Nneka Craigwell is the heart of Namely’s new Atlanta office. She’s putting her own spin on the company’s culture, one Friday dance break at a time. When she’s not busting a move with her coworkers, this HR Business Partner loves spending time with her family and diving into a good murder mystery novel.
We chatted with Nneka about her role and what it’s like to build company culture at a brand new office.
How did you end up in your role at Namely?
I studied computer information systems at Alabama State University, so my background is actually in CIS. My first job was as an HRIS analyst, so since joining Namely everything has really come full circle. I did that for about a year, and during that time I was building relationships with HR generalists and kept thinking I could totally do what they do. After a year, I decided to get my master’s in human resources management from Devry University’s Keller School of Management. Then I went full throttle into HR. My first HR job outside of my HRIS role was at Dish Network. Since then, I’ve done a little bit of everything in HR, but most of my experience has been in the southeast, so it’s exciting whenever I get to branch out into other states.
In 2017, I was working for Delta Apparel and we were shopping for a human capital management provider, so I was vaguely familiar with Namely. Fast forward to March 2018, I went to the SHRM Atlanta conference and stopped by the Namely booth to pick up a Namely bear. I was looking for a new job at the time, and three days after the conference I came across the job post for my position. The stars aligned, the moons shifted, and there was this job. So even before I started at Namely, I had Namely swag!
What’s your favorite thing about your role?
I have a passion for HR. At Namely, I get to infuse fun things I never would have been able to pull off before. I’ve been doing Friday dance breaks—we do soul trains, line dances, and just jam out. I really feel I have the opportunity to show people that HR isn’t the bad guy, but that we’re here to help push the organization forward. I love what I do.
What makes the Atlanta office unique?
We’re still working on our culture. We know our culture is going to be different from the New York office, and visitors tell us we already are distinct. We’re trying to figure out what our thing is. We have dance breaks and great people, all that’s left is to figure out how to pull that all together, embrace the Namely culture, and keep moving the business forward.
What does your average work week look like?
I would like to be asked this question again in 90 days. Since I started little over a month ago, I’m still absorbing the Namely culture, understanding processes, and learning how we do things so I can say, “here’s how we can do better.” I’m building relationships, learning about our employees, and getting to know my team. Right now, my biggest priority is building relationships. I want people to understand they can come to me whenever.
Is there something that would surprise people about your job?
I think, traditionally, people view HR as the bad guy. If there’s an issue and HR is called, people often feel like they’re in trouble. I’m absolutely not the bad guy. If something happens, yes, I’m here to correct those things, but I should be viewed as someone who is strategic and is helping the company to move forward.
If you weren’t in this role, what would you be doing?
I don’t know, that’s a hard one to answer! I’m lucky to have ended up at Namely, because this is where I’m supposed to be.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Namely?
From the onset, culture. Even if I don’t get to bring all of New York to Atlanta, it doesn’t matter because I love the culture. The people are amazing, everyone has been really welcoming and even though I’m so new, people have tapped me for ideas already. I didn’t have that at my last job, so it’s exciting to know my opinions matter. I really believe that I can make a huge impact here.
What’s your favorite thing about working on the People Team?
First off, we know everyone. We’ve either hired them or helped them in some way. We have this really wide sphere of influence. When people need something, but aren’t sure who to ask, they usually come to us because it seems like the right place to start. We’re able to help people and get things done.
What’s your favorite office snack?
What's something your coworkers don't know about you?
I’m licensed to ride a motorcycle. But then I started doing grown up stuff like getting married and having kids, so the bike has taken a back seat. I’m all about adventures whether it’s parasailing or jet skiing. The only reason I haven’t jumped out of a plane is because my husband would have a heart attack!
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do your job?
Firstly, get to know people because relationships are everything. Secondly, learn to take your opinion out of the matter. It’s not about what you think, it’s about what you know. And lastly, you need to be in-tune with the law, what’s happening in the world, and how things are changing.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have little ones, so I do a lot of family stuff. When I’m not working or playing with my kids, I usually read. I don’t necessarily read to learn, I read to escape. Life is too serious, so I love to escape through a great murder mystery.
What was your best day at work?
My first day. I got there early, and my name was on every screen in the office. Everyone was just so welcoming. They say you get a “warm welcome,” but I got a hot welcome! My name was in lights and the training was amazing!
Who has inspired you to get to this point in your career?
I’m a go-getter and I always want to improve and be a good example for others. That said, I definitely get that mindset from my mom and grandma. They’ve always inspired me to be and do better.
At Namely, our coworkers are one of the top reasons we love what we do. TheMeet Namelyseries spotlights real Namely employees across the company. Stay tuned for more from the series to learn how we put HR for humans into practice.