Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

My job at Commit is to create an incredible experience for engineers

April 30, 2020 in Uncategorized

Do you love road trips?

One August in the 1990s, I drove across Canada, from Calgary to St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a good friend. I have so many fond memories of the journey: our debates about how to solve the world’s problems, the lengthy and reflective conversations, and the notable random people we met along the way. On that trip, we challenged each other to live lives where we would seek out significant experiences, and today it stands out in my memory as a foundational experience that helped guide my career and my life.

That trip helped teach me that experiences — especially when shared with others‚ are so valuable. They are the best way to grow, to deepen friendships, to understand ourselves, to learn what we want, and to realize what we’re capable of. That’s why I’m so passionate about creating experiences today.

What is Commit’s mission?

Commit was founded to design meaningful work opportunities for a group of entrepreneurial engineers. Entrepreneurial engineers need more than the standard “dual career” track offered today because they have broader interests and ambitions than management or specialist roles can satisfy. They excel at solving a breadth and depth of problems — like a Swiss Army knife. Startups offer the ideal type of work for talented entrepreneurial engineers. Commit’s purpose is to find them an opportunity to thrive at a mission-driven startup, one that matches their passion and maximizes their special skill sets.

What’s my role?

That’s where I come in. My role is to help our engineers grow their entrepreneurial careers, to provide a delightful experience, and to match their passion with exciting projects by connecting them to startups all over the world. As Chief Experience Officer or CXO, my focus is entirely on the engineer’s experience with Commit. I like how Denise Lee Yohn describes it in an article in the Harvard Business Review: “The sum of all interactions an employee has with an organization.” From how engineers feel about Commit before they join us, to when they become a part of our community, through their journey as alumni after they graduate to join a startup.

Who am I?

I joined Commit because I trust and respect the founders, and I love working with engineers. The future of work is remote and project-based, and Commit offers the best way to match world-class engineers with world-changing startups.

I love to help high-potential technology startups scale by building unforgettable cultures, data-driven ways of working, and effective operations. Recently, someone described my area of expertise as “cultural engineering.” That’s a pretty good two-word description.

Why is my role integral to Commit?

Commit’s business model relies on providing an experience that attracts entrepreneurial engineers. We make a point of calling our engineers Engineering Partners (EP), to recognize the vital role they play in building our business and contributing to the culture at Commit.

Commit’s key operating principle is “Prioritize the Engineering Partner Experience.” Every decision we make and every action we carry out, in every facet of Commit, is about doing what’s best for our engineers. We use a single metric, Engineering Partner Net Promoter Score, to measure how motivated our EPs are to tell their friends about Commit.

We’ve grown from zero to 30 Engineering Partners through word of mouth alone. My job is to ensure we grow to well over 100 EPs while maintaining a fantastic culture and outstanding quality.

What do I want to achieve?

I want the entrepreneurial engineers who join Commit to believe that it was the best decision they made in their career. Three years after they join, I want Commit EPs to feel like they’ve been in a fruitful, long-term partnership. This is possible if we help them manage the financial risk of joining a startup while they pursue their passion, bring them into a community of like-minded people, make lifelong friends, learn and grow along an individual career path, and experience memorable moments.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

How am I going to achieve it?

I’m going to take Commit’s foundational elements that have driven our positive word of mouth and scale our culture and our programs in a positive and participatory way, while our company grows in size and breadth. These programs include hiring, onboarding, graduation, and re-entry; learning and skill development; mentorship; an alumni program for EPs that have graduated to startups; thought leadership and personal branding.

I’m also going to add some of my own magic around collaborative experimentation, coaching, and community building. In particular, one of my missions is to “work out loud” and enable others to share and promote our culture, technology, practices, tools, challenges, and accomplishments with the global engineering community. Doing this benefits our whole community. And, as a byproduct, Commit will improve our capabilities and diversity by attracting and retaining outstanding engineers who share our philosophies and practices.

Where am I going to start?

By talking to the people at the heart of our culture and company, our Engineering Partners. So far, I’ve had conversations with all of them. I’m using these conversations to define a strategy and a plan to build on our EPX foundations, so we can make our EPs ridiculously happy and do what’s best for them at scale.

Thank you to Noel Pullen for writing this article.

Noel Pullen is Commit’s Chief Experience Officer.

Thank you to all the EPs at CommitBeier CaiGreg GunnShane GearonLindsay Staniforth, and Ryan Abbott for their inspiration, counsel, and editing.