“Company Culture is not a Science, it’s an Art.” Q&A with Lamont Carolina, Director of People Experience
Get to know our Director of People Experience for North America, Lamont Carolina, and his perspective on all things employee experience.
As the new assembly continues to grow, so does our approach to attracting and retaining talent.
We guarantee you’ll crack a smile during a single encounter with Lamont Carolina, Assembly’s new Director of People Experience for North America. He’s charismatic, full of energy, and brings passion and invaluable insight to his role. Most importantly, Lamont is real – injecting a more human-centric perspective to our People team, he’s changing the way our employees experience Assembly, for the better.
As the new Assembly continues to grow, so does our approach to attracting and retaining talent.We’re overhauling all things people – as our greatest asset, our talent deserves mutual investment, one of the core values our employees live and breathe every day. The Director of People Experience role was carved out to solve some of the complexities surrounding the people journey, especially during times of uncertainty.
So, who is Lamont Carolina?
Lamont joined us following a diverse career across industries from marketing, to nonprofit, to government, and most recently, a startup that began as a team of 25 and grew tomore than 2,500 throughout his tenure.
He is also an entertainer who brings energy to any crowd through emceeing and hosting karaoke, trivia, fireside chats, and interviews.
“I used to do stand-up comedy and try to use those elements in my everyday life. I can mentally flip a switch. People say they will never get up on stage and sing a song because they’re scared, but then they do it for the first time and wonderwhy they’ve never done it in the past. When you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing.”
Following a recent successful hybrid virtual/in-person Halloween costume contest run across our North America offices, Lamont reminded us that he too needs to turn it off at times, to avoid draining his battery. Torecharge, he enjoys quiet time at home with his wife and cat, Beatrix Kiddo.
We *virtually* sat down with Lamont to get the full scoop on his new role and uncover what lies ahead for Assembly’s People Experience.
Q: Why Assembly?
A: There’s so much white space – so much of an opportunity to come in and create, and that intrigued me. I think everybody is trying to crack this nut and they’re trying to solve that problem, employee engagement, especially in this virtual world. So just being able to come into an organization that really needs it and wants it was important to me.
If your leaders talk it and they don’t walk it, it’s just for show. My direct manager is the Chief People Officer(CPO), and I have a lot of faith in her abilities. She lets me run with the ideas I have.
Company culture is not a science, it’s anart. You can’t do the same thing twice and get the same results. My job isn’t to be the culture leader here. It’s to provide our employees with the opportunities to contribute to culture.
Some folks may have a huge voice and big following, while others may not, but the thing they want to work on may garner interest from those who may have never volunteered to participate in anything, because they’re just so used to clocking in and clocking out. I see an opportunity for people to step up and be leaders. You don’t have to be a manager in your role to be a leader in the organization. Culture carriers are committed to contributing, they don’t have to be an oversized voice, they just need to have the passion to want to do something. I’m going to be able to give them that space to do it.
Q:Your first 90 days in the office…what was it like?
Not many can say they’ve navigated amerger within their first few weeks at a new company in a role that is well, people-centric.
A: I love collaborating, that’s why I’m in the office at least 3 times a week.There’s a lot of great people here who have passion, drive and ambition to do more than just their job, more than just what they’re paid to do. They want to have an impact on employee experience, employee culture, and contribute in their own ways. It makes my job a little easier because instead of trying to grow that, I can give employees the opportunity to get their voice and ideasout.
We’re trying to figure out how and what we communicate to our employees and the best medium for that by looking into different platforms that will help with information sharing. We’ve had quite a bit of interest in employee resource groups, so we’re looking to roll out some really cool programs in the near term.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the possibilities. There’s one thing to be said about working at an agency where you do your job, but when you have all these other avenues to explore within that workspace, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Q: With Assembly being a global business, how are you thinking about cross-regional connectivity?
A: There’s always this kind of internal struggle to find the right balance in supporting employees in different regions. With one of Assembly’s main headquarters in New York, it’s a challenge to provide that same experience for the other regional offices. I’m looking forward to visiting each region to explore the individuality of the different offices and share those unique employee stories with the rest of Assembly.
“The connectivity piece is something every organization is trying to solve for.”
The North American meetup pulls together our employees once a week for business and culture updates. I focus on the culture side of the house, and we try to shine a light on our employees and give them a space to share what they’re working on. To acknowledge holidays and days of awareness,we may have a guest speaker or push out resources and information to our employees to educate and celebrate those moments as well.
Our weekly newsletter, The Block, is a more detailed version of what we’re talking about in the meetups, and highlights employees directly through wellness spotlights, birthdays, work anniversaries, and “Songs of the Week” that employees can submit to be played on the weekly meetupcall. It’s a great opportunity for people to contribute and write their stories.
The goal of Coffee Roulette is to connect employees with those they typically don’t work with. Because we have so many different office swithin the North American region, we’re able to put someone who works out West with someone in New York and say, “hey y’all, talk about anything outside of work, here’s some suggested topics”. No, you don’t have to drink coffee,but you do have to learn more about your colleagues.
Q: What does ‘The New Normal’ look like in today’s workplace?
A: Everyone is doing an amazing job, right? When you look at the fact most people are working from home, they’re not in the office which means they don’t get free coffee, they’re using air, heat, and energy more, and are home during the day and night, so people are taxed and stressed. We have parents and caretakers who are juggling a bunch – being tutors, mentors, and teachers all while they’re doing their job, so folks are doing amazing on their own.
I’m a huge proponent of mental health and being a caretaker of your own self, especially during COVID and work from home. Employees across industries are experiencing increased anxiety,depression, and domestic violence. Now more than ever, we need to have conversations with ourselves, and our family and friends about what each person is doing to take care of their own mental health. We’ve got to erase that stigma around talking about mental health.
Q: What would you say to current and future talent?
“The excitement lies in the white space.An artist can look at a canvas and see a world of opportunity, and that’s whatI see here. I’m not the only one painting, there are lots of paintbrushes, lots of different types of paint that the employees are encouraged to pick up and have at it.”
A: The commitment from our leaders to support our employees is huge. Employee health and wellness is super important to me, so we’re working on programs that folks will not only enjoy but appreciate. There are so many exciting things in the works, I wish I could share, but you’ll just have to stay tuned.
If you’re looking to grow your career,obviously come here. But if you’re looking for an environment that you can contribute to, and are encouraged to do so, then I say definitely come here.