On Thursday, August 31st Carta partnered with Girl Geek Dinners to host a panel and Q&A with a few of the leading women at our company. Head of valuations engineering Esther Rasche, product lead Liz LeCrone, QA engineer Kristina Nguyen, client services lead Cindy Gomez, and software engineer Lillian Fung spoke to over 50 guests about how the core principles of Carta help them, as women, be more productive.
Rasche gave the opening address. She focused on giving an overview of what Carta does, the core principles and how those principles inform the processes inside the company.
Hire for Trajectory
Rasche highlighted Hewlett Packard’s widely quoted study around women’s tendency to forego applying for jobs they’re not 100 percent qualified. At Carta we hire for trajectory, not solely experiences and technical skill.
Nguyen spoke on her journey through Carta as a perfect representation of this core principle. When Nguyen joined Carta, it was just four guys sharing an office inside an AOL building. With a bachelor’s in economics, she felt she wasn’t qualified for a career in Silicon Valley. She started off as an intern before moving to office manager and then an account manager.
When she expressed interest in switching to a technical engineering role, everyone at Carta became her teachers.
Hiring for trajectory means looking past skills. We look for the desire to learn, grow, and challenge yourself. By hiring for these characteristics, we can attract women to apply to job listings that don’t ask for anything more than what we’re actually searching for: passion.
Show and Tell
Productivity at Carta can look very different than at other companies. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the entire company, all 250 people, are in one meeting. Show and Tell is a unique use of time at Carta. For one hour anyone, from an executive to an intern, can present something they have been working on to the rest of the company.
Gomez was hesitant to present at first. She didn’t think what she was doing in client services was as interesting or as sexy as the new features presented by the engineers. But she was pushed to present, and to her surprise, people were highly receptive. By emboldening all individuals to present, the meeting isn’t dominated by a few male voices. “Show and Tell reminds me that what I am doing is exciting even if on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t feel like it,” she said.
Change formation often
To prevent calcification and encourage innovation, Carta subscribes to a concept we call change formation often. You’re not guaranteed to work on the same project or team for an extended period of time. This can create some unique problems, as LeCrone pointed out, since features built six months ago might have been worked on by a team no longer in existence. But thanks to the helpful atmosphere, LeCrone can pull all relevant parties into a room. We call this cage matching it.
“If problems arise, I can recreate the team out of nothing,” LeCrone said. “We solve the problem and then everyone disperses back to their business units.” It’s a testament to how everyone at Carta can ask for help if they need it.
Ask for Help
Ask for help is Carta’ most important core value. All our panelists had an example of how Carta has institutionalized interrupting people to ask questions.
“I have never felt embarrassed or like I was bothering someone when I asked them a question,” Fung said. Nguyen attributed her success transitioning into engineering to this aspect of Carta.
By making asking for and giving help a building block of our culture, Carta is able to create an accepting environment where all genders can be productive and succeed.
Our mottos only work if you use them together. If we hire for trajectory, we need to encourage asking for help. Changing teams and formations only works if you can call everyone into a room a month later to cage match a problem. Everyone must participate in Show and Tell, not just the loudest voices.
At Carta, you cannot pick and choose which mottos to incorporate into your work. Our conference rooms are named after them. Our processes are informed by them. And the people who succeed embody them. When everyone is guided by the same core principles we can create a productive and inclusive space.