How well an organization weathers a crisis is sometimes emblematic of the strength of its company culture.
Anna Berentson, a recruiter, said that was her experience at pet insurance company Trupanion when they were faced with a pandemic this spring. When COVID-19 hit Seattle, the company had to transition 700 people to remote work and adapt interviewing, onboarding and training processes to be virtual.
They were able to complete the transition within weeks.
“In my career so far at Trupanion, I have yet to see a challenge that this company hasn’t adapted to,” Berentson said.
According to Berentson, companies with grit do more than inspire employees; they also attract top talent.
Tech professionals from the following four Seattle companies — all of which are hiring — shared what makes their company’s culture special, and provided a behind-the-scenes look into the professional growth opportunities and cool projects their employer offers.
What they do: Trupanion offers medical coverage for pets and customer service for owners. The company prides itself on swift claims solutions to keep costs low and pets healthy.
Describe your company culture: “Trupanion loves a good challenge,” Recruiter Anna Berentson said.
Explain more. “We’ve been carving out our piece of the market in an ever-changing industry since 2000 and we haven’t lost the startup mentality,” Berentson said. “Within Trupanion, we have created multiple avenues to reach pets across North America, whether it’s partnering with veterinary hospitals, cat and dog breeders, shelters, group benefits and most recently with State Farm.
“We saw room for improvement on the reimbursement model and built free software for veterinary hospitals so that we can pay them directly at the time of checkout. When COVID-19 came to Seattle, Trupanion transitioned our entire workforce (almost 700 people locally) to working from home within weeks. We’ve also adjusted to interviewing, onboarding and training new hires remotely. In my career so far at Trupanion, I have yet to see a challenge that this company hasn’t adapted to.”
“Trupanion loves a good challenge.”
What is the coolest project you’ve worked on recently? “My favorite part about recruiting is watching someone you helped hire grow throughout the company,” Berentson said. “Because of this, I led the recruiting team in creating and hosting our first-ever internal career fair, made just for our employees. We had 17 teams represented, including our two employee resource groups focused on our LGBTQA and BIPOC communities. We had a great turnout of curious employees, including a visit from our CEO.
“This project advanced my personal goals of taking on leadership responsibility. I also boosted my internal communication and collaboration skills while working across teams and recruiting participants. I am thankful that my supervisors heard my idea and let me take the lead on this passion project, and I can’t wait to host it again once we are back in the office.”
What they do: Axon builds evidence management systems, cameras and smart weapons designed to help and protect law enforcement offices. Their tools can all operate under the same network for seamless communication.
Describe your company culture in one word: “Passionate,” Engineering Manager Jack Hudson said.
Every interviewer I talked with was truly passionate about Axon and the product they were working on.”
Explain more. “When I first discovered Axon, I was inspired by Axon’s mission to protect life and the meaningful social impact of its product line,” Hudson said. “The clincher for me, though, was the clear passion of the team. Every interviewer I talked with was truly passionate about Axon and the product they were working on. My last interviewer graciously took an extra hour to indulge my curiosity and describe the technical challenges behind the evidence management system his team was building.
“This translates into day-to-day life at Axon, and I believe the shared passion for our mission and products represents the backbone of Axon’s startup-like company culture. Whatever your goals are, you’re empowered with the freedom to work on projects you care about, with the support of an inclusive, humble and talented global team that will challenge you in new ways. There are numerous opportunities to interact with and learn from others across the company. We regularly hold product demos, engineering councils and happy hours. Leadership is also incredibly engaged with employees, holding weekly all-hands meetings with employee Q&A.”
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on recently? “Last year, I had the phenomenal experience of leading the development of Axon Standards,” Hudson said. “Law enforcement officers sometimes spend up to two-thirds of their time on the job filling out paperwork, which is tedious and reduces the amount of time officers can spend out in the field, protecting their communities. Axon Standards is a web platform that streamlines the report-writing process for high risk, officer-involved events such as a tasing or police vehicle crash. Through the data collected, the platform can provide tools and insights to help law enforcement agencies mitigate risk.
“Launching a product that has a visual impact was incredibly rewarding and continues to be as we work on scaling the platform to more law enforcement agencies.”
What they do: Project Archer’s augmented reality studio creates augmented reality applications for the retail space. Their mission is to offer users and brands productive and immersive real-world shopping experiences.
Describe your company culture in one word: “Fearless,” Principal Product Manager Holly Hirzel said.
We have to be fearless.”
Explain more. “During every planning session we have to figure out our exit criteria,” Hirzel said. “We ask ourselves, ‘How do we know when we are done with a feature?’ and, ‘What is the baseline expectation for how this should work?’ We usually start off with saying, ‘I’m not sure, nothing like this is on the market. No one has built this before!’ So we have to be fearless and not let that stop us from trying to figure it out.”
What’s the coolest project you've worked on recently? “Digging into natural language processing,” Hirzel said. “NLP is about how humans can use natural language to interface with a computer. I use Siri every day, but I’ve certainly never built anything that uses NLP like Siri does, so for me that has been a huge opportunity to learn something new.”
What they do: Anduril develops both software and hardware with AI, autonomy and sensor fusion for the purpose of border security, in accordance with the government. Its Lattice product uses computer vision, machine learning and mesh networking for surveillance.
Describe your company culture in one word: “Driven,” Vik Pattabi, a software engineer, said.
Explain more. “At Anduril, I’m proud of the pace at which we move, which I think highlights how driven our team is to help our customers,” Pattabi said. “We respond quickly to the needs of our customers by moving ideas or prototypes into impactful products deployed in the field. Our customers begin to see value from our work very quickly. We can get a request from a customer about a need and deploy a change or ship a new piece of hardware in the span of days to a couple of months.
“For example, I worked on a project called Dust, which is a low-power camera and sensor. One of our customers wanted to use a different radio system to be able to extend the range of the camera. So we developed a new hardware revision, tested the end-to-end system and had it functioning in less than three months. It was a cool opportunity to be able to hear exactly what our customers need, build it and see it operational so quickly.”
I’m proud of the pace at which we move, which I think highlights how driven our team is to help our customers.”
How long have you been with the company, and what professional growth or development have you seen in that time?
“I started at Anduril as an intern a year ago,” Pattabi said. “It is clear that Anduril really values people who can independently drive projects to completion. If you do that, you’re given a lot of trust and more responsibility. In the last year, I’ve been able to work on high-level designs for some of our systems and then implement those designs. I’ve been able to visit schools to help with recruiting and participate in the hiring process for prospective employees. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in field deployments of our products. This year, I’m even a mentor to an intern. It is pretty rare to be 23 years old, one year into my career and have all of those opportunities.”