Purpose, Progress and Product: Three Pieces of the Employee Retention Puzzle

Four long-tenured SF tech employees share why they have stayed with their companies.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Nov. 16, 2022
Purpose, Progress and Product: Three Pieces of the Employee Retention Puzzle
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Great products. Good people. Clear purpose. Opportunities for progress.

Together, these pieces fit together to reveal a clear and intentional employee value proposition. Four long-tenured SF tech employees cited all of these elements when talking about why they choose to stay with their companies year after year.

Jack Wagner first started seeing CrowdStrike mentioned in online discussions about disruptive technologies in 2015. As he learned more, a previous conversation bubbled up in his memory. “A few years prior, I had received the advice, ‘If you have good people and a good product, success will come.’ I took that to heart,” he said. He joined the endpoint protection company shortly thereafter. Seven years later and now director of sales strategy and operations, he remains just as positive about fresh opportunities as CrowdStrike continues to grow and scale.

After six years with Braze, Enterprise Account Executive Paul Niedermier is committed to the company for the long-term. “Leadership at Braze cares about the individual careers of those they work with, and our leaders are interested in getting to know people personally,” he said.

Stella Tuovinen, global head of marketing science at Smartly.io, stands by the company for the same reasons she joined over four years ago. “I was drawn to the fast growth pace and international opportunities,” she said. And Smartly.io delivered: Tuovinen has had the opportunity to advance in new roles, move into a management position and relocate from Helsinki to San Francisco.

As the tech landscape shifts from “The Great Resignation” to an increasingly uncertain economic forecast, employers and employees alike are considering what provides a solid foundation for building a long-term career at a company. Built In San Francisco heard from Wagner, Niedermier, Tuovinen and Romina Ederle at Canva to learn more about how companies can foster opportunities for years to come.

 

Jack Wagner
Director, Sales Strategy & Operations • CrowdStrike

CrowdStrike provides cloud-based endpoint security as well as solutions for threat intelligence and cyber attack response.

 

What drew you to apply for and accept a role at Crowdstrike, and what have been the most important reasons for staying as long as you have?

In early 2015, I started to see CrowdStrike appear more and more on websites and in articles about disruptive technologies. Later that year, I had a chance encounter with Burt Podbere, CrowdStrike’s CFO. His passion for the company and vision for what it could become were unlike anything I had experienced in my career. I applied. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

At CrowdStrike, I’ve always felt energized by the people surrounding me and the potential to build something new together. I’ve had the chance to outline a vision for my team and then execute upon it across multiple different roles, including building templates and models from scratch for annual operating plans, standing up a sales forecasting methodology and building a best-in-class data and analytics team to support our sales organization. It’s been a consistently rewarding work environment.

[Our CFO’s] passion for the company and vision for what it could become were unlike anything I had experienced in my career.”

 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for an open role on your team?

Despite how much we’ve grown, it feels like CrowdStrike is just getting started. There is still so much to build and scale. People looking to join should be prepared to roll up their sleeves to work with kind and collaborative peers, have a vision for the future, and be full of drive.

The company is very mission-focused, so when a candidate has done research on the company’s mission and how CrowdStrike stops breaches, it makes a great impression. Reading our Global Threat Report is something I recommend to every candidate — it will make you excited about what CrowdStrike does.

 

 

Romina Ederle
Head of Public Relations & Communications • Canva

Canva is a free and flexible online design tool.

 

How long have you been at Canva?

I joined Canva about a year and a half ago, and the company has grown so much since that time. I was the third marketing hire in the United States, with only about ten employees in California. We didn’t have an office yet, but we’d meet once in a while in person. Today, we have more than 50 Canvanauts across the state and over 150 across the country with multiple shared spaces to collaborate.

I’m still inspired by our mission to empower everyone to design.”

 

What drew you to apply for and accept a role at Canva, what have been the most important reasons for staying as long as you have?

Before joining Canva, I headed up global communications and social media at Udemy, where we used Canva every day. I knew from experience how easily Canva makes a designer out of everyone and how empowering that feeling is. I wanted to be part of that, so I jumped on the opportunity when a position opened up. I’m still inspired by our mission to empower everyone to design regardless of their professional background, experience, income or location.

We live and work in an increasingly visual world and expect content to be beautiful, digestible and compelling enough to share. That means design is more important than ever and what Canva delivers is equal opportunity for everyone to succeed in a visual world.

 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for an open role on your team?

We are always looking for natural storytellers excited to help tell our story! We are also always looking for good humans who will enhance our culture and bring different perspectives. My biggest advice is to apply. Even if you think you don’t quite meet every single requirement in the job description, we’d still love to meet you, as you may be an excellent fit for our team.

 

 

Braze team at the Golden Gate Bridge
Braze

 

Paul Niedermier
Enterprise Account Executive • Braze

Braze is a customer engagement platform that helps companies build connections with their consumers.

 

What drew you to apply for and accept a role at Braze, and what have been the most important reasons for staying as long as you have?

A few former colleagues joined Braze during its early startup days. I was working at another company, and they raved about life at Braze from the work to the culture to the product. I finally applied to Braze in the summer of 2016, and looking back, it was one of the best career decisions of my life. 

Braze is unique. The company has an amazing culture and, in my opinion, sells the best product in the digital marketing space. The diverse atmosphere both in person or remote truly makes this place so special. Our company culture and values are priorities for the business. The output of prioritizing culture is a group of talented, respectful and open-minded co-workers who collaborate to build, sell and improve. Even as we continue to grow our teams — which include more than 400 new faces in the past year — we never lose sight of our core value: "Be A Human." I’ve made friendships here at Braze that I’m certain will last a lifetime. 

I’ve made friendships here at Braze that I’m certain will last a lifetime.”

 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for an open role on your team?

For anyone considering applying to Braze, I’d encourage thinking about the people and co-workers who have had the biggest positive impact on their professional careers and discover the common attributes they possess. Then, reach out and connect with some of the leaders here at Braze to gauge if those values and attributes intersect. If you are looking to work hard, sell one of the best products in the space, and make great friendships along the way, I’d encourage you to take a look at Braze.

 

 

Smartly.io team at their NYC office
Smartly.io

 

Stella Tuovinen
Global Head of Marketing Science • Smartly

Smartly.io automates digital advertising through the entire media, creative and data process.

 

What drew you to apply for and accept a role at smartly.io, and what have been the most important reasons for staying as long as you have?

I joined Smartly.io in Helsinki, Finland, in 2018, and I was drawn to the company by the fast growth pace and international opportunities. With Smartly.io, I have been able to relocate to San Francisco, to switch roles and to take on my first manager role, all of which have been important reasons for staying.

I was drawn to the company by the fast growth pace and international opportunities.”

 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for an open role on your team?

Show curiosity and ability to learn fast — the advertising business moves fast, and our team needs to respond to the rapidly evolving optimization and measurement needs of Smartly.io’s top tier clients.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Photos via Shutterstock and featured companies.

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