As Marketing Manager for CodeScience, I have the opportunity to write for our blog quite often. One of my favorite topics to help write on is our company’s culture and what makes it so special. With this year’s All Hands theme of “We Make the Dream Work”, I asked myself how could I bring in more people to share their voice on this event that is a cornerstone of our culture?
I decided to bring together the voices of our newest CodeScientists with some of our longest employed CodeScientists and see what came out of it. Through a series of interviews and Slack conversations, I’m sharing with you the thoughts from 16 different CodeScientists as they talk about our company.
The New Hires
Ben Ganzel, Quality Analyst
When I was hired at the end of August, I had been asked if I would be able to travel to Asheville for the annual All Hands event. Before I officially started, arrangements were made for me to be there. I knew that it was a pretty big deal, but when I walked into the Welcome Reception on the first night, that's when it really hit me how big of a deal it really was. Being able to meet and mingle with my coworkers in this crazy, costume filled venue the first night of All Hands was amazing. All the events and content that followed really sold how CodeScience lives their culture and values every day. Having the opportunity so early on in my employment really helped solidify my place here, and I am already looking forward to the next one!
Rebecca Keyser, Director of Finance and Business Operations
As a new CodeScientist, I was not sure what to expect from All Hands. I had heard about the event from other teammates, and I had been at company-wide events at previous employers, but nothing could really prepare me for what All Hands actually was. The theme of All Hands was Team, and it was quite amazing to me how all CodeScientists are so much a team. Being a remote company (and especially with me being a new employee), you don’t have the personal interactions you do at a “traditional” company. But yet having just met many of my fellow CodeScientists, I felt more a part of this team than I have at other companies. The overall event was fantastic, with a great mixture of speakers and activities. The final night of the event, the Awards Gala, was extremely touching as fellow employees gave heartfelt thank yous to teammates who meant so much to them – being in the room and witnessing the emotion made me know I had most definitely made the right decision in becoming a CodeScientist!
Sammi Shahidi, Business Development Manager
As a new hire starting on the first day of the All Hands, I have to say it was an awesome experience. The first two days were sales, marketing, and QBRs, which was the perfect starting point for my role. The content was informative, concise, and collaborative. As a new hire, All Hands off sites can be overwhelming, especially when it’s for more than 3 days, but this All Hands felt very fluid. Since we are a majority remote company, having the ability to meet everyone, dress up, have fun, let loose, and get serious was a wonderful blend of togetherness. The scavenger hunt team activity was an awesome opportunity to get to know each other on a different level while exploring the city and being on an adventure together. Personally, there is nothing cooler than seeing all types of personalities, cities, and cultures come together to enjoy a good meal — the dinners and lunches were great. Brian's keynote was the highlight for me. Knowing the core of CodeScience is predicated on teamwork makes me feel so much more confident starting this role and trying to digest all the new hire content — this gives me confidence that everyone is ready to roll their sleeves up for the greater good of the company and mutual success.
Juli Richart, Senior Director of Delivery
As a new hire, attending All Hands was the ultimate introduction to my new colleagues. The event was extremely well orchestrated and allowed plenty of time for me to interact and get to know my fellow CodeScientists face-to-face. It was a great balance between learning and getting to know everyone in a social setting while having fun. My boss asked me how I felt attending the event, and I can honestly say that it validated the culture I was seeking to be a part of again and how excited I was to get started!
Denise Erickson, Executive Assistant
From my perspective, the All Hands 2019 annual event that CodeScience hosted was AMAZING! There is nothing like in-person conversations with some of the best humans on this planet! The costume party is a legit COSTUME party, and it was a BLAST! The Give Back event shows the heart of CodeScience. The mixers, whether it was the scavenger hunt or the lunches, were fun to socialize and meet others you wouldn't normally connect with. My favorite part, hands down, without a doubt, was the awards ceremony at the Gala! I am still in awe at all the thanks that were given. Thank yous were handed out to peers, to direct reports, to management, and everyone else. This ceremony shows how much we are truly one family. Let's start the countdown for All Hands 2020!
Carolyn McIntyre, Product Owner
All Hands was great, but what made my on-boarding to CodeScience really special was the new hire cohort. It was nice to have a group of people who you could build relationships with as we headed into the event later in the week. I loved having interactions with the company, the execs were always in arms reach, and it was special to see that they knew your name and made themselves available. There is an energy that radiates from the people here. It doesn’t feel like there is a hierarchy. Everyone can intermingle and does.
As I’ve gotten settled in, I’ve realized CodeScience leverages Slack and Zoom to build connections in an open and transparent way. Video is a big thing here, there are seldom cameras off — and it pays off when the team gets together because when team members see each other, it isn’t handshakes, it’s hugs. What I didn’t expect was the love for costumes. I’ve already got some inspiration for next year!
Divya Komandla, Quality Assurance
CodeScience — an amazing workplace with a great culture. I was hired right before the All Hands meeting at Asheville, NC. It was such a pleasure to be part of this event, and it was the most awesome on-boarding process I have ever experienced in my career. I had the chance to meet our CEO, along with the other members of the senior leadership within my first week, which was so impressive.
The work culture is so cool! Team members appreciate each other for their hard work. At CodeScience, they treat you like an adult — we work from home, we get stuff done, you do your job, and the rest is pretty much up to you.
All Hands was awesome and so much fun. It was a great opportunity for each employee to dial up the fun and share their voice. I got to meet almost every employee in the company and learn the broad vision of CodeScience’s future. Personally, I felt getting everyone in your company in the same room, in the same town for two or three days is an unbeatable opportunity to demonstrate the company culture. All Hands is so effective for getting new employees, like me, introduced into the company culture, philosophy, and the way we do things.
Lasya Konduri, Business Analyst
It was great to have a chance to meet with everyone! I really enjoyed having a chance to meet new hires first. I was nervous about meeting a hundred of my new coworkers in costumes for the first time, but everyone was so open and having my group of friends early in the week made it easy to go and talk to everyone. I loved the Awards Gala! It was amazing to hear people talk about CodeScience culture and what makes it special — you could feel it in the air. People were so genuinely appreciative for each other. Between the cheering and the foot-stomping, you can’t fake that excitement, and I truly got a sense of how great everyone in that room was.
Michael Gold, Product Owner
Being able to work remotely, especially with the collaboration tools we have at our disposal to enable us to be really efficient in our everyday work at C|S, is extremely empowering. There is really no better way of working. But as effective as we are when working remotely, the super high-speed connections and high-def laptop cameras turned on during conference calls are still unable to replace the immediacy of human physical presence fully. As the team gathered together for All Hands, that’s the sudden realization I came to as a new hire. Being able to spend focused quality time face-to-face at All Hands has gone a long way to help me cement relationships with my peers, teammates, and with the leadership team. It has made our remote collaboration following the event that much more effective. If you’ve just joined, make sure to attend All Hands. You’ll be glad you did!
Tim Brindamour, Product Owner
Attending the All Hands as a new hire provided a great perspective into the culture at CodeScience. What struck me most was the diverse and inclusive atmosphere among the teams of “scientists”. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, and each person had their own style and background. I especially appreciated the way that people celebrated each other at the Awards Gala. This was the most genuine show of support that I’d ever experienced at a company.
Our Long-Time Employees
Krishna Tatta, Technical Architect Team Lead
With this being my 5th All Hands, I will say that I love each and every time. They are each different, and the activities and the content have grown each year. This year had a great balance of spending time getting to know each other and mastering our craft. It amazes me to look back and see that we’re now at the point of having to divide up into groups because we’re too big for a single place.
I thought that the groups were designed well, where I was able to meet people who I haven’t had as much interaction with. The social moments like CodeScience After Dark or the Costume party are the most apparent where we’ve grown as a company. Where we once were a group of 10 people in a room, we now take over whole spaces. I find that in these moments, I’m able to move in and out of groups with ease — connecting with those I haven’t talked to in a while or meeting a new face entirely. What hasn’t changed is that I always have the home base I can go back to and reflect on the memories over the years. The Awards Gala is my favorite part each year, and it was heartwarming to see that we had so many people who wanted to speak that we had to cut it off or we were going to be kicked out of the venue so they could break down for the night.
Most important to me is that the culture (what makes this place feel like a family) hasn’t been lost as we’ve grown. The best parts of our culture are never lost when your leadership is committed to keeping it.
John Prevost, Engagement Manager
For me, All Hands is where we get renewed and reintroduced into our culture. Every year the event changes and the culture is different; it has to be. We’ve brought in 65% more people from the last All Hands, and they are now part of the culture too. Early CodeScience laid the groundwork for our culture, and through intentional growth and recruiting, we've hired the people that meet the mark and shape it in their own way.
CodeScience is special because we stated our values and our culture and hired the right people to fulfill that. Most companies bring in people to do a job, and we want people who want more than that.
All Hands is fast, we pack a ton of content and fun into just a handful of days, and when we make it to the end, everyone says, “wow what a ride.” We are still at the size where I can meet everyone, but I’m very interested to see the creative ways our leadership will continue to scale this event.
Brandon Baker, Salesforce Engineer
All Hands is a fast-paced sprint of CodeScience culture. It used to be an event where you could meet everyone face-to-face for the first time, but we’ve gone beyond that point. I wish there was more time to chill and chat, but I understand that there is a lot to get done during that period. I enjoy seeing new faces, but having been on the same project for 3 years, it is really a chance for me to connect with the broader organization.
Jake Wills, Delivery Services Manager
This was my 6th CS All Hands. At the first one, we were less than 15 people gathered in an incubator shared conference room, many of us sitting on tables against the wall. This year at All Hands, I was struck over and over again by how much has changed, and at the same time, how much has stayed the same. The dinners are bigger, the speakers are more famous, the activities are more elaborate, the parties last longer, and of course, there are many, many more of us. However, our focus on values, teamwork, caring for each other, and getting to know each other as humans and friends is just as strong — maybe stronger — as it was 6 years ago.
In Asheville, I was also reminded many times about the impact CS has on our clients, their success, and the broader world. It can be easy to lose perspective on why we do what we do because day-to-day we mostly think about how we do it. Every year that message hits me harder and harder as CS and our impact on the world grows. CS is an amazing place that creates amazing things, and All Hands really drives home how proud, humbled, and thankful I am to be a part of it.
Matt Carroll, Lead UI Engineer
We’ve grown a lot over the years. I look forward to having face-to-face time with many of these people I work with on a daily basis. I know that I can’t meet everyone, but I do try to introduce myself to those I don’t recognize. It is great to see these people in person. I see that our continued commitment to culture despite our growth is paying off. We grow and change, but the underlying core of what makes CodeScience who it is stays the same. We are growing with our change in a positive way. I look forward to next year’s celebration.
Mike Witherspoon, Founder and Chairman
I went into the annual CodeScience All Hands meeting nervous that our growth might have negatively impacted the culture I hold so dear. Culture is wildly important to me, and as I’ve had to let go of the reins, there is always the concern that it can go wrong. CodeScience is the corporate version of my brain, and if you’ve spent any time with me, you know how interesting and strange this place must be. My concerns couldn't have been more misplaced. I was overwhelmed by the widespread commitment to our values, the dedication to building supportive teams, the philosophy of praise, and keeping everything silly with costumes.
Brian has done an amazing job of committing to the values and culture of the company. For any founder handing off their baby, you must find a partner that you can invest your time in, embodies the values that you hold dear, and brings skills to the table that you don’t have — and this process takes years. But when you do it right, you see your baby flourish.
It makes me smile when because even to this day, I hear from CodeScientists “that I was a bit of a weirdo at every other place I’ve worked, but here I can thrive.” We aren’t encouraging culture; we’re living it. We aren’t tolerating diversity; we’re celebrating it. It speaks volumes to the leadership here that they continue to invest and commit to the employees who make the company what it is. What other company this young commits to pulling in world-famous speakers, flying people in from across the US, and bringing employees together to celebrate and learn from each other? Watching this unfold warms my heart.
It goes beyond a single event though. Our culture brings out the best in people. I’ve seen shy, reserved employees grow in a matter of weeks to celebrating their team because it is what our company is built on. And we give them a space to grow and share more of themselves. We’ve created a virtuous cycle with our culture, and I expect that we will continue to see it pay off.
Jeremy Engler, Product Owner
I’ve been at CodeScience for a while now and have been to quite a few of our yearly All Hands events, well, all of them, really, since we started in Chattanooga, TN, where our office is located. Back then (back in my day!), the entire company fit onto a small river tour boat, into a small, dangerous, double-decker bus, into an underground cave, and a small private room at a fantastic local restaurant. There wasn’t a lot of us is what I’m trying to say.
So I approach each All Hands these days with a bit of trepidation because I’m maybe a little jaded. I’m also aware of how much we’re growing as a company and that was causing me some anxiety as well because I care A LOT about this company and want to make sure that we don’t lose our soul or our spirit that got us here in the first place and attracts the people that we have.
I can now say, after this year’s All Hands, that all of those fears are gone. Any uncertainty I might have had about our growth and especially our leadership as we grow has been calmed. I saw a leadership team working so smoothly together, having a plan for how we’re going to achieve our goals, and even having some serious heart-to-hearts later on, and I get it now. Because now I understand that they care about this company as much as I do and that I don’t have to worry anymore.
I also worried about how one catches up with everyone you know while also getting to know everyone you don’t? Consider that most of us are remote, and don’t get face-to-face, like, ever, and that we’ve hired a bunch of new folks, and that’s a lot of people to meet! Or even project team members you’ve worked with, but only ever seen on Zoom. (On the whole, most of us are taller than you think on video.) Throughout the weekend, I realized that there is simply no way to catch up and meet everyone, and THAT’S OK. It’s not a matter of losing a personal touch, where I know everyone in the company personally, but a matter of having a really big family. I have a lot of cousins, and while I have a favorite, sorry fam, but I do, I still know and love all of them. A bigger company means more people to get to know better and to love.
And that’s the last thing about the weekend that sunk in for me. Everyone here, from old-timers to new folks, REALLY CARES ABOUT CODESCIENCE and what is going on here. They LOVE being here. They LOVE what they do. They LOVE their teammates. They LOVE that they can bring their full selves to work. And that’s the soul of CodeScience that I hope we never lose. The love and how much this experience matters to everyone. Maybe we’ve had tricky bosses, or bad roles for us, or awkward culture fit, but we love the work and the problem-solving that goes with it. We love working with smart people who take our work seriously but not themselves.
Our final night always includes an awards gala MC’d by the amazing Coni and Molly, and it turns into an open-mic lovefest that would melt the Grinch’s non-existent heart. We were basking in wave after wave of love for each other as people took the mic and showed their gratitude for someone at the company who’s made an impact for them, and Coni and Molly had to basically shut it down after half the company had gotten up there. It felt like being home with your crazy family who just can’t stop telling stories about when you were little. Were I the public speaking type I would have expressed my gratitude to every single person at CodeScience who rocks their job every single day. It’s because of their excellence that we have a thriving company for whom we work. It’s because we have a thriving company that I’ve been able to work in a place where I feel at home for 10 years now and to support my family and call myself a success. And specifically, I’m grateful to my friend and the company’s founder, Mike Witherspoon, for taking me on so long ago, without his full consent, and letting me grow and thrive under his roof. Long live the house that Spoon built. I’ll be here to the end.
If you’re interested in joining our family and bringing what makes you special to our company, then check out our careers page: https://www.codescience.com/careers