Categories
EVE University Interview

Faces of EVE University: Jilokari Kurvora

I did this interview with our then Director of HR in 2018. It was originally published on the EVE University blog.

The Faces of EVE University are colorful and intriguing. With this interview series we want to bring to light some of the personalities that make up the staff of our alma mater, who tirelessly work to the advancement of learning.

For this installment of our series we sat down to talk to our Director of Human Resources: Jilokari Kurvora. He enlightens us about how he became a director, what his work entails and how the departments he oversees work together.


Hideo Date: For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do in New Eden and in EVE University in particular?

Jilokari Kurvora: I am Jilokari Kurvora, Jilo to my friends (pronounced GeeLo).  I’ve been alive since 8th November 2014, I am a Wormhole Dweller, and love to do solo exploration especially because I never know where I’ll end up. In EVE University I am the Director of Human Resources overseeing and setting policies for the Recruitment, Orientation, Mentor, and Titles Departments.

Hideo: How did you start off playing EVE and how did you become part of the Uni? 

Jilokari: Well I did try to get into EVE earlier, but my PC wasn’t really up to the challenge. I was always really inspired by the videos for EVE Online, the whole pioneer spirit of the game and I was especially drawn to the sandbox element. All those unscripted player generated actions and impacts fascinated me. So when I finally got myself a decent gaming PC in November 2014, I downloaded EVE online and chose a Caldari character (Who doesn’t love a bit of space capitalism). Off I went into the cold hard space only to get blown up in a ball of fire 3 jumps from the starter system. After a few days in game I came across EVE Uni, thought this is the place for me and never looked back.

Hideo: Could you tell us a bit about how you managed to climb the ranks to the heights of Director of HR?

Jilokari: I’m a highly qualified assassin and I got better shoes out of it.

But seriously, since you asked nicely Hideo, I actually started off my EVE Career by becoming a Personnel Officer. I mainly did it because I was fascinated on the inner workings of Corporations in EVE, specifically how they reflected real life, just with more spreadsheets. From there I became a Senior Personnel Officer, I’m told in the fastest time ever for a promotion, so I must have done something right. A few months passed and the opportunity arose for me to move into Personnel Management. First as Assistant Manager then Personnel Manager, which I thoroughly enjoyed because my PO’s and SPO’s are awesome guys and gals. In 2018 I was honored to be asked to become Director of Personnel, a role which I only held for a few months before stepping into Director of HR when our last Director of HR, Dune Barphsaq, stepped down.

Hideo: So as you are newly inducted into the role of HR Director you must have a pretty fresh view on things. Could you give us a glimpse into your daily workload?

Jilokari: Well at the moment it’s quite busy, as Director of Personnel I had two departments under me, Personnel and Orientation. At the moment I haven’t backfilled the Managers in those departments so I’m doing the daily manager tasks, such as monitoring the queue levels, answering questions of officers and members, and keeping the departments records up to date. I also check into all the slacks to see what the conversation is across the Uni and try to keep up to date. You can also usually find me trawling through the forum, keeping up to date on developments there. In addition to that I’m getting to know my other departments, Titles and Mentors, reviewing feedback and looking for ways that we can make the service we offer better for our members.

Hideo: Your Directorate in particular seems to have a lot of varied departments under it, how does it all fit together in your mind?

Jilokari: A great question! I think the simplest way to look at it is my Directorate inducts, orientates, supports, and marks progression of Members in the University. We are the first people they interact with when joining and a constant presence as they progress.

Hideo: How is the relationship between the departments?

Jilokari: It’s all about the relationship for me! I’m a massive people person, and I think that some of our best work gets done when we all work together as a single unit. Each of my departments impacts on the other in some way, whether that be Personnel creating work for Orientation, Orientation driving titles or mentor applications, it’s all interconnected. Do I think we have it nailed just yet? No, but I do know that the folks of the HR directorate are awesome and we have begun to make small changes to improve communication between the departments, which can only serve to improve the members experience.

Hideo: How do you keep track of the different departments?

Jilokari: Well lucky for me I have a great team of Managers and Assistant Managers who keep me updated with what’s happening in their respective areas. Besides that I have the slack channels to keep up to date with the day to day information as well as the awesome portal that our Director of Web Services has been building and I have a tonne of spreadsheets. Seriously I have so many spreadsheets…

Hideo: How did you handle the change over from Manager to Director? I assume the time you need to put in now is much increased?

Jilokari: There is certainly a lot more to be aware of, and an increased sense of responsibility. I’ve definitely seen an increase in the amount of time I spend looking through the forum, discussions on slack, actions like removing inactive members, and applying in game titles etc. It can sometimes feel like a second job, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! One of the more interesting things for me is trying to become more visible to members. Gone are the days when I could just not log on for a few days because I felt like it, or stick purely to exploration. As a Director I think there is an expectation from our members that I be seen participating, which is great, but just as an advanced warning to our members and FC’s: beware my PvP foo is not strong.

Hideo: You’ve already made a few internal changes as well as introduce a significant change to the titles within EVE Uni. You also were quite busy with the recent introduction of the new EVE Uni Portal. Would you care to elaborate on what has happened so far during your tenure?

Jilokari: Oh I think you pretty much covered it there. We are still in the process of rolling out our new University Portal which is looking awesome and will make life so much easier. I stepped into the role fresh off the back of the Uni wide survey, and it was clear that there were areas that our members felt we could evolve and I agreed! I’d say the biggest changes were allowing alpha clones to apply for the Freshman progression title, and allowing members who returned to the Uni or swapped their character to transfer any progression title they held over. We have lots of good ideas on where we can take the HR Departments in the future so watch this space.

Hideo: Is there pressure from students, prospective members, or upper management to shift the bureaucratic nature of EVE Uni’s recruitment either way? If so, how do you balance your own goals and vision for the department with those outside perspectives?

Jilokari: Internally I don’t see there being any pressure really, we can get a bad rep externally sometimes though. I think EVE Uni’s recruitment process is a bit like marmite. (the food – if you can even call it that, not the alliance) Some people love it, some people hate it.  Ultimately it is there to ensure that someone is right for us and we are right for them. When I first joined the Uni it was almost a 2 week wait, now on average it takes 4 days from application to accept for an applicant with an average wait time of 4 hours in our queue. Do I think we can improve on the process? Sure and it’s something that I will be looking at closely. I’d also point out that while people are waiting to join they can still take advantage of our Wiki, and our classes which are both publicly available.

Hideo: The introduction of officers dedicated to orientation is a relatively recent addition to HR. Has the program been as successful as management hoped?

Jilokari: I wouldn’t call Orientation new really, it is the youngest of our Departments and I would say they have done an amazing job! The challenge we have as a teaching corp is that we share so much information it is too easy for our new members to get lost. Orientation helps to focus a player on some specifics that may be useful for them based on the play style and interaction they have had with our community at 7 and 28 days, making it a little bit easier to assimilate into Uni life. I think it’s also important that we balance that out though,  because EVE is a harsh game, and people need to learn how to be somewhat self sufficient. To quote my bio “Education is not the training of facts but the training of the mind to think!”

Hideo: How do you personally see the importance of mentors for the experience new players in EVE University get?

Jilokari: Oh I think mentors are really important for newer players. EVE is such a complex and varied game, I regularly come across applicants who want to learn everything.  Mentors can help hone their knowledge and help them get more out of this wonderful game. I think that Mentors contribute highly to people sticking around and not getting burnt out or frustrated. I wish we had more Mentors.

Hideo: What would you say is the biggest hurdle EVE University, and your directorate in particular, will have to overcome in the next year?

Jilokari: Honestly, the biggest hurdle for the HR Directorate is staffing. We have some amazing people who do great work but people move on, find other interests which means we are always recruiting. I am passionate about keeping our wait times for interview and titles low, as well as having mentors to spare. I also want the HR Staff to actually enjoy EVE and not have to spend all their time doing space admin, so yeah, we need to keep a good flow of new staff.

Hideo: Well that’s it for my questions so far. Do you have anything else you want to talk about or any closing statements?

Jilokari: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the HR Directorate, I would say that my door is always open so if anyone needs or want to raise anything about the HR Directorate they can contact me wether in Slack or via forum message.

Categories
EVE University Interview

Faces of EVE University: Laura Karpinski

I conducted this interview with our CEO in 2018. It was originally published on the EVE University blog and in a slightly altered version on INN.

The Faces of EVE University are colorful and intriguing. With this interview series we want to bring to light some of the personalities that make up the staff of our alma mater, who tirelessly work to the advancement of learning.

For our second interview we had the chance to talk with the current CEO of EVE University: Laura Karpinski. She has been CEO for about one year now and gives us an amazing insight into the inner workings of the organisation. She also shares some personal experiences and talks about how she ended up in her leadership role.

How to become CEO

Hideo Date: So first off, thank you very much for taking the time to sit down and talk for a bit!

Laura Karpinski: That’s quite alright.

Hideo: For those who do not know you, could you tell us quickly who you are and what you do in EVE?

Laura: Sure. I’m the CEO of EVE University, which means I set the overall direction for the corporation and try and keep everyone going in that direction. I have a team of Directors who each look after their particular area of the corporation, and I keep in touch with all of them and make sure we are all on the same page.

Hideo: How did you find your way into EVE and then into the Uni?

Laura: My RL ex-boyfriend introduced me to the game. I wasn’t convinced it was the kind of thing I’d enjoy but I figured I’d give it a go. Six years later I’m still here. I joined EVE University because I was overwhelmed by the amount of information and the complexity of the game and I thought it would help me find my feet.

Hideo: So you stumbled into the game like every other player as well, that is kind of comforting. And now you are the CEO of EVE University. How did you end up taking this job?

Laura: I was Director of Operations to the previous CEO Azmodeus Valar for a year before I became CEO. That enabled me to learn the ropes under Azmo’s guidance. It meant that when Azmo decided to step down as CEO I was in a position to step into his shoes.

Hideo: To elaborate on that: What prompted you to take on a leadership role in the Uni in the first place?

Laura: Well it wasn’t what I set out to do. I joined EVE University twice. The first time I didn’t really engage with the community and didn’t learn very much. So the second time around I resolved to do things differently and to get involved as much as I could. That prompted me to apply to first join the staff as a personnel officer. I absolutely loved doing the work and as people moved on I was happy to take on more responsibility. So I became a senior personnel officer, assistant personnel manager, personnel manager, personnel director and ultimately director of human resources before moving to director of operations and then CEO.

Hideo: Looks like a nice career path to follow for aspiring members!

A glimpse into the University

Hideo: Let’s move on to the corporation it self. You kind of answered this in shorthand already, but maybe you want to elaborate: Could you give us a short overview of the structure and procedures in EVE University? And what is the focus of your daily work? A glimpse into the inner workings of the Uni so to speak.

Laura: Sure. So we have 9 Directors who are each responsible for their own area, for example education, logistics, human resources. Most have several departments or campuses that report to them, each headed by a manager. Of those, most departments and campuses also have staff who carry out the day to day work. What that means from a member’s point of view is that we can offer classes, mentors, hangars, ship replacement etc.

For me, my daily work mostly involves reading things. I try and keep an eye on all our Slack channels, chat channels and what is going on on the forum. I am the ultimate lurker, I like to know what is happening. Then a lot of my job is talking to people, either planning for the future with directors or trying to help resolve or prevent problems. There is always a lot of discussion going on behind the scenes, behind every change or decision.

Hideo: Ok, so as you have experience with this on all levels I would also like to ask you about one specific area: How does the recruitment process of the Uni work? And what do you look for in applicants?

Laura: Applicants put in an application to join. Like most other corps, this involves them giving us an API and filling out an application. We then have a two stage review process. Every application is given an initial review by one of our personnel officers, who may decide in some cases to accept them based on the application. If the personnel officer feels it would be beneficial to ask the applicant some more questions, they will place them in a queue for an interview. When the applicant gets to the top of the interview queue, they will speak to a personnel officer, who will then decide based on the interview whether to accept or reject the application. We accept the majority of applications, provided we don’t think the applicant is intending to do us harm, and provided they will fit into the community and benefit from being a member.

Hideo: So just as an aside: I happen to know about rumors that you are still in there and doing interviews yourself. Are you even now trying to get up your stats? Do you care to comment?

Laura: Haha they can’t keep me away from doing interviews, I love it too much.

Hideo: That is good to hear!

Learning Corporations

Hideo: Onto the next topic: What do you personally find appealing about a corporation focused solely on learning and teaching?

Laura: EVE is a complex game, no way about it. CCP are improving the new player experience but its still super overwhelming for new players to join in this massive universe where everyone seems to know everything. EVE University is one little oasis where new players can admit they don’t know stuff, and can learn it in an environment where people are not trying to screw them over, until they are ready to move on. I really like that.

Hideo: How do you see EVE University in relation to other learning corps? Is there a sense of competition, or more of coexistence?

Laura: Its an interesting development. When EVE University was first established 14 years ago there were not a lot of other corps teaching people to play the game. That has now changed completely, especially since the introduction of alpha clones. A lot of null sec blocs have their own teaching corp, which is great because it really brings the focus on new players and helping people get into the game. EVE University has always aimed to be neutral, for the reason that we want our graduates to have the widest choice of corporations to move on to when they leave us. So in that sense we offer something different from a lot of other teaching corps – a place to learn without pinning your colours too soon. So there’s not really a sense of competition for us. If a new player wants to live in sov null immediately we are not the best place for them, and we are happy to tell them that.

Hideo: What do you think are essential hallmarks for a successful learning corporation?

Laura: Every person learns differently, so I guess it is pretty subjective. I find EVE University tends to attract people who like to read up on things before doing them (our wiki is often the first way people hear about us), and who like to find their feet before they pick a side. But other teaching corps pride themselves on diving in, throwing caution to the wind and sometimes making mistakes, and have been very successful. That’s also absolutely fine. I don’t think there’s any one particular answer.

A look back

Hideo: Ok, so to wrap up: With the recent 14th anniversary of the Uni also marking your own first anniversary as CEO of our organisation, how do you look back at your term so far? What are the most important developments in the last year?

Laura: I’ve had a great time as CEO. I love the corp, I love the people and I love the game. My first year as CEO has involved a lot of learning, and lots of smaller changes to standardise things, or improve how they are done. There have been a few bigger changes as well. The Street Team is a great example – EVE University has recently had a fairly lowkey social media presence but the Street Team are really turning that around, getting out there and telling people about who we are and what we do. Another big change for us has been the trial of altered rules for attacking and defending structures, which has allowed our members to explore different areas of the game. The trial is still going on at the moment and we’re keeping an eye on how things go.

Hideo: Well, thank you very much for that encouragement, I think the whole team will be very pleased to read this! Lastly: Did you have any particular challenges to overcome as CEO?

Laura: I’m a bit shy and not too confident with speaking to large groups of people, so the first few times I held a management meeting or one of our Ask the Management Q&As were a bit nerve-wracking. I’ve done enough of them that I’m much more comfortable with it now, though.

Hideo: So do you have any closing statement to conclude our interview?

Laura: Nothing aside from thanks for taking the time to do these interviews, it’s a great chance for people to look behind the curtain and get to know the people who keep this corporation running.

Hideo: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to answer all my questions so openly!