When you have an eight-year career at a company you absolutely love, it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else. HubSpot was my home, frankly part of my identity, so taking the leap to do something new was a big deal. I’m incredibly thankful for my time at HubSpot, and it was through that amazing experience that I cultivated the very passion that brought me to my next journey:
Today I’m honored to share that I’ve joined Owl Labs, a video conferencing hardware startup. We’re building a new IoT product that helps remote employees feel truly included in collaborative team meetings.
While I encourage you to read the exciting news and learn all about the company, what I’d like to share here is the story that brought me to this opportunity.
I had the honor of joining HubSpot early, when the company was about 45 employees, and there were only four other full-time marketers on the team. Everything was new, and everything needed to be built from scratch. While HubSpot experienced some pretty exciting stages of growth over the years, I can’t deny that my first year was my favorite. So much so, I set a goal for myself that one day I would join a company even earlier, with an even smaller team figuring out a completely different set of challenges.
Starting from day one, HubSpot had an amazing culture. In fact, I challenge you to find a company that is more focused on taking care of its people than HubSpot. And it was that type of attention and care that inspired many of its employees to contribute to the culture as well, including me.
My contributions were a mix of big and small. My second year at HubSpot, I volunteered to build the marketing team’s intern program. It was a blast — I loved helping our interns think through whatever challenges were on their plates. It was important they felt empowered to make whatever impact they wanted to have.
A few years later, when the marketing team moved to a brand new space in our building, I noticed the team was struggling to adjust to the new environment. Don’t get me wrong — the space was incredible. Each person had a big desk, a HubSpot orange bench where visitors could sit, and eight inches or so of opaque privacy glass around the desk’s periphery. It was beautiful, like moving into a new house.
But there was a significant change in the team dynamic. Previously we would be quite loud (often too loud, frankly) encouraged by the open layout of our desks. Now the team was incredibly quiet. I asked a few folks what they thought of the new space, and they said while it was beautiful, they felt lonely. Lonely!? Walking around, the space was probably at 60–70% capacity at all times. However, if there was no one sitting at the desks directly to your left, right or behind you, it created the illusion that you were completely alone.
Once I understood the issue, I talked to facilities and asked if they could take out the opaque glass surrounding each desk. While they thought it was a bit of an odd request, they made it happen. Now instead of a sea of cubes, we had a room full of faces. It changed the energy of the room, and the team was happier.
While this is a small action in the big scheme of things, I really enjoyed being a cultural advocate for my team. I loved helping others find success.
Flash forward to 2015, when I was leading our demand generation and customer marketing teams. One day, I was shoulder tapped by our CMO Kipp Bodnar to consider a new position as Director of Team Development. It was a new function that would be 100% focused on supporting the team, experience, culture, you name it. I accepted the role. Now my job was to formally listen, collect feedback and do whatever I could to make HubSpot’s marketing department an exceptional place to work.
One of my most interesting challenges at the time was thinking through how we would support remote work, a trend that was growing across marketing and the company as a whole. We had a handful of folks who worked remotely, and even one group that was completely distributed both geographically and across offices.
One employee had made a significant move to be closer to his fiance’s family. At the time, he wanted to hire an intern in Cambridge. However, it gave me pause. This would have been one of the first instances a remote person would be managing an intern based in HQ. (Writing this now, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had any hesitation at all.) When we were discussing if it was feasible or not, he said something to me that really stuck in my mind:
His career growth opportunities (in this case, strengthening his management skills) shouldn’t be limited simply because he lived in a different place. He was completely right.
Which brings us to today. After eight phenomenal years, it was time to go after my goal of joining a new startup. And by then I had discovered my next calling: I wanted to join a company that was as obsessed with making employees and teams successful as I was.
So far, joining Owl Labs has exceeded my expectations in many ways. The team is phenomenal. I have the honor of joining my incredible former HubSpot colleague Karen Rubin on the leadership team, a woman I have admired since my very first days at HubSpot.
What inspires me most is imagining that through our work, remote employees will be able to communicate, contribute, and grow as happy successful members of the team no matter where they are.
I believe that building strong collaborative teams in a way that’s inclusive and effective for remote workers is the next frontier for team development.
And I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to support this mission at Owl Labs.