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Bangalore Airport, 16th June, 11:43 PM
Six hours after my farewell at Belong, I look back at the last five months and say to myself, “Too good to not write a blog on it!” Here goes…
I started 2017 with a mega report-manifesto, 2016 was great, 2017 will be better! Belong has been instrumental in shaping that “better” – i’ve imbibed a whole new set of mantras, “Relentless Execution” and “#HoJaega” becoming my daily go-tos!
Work Ethic: Watching a bunch of young guys working their asses off is inspirational in its own way. I observed, when people do what they love, with people they love, solving problems worth solving, magical things happen :) A small story of incredible work ethic – Vijay, my CEO who sat opposite to me, blocked certain chunks of time to get stuff done. I must’ve seen at least ten guys coming up to him in a two-hour span, and to each one of them Vijay told “later…!”. And here i sit, getting distracted by every Whatsapp message.
Team & Vision: Earlier i used to believe in the philosophy of “Make a kickass product, the dollars will follow”. That has changed almost completely, and now i naturally question my long-term “Why” every once in a while.
“When your why is bigger than you, when your why cuts deeper than your fears, you become something else. You’re a different creature” – Damn that’s powerful.
I used to value tech a lot more than abstract concepts like visions and whys. However, tech might build a product, not an organization. An organization is built by a common North Star, to which both tech and non-tech can align themselves to.
At Belong, i saw how teams are scaled(hiring is tough!), how efficient collaboration is carried out, and how cross-team 0 to 1 problems are tackled. Their energy is infectious :)
Data-driven Workflow: Working in Analytics, i was an observant in many data-driven decisions. Not just product managers, but even designers and sales reps rely on data(around product usage) to improve their efficiency. In an effort to bridge the gap in data availability, i worked on building a Shiny app which served visualizations with options to slice & dice at all levers. However, many a time, just the basic metrics are required(eg. How is Client X doing on their Health Score?) – i built a slackbot which would serve these metrics via slash commands within slack itself(learnt about task queueing and concurrency in this project).
I feel that the function of analytics is crucial to an organization’s productivity, keeping everyone always in check of the targets. Currently, daily pulses and weekly/monthly reports are automated, but i was working on building a dynamic notification system which would automate a large part of csm’s manual tasks. It’s a tough problem, which involves building a rule engine where a combination of sql queries trigger the notifications.
Our motto at Analytics: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure!”
The Tech: i was really inspired by the speed at which our tech team used to churn out code, there was always something exciting in the Demo-Day every couple of weeks! I remember an incredible presentation by our Data Science team, where they showcased a PageRank-like model to map companies and candidates, along with their transitions. That day, i went home blown away, inspired more than ever.
The developers are responsible for their own code, and they own their bugs, as Belong functions without a QA team end-to-end. A practice which ensures ownership as well as speed, i believe. There were some awesome programmers in there, and i was very often humbled into my impostor self!
Culture: Again one of the core pillars of an organization, which is tough for me to internalize. I have watched Gary Vaynerchuk talk time and again about building a HR-driven company, which again went against my worldview. However, now i understand how culture affects teamwork, which in turn affects overall productivity of the organization. The celebrations, sometimes-emotional farewells, and the rare hobby days were all unique in building an aligned value-system.
This short writeup is in no way representative of my experience at Belong. There is a fuzz in my mind when i think of the last 5 months, and i’m not good enough of a writer to translate that fuzz into words.
I’ll sum it up by repeating what one of my fellow interns said at the farewell, “This team is more than capable of achieving its targets. And if not, the journey is much more worth than the destination.”
Will miss Belong :)