In 2021 dbt Labs grew from 55 to 194 team members (current org size here).
We had a voluntary turnover rate of 3.2% during a year when industry benchmarks hit 17.8%!
We enjoyed an offer acceptance rate of 86.5%.
And, what I am personally most proud of, our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) has remained above 79 and even reached 90 late last year, which, according to sources, is remarkable.
In a normal year, these numbers are strong; but 2021 was not a normal year. It was year two of a global pandemic and one of the most challenging hiring markets many of us have ever seen.
Over the course of 2022, we plan to hire another 300 people. As of this writing, we have nearly 70 roles open across the company. For anyone considering dbt Labs for their next career move, I wanted to take the time to reflect on what I see as the foundation of our success as an employer. My hope is that what you read might just give you the confidence to move forward with our team.
Values are more important than success.
We are a values-driven company, and this is the heart of our success at building a great team.
When I was interviewing with dbt Labs in early 2020, one of the things I was surprised by was the sheer number of stated values–there are 13! I had always heard that the magic number of values is 5-7. At the same time, the “right number of values” came with the unspoken stigma that values are really lip service, a mantra to have on walls and mouse pads but when it comes to the actions of the company, they don’t show up at all.
It took me just a few months to realize that we state all these values because they really do define everything we do. We don’t have walls (we’re a remote company) or mouse pads–we have action.
If want to know what it’s like to work here? Start with our values.
Here are a few examples of how our values have shaped our growing team.
We hire people who use and love dbt.
One of our values is “Users are our best advocates”. This value has informed the kind of people we hire onto our team. We believe that people who care deeply about solving for “the pissed off data analyst”, or have been the pissed off data analyst, will do well here.
- Naveen Kumar Lekkalapudi was a data engineer at a small startup in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After an unsuccessful attempt getting Facebook to adopt dbt, he decided to join dbt Labs instead.
- Our solutions architect team is stacked people who have used dbt for several years and have seen the transformative impact it has on data teams. I recommended reading: Jon “Natty” Natkins post, My (career) investment thesis in dbt Labs
- In Kelly Hotta’s role as a sales engineer at Snowflake, she experienced first-hand how dbt increased the speed and productivity of data teams. She stepped into her first Sales Director role at dbt Labs where, for the record, she has been doing an award-winning job (2021 Enterprise Rep of the Year!) and is now leading the team in the APAC region.
Julia Schottenstein caught the dbt excitement in 2019 when she was a VC investor. She eventually followed her conviction and joined the product team at dbt Labs in 2021. When she’s not working on building dbt Cloud, she can be found co-hosting The Analytics Engineering podcast.
We are human.
We closed our Series A in April of 2020, when the whole world was shutting down due to COVID. Some of our first post-funding team members, myself included, were emotionally recovering from recent layoffs when we joined dbt Labs. We watched, participated in, and discussed the outpouring of rage over the unjust murder of George Floyd. We cancelled off-sites when COVID spikes hit. We watched an insurrection together. We rallied around team members in Texas when they lost power, and team members in San Francisco when they were stuck inside for days as wildfires raged. It’s been a strange time to build a company!
Throughout all of this we’ve centered on individuals and prioritized for their needs.
This has included adjusted schedules for people facing an unexpected increase in care-taking responsibilities (read Heather’s story here), accommodating an extended leave of absence, and many other tailored solutions to help people be their best human selves.
One more programmatic addition we’ve made is the “send-a-casserole” program. This program emerged from a sense of wanting to do something for co-workers who were celebrating or struggling, but as a remote company, there’s no way to show up and help out. The send-a-casserole program allows anyone to request that the people team do something a little extra for a team member. We’ve sent champagne to celebrate an engagement, flowers to commemorate the loss of a beloved pet, and Uber Eats gift cards to take the weight of food prep off during a particularly stressful time. We started this initiative in May of 2021 and to date, we have sent 75 “casseroles” to team members all over the world. Responses we’ve heard:
“I have never felt this supported by a company before!”
“I didn’t think I have been here long enough for you to care about me personally - completely unexpected”
Another programmatic addition is the launch of our Peer Advocate Group. The charter of this group is to provide an avenue for folks to give feedback or raise concerns to leadership or the people team anonymously. This group is comprised of individual contributors from different functions in order to remove the barrier of giving upward feedback. This group has started conversations that led to:
- An enhanced holiday schedule (we now offer 15 company holidays for employees in the US, equivalents for employees based elsewhere, in addition to unlimited vacation)
- A cell phone and internet stipend
- Improved communication around our compensation strategy and how we ensure pay equity.
We’ve implemented a usually thoughtful and completely transparent compensation strategy.
One of our values is “we value transparency”, and one of the ways this value has challenged us most internally is around salary bands. Our salary bands are open, we have an internal database and we also list salary bands on our external postings. Every person in a particular role is paid within the salary band, team members can see progression and also have the peace of mind that they are paid equitably. We communicate when we are making market adjustments to our salary bands and when we do, everyone is brought into the new band.
Let me be clear: one does not simply make salary bands transparent and call it a success.
Transparent salary bands force accountability. We have to put a ton of rigor into the research, design, communication, and adherence to our philosophy…
…This means making a seemingly small change in how we think about compensation results in going back to the drawing board to understand how that change would affect every employee.
…This means that each offer that goes out is “limited” to those bands and often disappoints hiring managers when we are unwilling to stretch for one person.
…This also means hiring a Global Total Rewards Manager at about 175 employees instead of closer to 1,000 which is when companies typically add this role.
We take the time to do things in a way that’s right for us.
Values create our culture.
I really could go on and on about this topic:
- how our value of transparency pushed us to practice open meetings and anyone in the company can listen in our weekly leadership meeting (typically about 20-30 people join to just observe how our leaders work as a group and make decisions together)
- how our value of diversity pushed us to hire a dedicated DEI coordinator to own the implementation and improvement of our employee-led DEI initiatives.
- how our value of being human prompted us to outline specific guidance for employees to refrain from working with a company they personally find morally objectionable or flag a company that they don’t think we should work with at all
But by now, you likely get my point. At dbt Labs, values are the root of the culture we’ve created. In my opinion, our values are a big part of why our team members love working here.
If our values resonate with you, I truly hope you’ll consider joining us. We’re going to add another 200 team members this year. We want people on the team who continue to push us to be true to our values and integrate values into their own decision-making frameworks.
Job postings can be found here.
I can be reached at email@example.com
Thanks for reading!
Last modified on: Apr 24, 2023