Anthony Stiso is about as personable a guy as you’re ever going to meet. If everyone at Telinta Inc. is half as nice as he is, this company has a good thing going. That’s why we decided to interview Stiso, the vice president of marketing and sales at Telinta, which offers white-label cloud-based solutions that enable telecom service providers to offer VoIP services without deploying their own billing and operational support systems, about company culture.
How would you describe Telinta’s company culture?
Stiso: Since 2002, Telinta has developed a very unique and diverse culture, where people from different parts of the world have come together. We have people from the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Russia, and Africa. While not a formal requirement, every Telinta employee communicates in two or more languages.
We have truly built a mosaic ranging from seasoned technology professionals, to young vibrant people who bring fresh ideas. We invest in new employees with rigorous training. An example of how our culture has had notable results is the team environment we have built for our support engineers, who work side by side to answer customer questions and resolve issues. They learn not just from their supervisors and from our documentation, but from each other.
How do your employees figure in to that culture?
Stiso: Telinta employees do not only figure into the culture, they shape it. Every day, we tell the marketplace about Telinta’s cutting-edge cloud-based softswitch platform. But like any service business, our people are a vital part. We have very few levels of management, and it is common for employees of all levels to share ideas or ask questions.
At Telinta, asking questions and sharing experiences is encouraged. For example, on several occasions, Telinta has brought one of its high-performing engineering team members to industry events, even though attending these events would not normally be part of their job duties. The employee learns new things, and then returns to his or her normal job with new experiences that team members can also benefit from, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
How does a distributed workforce create a challenge to building a strong culture?
Stiso: We are not only distributed geographically, but we operate 24x7x365 in order to provide live technical support to our VoIP service provider customers around the world. Because our global customer base operates across all time zones, Telinta has several support shifts to cover the load. This can create challenges for large staff meetings, so instead we schedule smaller more personal meetings among shifts. We also frequently use instant messaging and screen-sharing to collaborate and work together as a team.
Screen sharing is an important example of how Telinta uses technology to bring people together. Employees use it to collaborate on day-to-day work issues and share ideas. We provide live demonstrations to customer prospects, using screen sharing to show our solutions for things like hosted PBX, calling card, MVNO, mobile VoIP, and other services, answering any questions that come up. These demos let us not just provide verbal answers, but actually show the switch configuration or portal being discussed. Each new customer is trained by one of our senior engineers via several screen-sharing sessions, guiding them through key aspects of our hosted softswitch. At the end of this hands-on training, customers are actually making configurations to their hosted softswitch solution by themselves, with our trainer there to guide them.
What does your company do to build employee morale?
Stiso: We encourage suggestions, reward success, and foster an environment where people feel safe to speak their mind. For example, one of our sales people suggested a way to streamline the on-boarding process for new customers who begin service with Telinta. The improvement has been in place for over a year, and has shown noticeable results. Perhaps the best result has been that the employee who suggested the change has continued to make suggestions, and so he feels that his opinion is valued.
When a member of our support team completes a specific module of training, that milestone is celebrated by the staff. Upon completion of each training module, the employee is rewarded with more access permissions to the platform being granted.
Another example is our year-end staff meeting and celebration. Every year in November, staff from different locations get together and celebrate another year of success. This is another opportunity for people working in different geographical locations to better get to know each other.
It is common for employees from one office to go for a week or two to another office to learn and exchange the knowledge. When implementing our TeliSIM MVNO solution, one of Telinta’s senior engineers traveled to Israel to discuss development plans with one of our customers.
One of our senior management describes the achievements Telinta made in that year, and personally thanks each of our team members, pointing out that their accomplishments are the bricks that help build Telinta’s success. We also record each milestone on our website (www.telinta.com/company/anniversary.html). One employee mentioned that he sent that webpage link to his family members as a way to show off something he helped create. That type of pride in your work is a true blessing!
Of course, we do not wait until the end of the year to celebrate. On two separate occasions, Telinta received industry awards for its softswitch solutions. We made sure that everyone who had a part in developing those solutions – from management, to marketing and sales, to the people who write the code – all shared equally in this success. That is how we do things in Telinta.
Is it difficult to find, hire, and keep great people in tech these days?
Stiso: While we understand this is a challenge everywhere in the technology industry, Telinta has actually had very little employee turnover. Our people stay with us for the long-term. Some of the original team members who founded the company in 2002 are still with us today.