited him for a work-out at the Vondelpark, showing him the best spots to workout, all while keeping a 1.5meter distance. The next day, they went kayaking down the beautiful Amstel river together with Carlotta.

Meet the Colombians who bring La Fiesta to Primephonic

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Crystian is not the first Colombian to join Primephonic. In his second week here in Amsterdam, 3 other Colombians from the marketing and data teams invited Christyan for a rooftop BBQ dinner party at one of their homes, while maintaining a safe distance of 1.5meters at all times. In that moment, Crystian felt as though he had found a foster family and was completely at home.

Meet Peña, our Head of Cuddles who is corona-proof!

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At the end of his 14-day quarantine, when we confirmed that Crystian did not contract Covid-19, he could finally meet other colleagues at our office. He was greeted with lots of cuddles from Peña, who was the only one that didn’t need to keep a 1.5meter distance!

Talent management has never been an HR-only task. It has always been a full team effort. The Covid-19 pandemic may cause additional barriers to working teams, but with the right team spirit, all those challenges can be overcome. 

I am extremely proud of our team and am curious to hear your stories!