This month, I will be celebrating my fourth work anniversary here at OpsWerks. It will be the longest I have ever stayed at any job in my young career. This led me to ask myself: What sets OpsWerks apart from other companies? I believe it’s the value it puts into building a culture that focuses on community-building and self-development. These are some of my reflections after four incredible years.
I remember my first onsite interview during the hiring process. I was only a few years into my tech career after changing industries. The long conversation opened my eyes about the possibility of working with emerging trends like microservices architecture and distributed systems. During that time, I was working with monolithic applications and the thought of working with new stuff seemed thrilling. At the end of the interview, I was handed a business card with the following text plastered at the back.
“To help those next to us and in front of us live better lives”
- Gratitude in every encounter
- Choosing Positivity
- Looking for Hope
- Compassion in Action
- Generosity to All
- Building a Healthy Community
- Continuous Self-improvement
This was my first encounter with the OpsWerks’ mission and methods. I didn’t think much about it at first. I had my own ideals as a young professional and while the mission resonated with me, a part of me was also skeptical. I had to see it for myself.
I joined the team a few weeks later. Immediately, I noticed that a lot of focus was put around culture. On my first day, I was given a book titled “Obstacle is the Way”. This was an aptly titled book, I thought. A new job was a big change for me, and I was already facing some challenges. People who know me would usually describe me as a reserved and quiet person. It would usually take me a long time to warm up to new people and a new environment. I didn’t know anyone in the company and, in contrast, everybody else seemed to know everyone well. They would even commonly refer to the team as “family”. To add to that, there were also a lot of new tools and complex systems that I was unfamiliar with. Learning everything was daunting.
But OpsWerks, staying true to its mission, helped me overcome all those things. I wasn’t left to my own devices. I always had senior members whom I could reach out to during my shift but, at the same time, they also gave me space to explore things by myself.
Our leaders always find time to check in on me even though they are 14 time zones away. After just a few weeks, I felt a sense of belongingness because of the support of the people around me.
Stories that bind us
One of the most anticipated company events every year is called Unity. During this week-long gathering, everyone is invited to share their stories and promote the values that guide us in our daily work. When I was asked to become one of the keynote speakers, I was initially hesitant because I didn’t have any profound experiences to share and wasn’t sure if I was ready to open up about myself.
Eventually, I just went for it and it happened to be one of my more memorable experiences. I realized that being vulnerable can help build trust with others. OpsWerks always encourage us to create safe spaces for telling our stories. It may happen in little moments during our weekly meetings, 1-on-1s, blog posts, team building events, or even in Slack messages—we are always called on to inspire courage to express our thoughts and emotions. It helps us to connect and learn from our members. I remember that during our team huddles, one of the questions that will be thrown at the start is: “How is your heart today?” I learned that everyone indeed has a story to tell and we become better people by telling stories. It helps us cherish special moments and it’s one of the most effective ways in building affinity and relationships. This is also one of the things that I liked most about OpsWerks. It’s the chance to celebrate our values and empathize with others through storytelling.
As the years went on, it turned out that everything about OpsWerks is rooted in its core values. The concept of a people-centric organization wasn’t new to me. I have been with companies that would claim to be people-centric, but the size of these companies makes this harder to execute. OpsWerks, being a small company, was the ideal environment to implement this, I thought. But one of the biggest reasons is the leadership’s dedication to touch people’s lives. I am also glad that I found the courage to start with the company because I definitely became a better person because of it.
Looking back, it wasn’t really the tech that made me stay. The culture was probably the biggest cause. Yes, the opportunity to work with fancy new technology was exciting but experiencing a truly people-centric company that also empowered me to pay it forward was fulfilling on another level.