MuleSoft MeetUp: How we maintain global connectedness as we scale

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In 2009, our then 24-person team of Muleys gathered in San Francisco for a week of face-to-face collaboration. Even in its smallest and earliest days, MuleSoft was a global company with employees working remotely from New York to Buenos Aires; Portland to Germany; Michigan to San Francisco. As a tiny startup at the time, it was important for us to align with company goals from the beginning.

During that first MeetUp, Muleys spent the week in a single off-site room, working through challenges and breaking down company strengths and opportunities. When Friday came, they ditched the whiteboards and post-it notes, moving the conversation outside for a weekend of campfires and sleeping under the stars. Their week in San Francisco became the first in a succession of company-wide MeetUps, which now run for a week each year in San Diego. As time passes and MuleSoft continues to grow and scale, we are increasingly focused on staying connected and promoting ownership and transparency across the entire company.

In 2017, over 800 Muleys attended MeetUp, and the event included company-wide team building activities, employee-led training sessions, a 48-hour hackathon, and more! We sat down with Alys Lyndley, EA to RVP EMEA and Office Manager, and Giuliano Bandeen, Regional Account Development Lead, in our London office, and Tomás Bruno, Senior Software Engineer, in our Buenos Aires office to discuss their favorite parts about the annual global offsite.

Q: Why is having a global offsite important?

ALYS: Having MeetUp is vital to the success of MuleSoft and to realizing and achieving our mission and goals. It really helps to cement the team and align the different teams and offices. For me, personally, this year we introduced an Employee Services track, which supports Muleys globally by bringing together everyone across MuleSoft––regardless of which team or office they work in. This track is made up of mainly office managers in each of the global offices. This track really helped us talk about what currently happens in each of the offices and what we would like to do globally, while, at the same time, retaining the regional culture. This also really gives us insight into how each office manager runs their respective office and helps us to share and learn best practices.

TOMÁS: Having a global offsite is important because the speed at which new ideas are made and challenges are tackled highly increases. At MeetUp, we are able to get together in the same room with all the stakeholders required; as a result, we are able to pave roads for the following months. It is also the perfect opportunity to get to know some of the people whom you work every day and to better understand what other teams are working on. Getting to know people makes it easier to work with them in the future.

GIULIANO: It’s crucial because it fosters our culture globally. Joint working sessions, hackathons, team building exercises and other activities help facilitate connectedness across offices.

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Q: How does global communication play in your day-to-day work?

ALYS: In addition to managing day-to-day operations at our London office and supporting the EMEA leadership team, I work as an Executive Assistant (EA) to Nigel Filer, RVP in London. I’m also responsible for organizing local events within our London office and larger events across the EMEA region. As a remote office, it’s important to keep abreast of what is going on in our headquarters and other global offices. In my role as an EA, I’ve learned that clear communication is a must-have across all regions and teams, as information can be misconstrued. Enforcing regular check-ins within the Employee Services team helps ensure that communication is crystal clear.

TOMÁS: I’m an engineer on the API Manager team, and my job responsibilities include adding new features, scaling our existing services, and troubleshooting problems. Many of these tasks require working side by side with DevOps to make changes to our infrastructure. Good communication is critical for building a successful product, since our team is spread out across many different locations. For example, we work closely with Private Cloud Edition, Core Services and Analytics teams that are based in the US.

GIULIANO: Working in Account Development for the German-speaking region, I act as MuleSoft’s first point of contact with our prospective customers. My main responsibility is to qualify new business opportunities for our product and service offerings. I work closely with our Sales, Partner, and Customer Success teams to support the development of sales opportunities with my expertise. Frequent communication and cross-functional transparency are essential for my role as they foster teamwork and avoid misalignments in expectations and responsibilities.

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Q: Each global office is its own cultural microcosm. How do you think your office is unique?

ALYS: The Employee Services team syncs each month to share social updates from each of our offices, which promotes cultural alignment while retaining our unique regional traditions. For example, San Francisco holds a monthly “Waffle Wednesday” in which new hires cook breakfast for the entire office, but the London office has its own version called “Fry Up Friday.” I manage the London “Social Squad,” which organizes office-wide events for Muleys. We have a series of events called Muley National Days, which celebrate the different nationalities within the London office. The last event we celebrated was Thanksgiving!

TOMÁS: If you come to Buenos Aires, you’ll see a lot of people drinking and carrying “Mate” tea. Mate is an infusion of dried leaves of yerba mate, which we share with our coworkers. I also participate in MuleSoft’s soccer matches. I play every Wednesday that I can.

GIULIANO: Our sense of humor!

Q: MeetUp addresses four main goals:  1) aligning on company strategy, 2) learning new skills, 3) working through issues, and 4) building new relationships. Which resonates the most with you, and why?

ALYS: The goal that resonates with me the most is “building new relationships.” Easily accessible video and phone conferences are great, but nothing beats meeting face to face meetings. I think that facetime allows people to build trust and establish a real sense shared values and goals. MeetUp encourages bonding on a personal level and in a more relaxed environment. Having a global company offsite has definitely helped me to grow and expand my relationships with Muleys in other offices.

TOMÁS: Hard to pick, but if I have to choose one of those I would choose the first one: aligning on company strategy. In our case, during the last MeetUp, we got together multiple times to define upcoming releases. This meeting settled the foundations of what we worked on during the following months. During those sessions, we also worked through multiple challenges. There was also room to learn new skills at technical activities and during the hackathon and tons of opportunities to get to know people from different teams and offices.

GIULIANO: Building new relationships is what I get most excited about when thinking about MeetUp. What makes this company special to me is the people I meet and work with, across all functions and levels. MeetUp is a unique way to reconnect with colleagues I’ve met during training, to finally meet and work with my counterparts from other offices in person, or to get to know new peers from other teams.

Q: What was a highlight of last year’s MeetUp?

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ALYS: The highlights of this year’s MeetUp for me was connecting with new Muleys I work with from other offices face-to-face and really building our relationships. I got to spend a lot of time with the other office managers and EA’s. One evening the EA’s went out for a supper, and we all got to know each other better. They all work out of the San Francisco office, so for me, this was super special. After MeetUp, this event made our working relationship stronger. Another highlight for me was Carpool Karaoke. We are all highly competitive and having a small competition in the midst of MeetUp was really fun. It was great to see what the other teams and offices chose for their song and how they put together their videos. In the London office, we got a customer to let us borrow an open top red London tour bus. I then orchestrated a Spice Girls reunion with a fake queen, singing to “Wannabe.” We had Muleys from the London office who came with their families to partake in this video, it was a lot of fun and the families got to enjoy a mini tour of London as well!

TOMÁS: The product hackathon! There were great ideas that came to a reality. There was a cross-functional integration that enabled teams to make excellent prototypes for future products to be built. Among the projects I remember, there were initiatives to provide tools to services and support teams and to add features to our existing products.

One project I really loved was one Candy dispenser that delivered you candy when you tweeted your photo with a certain hashtag. That project involved domotic technology. We were able to show it at our booth at this year’s NodeConf Argentina!  

GIULIANO: The black-tie dinner was great, especially when the DJ started playing Punjabi mashups and the entire dance floor lost it.

Q: How do you think the function of MeetUp will evolve as MuleSoft continues to grow and scale?

ALYS: The MeetUp function will become a larger affair as we grow and scale, just as it has these past few years. I am hoping we uphold this tradition as it adds value for every Muley who attends. MeetUp, in my opinion, will be more of the same structure with more tracks as the teams grow, similar to the Employee Services track that we had this year!

TOMÁS: Every year, we open new offices and MeetUp will be one moment in the year when we can all get together to discuss and align the strategies. This last year I thought it would be hard to scale the MeetUp as we had grown in terms of the number of people in the company, but I was wrong! I felt that the MeetUp was even better this year, and I am definitely excited about the next one.

GIULIANO: It will continue being one of the main drivers of our culture and a great example of the values we share at MuleSoft.

We’re so excited to keep this initiative going in February 2018! Follow #meetup18 on Instagram and Twitter to see the fun things Muleys are up to the whole week. Want to join us in San Diego? We’re hiring all over the world, and MeetUp is the one time each year that we all come together. Apply to any of our open roles today!


 


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