"The Most Common Questions We Get About Working At Buffer"
Below is an article originally written by Arielle Tannenbaum, Community Strategist at PowerToFly Partner Buffer, and published on November 26, 2018. Go to Buffer's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
When you experiment with work culture as much as we do at Buffer, you tend to receive a lot of questions about it.
What is it like to work remotely? How do you collaborate across time zones? Do people really feel okay making their salaries public? Can you become friends with teammates when you're not in an office? Do you miss working in an office? Do you basically live in pajamas? (Quick answer to that one: not usually, though I definitely have spent a work day or two in pajamas!)
These questions are barely scratching the surface of everything we're asked.
Like many of my teammates, I'm more than happy to answer these questions when they come up in our Slack community, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and beyond, because it's a wonderful way to connect with our community and kick off some really interesting discussions about the future of work.
We love that people are curious about our work culture — being curious is how all of our culture experiments started in the first place, and asking these questions is a fantastic way to think through your own work cultures and discover new ways of working. Change happens when we start asking questions about why we do the things we do!
So, we thought it might be fun to compile the most popular questions we receive, and do some rapid-fire answering! And as always, we're happy for the conversations to evolve past this blog post.
Let's dig in!
On being a fully remote team:
Why don't you have a company headquarters?
The short answer: We believe remote work is the future of work!
We believe in living and working where you are the happiest in the world, and we want to support that for all of our teammates. At Buffer, every teammate can choose where they live and work (whether they want to work from home, from coffee shops, from coworking spaces, or even an RV), and they don't need to worry about being left out of an office culture. We gave up our office in 2015 and haven't looked back.
Do you miss working in an office?
While I love my teammates and would be delighted to see them more often, the flexibility that remote work affords me is unbeatable. For me personally, I love working from a variety of environments with different vibes, sounds, sites and people. You might find me in a Mediterranean café sipping mint tea, coworking with fellow remote work friends, or typing away on my front porch on a spring day. For some of my teammates, they are incredibly grateful to spend their work days at home, taking periodic breaks to play games with their kids.
Also, without being in an office with all of the distractions that come with it, we've found that we can really get into deep work and be much more productive!
How do you disconnect from work each night?
We all do this a little differently. I'll usually make evening plans to take a yoga class, cook dinner with my partner or friends, or attend an event so that there's a clear time that my laptop needs to shut. I also have a built-in alarm clock — taking my dog for an evening walk usually serves as a nice, clear marker for the end of my work day!
If you're looking for more advice about disconnecting from devices, we compiled great advice from the entire Buffer team in this blog post.
What tools do you use to stay connected as a team?
Many! Here are the main ones:
- Paper by Dropbox
Are your teams organized by timezones?
At the moment, our teams are quite timezone agnostic. For instance, our Marketing team spans across seven timezones! Our Product, Engineering, and Customer Advocacy teams are organized by product area within Buffer, though at one point the Customer Advocacy team was indeed organized by timezone. Sometimes we hire Customer Advocates in particular timezones around the world to make sure we're providing around-the-clock support to our wonderful customers.
How do you handle non-U.S. based employees?
All of our teammates based in the U.S. are set up as full-time employees of Buffer, and our teammates based outside of the U.S. are set up as independent contractors, or something similar depending on their country. Beyond that initial designation, we strive to make everyone's experience at Buffer feel aligned, no matter where they are in the world. For instance, while all U.S. teammates are covered under a group health insurance plan, Buffer also covers similar health insurance costs for teammates in other countries. We'll also pay accounting fees for non-U.S. teammates, as each country has a different tax set up. (This blog post goes into a ton of detail about all of our benefits at Buffer.)
Interested to learn more about how Buffer works? We share our latest workplace experiments and learnings in new blog posts every week. We'd love to have you join our email list!
On team dynamics within a remote team:
Is it possible to really get to know your team when you're all remote?
Yes! I know more about and feel more connected to the 80+ people at Buffer than a 40-person team I was on early in my career or even the 4-person team I was on at one point. Our team culture is intentionally built around helping us make meaningful connections with one another, so we do a lot of different things to focus on remote team building.
One of my favorite activities is hopping on a "pair call" with a different Buffer teammate every week to learn more about each other. Our annual in-person team retreats and mini-retreats are also instrumental for strengthening our team bonds.
Is it difficult to collaborate with your team when you're all remote?
Remote collaboration looks different than in-person collaboration, but it's not necessarily more difficult. It just takes intention. We lean into asynchronous collaboration, and this allows everyone on a team to contribute their perspective and ideas no matter the timezone. We rely on Paper by Dropbox to think through a lot of projects collaboratively!
Do you have to be online at odd hours?
Well, it depends what you mean by "odd." We like to try to challenge the status quo of the traditional 9-5 work day! We have the ability to choose our work hours, so some teammates do choose to structure their day in unique ways. For instance, some start their work super early in the morning so that they can take a break when their kids wake up, help them get ready for school, and then get back to work mid-morning. A few years ago, one teammate in Canada experimented with starting work at 5 am to have a lot of active collaboration time with his team in Europe. Once in a while, I'll hop on a call at 8 pm so I can sync up with a teammate in Singapore. A few months ago, some of our engineers stayed up late to do some core backend work while most of our customers were asleep. Otherwise, we try to communicate asynchronously as much as possible so that everyone can be included without needing to be online at the same time.
How often do you have meetings with your manager, your team, and the whole company?
Most folks have a weekly hour-long 1:1 with their manager, and we have an "All Hands" with the entire company every two months. The frequency of individual team/area meetings varies across the company, however. The Marketing team meets all together twice a month, while the Customer Advocacy team meets weekly. It's also quite common for small groups of teammates within larger teams to meet up more regularly to collaborate on projects.
How do you accommodate people's tech needs?
All teammates can get a new laptop by their first day at Buffer, as well as a monitor if they need one for their specific work. (We replace laptops as needed every three years.) From there, we have two different benefits to support people's tech needs: our yearly $200 Individual Equipment Allowance (covering things like laptop stands, headphones, keyboards, mouses/trackpads, etc) and our one-time $500 Home Office Set-Up Stipend (covering things like a desk, office chair, or monitor).
How do you know if people are unhappy about something work related if you can't see them in an office?
Great, important question! Teammate happiness is immeasurably important to us, and so we aim to provide as many pathways and opportunities for teammates to be able to share anything that is going on for them at work. This is the intention for the weekly 1:1 everyone has with their manager. Our People team uses CultureAmp (we've also used OfficeVibe) to send a weekly survey to everyone on the team to touch base about their experiences and feelings at work, where we're asked about happiness, job satisfaction, personal growth, and more. We also have a form that people can anonymously fill out anytime to share thoughts with our leadership team.
How do managers at Buffer manage their teams remotely?
Likely how managers manage their teams in-person! They build trust, empower, do a lot of listening, help teammates navigate transitions, and everything else a great manager should do. The weekly 1:1s between every teammate and their manager are intended to be a constant touchpoint for managers to understand what teammates are going through at work and support them in bringing their whole selves to work. On a more logistical note, one of our engineering managers, Katie, wrote about how she listens to different playlists to help her context switch between being "on" as a manager and doing other work at Buffer, which is fascinating!
Do you get lonely?
Honestly? Sometimes. Though there are many ways to combat remote work loneliness — in fact, I wrote a whole blog post about it! There are so many ways to not only feel connected to our Buffer teammates but also to feel connected to our local communities — going to coworking spaces, scheduling coffees and dinners with friends, volunteering with others, etc. As a remote worker, you end up learning a lot about yourself and your energetic needs. I've learned time and time again that I'm an extrovert and that I need to get out of my house throughout the week to be around people.
On our work culture:
How often do the Buffer values actually come up in conversation?
Would you believe me if I said every day? Honestly, it's true! The Buffer values are the core of our work culture, and they dictate every decision we make. (They are: Default to Transparency, Cultivate Positivity, Show Gratitude, Practice Reflection, Improve Consistently, and Act Beyond Ourselves.) We truly practice these values constantly, and, as such, they've become integrated into our day-to-day vocabulary. It's quite common to hear someone talking about how they want to make a project more transparent to the rest of the team, how a certain marketing campaign can help us act beyond ourselves, and how some intentional reflection time helped uncover some new insights about a challenge (and many other moments!). Our gratitude-themed channel in Slack gets a new post almost every day!
Is the culture really as positive as it sounds?
One of my favorite things about the Buffer team is that everyone joins the team with a foundation of positivity. We all "opted in" to bringing this positive mindset to our interactions every day, and to see the best in each other. So yes, we are a positive bunch! Instead of defaulting to complaining about the weather, we often start our conversations sharing good news or gratitude about something. I love this so much about our team culture. That being said, we also actively work to make sure that our value of positivity isn't resulting in artificial harmony, where a team sacrifices healthy conflict to maintain a misleading air of positivity.
How do you maintain a unified culture when you're all remote?
The Buffer values absolutely help with this! Also, learning about our work culture is a huge part of onboarding for new teammates. For us, it's not enough for a new hire to simply learn the job and do the work. Acclimating them and helping them find ways to uniquely contribute to our culture is incredibly important.
How do you handle performance reviews?
For us, performance reviews are a chance to give teammates an intentional opportunity to reflect on their own progress, strengths, and areas to improve, and receive tangible feedforward from the people they work the most closely with. We use a tool called CultureAmp Effectiveness to help us conduct these 360° reviews, which we did twice in 2018, in February and September. They're not used for deciding promotions, however. We have a separate system for that! (see section below)
How do you help your teammates maintain good work habits and productivity?
We swap tips and talk about it all the time! We're constantly experimenting with different ways of working and being productive and we love sharing our learnings with one another. We once had an hour-long impromptu video chat all about healthy work habits!
On transparent salaries:
Why did you decide to share everyone's salaries?
We've written about salary transparency a lot, from examining the transparent pay revolution to exploring how to even talk about pay. If I could sum up why transparency is important to us in one quote, this quote from our CEO Joel would be it:
One key reason transparency is a such a powerful value for a company's culture is trust: Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.
What's it like to work somewhere where your salary is transparent?
I don't think about it too often! When I do, I appreciate that so much thought and care goes into developing a fair, accurate, and generous salary formula for everyone on the team. I like that having transparent salaries sparks thoughtful conversations about taboo topics in the business world — including the significant gender wage gap. I'm proud that we want to offer this data and create a culture where people feel empowered to share information and ask questions. For another data point, my teammate Hailley has found that folks at Buffer are more open to having financial conversations, where things like swapping budget planning templates and sharing advice around tax filing are quite common!
How does the salary formula work?
Our People/Finance team is constantly evolving our salary formula to make sure it's keeping up with the ever-changing job market and inflation, to ensure our data sources are accurate, and to improve how we think about career progression within Buffer. So much about our formula has shifted even since we last wrote about it in December 2017! Our Finance team recently did a "rebenchmarking" of our salaries, which involved switching to a new data source for identifying salary averages in various cities for various roles, called Radford. In a nutshell, our salaries start with identifying a particular job code from Radford and then selecting the specific salary for that teammate's level and step based on our career framework (see section below). From there, we apply the Cost of Living Multiplier.
How do you calculate someone's salary who regularly moves to different areas?
We use a Cost of Living Multiplier. The multiplier is one of three geographic bands, based on a high, average, or low cost of living area. We start by benchmarking all salaries to the San Francisco 50th percentile market. Then, we use data from Numbeo to figure out which geographic band applies for each teammate. For high cost of living areas we pay 100% of the San Francisco 50th percentile, average is 85%, and low is 75%. We figure out each teammate's geographic band by comparing the cost of living index of a teammate's location to the cost of living index in San Francisco. So, if a teammate moves to a different area, we'll calculate their updated salary for their next paycheck.
If there's a formula for salaries, how do people get raises?
We have career frameworks for each role at Buffer. Each framework comes with levels (large and distinct jumps in terms of area knowledge, role complexity and overall scope) and steps within each level (smaller milestones of growth in terms of ownership and initiative). A step change can happen at any time, determined by a conversation between the teammate and their team lead. A level change can happen during one of four "calibration" periods throughout the year. There are six levels for individual contributors, and four levels for people leads (managers), and four steps within each level.
Other than salaries, what else do you share transparently?
Check out our transparency dashboard! If something isn't on there that you're curious about, chances are that we've written about it in this blog post or on our Open blog, or feel free to write a comment for this post to ask your question.
Can I see what I would make at Buffer?
You sure can! Feel free to check out our salary calculator!
How do you hire?
We aim to always be evolving our hiring, making sure we're diversifying our talent pool, removing as many biases as possible, and giving candidates a better, more transparent experience throughout the interview process (for instance, we now outline the entire interview timeline in our job listings). We've laid out our hiring process in this post, from the first step of thinking through the objectives of the role to making that final decision to bring someone on board to the team.
Can someone's location hurt their chances at getting hired at Buffer?
Not usually! We aim to stick by our value of supporting our teammates in living wherever they are the happiest in the world. For some specific roles — especially for our Customer Advocates who provide wonderful support to all of our customers — we might look for a candidate to support customers in a particular timezone. However, this would always be disclosed in the job description.
Do you proactively hire people who live the Buffer values or teach them when people are hired?
Our values are foundational to our work culture so, when hiring, we do look for candidates whose values align with Buffer's. In fact, the first interview in our hiring process is always fully focused on our values! This is instrumental in helping our entire team be united in our core beliefs. A key element of onboarding at Buffer is about helping new teammates develop a deeper understanding of our values and healthy work habits that reflect our values (i.e. practicing reflection and cultivating positivity). That being said, we also value individual "cultural contributions" — the unique perspectives and backgrounds that new teammates bring to our team!
When hiring, how do you identify who will be good at working remotely?
When we craft interview questions, we think about what having a knack for remote work might look like. One question that we try to explore during interviews is: do they have a track record of having shown drive in their professional or personal projects? This tends to translate well to the self-motivated nature of remote work. We've also found it to be helpful if someone has given some thought to what it would be like to work remotely for them, even if they haven't actually done it before.
What is your turnover rate?
As of August 2018, our turnover rate was 5.8%, meaning our retention rate is 94%! We conducted some research about teammate tenure at Buffer in 2017, if you're interested in taking a look.
Are you hiring?
By the time you read this post, we might be! Feel free to check out our Journey page to explore our open roles and learn more about our work culture. You can also join this mailing list to find out when we post new jobs!
According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.
As we reflect on recent events and how they fit into a much larger history of discrimination, we're also taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of the AAPI community.
We asked several of our partner companies what they're doing to honor AAPI Heritage Month at work, and we were inspired by the range of responses, covering everything from campaigns to #StopAsianHate to educational events on AAPI history.
Here's what they're doing, in their own words:
Empowering authenticity - LogMeIn
"Our theme this year is AIM to Be Real. We are embracing our new company values and celebrating those who bring their authentic selves to work, who help create space to celebrate diversity of thought, and who give back to the API community. Our Asian ERG, Asians in Motion (AIM), is hosting several events: a discussion about bringing your authentic self to work with Jerry Won (Dear Asian Americans podcast); a refugee-led virtual cooking class; ERG Movie Club discussions featuring Bollywood films, and a virtual volunteer event where we will offer career development mentoring for young women across Asia."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Educating on current events — Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies is honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an enterprise-wide global town hall event – Real Talk: Building CommUNITY Together. Organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource groups across the company, employees will share their personal experiences and discuss ways to support Asian American Pacific Islander communities. The event will also feature prominent leading advocates from renowned civil rights organizations to provide insight into the national context surrounding recent events. We will also feature AAPI employees internally and on our social media channels."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning — Moody's
"Moody's is encouraging awareness, growth, and learning during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the following activities, led by our Multicultural Business Resource Group and DE&I team:
- Weekly newsletters featuring AAPI employee profiles and cultural resources
- Video screening and small-group discussions supporting #StopAsianHate
- Cultural panel discussion featuring employee stories
- Professional development activities
- External speakers speaking about Asian leadership"
Supporting professional development — Freddie Mac
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Freddie Mac – Together, We Are Stronger
Freddie Mac supports the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islander employees while promoting an increased awareness of the value they bring to the organization and our local communities. Our InspirASIAN Business Resource Group is hosting various activities throughout the month such as:
- Personal development session on empowerment led by a coach from our Employee Assistance Program.
- "Stop Asian Hate" lunch and learn geared toward discussing the hurdles facing the AAPI community.
- Fireside chat about racial injustice with leaders from our InspirASIAN and ARISE (employees of the African diaspora) BRGs."
Fostering inclusion, learning, and belonging – Nestlé USA
"At Nestlé USA, the Pan Asian Network (PAN), one of our many employee resource groups that support our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, will host a variety of events to honor and acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. These activities will foster greater inclusion, enhanced learning, and belonging for the AAPI community. PAN will highlight women's development in Asian cultures, Asian leadership and what their culture means to them, culinary innovation of Asian cuisine, intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Pan Asian community, as well as an enhanced learning watch party of the PBS movie 'Asian American.'"
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Promoting cultural literacy – Relativity
The Community Resource Group at Relativity
"For Relativity, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportune time to not only celebrate the rich AAPI cultures represented within our company, but to also foster awareness and allyship amidst the current rise of AAPI hate. RelAsians, our internal community resource group, has organized a few activities for May: a book club focused on AAPI heritage—because we feel it's never too early to gain cultural literacy, a weekly spotlight on AAPI Relativians, and a virtual event that takes attendees on a tour through an Asian grocery store, introducing native vegetables and staple ingredients for traditional home-cooked Asian recipes."
- Contribution from Neha Pant, Sr. Performance Engineer & Angie Ocasek, Sr. Specialist, Partner Enablement – Co-Chairs of the RelAsians Community Resource Group at Relativity
Learn more about Relativity here.
Creating transformative experiences – Facebook
"At Facebook, our APIs employee resource group's mission is to create transformative experiences for all APIs at Facebook, Inc through key cultural awareness and engagement highlighting the API community. To kick off APIHM, we will host a series of events and conversations for the community and its allies designed to support the API community around the theme, The SUM of Us, including:
- Letting Others In: a mindful discussion series that privileges intersectional voices, storytelling, feedback, and vulnerability as tools for building empathy and inclusion amongst organizations.
- Racial Healing Learning Session: specific to the API Experience focused on naming of experiences and emotional responses, understanding the body's responses to racial trauma, what the audience can do in the moment for self-care, and long-term strategies to overcome the effect of the traumatic experience.
- Bystander Training/self Defense Workshop"
Learn more about Facebook here.
Extensive and exciting programming — 2U
"At 2U, Inc. we'll be honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with extensive and exciting programming coordinated by our employee-led Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN). In a year marred by exceptional challenges APIN has centered activities around the ameliorating themes of joy, culture and wellness. Be it delighting in a ukulele mini concert, reading an interview highlighting an API coworker, winding down after too much screen time with a somatic healing session or engaging in a panel discussion with API tattoo artists, we have a packed month ahead with opportunities to support oneself and the API culture! Follow along @Lifeat2U on Instagram for more!"
Learn more about 2U here.
Amplifying voices and educating others – Smartsheet
"During APAHM, the API at Smartsheet community will be hosting several events and activities to educate others, amplify AAPI voices, and celebrate the AAPI community! We plan to kick off the month with a documentary viewing and discussion to learn about AAPI history, and hope to share personal stories from our AAPI employees throughout the month. We'll end with an opportunity for the community to celebrate itself by gathering together for fun and games, while eating food from local Asian-owned restaurants."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Rising together in sports and culture – NBA
"For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APEX is proud to present a multitude of celebratory activities, headlined by an NBA Family Virtual Town Hall and, with the NFL and MLB, an Asians in Sports & Culture Symposium themed "Together We Rise" featuring prominent Asian personalities from the sports world. We are also launching a PSA with an NBA star, honoring Eid-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, offering a bystander intervention training led by AAJC, and – because the celebration wouldn't be complete without food – hosting a sushi making class for our members."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Creating courageous conversations – Commvault
"This May, we are celebrating all our Asian/Pacific Islander employees, not just Asian Americans. We will spend the month learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of Asia through weekly events and activities led by our Multi-Culture ERG. Vaulters and external guests will teach us the history of practices such as yoga, origami, and Asian cuisines. We will also discuss topics like the rise of hate crimes against Asian people and the recent spike in COVID-19 in India. These activities and courageous conversations will engage our workforce and create support for our Asian and Pacific Islander communities around the world."
Learn more about Commvault here.
Honoring history through virtual events – Collins Aerospace
"Collins Aerospace supports our AAPI colleagues not only in May, but all year. Our parent company Raytheon Technologies hosted a virtual Town Hall last month to provide a safe space for open dialogue about recent events targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. In addition to this entity-wide event, our Asia Pacific ERG at Collins is hosting events that educate and honor the importance of Asian Pacific American history such as virtual Lunch & Tours spotlighting South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and India; and Thoughts & Support sessions. Site-specific events include virtual cooking class, and viewing PBS docuseries Asian Americans."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Highlighting new perspectives – MongoDB
"MongoDB will share daily historical facts, highlights of Asian American pioneers, and perspectives from our AAPI employees in a dedicated Slack channel. We will also be providing access to an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month webinar, organizing a trivia night, and holding Processing Together sessions for our internal AAPI community due to recent hate crimes happening across the globe. These sessions are a safe space for employees to share their stories and sentiments of what it is like as an Asian American in America today. (Read MongoDB employee Monica Lu's story about being an Asian American woman in tech here.)"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Spotlighting diverse communities – Bumble
"At Bumble, moments like heritage month celebrations are often our anchor to ensure we are spotlighting diverse communities. In alignment with AAPI Heritage Month in May, Bumble is rolling out a series of thoughtful programming to encourage internal education and around how to support the Stop Asian Hate movement and better serve the Asian community globally. The lineup of initiatives include:
- BuzzWord DEI Discussion Series with featured guest speakers: This conversation will focus on the Asian community within the context of larger cultural issues such as dating app experiences, fetishization, masculinity, and representation.
- Bumble will be inviting employees to join a virtual Vietnamese coffee-making class. Created in partnership with Phin Bar, an urban brew-bar that offers Vietnamese-style steeped coffee combined with house-made ingredients, Bumble hopes to facilitate a deeper cultural learning and community bonding experience for the team.
- Bumble will also be activating channels across social media and our product to educate our community about bystander intervention and raise awareness around the importance of supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement."
Engaging in daring conversations – Procore
"In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Procore recently organized an internal event to recognize and support the AAPI community. The event was hosted as part of our ongoing internal speaker series, 'Daring Conversations & Allyship,' to create space for an open dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. All employees were invited to tune in as employees from our AAPI communities shared their unique experiences, addressed anti-Asian hate, and discussed actionable ways to support our AAPI community."
Learn more about Procore here.
Taking action to foster change – SeatGeek
"This month the POC ERG will be meeting and hosting different activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This includes creating a safe space to discuss current events, and what actions our communities can take to foster change, sending out a newsletter which will highlight the Asian community in every aspect, and lastly, we will be hosting a guest speaker.
We hope with these planned activities and meetings, we can highlight, and uplift the Asian/Pacific American community, as well as bring awareness to the horrible ongoing attacks they are facing."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Uplifting and inspiring the community – Okta
"Okta's People of Color (POC@Okta) ERG is planning to commemorate AAPI Month with a series of fireside chats and iconographical facts posted internally in the #poc and #all diversity Slack channels! These chats will feature Dion Lim of ABC7 News and Comedian/Actor, Ronny Chieng. We will conclude the series with a partnership with Pride@Okta featuring supermodel, TED speaker, and transgender advocate Geena Rocero. The goal of this series is to educate, uplift, support, and inspire! The Okta leadership supports its AAPI employees, customers, and community."
Learn more about Okta here.
Empowering cultural diversity and leadership – Quip
"Salesforce will be celebrating through multiple virtual events, such as a leadership panel on the power of cultural diversity, a tea tasting, a tai chi class, a haka workshop, and more! Members of the Quip team have also compiled an extensive list of resources to support AAPI communities, including ways to donate, take action, and learn more."
Learn more about Quip here.
Focusing on lived experiences – Mindbody
"The Mindbody United ERG focuses on a different heritage or history each month, with May devoted to Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This ERG seeks to provide a platform to both celebrate and learn together. This will manifest in two ways: As a newsletter and a Zoom meeting. The newsletter will feature contributions directly from team members, while the meeting will feature Assembly member Evan Low as our speaker. It is our goal to focus on the lived experiences of the AAPI community, address discrimination, and how to chase after the part of the world we can make better."
Learn more about Mindbody here.
Promoting harmony and unity – T. Rowe Price
"T. Rowe Price is aware and appalled at the recent spike in hate crimes against the Asian community. In response, the firm will center Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month efforts around harmony and unity, in alignment with the Hawaiian value, Lōkahi – Forward as One. To share best practices, successes and areas of opportunities, T. Rowe Price will co-host a Leadership Panel on Asian Leadership Challenges with Baltimore Asian Connect, a consortium of Asian business resource group leaders at local corporations. The firm will also host a book club and restorative listening circles for Asian American associates and their allies."
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
Celebrating Asians globally
"May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Although traditionally a US celebration, at Autodesk we are celebrating Asians globally. The Autodesk Asian Network is hosting Innovative Leaders, including Lori Mukoyama and Jonathan Zee. Lori Mukoyama is redefining experience-driven design globally at Gensler. Jonathan Zee has an extensive portfolio of buildings that are helping to shape cities around the world at Goettsch Partners. Lori and her husband Jonathan combine design, architecture and engineering in their work while simultaneously manage a family together during this pandemic. This event is hosted by AAN, as part of a monthlong series of APA Heritage Month events."
Learn more about AutoDesk here.
💎 Looking to boost your career growth? Tune in to catch 3 top tips to develop a growth mindset at work!
📼 Press PLAY to hear tips from Haley Wolf, Manager of the Sales Development team at Lattice. These 3 tips that she's learned throughout her own career, as well as her experience with colleagues, will help you develop a growth mindset at work.
📼 Tip #1: Request Feedback - The first of the 3 tips to develop a growth mindset at work is to request feedback from your manager and coworkers whenever you feel there is room for growth or improvement. This might be after a presentation or project, or even before that next step in your career. By requesting this feedback, you can learn what gaps need to be addressed to keep growing.
📼 Tip #2: Overcommunicate Curiosity - The second of the 3 tips to develop a growth mindset at work consists of continually asking questions. Whenever you feel you're in a pivotal moment in your career, seek advice from colleagues about their experience and even how they've overcome obstacles. Think about what you want to learn. All of this will help you grow and get career-boosting advice.
Don't Miss The Last Tip To Develop A Growth Mindset At Work
📼 Tip #3 may sound strange, but it's absolutely true: Fail Fast. What does Haley mean by that? Approach each new beginning with a fearless mindset—which will help lead to a growth mindset. When you're jumping into a new presentation or trying a new skill for the first time, think about this: probably everyone in the room has had to do this for the first time at some point! So failing fast is when we can grow the most.
📨 Are you interested in joining Lattice? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Haley
Haley Wolf has been working at Lattice for 4 and a half years. When asked what her favorite part about working at Lattice is, she says: It's cliche to say, "the people," but I think it'd be wrong not to because our core values at Lattice are centered around our people! I believe that's what makes a difference here, too. And that's always stayed constant as Lattice has grown. But I think there are two elements to that. One is when the people that we're surrounded with and the people that we work with are so brilliant, so inspiring, so dedicated, with a pool of knowledge that is so diverse — that makes such a difference. But the second is the leadership team. Our exec team has done an amazing job of building that foundation that's collaborative, safe, and meaningful. I trust the decisions they make because they share everything very openly and transparently.
More About Lattice
Lattice is a people management platform that empowers leaders to build engaged, high-performing teams that inspire winning cultures. With Lattice, it's easy to launch 360 performance review cycles and engagement surveys, keep track of OKR/goals, gather real-time feedback, and encourage manager 1-on-1 meetings.
Most people have one home town. Syamla Bandla has 13.
With a father serving in the Indian army, Syamla got used to adapting to a new environment every time his role changed and her family moved to a new city.
That flexibility served her well as she moved from fintech to insurance to startups and eventually into a role as Facebook's Director of Production Engineering—and as she managed a massive team through the pandemic-induced shift to all-remote work.
We sat down with Syamla, who had already shared part of her career story with PowerToFly, to ask her how she's grown and developed her own career, and how our readers can do the same in their own roles, especially now that remote/hybrid work is here to stay.
Step One: Adopt a Growth Mindset
Syamla's career really began to take off when she took on her first leadership role. The startup she had been working for was acquired by Dell, and she was tasked with integrating it into Dell's SaaS portfolio and taking four different products to market.
Oh, and she was a bit busy having her first child right at the same time.
"The learning curve was very steep!" remembers Syamla. "When I look back, I am really proud of myself for what I accomplished."
She credits one thing with her ability to juggle work and motherhood: her deep belief in a growth mindset.
"When we say 'superwoman, supermom, superhuman,' it's a myth," she says. "Everybody has the same 24 hours. It was a muscle I had to build in both roles–in motherhood and in work–about focusing on the journey."
Here's how Syamla defines a growth mindset: "Believing that talents are not innate and that everything can be developed with sheer dedication and hard work and focus—an absolute obsession and love for learning."
In practice, applying a growth mindset looks like not being afraid to fail. Whether that is Syamla stepping into a leadership role while balancing new motherhood or one of her direct reports taking on hiring responsibilities for the first time, Syamla says that it's all about believing that you can get through something.
"When you think about it, it's not the outcome that you're chasing—but the joy of the process itself," she explains.
And while volunteering for new initiatives or putting your hat in the ring for a promotion may have been easier when we were all in the office and you could grab a senior manager in the hallway, it's certainly easy to broadcast your willingness to take on more learning opportunities, says Syamla.
Step Two: Be Vulnerable
Syamla's current job includes managing all of Facebook's revenue-generating platforms, including Ads and Marketplace. "This role is very, very dear to my heart, and I love doing it at this scale," she says. It's a big remit, and in order to manage well, she needs to keep her team connected.
Her strongest tools for doing that are trust, authenticity, and radical inclusion.
"Listening is super important, whether it's with customers, peers, or managers. Listening with empathy means you're getting the big picture, not just the short-term," she says.
Here are her specific tips:
- Put your phone aside while you're on video calls. It shows your team that they have your full attention, says Syamla.
- Share personal updates when they feel appropriate. For instance, when Syamla's father-in-law got COVID, she ended up sharing that to the broader Facebook community, prompting dozens of people to reach out to her and share their own experiences.
- Show that you understand other people's situations. From being conscious about scheduling calls at times that work for coworkers in other parts of the world to checking in on teammates who are going through life changes, leading with empathy can go a long way, says Syamla.
Step Three: Build a Network of Advocates
"I used to believe my work would speak for itself," Syamla says. She found out that wasn't quite the case. "As a leader and a woman of color, I needed to find my voice, but also to make sure that my allies and sponsors were able to speak on my behalf, so I didn't have the burden of self-promoting all the time."
Syamla thinks that remote work actually provides more opportunities on this front. Not only can you drop humble-brag updates in company chats she says, but you can also more easily branch outside of your own company to connect with industry peers, which is key for upward mobility and recruiting opportunities.
"It's a blessing in disguise, to have so many virtual events," she says. "Being a working mom, I used to refuse events, because they required long travel away from my family. But the top tech conferences are online and they're really quality."
Same goes for learning opportunities. With platforms, including our internal learning resources at Facebook, says Syamla, it's easier than ever to make time for learning, and to share your progress with your managers so that they can see how committed you are to self-improvement.
She also suggests making use of social networks to connect with peers of similar backgrounds. "You will be surprised how many people actually respond back and they want to connect and talk about experiences when they come from similar domains," she says.
Step Four: Don't Forget to Prioritize Yourself
It's easy to let work bleed into your real life when work happens in the same place that you see your family and friends, says Syamla. Career development is important, but not at the cost of your own mental health and enjoyment of life.
"It's hard to draw that line, especially as a working parent," she says. "The key is to pace it out and draw really hard boundaries." For example, Syamla makes sure to take occasional Fridays off where she fully disconnects from work. And on family vacations, she makes sure to take at least an afternoon for "guilt-free mommy time."
"It's important to put on your oxygen mask first, because you can give a lot more when you are in your strongest mental state and physical state," she explains. "After I've taken that time, I'm a better person, a better mom, and a better leader."
Personally, Syamla likes to spend her downtime hiking, diamond painting with her daughter, and creating vegan versions of family-favorite recipes like thandai. She's slowly morphed into a morning person, too, going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until she was able to get up at 5:15 a.m., which gives her much-needed quiet time to walk, do yoga, and get into the right headspace to start her day.
Prioritization needs to happen at work, too, and can sometimes be easier in remote or hybrid workplaces. For example, Syamla is now taking executive coaching sessions, which she says she wouldn't have had time for had she needed to travel to them. "I get good ROI because it's a lunch session, and I don't have to block half an hour before and after to get there," she says.
She's also seen higher participation in Facebook's Coaching Circles—small support groups where participants can learn new skills, network, and help others solve problems in an engaging and confidential environment—now that they've moved online.
Looking to the future
As someone who is personally and professionally passionate about inclusion, Syamla is keeping an eye on what the future of remote and hybrid career development looks like.
"A lot of leaders will be tested on building inclusive environments when some people opt to work full-time remote and some people are coming into the office. I think we have to be super intentional and even more laser-focused on getting the inclusion part right," she says.
Anne Do was recently visiting her cousin in San Francisco, California, for less than 48 hours. In that time, she made two cakes and a dozen French macarons.
"I told my family, 'You won't be seeing me for a while!' and packed up what I could for their freezer," says Anne, smiling.
The web analytics team lead for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is accustomed to accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time.
With less than two years under her belt as a full-time employee at the Agency, Anne has already taken on the role of a team lead, became the co-lead of the NGA's Asian Pacific American Council (APAC), and collaborated closely with multiple components to successfully executed a five-person live broadcast panel event for this May Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPHM).
We sat down with Anne to find out how she makes this all happen — and, importantly, how APAC has worked to support its members during a year of unprecedented racially-motivated attacks.
Driven to Serve
Anne says that public service is in her blood. As a first-generation Vietnamese-American whose father and grandfather both served in the military, Anne knew she wanted to follow in their footsteps by giving back. She earned her undergraduate degree in Information Technology (IT) – Network Administration and master's in Information Systems Technology Management, subsequently working as a systems, database and cloud engineer for various government organizations.
After working technical integration logistics management for the State Department, she was hired as a contractor at NGA while pursuing her graduate degree at GWU. After a few years in, she realized that one of her customers could modernize how they delivered map specifications to industry, military and international partners by moving from a local database to the cloud.
She wrote a proposal, including her own research and cost calculations, and it was approved. For three years, while managing her daily work responsibilities, she was also successful in learning achieving data and cloud migration accreditations. It was then that Anne realized she wanted to work as a NGA employee in a data science capacity.
"I have done the network aspect. I did the system and data engineering. I really enjoy dealing with methods of transforming data into a strategic asset, and seeing it come to fruition, so I figured, let's see what opportunity NGA has in the data field. I put my name into the hat without really thinking that I would get it," says Anne.
She did get it. And two months later, she was provided with an opportunity to serve as the web analytics lead.
Determined to Lead
When Anne started as a NGA employee, she ran into a challenging situation.
"I realized I needed to balance being organizational, tech savvy with being savvy at office dynamics", she explained. "I needed to extend myself beyond tackling specific goals and be the kind of leader, who could successful manage demanding situations."
That need for community and support drove Anne to join APAC, a Special Emphasis Program (SEP), NGA's employee resource group for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
At her first meeting, she met the APAC's co-lead who was serving food for everyone. She was shocked—and impressed—to see such gracious leadership.
Shortly after joining the council, that co-lead position became available. Anne took charge and raised her hand to become the new co-lead.
That was in February 2020. A month later, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and anti-Asian sentiment began to rise in the US.
"I have two elderly parents who take daily walks, and I had to wonder if I needed my parents to curtail their normal routine," says Anne.
Other members of APAC shared their concerns with the council: they found themselves looking over their shoulders in their neighborhoods and grocery stores, wondering if a violent attacker was near, and they struggled to focus on work amid news coverage of increasing violence. They wondered what kind of support NGA could provide them.
Anne and her co-lead focused on a three-part response strategy: listening, providing resources, and advocating. Here's what it looked like:
- Listening: "I had to learn to ask people I work with, 'How are you today? versus How things are going? I emphasize the 'you' part because that gives them a chance to open up and discuss how they're feeling," she says. APAC started sending emails, partnering with other agencies' AAPI leads to provide a platform that served as open forums for anyone who wanted to share their thoughts, fears, or reflections.
- Providing resources: Anne and the APAC & SEP team communicated the NGA resources available to employees, including counseling, monthly meetings, speakers, reminders about mental health and sick days, and access to the AAPI network in the greater Intelligence Community, for anyone who needed help. "It was about enabling them to feel that their voices were being heard and showing there are efforts put in place to help prevent any uneasiness with what was happening outside of the workforce," she says.
- Advocating: On a personal and professional level, Anne believes in advocacy. "The more you open yourself up and have these hard conversations, the more you can educate people on the AAPI experience and move past the model minority myth..." she says.
As important as Anne knows her work with APAC to be, she acknowledges that it's not easy to heal from the threat of violence and experiences of everyday racism. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to my pre-pandemic comfort level," she says.
Finding Inspiration to Keep Going
Anne didn't meet her APAC co-lead in person until this May, well over a year after becoming an advisor to the council. They were working together virtually up until broadcasting rehearsal for the AAPHM observance event.
"It hits a little closer to home for a lot of us," she says of this year's celebrations. Anne signed up to be the logistics manager for the event, and found herself designing a speaking panel that was the agency's first all-Asian-American-descent panel. The event's keynote speaker was Huan Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy.
"We couldn't have asked for a better keynote," Anne says. "He addressed the community about the events that had happened, saying, 'It's real. What can we do to make sure that not equality but actual equity gets taken care of?' and 'It doesn't matter what your heritage is — you're American first.'"
The event was the highlight of Anne's tenure at NGA, she says, and she knows she's not the only one who felt the power of coming together as a community.
"A coworker who has been in federal service for over 30 years told me that was one of the most honest, genuine addresses that she ever had experienced in her career," says Anne.
Anne wants to pay that feeling forward, and has one last piece of advice for anyone considering stepping up and becoming a leader in their own organization: "Be more willing to take part in the change that you believe in, even if it scares the heck out of you. I definitely never expected to be where I am now, but I'm so glad that I raised my hand."
Approved for public release, 21-823
💎 What does a recruiting process with "diversity at work" in mind look like?
📼 Press PLAY to hear some insights from a recruiter at Procore into what it's like to work at a company that encourages diversity. Cynthia Griffin, Senior Talent Operations Specialist at Procore, shares some tips and tricks to stand out in the recruitment process at Procore.
📼 Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are at the forefront of Procore's recruitment efforts. They work to mitigate unconscious bias, address microaggressions, and implement training on leading inclusively during challenging times. Plus, they hold community round tables and listening sessions to amplify the voices of underrepresented employees and nurture the ecosystem of employee resource groups.
📼 Diversity at work is one of the main focuses of Procore's recruiting process. Don't miss Cynthia's valuable tips on how to prepare for your interview with Procore. During your panel interviews, the company has a set of standard behavioral questions and stages that will cover both technical and leadership skills. This will help them identify the qualities that will make you successful at the job. As Cynthia says, "take us on your journey". Think about your past experience, whether it's professional or personal. The recruiting team really wants to understand the journey that you've been on and where you might like to take your career in the future.
The Importance of Encouraging Diversity at Work
Optimism and ownership helped define Procore from their beginning stages. Their values are ingrained in daily operations, from how they run meetings to the ways the team communicates with each other. "It's at the core of who we are, how we lead, how we grow, and how we continue to hire".
📨 Are you interested in joining Procore? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Cynthia
Cynthia is an experienced recruiter with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. Skilled in Coaching, Sales, and Applicant tracking systems, she's a strong human resources professional who graduated from Ventura College.
More About Procore
Procore Technologies is building the software that builds the world. We provide cloud-based construction management software that helps clients more efficiently build skyscrapers, hospitals, retail centers, airports, housing complexes, and more. At Procore, we have worked hard to create and maintain a culture where you can own your work and are encouraged and given resources to try new ideas. Check us out on Glassdoor to see what others are saying about working at Procore. Our headquarters is located on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in Carpinteria, CA, with growing offices worldwide.