15 NYC Tech Leaders on How Their Teams Are Coming Together Right Now

April 1, 2020

The United We Tech Banner

The coronavirus has upended the lives of people all across New York, and those who are fortunate enough to still be working are adjusting to a new normal, one in which their home also serves as their office and, for some, their child’s daycare center or school. The way people work has also changed, with all in-person interactions replaced by video chats, messaging apps and email. 
 
It’s a stressful and lonely time for many, and things may get harder before they get better. Yet even as many of us struggle to navigate the uncertainty of it all, many more are finding ways to lift each other up. We recently checked in with leaders from tech companies across New York City to see if they’ve encountered any bright spots during these dark times and were greeted with story after story of teams coming together and connecting in unique and thoughtful ways.

How are you and your teams coming together? Share your story using #UnitedWeTech.

 

Shari Dreisiger
Head of People

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

Team bonding! Some of our technology team members are remote full-time and are very comfortable operating in this environment. It has been great to see our full-time remote employees give advice and mentorship to our now newly remote employees. The result has been an increase in communication across teams and a sense of calm in an otherwise hectic environment.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

We are first and foremost a technology company, and we have always prided ourselves on being agile. However, this month we are leaning on technology more than ever. We worked overtime to be prepared to serve our clients during this volatile period. This lesson of preparedness and the ability to operate in any environment will serve us very well going forward.

 

Rokssana Craig
Talent Acquisition and Human Resources Manager

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

The most unexpected silver lining has been the high level of connectedness we’ve been able to foster and maintain throughout our company, which has helped our teams learn more about what those in other departments do. Our employees are volunteering to share their company-specific expertise — and remote work struggles — by leading 30-minute workshops. Through these virtual workshops, our employees are organically sharing their knowledge, day-to-day tasks, processes and systems while maintaining a sense of connectedness along the way, which is awesome!

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

Our team has learned the importance of sharing institutional knowledge and receiving diverse perspectives from employees in other departments. A few fresh ideas have been born out of our employee-led workshops, and we plan to carry this forward by instituting a lunch and learn program. The lunch and learn program will give our employees the opportunity to continue sharing their knowledge, connect with different business functions and bond over their favorite foods.

 

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

One of the silver linings is having the ability to use our tech to help our members. First and foremost, this means ensuring our members have the information and care they need. Beyond just sharing important information about the virus and what members can do to protect themselves, we have found ways of sharing resources to help as many Americans as possible. On March 11, we built the first version of a COVID-19 risk assessment tool and testing site locator to support our members. Because there was a void, we made the tool available publicly within the same week and open-sourced the code and test site data on GitHub.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

Our COVID-19 work, which involved building quickly and adjusting our business processes and roadmap on the fly, felt like a return to when Oscar was a far smaller company. We were all reminded how much passion and willpower there is on the team and how much we can accomplish together even in a short amount of time. We’ll carry this experience forward as we continue to build great things for our members and help transform healthcare.

 

Rodney Manzo
CEO AND FOUNDER

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

Anvyl works with thousands of suppliers around the globe. During the pandemic, our team has worked tirelessly to meet production needs to support hospitals, first responders and private organizations. Our expertise in identifying suppliers has uniquely positioned our team to help. We are prioritizing aid by sourcing critical items like face masks and hand sanitizer. Rather than slowing down, our team is working around the clock.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

The pandemic has caused a shift in thinking for businesses around the world. Anvyl’s software offers unique, real-time insights that help procurement teams identify supplier disruptions and delays so they can react quickly. Based on our platform data derived from thousands of suppliers and brands, we expect to see a response to production in the U.S. similar to what occurred in China in January and February. We are proactively reaching out to organizations in regions that are anticipated to be affected by the spread of COVID-19 to offer assistance in mitigating supply risks.

 

Karen Weeks
VP of People

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

The most unexpected silver lining is how quickly the team has come together to adapt. People are constantly sharing ideas with us to support the team as we all work remotely, from fun brain breaks like Netflix Party or a water cooler channel in Slack to productivity tools like online Post-its and virtual whiteboarding. One of our values is “We’re comfortable being uncomfortable,” and it has been amazing to see the team embrace this new challenge and figure out how to get through it together. Staying connected as a team hasn’t been an effort solely led by the people team, either. The entire organization is eager to share ideas and try new things. 

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal? 

The team has learned to adapt and get creative, and that is valuable under any circumstance, particularly for a startup. Teams have come together to adapt to the new normal, keeping in mind that it’s okay to try things out even if we’re not 100 percent sure they’ll work. We are all human, and we are showing our vulnerability now more than ever as we try to set up creative work from home spaces, hear kids and animals in the background on calls and have internet issues that freeze our videos. That builds a trust that is important for all teams, and one we think we’ll continue to build even when we are back together in-person.

 

Jason Heller
President

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

At Persado, we use a sophisticated AI platform to optimize language and messaging, and the global COVID-19 outbreak has forced brands to communicate clearly and empathetically with their customers. It’s been especially gratifying to be able to help brands communicate with customers and their own employees more effectively as we all figure out the path forward together. In the process, we’ve grown even closer with our clients as we continue to work together to develop critically important messaging that is applied in more use cases and channels during these challenging times.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

This crisis has put all organizations to the test and our team has truly put our customers first as we help them develop the right AI-informed messaging for their audiences. In taking a customer-centric approach, we’ve prioritized their needs and acted with resolve and focus, and our customers have noticed. I fully expect that we’ll be taking this powerful customer-first approach well after this crisis is behind us.

Additionally, our teams, as well as many of our clients, have realized just how much you can accomplish in a very short period of time. While the circumstances are not ideal, the level of innovation and throughput has been nothing short of impressive. I look forward to this being part of our DNA moving forward.

 

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

We’ve experienced a number of silver linings, most of them unexpected. Our team has come together despite social distancing and in the midst of uncertainty to share their hobbies, like working out and cooking, and play games, all over Zoom. The greatest unexpected result of COVID-19, however, is realizing how much we can help our customers overcome the unique challenges presented by this situation. 

Across industries, enterprises are having to make decisions and act on them faster than ever before, whether that means opening up Wi-Fi networks for public access or shifting manufacturing operations to produce much-needed healthcare equipment. We’re seeing that in a lot of cases, the bottleneck to these rapid pivots is actually getting clean and usable data. So for us, overwhelmingly, a silver lining has been our ability to step up and help our customers help the world. 

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

I think what we’ve learned — and what we continue to learn — is that connectivity doesn’t always have to be physical. We’re working together just as much, if not more so, now than ever before, and the processes and the communication styles we’re adopting will absolutely continue on when we have all collectively overcome this time of uncertainty.

Our team is spread out around the world, so the need for remote teamwork isn’t going to disappear. Once we’re out of this, the routine remote work that we’ll be doing will seem like business as usual. 

 

Adrienne Donovan
VP of People

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

Yes, how fast our employees adapt, organize and mobilize during challenging situations. I am continuously in awe of how people from every team and every level of the company are stepping up to make sure we all stay connected, supported and engaged during this unprecedented time. It’s been a small but important reminder that culture eats strategy for breakfast. A thriving culture can help pull you through even the most difficult of times. 

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

That we should never take for granted the joy and power of in-person interactions. It’s amazing that we have so many wonderful tools out there to transition to remote work. However, one thing I hear repeatedly is that employees are craving in-person connections. We live in a world where people fantasize about fully remote work, but this period of time may cause some to question that notion. Maybe the grass isn’t as green on the other side and there’s something very special about having an office to call home, a place where you can exchange a smile while passing someone in the hallway or share a simple “How was your weekend,” at the espresso machine.

 

Devra Prywes
Chief Product Officer

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

The Applicaster team is spread across three continents, and in a time where connecting with people is more important than ever, hosting virtual events has allowed us to regularly engage with team members around the world on a more personal level. We’ve been given a glimpse into each other’s homes and lives in a way we hadn’t before, whether it is through Kahoot virtual games and social events or business calls. We have always spent a lot of our time on Google Meet and Zoom because of how spread out our teams are, and this has brought us closer in many ways.

It’s also amazing how everyone adapted so quickly to maintain the flow of business by individually organizing their responsibilities and both communicating and delegating across teams. Our employees have made the best of things organically. It all happened fluidly and without any type of management edict.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

At Applicaster, we always talk in terms of flexibility, both internally and externally. We built a platform that allows our clients’ teams to architect their apps in the cloud, and as COVID-19 continues to isolate workers, having this flexibility allows our customers to continue to operate seamlessly. In times of crisis, the ability to keep your business moving and afford jobs is paramount for all companies, and we are happy to be at the heart of these solutions. As we look ahead, we can leverage this challenging period as evidence that we are future-proof while also continuing to find ways to support our clients in times of prosperity and even distress.

 

Russell Lobsenz
SVP, People Operations

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

Actually, I would say there are two. The first is how COVID-19 has provided an unexpected opportunity for team members to share their interests and skills with one another. One team member is hosting virtual baking lessons with colleagues and their kids, another is leading virtual fitness sessions and yet another has led a class on Irish dancing. Not only are these sessions contributing to and reinforcing Socure’s learning culture, but they also serve as welcome distractions from the daily dose of depressing COVID-19 news.

The second silver lining has been a heightened sense of empathy. Each of our personal lives is now on full display in Zoom meetings and Google Hangouts, which has offered a rare view into our coworkers’ personal lives and unique remote-work challenges. Some of our colleagues are jockeying for space with their partners in studio apartments, while others are juggling home-schooling and entertaining their children with work and some are struggling with feelings of isolation. Empathy is vital here, and it’s heartwarming to see how our team has come together to support one another as we rapidly adapt to this new environment.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal? 

The COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly elevated our appreciation for the unique personal challenges facing our team members as they try to balance personal priorities, such as family health and school closures, with work priorities. This enhanced awareness and understanding have given rise to new ways of communicating and fostered a greater sense of connection and teamwork that I know we’ll carry forward.

 

Caroline Burton
VP of Revenue and Strategy

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

For StreetEasy, it’s been the validation that there’s so much we already have in our arsenal to help New Yorkers who still need to move during this uncertain, confusing time. As everything in real estate and life shifts to digital-only, it’s been incredible to witness how quickly our teams have mobilized to launch new AI-powered tools, offer price relief to our partners and build educational resources to help buyers and renters safely shop for homes while social distancing.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

It takes an incredible amount of teamwork, communication and collaboration to get new tools and content launched for buyers, renters and agents. For features like our new 3D virtual home tours, we know that there will be demand for these tools even after the pandemic passes: About 46 percent of recent home buyers wish more listings included 3D tours. We’re motivated by the fact that the hard work we’re doing now in the short term will have lasting value as more consumers demand digital solutions in real estate and look to us to provide support during this uncertain time.

 

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

As a remote-first company for over 10 years, we’re grateful that our day-to-day operations have not been impacted to the extent that others have in the midst of this pandemic. While we are headquartered in New York City, everyone has the option to work remotely whenever and as much as they want. We even have people who are fully remote, and our team spans across the country and various parts of the world. 

We’ve gained more perspective on what it’s like for members of the team who are remote 24/7 and don’t have the luxury to pop in at the office for some needed face time or for happy hours. During this mandatory work from home period we’ve hosted virtual happy hours, watch parties and onboarding lunches to welcome new team members.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

Going forward, we will definitely continue hosting virtual events, whether that’s for our internal team only or with our partners to help provide value for our community of media professionals and journalists. The push toward more virtual events will only help the industry continue to connect and learn from each other, despite what might be happening with current events.

 

Lainie Cooney
Chief People Officer

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

I am so impressed that our team has taken lemons and made lemonade as they adapt to new working environments. Our employees continue exhibiting out-of-the-box thinking day in and day out and have tapped into their creative sides in unique and incredible ways. Our mission is to give sports fans the chance to win every day, and our vision is creating experiences that fans cannot wait to share with their friends. The team has shown their commitment to the company and our customers, and we remain as committed as ever to giving our fans more ways to win while supporting their colleagues during this uncertain time.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

One of our core principles at FanDuel Group is “we are one team,” and it is one that everyone is taking to heart right now. We are dispersed globally across multiple time zones, so we are no strangers to video calls and virtual communication. However, we are now faced with the challenge of balancing work along with home life. Over the past couple of weeks, our team has continued to collaborate on video calls and have taken it a step further by creating cross-functional Slack channels that didn’t exist before. 

Our employees have been able to utilize working remotely to get to know their colleagues in new ways. We have also had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into each other’s homes and appreciate what makes our employees who they truly are. Whether it is seeing children make an appearance on our virtual calls or hearing family pets barking in the background, we have taken the importance of teamwork outside the office walls and brought it to life. FanDuel employees will continue carrying this mentality and dedication to each other long after this period is over.

 

Rob Keve
Ceo and Co-founder

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

As a global business with offices in the United States and Europe, we are already used to conducting business remotely. We rely heavily on data at Flow, so my co-founder Mike Bryzek and I recently sent everyone a company survey requesting feedback on the current remote-work situation. We were pleased to find that the majority of employees felt that their productivity remained the same, and in some ways, many employees are even more conscientious about connecting with their peers and checking in with each other. The feedback also revealed new opportunities for managers and individual contributors alike to communicate more regularly, interact with empathy and open up more feedback conversations in order to strengthen relationships.

We have continuous discussions around our company culture, which under these circumstances has sparked ideas for virtual events like happy hours, trivia nights and morning coffee breaks. In addition, we’re continuing our tradition of a weekly, company-sponsored lunch through delivery services. This has been a sudden adjustment, but these new circumstances have demonstrated how resilient the team is and how flexible we are.

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal? 

We have always valued communication and collaboration at Flow, but this situation is showing us how important it is to communicate even more regularly and set up video conferences to see each other and simulate in-person meetings. This carries over not only within the team but also to how we provide service to our customers. We have been reaching out more regularly than usual and have come up with new measures to respond even faster to questions and concerns. We are really seeing how strong communication can truly deliver excellence at every touchpoint to our customers, and we will definitely carry these new practices forward once things return to normal.

 

We know this has been a trying time for everyone. But as your team has adapted to new working conditions, have you found any positive takeaways from this experience?

We started Canoe with the belief that technology-enabled operational efficiency and data transparency can ease a multitude of challenges. Now more than ever, we see how our purpose-built technology is helping clients. Availability is the ultimate ability! As a silver lining, the COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the benefits of Canoe’s cloud infrastructure and SaaS offering over either manual or less flexible technologies that have been disrupted and negatively impacted. 

 

What lesson do you think your team has learned from this and how will you carry it forward into the business once things return to normal?

Canoe has always had a culture that emphasizes the focus of mission and purpose. Our team recognizes the importance of maintaining this focus while respecting the operational flexibility needed to navigate these, or any, uncertain times. As a global society we are all being forced to adapt and change, and our team is learning the importance of maintaining focus, both presently and for future growth.

NYC startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in NYC
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Software Engineer Jobs in NYC
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in NYC
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Sales Jobs in NYC
Developer Jobs
View 698 jobs
Design + UX Jobs
View 125 jobs
Marketing Jobs
View 190 jobs
Product Jobs
View 169 jobs
Sales Jobs
View 358 jobs
Data Jobs
View 245 jobs