After spending over a decade working at corporations with more than 100,000 employees, I joined Esper, a startup in February. I’d anticipated an entirely different experience and some initial adjustment pains. But, the quick and smooth transition caught me by surprise. Before I knew it, I was riding the startup train and loving every minute of it!
Us humans have an inherent capability to swiftly adapt to changes and find a new norm under almost any circumstances. Has there ever been a better example of human resilience than today’s unprecedented events?
Here’s my experience at Esper in the past 60 days.
Passion and Agility are a Daily Theme
Sustained progress is impossible without the contributors believing in a laser-focused vision and rooting for it.
My team has a single view about what Esper stands for and where we’re heading. We debate ideas and make decisions around this shared vision. Passion and focus help us take large strides forward.
Every day presents itself with its own share of new problems. But, we deal with it head-on and move forward rather than shying away from friction. This quote from my favorite series pretty much sums it up.
There’s no such thing as a typical day. There’s a schedule and a structure to be sure. And to a certain extent, it starts off as a 9–5 job. But, you can pretty much count on it being blown to hell by 9:30.The West Wing
It Doesn’t Get Any Flatter Than This!
This is a flat hierarchy. Period.
Everyone who works here is equally approachable and open to questions or constructive discussions. Anyone on the team can bring up new ideas, present arguments, or throw in challenges. The end result is always a sound strategy since the team has some remarkably diverse perspectives.
Once a month we do Hack Days. Each engineer gets to work on a cool project and showcase a demo or what they learned. You know the leaders at Esper take the whole “made by engineers for engineers” thing seriously when the CEO participates and presents his hack!
We switched to working remotely nearly five weeks ago. Ever since, the CEO & COO host a weekly session called Office Hours where we just hang out as a team and talk about anything. This top-down commitment to culture makes a world of distance when it comes to nurturing a team through challenging times.
Own the Product
“Do the right thing” and “Customer-Obsession” are the two mantras at my startup. If you have to wear multiple hats to delight a customer, so be it. Since my first day, I’ve seen everyone (including my boss) step into varied roles when it benefits the team or customer.
A collaborative culture fosters a sense of ownership. When you’re more worried about excellence and customer service than an approval-centric work environment, you can achieve remarkable results.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Everyday has taught me something new. I continue to learn about the world of Android and IoT. Learning isn’t always just about new technologies. Sometimes, I unearth new aspects of product execution or define new solutions along the way that would usually be assumed as done in an established setup. A culture of experimentation is a culture of learning, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to innovate each day.
Looking Back Over Two Months at Esper
It feels like I started working at Esper yesterday. But, it also feels like I’ve been a part of this happy family for a long time. Every turn in your career arrives as a beautifully wrapped package of unique promises and surprises. It’s up to us to get the best out of it. And I hope to do exactly that.
This article was originally published by Esper’s Technical Program Manager Vineetha Vijayakumar on Medium.