Never stop growing: These NYC companies invest in professional development

August 29, 2018

When it comes to professional growth, everyone has their own unique path to success. Built In NYC heard from two fast-growing tech companies about how they foster development on an individual scale, ensuring that every employee can unlock their full potential.

 

Harry's
image via harry's

Harry’s, supplier of grooming products for men, has quickly established itself as an ecommerce force to be reckoned with. Part of their rise is no doubt attributed to their exciting internal culture, which Director fo Distribution Rich Chen explained focuses on employee growth.

 

Describe how you came to your current position. What was the interview and onboarding process like?

Prior to Harry's, I worked in finance as a healthcare investment banker and then a consumer retail hedge fund analyst. After several years in finance, I wanted to find a role that was more entrepreneurial.

When I started at Harry's in January 2015, my first day was spent at our distribution center. Onboarding during my first week involved a 3-hour long meeting, which consisted of a half hour German lesson (we own a Germany factory, after all). These days, meetings no longer include the German lessons (auf wiedersehen), but instead consist of two full days of presentations from every cross-functional team at Harry's.

What has remained consistent from my own onboarding process several years ago to the onboarding process today is the development of a “30-60-90” for each new hire. A 30-60-90 is a development plan and checklist for a new hire's first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. This document includes topics, tasks, tools, important references and a list of people that a new hire should meet. It's meant to be a flexible guide as business priorities can change quickly.

 

How have you grown in your time with the company, professionally and personally?

Prior to joining Harry's, I hadn't really put much thought into being a people manager. I was simply focused on working hard and doing the best that I could do as an individual contributor.  As our business grew and we entered mass retail, I was given the opportunity to hire my first direct report. Over the past year and a half, I went from hiring my first direct report to hiring my fifth.

I've had to learn to be more patient, trusting and open to new ideas. I've also learned to adapt my communication and feedback style to suit different individuals. Communication is more than just making your ideas heard and understood;  it’s also about motivating. I've had to learn to balance providing constructive criticism with just as much positive feedback.

I may no longer be working the 100-hour weeks that I worked in finance, but as a people manager working in operations, I'm in meetings most of the day and my mind is constantly thinking about people management matters or work-related projects long after I leave the office.  I've had to learn to be more productive with my time and also to create a bit more separation between work and life. In a world where we are always connected digitally, one of my reprieves (albeit brief) is completing the daily crossword puzzle in the AM New York newspaper.

 

How do you feel that your company has helped foster this growth? 

Harry's gives employees the opportunity to take on leadership roles. Harry's has a history of appointing two co-project captains for major initiatives, which can be anything from new product launches to our annual holiday initiative. These co-project captains can come from any department at the company. It not only gives individuals an opportunity to lead, but also gives them the opportunity to see parts of the business that they may not normally see or touch.

About 8 months into my job at Harry's, I was given the opportunity to be a co-project captain for our Target launch, leading the company-wide effort as we made our foray into mass retail.  As a member of the distribution team, my involvement would be heavily operations focused, but I also had the opportunity to sit in on marketing, creative and design-related meetings. I even had the chance to fly out to Minneapolis a few times to meet the Target buying team as we aligned on the execution timeline.

One of the highlights of my time at Harry's was a trip to our factory in Eisfeld, Germany.  Sometimes there's no better learning experience than to get a behind-the-scenes look at how things are made and done. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to see how our blades are made. I've also visited suppliers and the distribution centers of industry peers to see if there are ways to improve cross-functional processes and to trade best practices.

 

HomeAdvisor
image via homeadvsor

HomeAdvisor helps homeowners around the world find the perfect service providers for their repair and improvement projects. Internally, Inside Sales Manager Kenny Madison explained that employees are always looking for ways to improve themselves, too.

 

Describe how you came to your current position. What was the interview and onboarding process like?

I started with HomeAdvisor as a sales representative and earned the opportunity to lead our Inferno team. The Inferno is a team of relatively new sales representatives who are polishing their sales skills before being put onto a sales team. On the team, I trained new sales reps by running workshops, contests and team huddles to get them where they needed to be. Leading this team was a huge stepping stone for moving into management.

 

How have you grown in your time with the company, professionally and personally?

HomeAdvisor drastically helped me with my sales skills. People in the office are extremely helpful; you can easily get years' worth of sales experience in a few months. Personally, I have developed more empathy and patience as a manager due to working with new hires on the sales floor.

 

How do you feel that your company has helped foster this growth?

HomeAdvisor offers a leadership and development program for senior sales representatives. The program taught me many of the skills I needed to improve before becoming a manager. Everyone I’ve worked with here has served as a prominent mentor in my journey: Sales Manager Chuck Augustus brought out my ability to close sales and showed me the traits of a strong leader; Sales Director Josh Rank gave me the opportunity to move into a team lead role and saw my potential; Director of Leadership and Development Erica Sherman offered support and guidance throughout my interview process; and Sales Director Daniel Spievak worked with me every day as a new manager.

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