SendGrid

SendGrid

Denver, CO 

www.sendgrid.com

Grade: A+

SummaryCompany is a leader in electronic communications “Gridders” are encouraged to fill out frequent engagement surveys and almost 100% do. Corporate culture driven by the 4H’s: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. Lots of room for promotion, tuition reimbursement, many training opportunities and the opportunity to give anonymous feedback to management. Best of all, meal allotments at local restaurants and potato sack races on the beach!

Intro: Our culture: Happy, Hungry, Honest, and Humble. We strike a unique balance among them to create a one-of-a-kind culture that endures both times of growth and times of challenge.

We offer a leading built-to-scale Total Rewards package that includes benefits, perks, and work-life integration.

Leaders are aligned around the philosophy of serving their teams and the business they drive every day.

We challenge our employees to stretch themselves and empower them to chase career-defining achievements.

Impact statements:

  • SendGrid believes in giving back to the communities and causes that are near and dear to our teammates’ hearts. We offer 8 fully paid hours per year to spend volunteering at an organization of choice.
  • Our Gridders (employees) are encouraged to effect change by completing our semi-annual engagement surveys (this past fall we had a noteworthy 98% participation!).
  • We recognize one individual and one team on a quarterly basis that went above and beyond to help us achieve company goals.
  • Each summer, we gather together in Colorado for KASA (Kick Ass Summer Alignment). In 2015 we had space reserved at Folsom Field on University of Colorado at Boulder’s campus, and then in 2016 we had space reserved at Sports Authority Field (home of the Denver Broncos!).
  • We believe that everyone is accountable at SendGrid for our success. If an employee sees a problem, they’re expected to bring it up (our Honest H value) and help make certain that it gets resolved. We see this as core to our culture and to our ongoing success.
  • SendGrid believes in building a strong and connected team, so we host four quarterly meetings including two off-site meetings in a hotel conference room or other unique space near our Denver headquarters and two large-scale retreats (one in Mexico and one in another fun and interactive space e.g., Sports Authority Field) to give Gridders a chance to align around company objectives and spend quality time bonding not just as employees, but as friends.
  • “Arm In Arm” is one of our favorite mottos that describes how we work as a team with a “we” and collaborative attitude. This is so vital to our culture and success that it transcribes into a quarterly award that is awarded to one team per quarter – the Arm In Arm Award. This is given to a team that went above and beyond to help us achieve company imperatives.
  • SendGrid’s 4H culture is what makes our organization unique. It’s the sum of our values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes and it’s the way we recruit and retain top talent. The core of our culture is our 4H’s: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest.

Advancement Opportunities:

We leverage internal talent for our net-new and backfill roles.

  • Of the promotions that have occurred in the past 14 months, 12 people transferred into different departments. Most notably, 6 transferred from Support to either Engineering, Revenue, Marketing, or Enterprise Data Operations. These are major jumps in career progression.
  • Another 15 employees moved into people management positions.

Using SendGrid’s career development framework, we are clear about performance expectations for the future, and at different levels of the organization. This allows employees to more accurately self-assess if they have what it takes to move ahead in the organization.

We proactively manage opportunities for HiPos.

  • When considering our most valuable employees, we find it is important to be more purposeful in their development and to plan for key experiences that will help to develop the skills they need to become good managers or leaders.
  • Recently, we sent four of our top female performers to participate in Mergelane’s Women’s Leadership Camp: a concentrated, intensive, transformative three-day program designed to accelerate participants’ growth as aware and empowered leaders and teams. This was especially timely and useful as two of the participants had recently been promoted to VP and Sr. Director while the others were moving into Program Manager roles.

We articulate expectations at different levels.

Medical benefits:

SendGrid believes in choices when it comes to medical coverage for Gridders and their dependants. We offer 3 top tier medical plans. An HMO like product, a PPO, and a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a company contribution to your Health Saving Account. SendGrid pays 100% of premiums for our HDHP and 80% of premiums for the HMO and PPO plans. We want our team to be able to choose the plan that best fits their situation. Alongside that we also have Medical FSAs, a Health Advocate service where Gridders can get help with almost any medical situation that arises, and an Employee Assistance Program that allows for up to 4 counseling sessions per event at no charge.

Community service/charitable causes:

SendGrid believes in giving back to the communities and causes that are near and dear to our teammates’ hearts. We offer 8 fully paid hours per year to spend volunteering at an organization of choice.

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Measuring satisfaction:

We recognize one individual and one team on a quarterly basis that went above and beyond to help us achieve company goals. More specifically, we have Gridders that attend and even speak at large conferences (such as MAAWG, which helps us maintain and increase our standing within the email sending community and continue to be seen as a truly first class White Hat ESP, Digital Summit, held all over the world, a conference focused on digital strategies, content marketing, social media, SEO, mobile marketing, email marketing and analytics, the Traction Conference, which brings founders and growth experts from the fastest growing companies to share insights on how to get, keep and grow customers, and many more). We also have Data Scientists partnering with our Marketing and Communications teams to create benchmarking reports, custom research around the holidays and bylines that are placed in top tier and trade media outlets. Outside of those specific examples, we have groups of individuals who band together (even unexpectedly) to “protect the Grid” or work together cross-functionally to build out an impeccable new office (like our new Denver HQ) or work on initiatives like “My Career at the

Grid”, “Raise the Hoodie Bar” or “Prism”.

The reason we consistently see examples of team members going above and beyond to achieve company goals, is that we screen for intrinsically “hungry” individuals during our hiring process, people who will run through walls to achieve their goals.

We also work on creating the conditions in which people are highly motivated. In our most recent engagement survey 86% of the company rated favorably that SendGrid motivates them to go beyond what they would in a similar role elsewhere. This is 17% above the New Tech Benchmark for this question.

We use Culture Amp for engagement, onboarding, exit, and miscellaneous surveys throughout the year.

For engagement we survey twice a year, using consistent questions so that we assess improvements or decreases in scores over time. Once we’ve analyzed the results, we host focus groups (where needed) to better understand our lower scores. Our leadership team align on and integrate our engagement initiatives into our annual company strategy, ensuring accountability for action.

We also drive improvements at the team level by holding team engagement reviews, with the goal of identifying and addressing pain points at the team level.

To ensure our onboarding is effective, we survey at 30, 60 and 90 days. We also hold group meetings with the specific onboarding cohorts to see what’s going well and where we can improve.

We also survey when individuals exit the business. We believe it’s important to understand the reasoning behind someone's decision to leave SendGrid and gather data that we can act upon to improve our Gridder’s employment experience and engagement.

Our Gridders (employees) are encouraged to effect change by completing our semi-annual engagement surveys (this past fall we had a noteworthy 98% participation!). Gridders are also encouraged to submit anonymous questions for our leadership team that are discussed in each monthly All-Hands meeting.

Engagement Surveys: Gridders can provide anonymous feedback (rated and open forum) through our surveys; which are reviewed by our executive and senior leadership team.

Themes are identified and discussed by our executives and acted on where possible.

Anonymous Questions: During our monthly All-Hands meetings, Gridders can ask anonymous questions or make suggestions to our executives. These are answered live during the meeting or in writing if there is not enough time. These suggestions have driven changes such as updates to our parental leave (extended from 2 weeks to 5 weeks), vacation policy (adding personal days per year of service), and our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiative. Specifically for D&I, our program called Prism was born out of employee feedback and is designed to make SendGrid a more diverse and inclusive workplace. We recently conducted a D&I survey and are creating action items for areas that we believe will have the greatest impact on our goals of being a place where as we say "not only are you invited to the party…you're comfortable enough to dance!"

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • Hired two incredible women for two executive positions (SVP of Sales & Customer Success as well as Chief People Officer)
  • Completed 150 hours of dedicated diversity recruiting resulting in a more richly diverse candidate pipeline
  • Continuously enhancing our internal D&I education and exercises to increase Awareness

Lastly, we believe that everyone is accountable at SendGrid for our success. If an employee sees a problem, they’re expected to bring it up (our Honest H value) and help make certain that it gets resolved. We see this as core to our culture and to our ongoing success.

Denver, CO: Our Global Headquarters in Denver consolidates SendGrid’s multiple Colorado office footprint into a single Denver location to drive employee engagement, collaboration, and productivity. The office was designed to hold more than two times the current Colorado employee-base to accommodate its growth plan of 900 employees globally by the year 2020.

The office was thoughtfully designed with a staircase in the reception area that connects the fifth and sixth floor to encourage interactions and conversations between employees. SendGrid’s new brand and logo, launched in June of 2016, is incorporated throughout the modern design in the ceiling, floor, walls and other materials and color choices. The office

features open workspaces and collaboration spaces that are placed along the windows, rather than the interior corridor, to ensure light and street views weren’t blocked for employees.

SendGrid commissioned art from local artists who used innovative materials and plants that were carefully placed around the office to create a soothing and inspiring work environment. The kitchen, bistro, and other areas have an abundance of seating to encourage employees to meet and eat together, stocked with sub-zero refrigeration, craft beer, wine, and healthy snacks. Employees also eat free at several local eateries.

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Orange, CA: The Orange office is home of our three amazing Founders. They demonstrate all four of our “H” values daily. We are located close to the the train and have an amazing closeness and camaraderie within the Grid. From sharing protein shake recipes, to coordinating daily CrossFit workouts, this office has each other’s back. The office is equipped with state of the art technology, allowing extended teams to stay connected with the Redwood City, Denver and remote offices.

 

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Redwood City, CA: (RWC) This office enjoys close proximity to the CalTrain and in the heart of RWC, allowing team members to do walkabouts to great coffee shops and unique boutique

restaurants for team lunches. The office is cozy with lots of light and encourages team members to collaborate with each other and the CEO, CPO (Chief Product Officer), and VP Research and Development, all headquartered there.

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Creative meeting places:

Semi-Annual Retreats: SendGrid believes in building a strong and connected team, so we host four quarterly meetings including two off-site meetings in a hotel conference room or other unique space near our Denver headquarters and two large-scale retreats (one in Mexico and

one in another fun and interactive space e.g., Sports Authority Field) to give Gridders a chance to align around company objectives and spend quality time bonding not just as employees, but as friends.

Each summer, we gather together in Colorado for KASA (Kick Ass Summer Alignment). In 2015 we had space reserved at Folsom Field on University of Colorado at Boulder’s campus, and then in 2016 we had space reserved at Sports Authority Field (home of the Denver Broncos!).

The most recent KASA event at Sports Authority Field was held in the BMW Suite Level with SendGrid branding all across the display screen. It truly felt like a SendGrid conference but just for Gridders.

Every winter, we travel abroad to the beaches of Mexico for KAKO (Kick Ass Kick Off). This outing in particular is filled with team-building exercises—and plenty of time to build genuine friendships. It’s important to note that we fly all regular full-time Gridders to these locations, 100% paid for, because we feel so strongly around aligning the workforce to our vision and strategy. We know alignment and connective tissue is key to achieving our goals and having a highly engaged team.

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Team Offsites: In addition to our company quarterly meetings, we encourage our teams to take time to go offsite for planning and relationship building. For example, very recently, our People Operations team held a team offsite in beautiful Winter Park, Colorado. All 14 teammates (across the Denver and Orange offices) traveled to the mountains for some major team bonding, activities around our team’s MVVG as well as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and a murder mystery dinner where we went all out with costumes and dinner to match the occasion.

Other functional groups do offsites such as skiing, custom wine blending, cooking classes, sports games, local wine/beer tours, team dinners and lunches, top golf, conferences, certifications, etc.

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Perks:

Stocked Kitchen & Daily Lunch: Gridders located in a core office are provided with a variety of snacks and beverages. In our Denver office, for example, we have a high-tech Coca-Cola soda machine, several “spa water” containers (think strawberry & mango, pineapple & rosemary –

our office managers switch it up every day), eight wines on tap, six beers on draft (plus a device to freeze glassware in seconds), catered soup, snack and cereal canisters, and a coffee bar.

Meal allowance: Up to $12/day at local restaurants, including:

  • Denver: Mad Greens, Chipotle, 1801 Eatery
  • Orange: Mead’s Green Door Cafe, Wasabi Japanese Grill
  • Redwood City: Eat Club, Farm Hill

Weekly Catered Lunch: Family-style is the name of the game. There are catered lunches in each office every Wednesday. This is a prime opportunity for us to socialize with each other over a delicious meal.

Cookie Tuesday: Cookies are provided by a local bakery and delivered fresh to the office on Tuesdays.

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Fun:

Don’t get us wrong, we love to work hard, but we know that taking breaks to enjoy each other’s company and just have FUN is an important factor. Gridders team up to play ping-pong, video games, nerf gun, hanging out by the cafe bar, participating in Tough Mudders, in-house Olympics competitions, hanging out in costume, or shooting hoops.

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How corporate vision is communicated:

Our vision, mission, values and enduring measures of success are reviewed at every All-Hands meeting and ongoing within each practice area. They are lived and breathed every day. Everything we do reinforces and connects back to our overall vision and strategy

In addition:

KAKO: Corporate vision is predominantly communicated at our annual kick-off trip in Mexico. One full day is reserved for presentations recapping the previous year as well as the upcoming year’s plans including four 4 panels, 7 awards, a talk/game show session, and much more.

KASA: Our annual summer alignment allows us to check in on our vision and mission in a way that’s engaging and exciting and set new goals where necessary.

Onboarding: We purposefully crafted onboarding to include a welcoming and exciting orientation that reaffirms a new hire’s choice to join SendGrid. Our 3-day New Gridder Orientation communicates our history/mission/vision/values/goals/culture, develops connections between new hires, gives knowledge of business which prepares them to

succeed, makes it easier to assimilate into their new role and the SendGrid ecosystem, which subsequently increases their engagement, role satisfaction, and retention.

Each onboarding class, which is a cohort of new hires, is assigned a letter of the alphabet and tasked with creating a class name starting with the letter. We’ve had fun class names like Tacotechasaurus, Lagerithms, Mo Mail Mo Money, Will Work For Beer, and Ja Rule Jedis. We also pair an onboarding sponsor from our leadership team to join the onboarding class. The sponsor attends orientation, enriches the overall orientation experience by providing additional perspective, and is another avenue of support (outside of their manager, team, and People Operations). New hires walk out of orientation with big smiles on their faces, authentic friendships, confidence, and enthusiasm to jump into their roles.

New hires leaving orientation with a firm understanding and connection to our MVVG, product, and each other.

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Empowering employees:

Decisiveness is a competency included in our Career Development Framework. Our career development framework defines what competencies we expect of our people as they move from individual contributor to management and more senior positions. We interview for this in our recruitment process, meaning we hire people who are comfortable making decisions. We also evaluate our people against this competency, holding our people accountable for engaging in a thorough decision making process.

We push decisions down as far as we can in the organization and encourage both managers and individual contributors to make the decisions necessary to do their best work and to move the organization forward.

We have an internal recognition program that seeks to create and nurture an extraordinary culture of recognition and appreciation by way of quarterly awards. We realize that when Gridders are truly engaged, they are emotionally invested and ‘the organization’ becomes ‘my organization.’ Our four quarterly award categories are specifically tied to the things we value, cultural language, and organizational goals:

  • 4H Award: Four Gridders who markedly embodies all of the 4Hs: Honest, Hungry, Happy, and Humble. (Connected to our 4H values)
  • Summit Award: One distinguishable Gridder who went above and beyond to help us achieve company imperatives. (Tied to summit imagery we often use at company meetings)
  • Yoda Award: One manager who, like Yoda, is a pillar of wisdom. This person is distinctly gifted in mentoring and inspiring their team(s). (We value outstanding people managers who keep motivational inertia flowing throughout everything they do – and who doesn’t love Yoda?)

Arm In Arm: One standout team who exceeded expectations to help us achieve company imperatives. (Our CEO, Sameer, frequently speaks to our Humble-H in that we play to win as a team and row in the same direction to succeed – Sameer’s favorite book is ‘The Boys in the Boat’ by Daniel James Brown. This also connects to the image of ‘One SendGrid’) Gridders nominate peers, managers, direct reports, and teams with touching nominations. A cross-functional Recognition Committee reviews and scores nominations, and then the highest scoring nominees are announced at our quarterly meetings. The award reveal includes video testimonials from peers, beautiful laser engraved wooden plaques, and a picture with one of our executives that is then shared on social media. Award recipients also receive a $250 experience of their choice as well as a place on our “wall of recognition” in the Denver headquarters.

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Ensuring well-being:

Vacation: Whether it be an exciting trip, time off to visit friends and family, or even a staycation, our Gridders receive 3 weeks of vacation per year, and beginning in their 4th year of service, they then receive 4 weeks of vacation per year.

Personal Days: We understand that everyone needs a personal day off every now and then, so we award personal days based on years of service. 0-1 year of service = 1 day off; 1 year of service = 2 days, 2 years of service = 3 days, 3 years of service = 4 days, and 4+ years of service = 5 days per year.

Holiday Schedule: SendGrid observes 9 paid holidays through the year.

Floating Holiday: In addition to the PTO policy, we also offer an Unrestricted Floating Holiday 1 day (8 hours) per year. Therefore, eligible Gridders have 10 Holidays per year. An Unrestricted Floating Holiday may be used at any time for any occasion.

Unlimited Sick Days: We ask that Gridders don’t come into work when they are sick and to take the time they need to rest.

Parental Leave: SendGrid champions a Gridder’s choice to grow their family, and we know that caring for a new child is an exciting time that also takes adjusting – for both mothers and fathers. So in addition to FMLA or other State Leave time, SendGrid will pay 5 weeks of leave at 100% of salary for new parents who take time off from work (following the date of birth or adoption of child). The benefit will be available to Gridders for up to 12 months from the date of birth or adoption of the child and can be used either as a block of time or on an intermittent basis.

Community Day: We encourage our Grid family to give back or pay it forward to the community one day per year.

Our unlimited sick leave is available for both personal and family use. When someone is sick or has a sick family member, they don’t have to think about whether or not to take time off it’s available to them. Our generous maternity/paternity leave (which also applies to adoption) allows both parents to have the time needed to bond and acclimate to having a new member of the family.

Our medical plans have full benefits for mental health which is also supported through our Employee Assistance Program. There is a gym for use in our building, healthy meal options for breakfast and lunch and a health and wellness stipend that can be used for gym membership, classes, etc.

Longevity:

Overall, our company average tenure is 2 years and 2 months. This is a reflection of our growth, as we hire ~100 people each year. Tenure is slight higher in engineering at 2.5 years.

Our executive leadership average tenure is 2 years. We have expanded our executive team over the past 2.5 years to support us in the next stage of our company growth.

Closing company statements: SendGrid’s 4H culture is what makes our organization unique. It’s the sum of our values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes and it’s the way we recruit and retain top talent. The core of our culture is our 4H’s: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. SendGrid’s people are Hungry to raise the bar to deliver results, yet are still Humble and always learning from each other and their customers. They are Honest, meaning they value transparency – sharing feedback freely and are Happy to enjoy both their work and their lives outside of the office. Happiness isn’t about free food or matching 401Ks, it’s about the people.

These cultural values are authentically used in everything we do. It’s not just a slogan or something we post on the walls. You’ll hear this vernacular being used throughout the office: “Honest H feedback, this wasn’t what I had expected” or “We’re running a bit behind schedule, we need to add some Hungry H to this initiative.” We invest a considerable amount of time

and resources throughout the year to ensure absolute alignment on our mission and we are maniacally focused on recruiting and developing those who will raise the bar for the teammates they join.

Back to the entire list of TMCnet 2016 Tech Culture Award winners.

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