My First Week at Snyk was at our All Hands Conference
I spent my first day at Snyk on an eleven-hour flight to Tel Aviv. It was a very non-traditional first day and the start to a very non-traditional first week at my new job as a Developer Advocate.
Twice a year Snykers from around the world come together to take part in an All Hands conference. This January, we met at our Tel Aviv office which had a few distinct advantages. First, the local food is amazing! Second, the city is beautiful and so is the beach. Finally, my colleagues from London, Ottawa, and Boston were particularly thankful for the mild and comfortable weather.
More important than any of those considerations, was the simple fact that we all got to meet each other face-to-face. Snykers live in different countries and time zones, and are also part of different departments. But we are all working towards the same goal—to help developers stay secure while using open source projects. Meeting with each other in person was a chance to remember that commitment, to define who we are as Snyk continues to grow, and to make plans for the coming year.
Use Open Source. Stay Secure.
I had done my due diligence on Snyk during the interview process. I knew generally what their mission and products were, and how their tools could fit into the development life cycle. As a Developer Advocate, it was very important to me to be working with a company that builds something useful, and I had a sense that I had found that at Snyk.
None of that research had fully prepared me for jumping into the deep end at the All Hands though. Snyk came to this meeting prepared for everything!
To begin with, Snyk made sure that we were properly caffeinated by hiring a barista that made amazing drinks.
Each team had the chance to present to the company as a whole, sharing accomplishments from the previous six months, goals for the coming year, and any upcoming challenges. This exercise was good for the whole team, but as a new Snyker it was an amazing chance to get a bird’s eye view of the company. By the end of these reports, I had been introduced to all the people, processes, and products that together, really do make it easy to use Open Source more securely.
After that, we got down to details. We had breakout working sessions to cover everything from how we can communicate even better as a distributed team to new ways we could make use of our comprehensive vulnerability database, and everything in between.
Each of these breakout teams included people from different disciplines, but generally were led by someone who is close to the issue at hand. This was a great way to meet more Snykers beyond my Developer Relations teammates and to get exposure to a wider range of challenges we face. It’s also a great way to ensure we take full advantage of all these talented people with diverse backgrounds, bringing together tons of different perspectives to focus on solving a big challenge.
One big takeaway from the department reports and many of breakout topics is that Snyk is growing and Snyk is everywhere. I was hired in December and started in mid-January, and I thought I might be the only newcomer at the All Hands. In fact, I probably met a dozen people who had started within the last month. This growth is fueled by our recent series B fundraise and is going to allow us to chase some ambitious and worthy goals, including expanding our list of supported ecosystems, providing ever more exceptional customer support, and investing in our innovative runtime project (which is now in public beta).
The growth of the team is exciting, but with so many new people it was a priority to define who we are as Snyk and to make sure that we continue to operate as a single team. The kind of team-building we wanted takes time, and it was clear from the schedule that the Snykers who planned the All Hands made friendship building and get-to-know-you type activities a priority.
There was an all team dinner,
an inspired Hummus-Making Competition,
and an excellent wrap up party on the final night—complete with colorful accessories and good food and drinks.
I am so glad that these fun events were included. It made the prospect of an international business trip for my first week on the job a little less intimidating and more of an adventure with friends. A fellow Developer Advocate Liran Tal made sure the whole Developer Relations team got out on the dance floor and it helped cast off any worries I had had about starting a new job.
Getting to the Heart
In addition to these fun events, we had a more serious, introspective activity to deliberately define and record our core values. Snyk brought in organizational psychologist Ronit Kurz to help us identify what qualities were core to who we are as a team.
When we entered the room, the chairs were arranged in circles, with a balloon tied to one seat per circle. Whoever was foolish (or lucky) enough to sit in the chair with the balloon was tasked with documenting the group’s conversation. Our facilitator Ronit started each round with a question like “What do you love about working at Snyk?” or “What have you encountered that you would like to improve?”. Between each of Ronit’s questions, everyone except the note-takers would get up and find a new circle. By the end of the session, we had tackled about five different values questions and I had heard from dozens of coworkers about their experience at Snyk.
This session was compelling to me for a couple of reasons. First, as a Developer Advocate I am a representative of Snyk to the developer community. I want to approach the community with kindness and with a listening ear. Hearing from my new coworkers that some of their highest values are Be Kind and Care Deeply, I felt like I had made a very good choice. Second, I live in San Diego, California and am a remote worker. Most of my coworkers are located in London or in Tel Aviv, eight and ten hours ahead of me respectively. Hearing from my colleagues about how much they appreciate working together despite the distance and how they considered themselves One Team eased fears that I had about being one of the few remote (and potentially isolated) employees. We are from different countries and cultures. We work in different departments and have our own individual and team goals. But beyond that, we value collaboration and cooperation and operating as One Team. Snyk is growing, but we are growing together.
An Exciting 2019
The Tel Aviv All Hands flew by. It was a week filled with new friends and new goals. All the planning and work that we put in during this week together will be the start of a very exciting 2019. I am on our new Developer Relations team and we have many goals related to community building, security education, and more. Our other teams have exciting plans as well and I can’t wait to see what we are able to accomplish.
Have I mentioned that Snyk is growing? If you are excited about Open Source security, we want to hear from you. If you want to join a diverse and friendly team, we want to hear from you. If you like chasing goals and building something truly useful, we want to hear from you. Please apply today!
Our next All Hands is in London this July! I hope to see you there.