The Official Vera Blog

November 21, 2018
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Culture

What makes a good company great? Meet Josie Sotomayor, Vera’s senior director of HR

Vera’s human resources team makes a conscious effort to put its people first and empower employees to put their best foot forward. We do this by fostering open communication, rewarding self-improvement, and supporting employee independence. Leading the charge at Vera HQ is our new senior director of human resources, Josie Sotomayor.

Greetings,

As Vera’s new Senior Director of Human Resources today, I’d like to discuss a subject that brings me to work every day: people. In my eight years of experience, an organization’s people can propel a business, increase customer engagement, and make all the difference when it comes to recruiting great talent.

Vera is headquartered in Palo Alto– the heart of Silicon Valley. Also known as the epicenter for emerging and successful startups that have endless employee perks. Yes, we all would like our clothes to be laundered, or have access to free on-site childcare, but the most impactful workplaces I’ve seen don’t lead with lip-synching battles and monthly ping-pong tournaments. They offer employees the opportunity to foster learning, the ability to work with inspiring managers and give the opportunity to embrace a culture of growth and continued learning.

I’ve been at Vera for just over a month and I’m excited to be an advocate, thought-leader, and active participating member of our company culture. I often get a lot of questions around what makes a good company great and after giving it some thought, I’ve narrowed it down to three key components:

A positive culture is all about behavior – When it comes to fostering a positive company culture, I have found the following Harvard Business Review quote by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss to be true:  “Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is, of course, most of the time.” This culture is determined across the organization — the tone that is set is not just top-down; it is bottom-up, side-to-side, and any other direction.

There is no “I” in culture – For any company, culture is a team effort.  We all have experience working in a team in the workplace, but there’s something to be said for a team operating in the “zone” – when work becomes effortless, supportive, constructive, and incredibly satisfying. At Vera, we spend a lot of time thinking about teams: how they interact, what impact they have, and what can encourage and facilitate the creation of highly engaged, effective teams. Here’s how I see it: happy, engaged individuals contributing to amazing team efforts. Therefore; every company should do their part to keep the workplace inspirational, collaborative, and fun.

Building a culture of open communication – Whether a company is distributed across several offices or located under one roof, creating an environment centered on open, two-way communication builds cohesion. At Vera, one way we build cohesion is holding monthly all-hands where members of our executive team discuss the current state of the business, future plans, gives employee “shout-outs,” and we wrap with open Q&A. It’s an important exercise that helps build trust among our employees and contributes to an overall transparent workplace.

Bottom line: live it. It’s easy for companies to identify a culture they would like to have, but it’s another thing to practice and implement it every day. In my career, a culture that thrives has leadership support, champions throughout the organization, and people who believe in what is trying to be accomplished.

I’m looking forward to building a great future here at Vera and welcome your feedback or thoughts. Please feel free to reach me directly here josie@vera.com. We’re also hiring! Take a look at our careers page here for open positions.

All the best,
Josie

By, Josie Sotomayor


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