An Inside Look At How This Washington Post Director Builds His Teams
Jarrod Dicker is the Director of Ad Product and Engineering at The Washington Post. Dicker has been a leader in technology, product and advertising at the Huffington Post, Time Inc. and most recently RebelMouse. He spoke to PowerToFly about his new role, The Washington Post’s recent traffic milestones and why he believes that hiring and managing remote teams is a great way to scale your business in this global economy.
Tell us about your new role at The Washington Post.
I joined The Washington Post to lead ad product and engineering in September of this year. It’s been a couple months, but we’ve already made major strides creating new core product offerings for our clients. It is a newly created role, focused on innovating our ad products across all platforms and devices. As a major media and technology company, ad tech is also at the forefront of our development. The Post’s core engineering team is incredible, and we want to leverage what’s being done across the entire organization for the benefit of our advertisers. This space is wide open, and we have the talent and resources to pave the way for the next frontier of advertising, whether it’s video, native, VR, or display and beyond. The team we’re building out allows for experimentation and innovation. We can fail, we can learn, and by doing that be responsible for the next big things in the technology space.
Before The Washington Post, you ran a fully distributed team at RebelMouse. Tell us how you set that up and how that worked. What was your role there?
I led commercial product and operations at RebelMouse. My team was responsible for the client builds, support and integrations on the platform. I was lucky to work twice with Paul Berry, most recently at RebelMouse and also the Huffington Post, where he was at the forefront of the distributed team mentality. I learned and appreciated the benefits of remote working at both companies. At RebelMouse, my team spanned the globe from Buenos Aires, Mumbai, and Bangladesh to Ukraine, Serbia, and Chile. And the perspectives on development, life and balance I gained wouldn’t have been possible without collaborating with brilliant minds across the world. You also open up your talent pool, and shed any restrictions. If the mentality is “someone must be here”, then you’re limiting yourself to the talent available out there. Of course, for some positions it’s important to have the person in office, but for others it’s actually more beneficial to build remotely. At RebelMouse, we structured mainly around the latter on the design and development side.
Can you share your top 5 best practices for managing a distributed team based on your experiences at RM?
- Collaboration over Dictation: Work together. Amazing ideas come from everywhere and that’s how successful products come to fruition. Don’t spend time dictating tasks you think are right, spend time discussing ideas and coming up with a solution together.
- Communicate Openly: Give credit where credit is due, and don’t be afraid to give feedback. Also, talk about how long things will take, best practices, and other efficiency measurements.
- Keep it Familiar: Try hard to include remote teams in office culture, whether it’s a Slack group sharing GIFs or connecting through social networks. No one wants to or should feel like an outsider.
- Learn Together: Making mistakes is the greatest thing for product innovation and development. We learn from those mistakes and build a stronger, more sustainable solution because of it. Welcome experimentation, making mistakes, and learn together as a group.
- Embrace Technology: There are so many tools (Slack, Skype, Gchat) that allow us to communicate remotely. It’s affordable and very effective.
What are some of your best practices for on-boarding and training remote workers?
First, I love to introduce the new hire to the entire team. It’s hard for anyone to work at a company if they feel like an outsider. So, it’s important to acclimate everyone immediately and make it a comfortable and fun working environment. And from there, the training begins. I think it’s best for the team to train one another so they learn from each other and know who to contact when they have questions. Rather than training from your boss or a direct report, there’s a lot of lateral learning, training and co-development that helps build community and team unity.
The Washington Post is a huge organization which has recently hit some incredible traffic milestones. How does a remote team help scale a large scale business like this?
The Washington Post has become the new paper of record. This comes as a result of hard work across the board, from editorial to tech to advertising. On the ad product side, we’re looking to bring in the best product and development minds to help push our product forward and build the most optimal experiences for our clients — that means not limiting ourselves to people who can be in the office in DC, NYC, California, etc. And it involves knowing how to build and create for the industry at large, not just our site and apps. As a major media and technology company, we want to set the stage for engineering and development while identifying how we can offer software as a service.
What advice would you give other hiring managers who want to grow their departments by hiring remotely?
Embrace it. Technology allows us to communicate in so many different ways and work with brilliant minds across the globe. The idea of having to be in the office for development is no longer mandatory, it’s a choice. People will be the most effective in the environment they feel most comfortable with. For some, that’s being remote. Hiring managers shouldn’t limit their talent pool because some employees are more comfortable working a certain way.
Do you have advice for writing a job description that attracts good remote workers?
Yes, you need to be open to flexible work hours and you should show that in your job description. The best part about remote working is being able to work on your time. I think a lot of hesitancy for some companies to opt into remote is the idea that they have to work the same hours everyone else is working and be “here”. When actually, people will be exponentially more productive if they work the hours that align best with their lifestyle. We’ve been told that 9–5 is the “norm”, but that limits the creative mindset of others that may work better at night or early morning. Remote working is open to this, and with this mindset you will see a tremendous growth in productivity and creativity on your teams.
Why do you believe in hiring remote workers? Why does it make good business sense for you at a business like the The Washington Post?
In a constantly evolving media space, embracing new ideas is mandatory in order to stay ahead of the curve. Having employees from all over the world, or those who choose to work remote, enables different perspectives and ideas that can be the catalyst to take a company to the next level. Companies shouldn’t limit themselves. Process and ideas evolve, and to be ahead in this space companies must evolve with them.
The Washington Post is in DC and you are based in New York City. How do you divide your time?
I travel to DC to collaborate and meet with the team there. I enjoy working across the organization and that means spending time with a lot of different departments. I aim to go to DC weekly but sometimes I’ll stay in NYC for two weeks or more. The Washington Post culture is familiar with remote working, and has the right mentality and technology set up to support this way of work.
Can you point to a specific project that the PowerToFly hires on your team helped to execute? Either at RM or WP?
We recently hired Virginia Ortiz to help build out our WP BrandStudio native campaigns. She is an amazing front end developer, and her talent — along with the rest of our amazing team — will help take our executions to the next level. I also loved working with PowerToFly at RebelMouse — all of the client campaigns that were built were from the core distributed team.
And finally what do you like to do in your free time? (If you have any?!)
I have two rescue dogs that my wife and I enjoy spending a lot of our free time with. We take them everywhere: mountains, beach, suburbs, city. They have the life. I’m also very into live music. I started my career as a freelance writer for Stay Thirsty, Relix and Jambase.com, and continue to see about one live show a week. Then there’s Soulcycle, which recharges the brain. All of these things are important to remain clear and focused. Balance is important.
💎 Partnerships in remote environments is one of the most important aspects to construct in a company. Watch the video to the end to get good tips on how to do it successfully.
📼Wondering how to create partnerships in remote environments? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you to achieve it. You'll hear from Olga Shvets, HR Business Partner, and Viktoriia Litvinchuk, People Team Operations at Unstoppable Domains, who will explain the essentials of this process.
📼How to build partnerships in remote environments? Tip #1: Communicate Effectively. Communication is the key to enabling your remote team to be successful. Choose the channel that works best. For this, chat with your employees and see what they use to communicate, that's how you find the best solution. Also, make sure your team is on board with your internal tools and they know what, how, and where they need to use them.
📼A requisite for building partnerships in remote environments is Tip #2: Show appreciation. Appreciation is shown through your actions. Let your employees know that you value everything they do for the company. Create a special gratitude channel where everyone can share their appreciation for their colleagues for some contribution. Celebrate some wins, promotions, and everything that is important for the company. If you appreciate the employees, employees do the same for the company.
Create Partnerships In Remote Environments Using Trust - Tip #3: Give Honest Feedback
Use engagement surveys! They are a quick and effective way to receive honest feedback from your team and you can see what's working well and what needs to be improved. Your main priority is to create spaces where managers and employees can share honest, relevant feedback.
📨 Are you interested in joining Unstoppable Domains? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Olga Shvets
If you are interested in a career at Unstoppable Domains, you can connect with Olga on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Unstoppable Domains
Unstoppable Domains is bringing user-controlled identity to 3 billion+ internet users by issuing domain names on the blockchain. These domains allow users to replace cryptocurrency addresses with human-readable names, host decentralized websites, and much more.
By selling these domains direct to consumers for a one-time fee, the company is making a product that will change cryptocurrency and shape the future of the decentralized web by providing users control over their identity and data.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
💎Want to know what engineering teams are like at Workiva? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 Engineering teams at Workiva are constantly hiring. Marie Yue, Senior Engineering Manager at the company, tells you what they look for in a candidate and what the dynamics of teamwork are like.
📼 The typical path in the engineering teams at Workiva is that you grow into a senior, and then you move into a lead role. From there, there are a few different tracks that you can take depending on your interest. You can become a staff engineer, an architect, or even an engineering manager. What are you waiting for to apply?
📼In the engineering teams at Workiva every member should feel empowered to do their job effectively. For this, each has to understand how the work they do day to day solves customers’ problems. Managers will always seek to be aware of members’ career path aspirations so that they can look for opportunities and projects to help each person reach the next step in their career.
Engineering Teams At Workiva: A Safe Space
Marie Yue’s team is a safe space for people to make mistakes and ask for help, and each member feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. She wants to make sure that everyone is individually empowered to lead and make decisions. For this, the team has regular meetings where they do fun things like play virtual games or eat lunch together, and they also like to re-review and add to their team working agreement once a quarter.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Marie Yue
If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Marie Yue on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.
After two years of remote programming, we’re excited to welcome the 2022 NIKE, Inc. Internship Program back to our U.S. offices this week!
This year’s class of 318 represent the top 1% of 34,000+ applicants from 113 universities – including 10 Hispanic Serving Institutions and five historically Black colleges and universities. And that’s not all! Many of this year’s interns are Division 1 student-athletes, representing Track and Field, Rowing, Soccer, and Volleyball, to name a few.
During the nine-week internship – built around the theme of Never Done Shining – interns will work across Nike, Jordan and Converse taking on meaningful projects for the business areas they’re supporting. We can’t wait to watch this talented, diverse group kick off their Nike journey and shine!
Want to learn more about the program? https://jobs.nike.com/internships