Making a Difference | Collaboration Code Radio Episode 4
It’s hard to imagine a company can make an impact in their local community and on a global scale, both at the same time. That is exactly what San Diego based startup Measurabl is doing. For the 4th episode of our podcast we talk with Measurabl COO, Dana Arnold. We dive into how Dana found her passion for tech and the environment, how Measurabl got started and how they are now tackling global climate change, and we also go into the brand new partnership of Measurabl and Girls in Tech San Diego.
Chelsea: Hey, everyone. You’re listening to Collaboration Code Radio where we bring together San Diego’s coding and tech community. I’m your host, Chelsea Kaufman, CEO and co-founder of LEARN Academy. And today I’m with Dana Arnold, she’s the COO of Measurabl. Measurabl specializes in sustainability and data management and is one of our internship partners. We’re so excited to have you today to talk with us more about Measurabl, what you’re doing, some of your recent partnerships with Girls in Tech, and the launch of our brand-new partnership helping to tackle some of the diversity and inclusion in San Diego tech community. Thank you so much for being here.
Dana: Thank you, Chelsea, for having me. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about and I’m really excited to talk through all these awesome things that we’re doing and collaborating on together.
Chelsea: Me too, I remember the very first time we met when you came over to LEARN and we sat down and just dove right into the diversity in our companies and in San Diego, and so I’m so glad that that like blossomed into many different relationships.
Dana: It definitely has. And I remember walking away from that meeting after Nicole Carr, our CFO and I were kind of on the hunt for trying to find organizations in San Diego that we could partner with. And sitting down with Chelsea we were like, “Oh, my goodness, this is exactly the type of people and organizations that we want to work with and partner with to really help better the community right here in San Diego.”
Chelsea: That’s good to hear, because I felt the same way, match made in heaven. Great. So you’re the COO at Measurabl, you’ve been there for about three years, is that right?
Chelsea: And sustainability in tech has been kind of a thing in your career for some time now, like working at different organizations kind of with the same themes and things like that. Can you tell me a little bit about how your journey to Measurabl?
Dana: Yeah, it’s been a funny journey. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in architecture. And now I’m the chief operating officer of a tech company. So I get that question a lot of like how, why, this doesn’t seem to kind of collaborate in people’s minds. But there’s been a really constant theme in my career that I have really been looking at the built environment and how to make it better. So from how do you build a building to make it better, graduating at a pretty tough time back in 2009 not a whole lot of people were hiring architects to design new buildings.
Dana: There wasn’t capital being deployed into that space. So you kind of have to have a little bit of adaptability and resiliency in your career. So coming right out of the gate thinking, “Cool, I’m going to go be an architect,” kind of had a quick switch over to how can I take the knowledge I have about buildings and how they function and turn that into a totally new career, which had many different phases along the way from how to make university more sustainable when I was working at the University of Florida to how did I take that and translate that to a corporate ride sustainability program at Aramark to how do we then use data to then drive sustainability decisions at large organizations, which is really how I found Measurabl.
So it’s been a fun ride, but it’s really using technology to solve these core problems around the built environment.
Chelsea: I think that’s an amazing journey and such an important one to tell, because I think that so many people are coming from different industries into tech, into the start-up world that just talking about those journeys and how you can take something that you really cared about and then move it into these worlds, we talk to our students a lot about making that shift and transition from a very different industry and into this, and how applicable those skills still are.
Dana: They absolutely are applicable. And when you really understand a subject matter of something really well, you can definitely identify inefficiencies in maybe that job you are doing, in that role. And a lot of ways in which to solve inefficiency in business is really looking at how do you use technology. And so it’s been a huge kind of trend while it’s been little tweaks every step along the way in my career, there’s many people that I know that have made jumps into the tech career that have from the brewing industry, from stuff that you would never think that tech can really impact it, but really it can.
Chelsea: Yeah, I mean, some of my favorite stories of our students, we have a farmer from Idaho that’s now a software developer here in San Diego, we have a boat captain that has now transitioned his career, that they just bring a really great perspective. And we’ll talk about this a little later when we get into diversity and what that can do for a company. But a lot of it has to do with the background and where you come from and what you bring to the table because of those experiences.
Dana: Absolutely, absolutely, I couldn’t agree more.
Chelsea: Cool, well, let’s talk a little bit more about Measurabl and what you guys are doing over there. Measurabl is a leader in developing ESG technology to help real estate become more sustainable. What kind of technology is Measurabl developing and how’s it helping to achieve a cleaner planet?
Dana: Absolutely. So at Measurabl our goal is to in a way solve a lot of the global challenges we have around climate change. So a lot of our current infrastructure in the world that we live in is very carbon-intense, all the energy that we use, all of the transportation and a lot of that fuel that’s used to fuel our society today is used by buildings. So 40% of the carbon emissions in the United States is coming from commercial buildings, that’s multi-family, it’s the office buildings, it’s the industrial buildings. It’s everywhere you go, not including residential. So it’s a huge, huge, huge impact on our environment not just here in the States but also globally.
So we look at how can we solve these as global challenges with one being able to measure what this is, and traditionally and throughout my career around sustainability there was not a tool to use, so you kind of default to, “Okay, how can I gather data and put it into Excel and then figure out how do I understand how well I’m doing to be able to make action and take action on how to better your operations, better your buildings.”
And so Measurabl’s really looked at this core problem. When Matt Ellis started the company back in 2013 he was working at one of the global real estate companies, CBRE. He was in that business looking at ways to take sustainability and monetize and operationalize a lot of different ways of working with their customers. And he came up with the idea of Measurabl, of I need a SaaS based platform, which SaaS – software as a service, and a subscription-based model to help solve the challenge of data. So that’s really when Measurabl was born, and I was working at a similar company in Chicago solving these challenges as well and really saw the way that Matt was going around building the company.
The first employee was Lance Aachen who’s our CTO, and really dove into building that minimum viable product of how do we get data around building’s energy, their water, their waste, their projects, their audits? How are they helping to improve that building, and not just at the building, but how do you look at that from a portfolio of assets?
So a lot of our clients own or operate hundreds to thousands of buildings. And if you can imagine the challenge of trying to measure their environmental impact, it becomes an completely impossible task without technology. So putting the power of our system we were able to automate data from utility providers, we’re able to provide a tool to create data that otherwise wouldn’t have had the ability to be created, and are able to then report that to investors to make better decisions, whether that be debt and equity on buildings, whether that’s looking at service providers that are looking to improve buildings over time. There’s a lot that goes into our software and it is a very complex software, and we’re definitely solving a challenge for a global world, all with the mission of how can we help buildings be better.
Chelsea: That’s amazing. That’s really great. I think this is the first time I had heard the term ESG technology. Can you tell me a little bit more about that, what that means?
Dana: Absolutely. We do use quite a bit of acronyms and terms in this space, so definitely stop me and ask. So ESG is a common term, it stands for environmental, social and governance. And it is a term that is in a lot of ways replaces the word sustainability, it also can be similarly or synonymously used with corporate social responsibility, some people like to use the word green, even though that’s a little bit maybe 10 years ago. But it’s all about looking at the world in a way of not just making financial decisions but it’s also looking at performance-based and impact decisions on (1) the environment, (2) social, the community, people, society as a whole, and governance how do you make sure things are in balance to make sure that no corruption, child labor. A lot of these big things that big complex organizations have to deal with, and they pose huge risks to businesses if they don’t measure, monitor, report on these things that can have huge financial impacts if not done correctly.
Chelsea: That’s amazing. You’re not only helping companies run their businesses better, but also doing it in a more socially conscious way.
Chelsea: We need more companies doing that.
Dana: Absolutely. I absolutely agree.
Chelsea: And I also love that what you are bringing to your clients is kind of the same culture that you’re developing within Measurabl about being very conscious of your team and the culture that you’re building there. I think that is amazing. In last year your staff doubled in size.
Dana: I believe that’s the correct statistic. Yeah, we’ve definitely had quite a bit of growth since we closed in our Series B funding round about a year ago, so we’ve probably added about 35 folks to the team, which was basically a double from where we were about a year ago.
Chelsea: Can you tell me a little bit about how that growth … how you watched the culture change and how you kind of took control of that I guess?
Dana: I don’t know if taking controls the right word, but it’s definitely something you have to be intentional about. And as a start-up ground, this is my second start-up, and you definitely see how as the company grows and how decisions and information and responsibilities gets disseminated and also changes quite frequently in a young organization, from six years ago when the company was Matt Lance and Dave there are a bunch of buddies from UCSD putting together a software company, the culture is a little bit different from where it is today. But there’s a lot of threads that connect.
When you had a bunch of really good close friends that trust each other starting a company together, a lot of those threads have really continued to today. So when I joined the organization I think I was employee maybe 17, somewhere in that zone, it was a very flat organization. Business team reported to the CEO, Matt. All the tech team all reported to the CTO, Lance. And I kind of came in, I was like, “Okay, cool, how can I help make and grow this organization from a small organization to what I knew could be a really, really powerful organization, really driving to change the world in a lot of different ways?”
So coming in and going after our series A financing round which was a big learning process for me, and that’s a whole another story. But when we closed in that round and we were going to go through really a big growth spurt, where we needed to hire about 10 or 15 people. At that point time I was the accounting, HR, take-out-the-trash, order everything kind of person in the business, it became very apparent to me that we needed to be very intentional with (1) the resources that we bring into the company, and how we set ourselves from a foundation perspective to grow.
So at that point in time it was very clear we wanted to hire a head of HR. So we brought on Jessica Mangona, who is a fantastic leader in this space, and set some goals around how can we distill our culture today and how do we continue to grow it. And not just grow it and means of a lot of people use it as like a maintain your culture – we want to add value to our culture.
So this is a thing that I talk about a lot of, and I stop a lot of people when they’re like, “We want to look for culture fit when we hire people.” I stop them and say, “No, you need to think about culture add to your business.” There might be culture and other aspects of perspectives that you don’t have in your organization today that you should look for in how you continue to build and grow your team.
At Measurabl we’re a global business, we have employees in about five countries, and we serve customers in over 75 countries. So if we are not thinking with the diverse lens on how we continue to embrace different cultures, different perspectives, and how we build our technology – we are inherently setting ourselves up for failure. So culture became very intentional at that point in time.
And we set some goals around let’s actually talk about and distill what are our values. At that point in time culture was very organic, right? It was like, “Cool, yeah, we all hang out in the same room together. We all enjoy working with each other.” So culture was very easy then. But as we continue to grow, continue expand into a building where we’re in five different suites we knew that we needed to be intentional with how we set up the next phase of growth of the company. So we set up a culture committee, they looked at what is the good things, why do people like working at Measurabl today and how can we really put that into a really solid foundation for how we talk about and encourage behavior as we move forward?
And culture I want to stop and define that a little bit, because culture is not dog-friendly office, culture is not there’s beer on tap. Those are perks and those are good, those are fun, but that is not what creates culture. Culture is how you and I communicate, how we interact, how we respect each other, how we bring each other’s opinions together to build something better together. It’s about community, it is not about beer on tap.
So that’s kind of a little bit of our beginning cultural journey at Measurabl and definitely has progressed quite a bit since then.
Chelsea: Yeah, I love all of that. So I mentally have a bunch of questions in my head that aren’t on our script, so we’re going to go off-script right now.
Dana: You can absolutely go off-script.
Chelsea: I’m really interested in … So your journey, being an earlier employee, being a part of a company that’s growing, I think that people find this often that you are … when you first start, you’re the person that does everything, you’re ordering things, you’re helping people, you’re jumping in, you’re wearing 18 different hats. As the company grows it becomes a little bit more structured, you’re a little more maybe big-picture thinking and less like in the weeds doing stuff. Can you talk about your transition, your personal transition in that growth of the company in your journey?
Dana: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s an ever-growing battle in your mind, even when I think about what I was doing six months ago is it’s completely different from what I get to work on now. Definitely in the beginning it was … I was responsible making sure the trash got taken out, making sure the doors got locked, making sure that everyone got paid, all of those seemingly simple but very complex tasks of making sure your business is running, making sure people are happy, everyone’s got their basic needs, everyone’s good, everyone’s alive, everyone’s healthy, we’re good to go.
To where we are now, now we’re just at 70 employees …
Dana: Which is awesome, and then I believe we’ve got some part-time employees on top of that, some interns that we’ve got, always. Since really when we closed our series A is really when our big growth spurt happened, we hired maybe about 15 or 20 people, and then about eight months later we hit our series B and then we hired another 35 people since then.
As you look to bring in the next phase of leaders in your company, I think the series A was really bringing on a management team. So it’s really finding people that you trust to help instill and put process in place and to ensure that your people know what they should be doing. And at that point in time process was very limited, it was a little bit more spit fire, and as you continue to grow and you double your customer success team, yeah, you got to have some process, you got to have some template.
So it was a part of the early stages of putting those foundations of what we need to do to get to that next level and finding the right people to manage those things, which we were really, really lucky in that first stage of finding our management team. We probably had almost a complete management team within about four months of closing the series A. We got our CFO, we got our head of HR, we got our head of customer success, we got our head of sales, we got our head of marketing.
So it was a lot of people coming into the business that needed to (1) get up to speed on the subject matter, (2) get up to speed on our culture. Some people coming from larger organizations had a little bit of a culture shock coming to us, because we do things a little bit scrappy, we want to keep our speed and quickness and not let process or perfection get in the way of continuing to push the bar forward. So that was kind of a hard concept for a lot of our younger managers to the business to have. So that became a lot of my job of how do we (1) instill our culture in these new leaders, and then how can they continue to replicate that.
And a lot of the great things about hiring an HR and CFO is that I didn’t have to do that day to day job anymore, so that was really exciting for me not being a CPA first job, doing accounting, it was fantastic to get that off the plate. And I will quote Nicole, she said, “I didn’t screw anything up,” so I’ll wear that as a badge on my shoulder.
Chelsea: As you should.
Dana: Yeah, and we had done quite a bit of hiring already and I’ve always kind of been involved in the hiring process in previous job, so the HR stuff came very, very natural to me. And then bringing on Jessica to really professionalize what we were doing was amazing. And then I could really step into a lot of the legal, a lot of the sales process, get more involved with our customers, get more involved in the bigger picture of what we’re actually looking to do.
So I’m probably on the road a lot more than what I used to. I think I’ve probably been on the road about every week for the last month and a half now. So speaking at events, getting out in front of customers, meeting with prospects, getting in front of investors as well. So between Matt, Nicole and I, we do a lot of investor relation work, so we’re out there in a way always be fundraising which was a little bit of me and Nicole talk at San Diego start-up week, talking about how to go about the fundraising process and how to navigate that in a very complex world of raising capital. So we get to work on some of those fun things.
And really the last six months has been around executing on our strategic vision. So now I get to work on really fun projects and not be bogged down all the time by some of the day-to-day stuff that makes the business run. We did just do a big office move which was one of my projects that I’m really glad is now complete, and we will be hosting an event soon which I’m sure we’ll talk about in a little bit.
But yeah, get to work on really big projects of creating a couple new lines of business, and really getting that set up from the ground.
So that’s kind of a little bit of the transition from small, small start-up world to kind of the mid-size start-up world and kind of the fun stuff that I get to work on.
Chelsea: That’s awesome. It’s really great to hear that kind of transition and how that happens. I know as a founder myself it’s something that I struggle with, that I remember five years ago when I was the person that was taking out the trash and locking up and doing all those things to the person that is now like looking at big picture, that it’s an interesting journey and I thank you for sharing yours with that.
Chelsea: And so with the growth of your company, you’ve recently brought on one of our graduates.
Dana: Yes to that.
Chelsea: We’re very excited.
Dana: Janice, go Janice.
Chelsea: Janice is a (QA?) engineer with you guys.
Chelsea: Can you talk a little bit about maybe opportunities working with LEARN Academy, other boot camps, and what those types of companies, kind of what they bring to your team?
Dana: Yeah, absolutely. So we were probably about 50% development staff anywhere from product to QA to back-end, front-end engineers, to our DevOps team. So we hire and support quite a bit of technology folks on our team. So we really have I think the early stages, and this is something that we talked a little bit about when you talk about diversity and inclusion in your business, a lot of hourly employees were friends that they’ve worked at other organizations and it becomes kind of like this network of, “Hey, I know this guy over here and this guy over here,” and I am saying guy because they literally were all guys, I’m not trying to be generalized with saying that guys are in the tech industry, because that’s what we’re …
Chelsea: Actually what happened.
Dana: Yes, absolutely. So in those early days it kind of becomes very natural to find the people that you already know to bring into the business. And so as we’ve kind of made a lot of transitions into really growing our dev team and really having an intentional look at diversity and inclusion with our business, we made a very conscious choice about two years ago to remove the requirement for a college degree to work at our business, because we really were looking around and we’re like, “You don’t really need a college degree to what we’re doing, but if you know the skills, great, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.” But on our tech team it’s can you do the job.
And that’s kind of where we started seeing a lot more folks coming from boot camps, we had some employees that had actually teach that boot camps before which kind of opened our eyes to new candidates that we hadn’t seen before, which led to the decision to remove that requirement.
And a lot of it was also coaching with our dev staff of, “Hey, I think we need a new front-end engineer. I think we need someone with five to ten years of experience,” and it’s like, “Do we really need a team of all senior front-end developers?” Like, how can we start developing a talent pipeline by bringing in more junior staff and making sure that we’re being intentional about how we’re building out a team of not just like really, really great functional people that can come out of the gate and be awesome at what they’re doing, but how can we train and be a part of creating the next generation of talent?
And that’s what really brought us to in a way LEARN Academy. So obviously we had seen candidates come through the pipeline and obviously Janice is one of our first hires and first of many. But yeah, it’s been a really great ride, and we’ve really enjoyed being able to train as a part of our on the job responsibilities when it comes to really on boarding new staff.
Chelsea: That’s great. Yeah, I love that idea that talking with your dev team about what they really need instead of just jumping straight to we need the most advanced person, and really filling out the different parts of your team so that it’s really well-balanced.
The senior developer isn’t going to want to like sit around and fix all those teeny tiny bugs and spend all those things, like you’d want that balance. And that person doing that then learns and grows and eventually hopefully like grows with the company and becomes more senior as they go along. But I think that you need that kind of balance when you have a dev team.
Dana: Yeah, and it becomes a moment, because in the early stages of your business and you’re building out a minimum viable product you got to move with very, very fast, quick delivery. So you do need a lot more experienced people in the beginning to really build up that minimum viable product, go to market, be really, really sharp with your resources because usually a little boot strap done on the cash, and so you got to find someone who’s willing to work for a little bit less, a little more equity, that that can help really build the business. And it’s definitely what we did.
But then changing that mindset at the right time when, “Okay, we’re not boot strapped on the cash side anymore. Remember we’ve raised a good … about 30 million dollars so far.” And then what can we continue do to make a long-term successful company. And that’s all about building a talent pipeline from a recruitment standpoint, from entry level staff, to mid, to senior, and making sure there’s balanced experience levels to train people on your product. And there’s a lot of value and being able to coach and train younger staff.
Sometimes when you bring in a little bit more senior dev staff they’re kind of, “This is the way I do. I’m not willing to work with a different language or a different way of doing something.” And so you kind of lose a little bit that speed and quickness when you have too many senior staff.
Chelsea: Right, too many cooks.
Dana: Too many cooks in the kitchen.
Chelsea: Yep, it’s definitely something that I think can hinder and stopping you, again, building another sustainable organization there.
Dana: We’re trying.
Chelsea: Working with your team.
Dana: We’re trying.
Chelsea: Great. So let’s dive into some of this diversity and some of the programs that you’re doing. It’s been a big focus for you guys in the last year, two years, few years?
Dana: Yeah, we’ve really started to put it to action really in the last year, for sure.
Chelsea: Great. And so what have you seen is the difficulty with underrepresented communities in technology and getting into the field, breaking into tech, being a part of these companies and teams?
Dana: Yeah, I’ll definitely want to highlight probably two main challenges that we’ve seen and then probably get in a little bit more of how we are looking to address them. And I’m sure there’s many other ways that we can address these challenges as well. But one key thing that we are noticing when we started … once we got an HR person and they’re like, “Oh, you guys need like an HR management system.” Like, “Oh, okay, yeah, cool. I didn’t know those existed. Let’s get that in place.”
And you started to get some stats on applicants that were coming in for jobs, and I kind of asked her, I was like, “Hey, like what is our like diversity in our pipeline looking like? And like have we interviewed any females for any of our dev jobs? Like what is the diversity of gender and racial diversity too in our organization?”
And we started asking these questions and we started looking at the data from what was coming in, we definitely have been in a very privileged position where we get quite a bit of inbound interest in our company, so we haven’t had to do a lot of external recruiting to get people to come in to the roles in our company. So we’re just kind of like seeing who finds us, right?
And looking at our tech side of the business and looking at the applicants, there was not really diversity in the applicant pool. So that kind of set us on a like, “Hmm, why is that? What can we actually do about it?” And of course, there’s many, many conversations and thoughts that went through our mind. And kind of what spearheaded some of the action that we wanted to take on this – one of our investors is Salesforce Impact Fund, so they focus on impact investing. And they had reached out to us and said, “Hey, have you guys ever thought about becoming a pledge 1% company.” And of course, I was like, “Yeah, I’ve heard of that. I guess I’ll look into it to see what it looks like.”
And I sat down with Matt and the rest of the executive team and we’re like, “And so it is, yeah, I think this is something we want to do. We want to start supporting and giving back to the community.” So we looked at what our revenues were last year and said, “Cool, we’re going to take 1% of that and we’re going to figure out how to solve some of these key challenges that we see in the business.”
And usually pledge 1% is pledge 1% of your profits, however, we’re a start-up and we are not profitable, but we still want to start the trend of how do we continue to give back, in not just a way that’s giving but it’s a way that’s creating value. So that kind of started the journey of starting to look around the San Diego tech scene and be like, “All right, who’s already working on some of these problems that we can partner with?”
So we definitely talked to quite a bit of people in the community and everyone’s like, “You got to talk to this girl Chelsea.”
Chelsea: Oh, you make me blush.
Dana: And I was like, “All right, let’s find this girl Chelsea.” And that’s kind of when we met was, “Hey. Hey, Chelsea, how’s it going? We want to help solve diversity in tech jobs.” And you were just like, “Amen.” And it was such a moment of, “Yes, this is a problem we both clearly see and clearly want to do something about, so let’s do it.” So that was probably like, what, six months ago, nine months ago, probably?
But now we’re doing it, we’re getting together to sponsor some scholarships through the LEARN Academy. So that’s the first problem, which we will probably get into a little bit more details on that in just a little bit. But the other problem that we’ve seen is a lot of women in the technology space are usually very isolated and don’t have a whole, like a big community to support them, there might be the one or very few women working in their space. So in talking honestly with Chelsea, and we go, “We want to solve creating the talent, but we also want to look at ways to support the community.” And thanks to Chelsea, she’s like, “You need to talk to this Girls in Tech group to see what can be done there to continually support a really strong community of women in this space.”
So we reach out to them and fell in love with their program and what they were doing there. So kind of drove us to how we can support that community and be very more actively involved in that community too, to help solve some of these challenges.
Chelsea: Yeah, I think that from that I take two big things away from that, one, again, is the finding the community and the support is definitely true coming in. But also I want to touch back on the pipeline problem, because I think that many companies are in the same place that you are that they’re like we have tons of developers that just come to us and it’s not my fault that there isn’t any diversity in this pipeline, that like I’m just hiring whoever’s on my plate. And I love how proactive you guys are about … or you people are about actively trying to change what that pipeline looks like so that you’re choosing from a more diverse group of people.
Dana: Yeah, it’s definitely something that’s real, and if you don’t really look at the data you may not notice the problem. And again, the problem isn’t necessarily with where we are today, the problem is a little bit deeper into how people have picked their careers. And there is a gap as tech jobs were typically taken by people who grew up playing games, big gamers, which were traditionally young men who really got into this line of work because of that interest. And I’m sure there’s many, many different ways that bring people into that, but it has created a little bit of a bro culture, and that was not necessarily an inclusive culture that other people wanted to be involved with.
So you have to be … from my perspective, if you’re seeing a very, very certain demographic coming in for any role in your organization, and it’s not representative of the community in which you live and serve, there’s probably a deeper societal problem that needs to be addressed. And so for us we really wanted to look at ways in which we could help build the type of pipeline knowing that it’s not going to solve the problem necessarily today, but we’re helping to solve the problem as it continued, to make sure that we’re changing the trajectory of we want this and we want to be out there promoting that we want more diverse candidates in this.
And that tech jobs are very well-paid jobs, there’s a lot of money in this, so if you want a nice solid career tech jobs are great for that. And there’s a lot of diversity in the roles within tech jobs too, from product, from project management, to quality assurance and engineering. It’s not just learning how to code. There’s so much more around it, I think that’s a perception that we also want to help change of, “You can be in a tech job and not code.” I don’t know how to code, granted I’m the chief operation officer, so I don’t have to code. But if I needed to I bet I could probably figure it out. You don’t want to me doing that.
Chelsea: There’s no doubting that you could figure it out. But, yeah, I think that you’re right in that the issue is something that stems from many, many years.
Chelsea: So solving the problem, there’s a lot of great organizations out there working with kids and trying to introduce them to technology, both girls and boys, in different communities and introducing them early so that they see that path. But it’s also so important for us to highlight the different types of people working in these jobs, so that when you’re interviewing and you’re walking into the space, that you see people that look like you or act like you or feel like you that, that you then can see yourself there.
Chelsea: And I think that when I was growing up I didn’t have that, that I didn’t see my path to technology is a lot like our students, that it didn’t start anywhere near it.
Dana: It was not intentional.
Chelsea: It was not. And I came into this field five years ago, and it’s always been a part of my life, but I definitely look back and go, “Why didn’t I get a CS degree? Why didn’t I go down that road?” And I do think a lot of it has to do with the environments that we’re growing up with and things like that, which we can’t solve all of the problems, we’re going to start with things that we can change, and I think as leaders in the tech industry – looking at the diversity of our organizations is going to help these young women and men from different populations to be able to come into companies and feel like they belong.
Chelsea: And I want to talk about the article that came out I think last month that Jessica Mangona wrote, Breaking Down the Barriers to a Functional Diversity and Inclusion Program. It was a great article, and I loved one of the things … it makes sense now that I hear more about Measurabl and what you guys are doing, but I love your focus on data and looking at the data within the community and within your organization and looking at it from a pure like numbers sense and what that means. And that it’s not … It’s bigger than just a male/female problem, it’s bigger than that, like what does diversity really mean to your organization.
And I love that you guys are having those conversations. Tell me a little bit more about like what does a diversity inclusion program look like?
Dana: Yeah, it’s definitely multifaceted and it like really touches every organization, of like every component of our business in a lot of different ways. Diversity is looking at maybe some things that you can see and tell and connect with people, and sometimes it’s things that you maybe not be able to see as well. And how you be intentional with it is definitely important.
And so when you talk about diversity and you talk about inclusion, there are two very different things. And when you look at inclusion in our business, and this is something that is always drawing back to intention around everything that we do. Us being a decent amount of remote employees at our company, the challenges about how do we continue to make sure they feel included in every bit of our culture, all the things that we’re doing – how do you make sure that you make sure everyone in your business feels a part of the community? And that’s what inclusion is in a lot of different ways.
It’s making sure that our remote team can see our team meeting from the perspective of as if they’re sitting right there. It’s making sure that when we order food at our company that those that have food allergies have been addressed and that they’re feeling included and not feeling different or feeling excluded in some ways. If we’re all going out to grab a beer, there’s definitely people in our organization who don’t drink alcohol, how can we make sure we’re picking a place that also makes them feel a part of the team in the community depending on what actions or community things that you’re doing.
It goes into so many, so many different things. When you’re interviewing, if you’re sitting in a room – are there people who I can connect and identify with? Do we have diversity at the table to make sure they feel included in that community is huge.
And I definitely want to tell a story of a few weeks ago, I was talking to our CTO and he was like, “Yeah, oh, my gosh.” He’s like, “I’m so excited, you’re going to be so proud, we’re interviewing this female candidate for this front-end position. It’s so exciting.” And he goes … He kind of stops, he goes, “Oh, no.” He’s like, “We don’t have any women in the room for her interview.” And he’s like, “Oh, my gosh, can you please sit in that interview to make sure she feels included?” Like, it was like one of the proudest moments of my career so far to be like, “Absolutely, Lance. I probably have no questions to vet her ability to do this job, but I will sit in that room to make sure that she feels included.” And I’m sure Rachel will listen to this later, because we did hire her and she’s joining us soon.
But that’s some of the things to think about of how do you make sure people feel part of the community, whether they’re in their community or assessing if they’re going to be a part of the community. So that’s a little bit of our approach and some of the practical things that we’ve done. And when you put those things on top of your mind, people start realizing, “Oh, I wouldn’t have thought about this before if we hadn’t really been talking about how to make people feel included.”
Chelsea: Yeah, I love that. That’s a great story and I love that you’re looking at all those different aspects of making sure everyone feels included.
At LEARN we work really hard with our teaching staff and make sure that there’s diversity there in all of the different, not just … We try and make sure there’s men and there’s women and people of color and different things, different backgrounds. But also different levels of experience and different industries and things like that, and that being intentional about those things is the only way we can make the change.
Dana: Absolutely. It doesn’t necessarily seem completely logical, but when you really put yourself in other people’s shoes you can see the deep impact that comes from someone was being thoughtful and wanted me to feel included. And that creates such a deep, deep connection to a community and builds a company where people want to be in and want to work in. And at the end of the day creates long lasting employees that aren’t going to turn over, which we don’t have a whole lot of turnover. So I want to say that maybe the work that we’re doing on that has something to do with it. I’m sure there’s many, many different reasons, but making sure people feel included is the most important thing we can possibly do.
Chelsea: Yeah, I think you just hit the nail on the head with the reasons why more companies should be looking at these types of programs is because of the impact it could have on their business and in the retention of employees and the dedication, and just their work quality is so much better when they feel included, when they feel like they’re part of something. And that’s really exciting to see. Can you talk a little bit about the different types of diversity that you’re looking for in teams and how you guys are tackling that?
Dana: Yeah. And we tackle this probably in many different fronts. So gender diversity is something that we definitely have made a lot of strides on, so we have officially one female on our board and we have put it in our governance bylaws that there will always be a spot held for a female on our board. Yes, we are in California but we don’t necessarily fall underneath the requirements for the law that requires a female on the board now, but we’re doing that anyway.
We’re 50% female on our C-suite; we’re about 40% on our senior management team. And then I don’t have necessarily the stats on how that all breaks out in terms of gender diversity for the rest of the organization, but I believe in all we’re about 40%, maybe 35%, somewhere there, 30 to 40% female across the business.
Now when you break other elements of that down, when we look at diversity from nationality, from race, from all those other components there’s so many other different components that go into it as well. Us being a global company we have employees in five different countries, a lot of our international staff have very, very diverse backgrounds from growing up in India to going to school in Switzerland to then living in the United States. So it’s not just about maybe the color of someone’s skin, but it’s the diversity of their experiences.
We have another individual who grew up in Chile and brings a lot of other cultural diversities to our team around how to support our customers in that zone too, not just from a language perspective but from a cultural perspective. There’s just so many other different ways in which we look at that.
We have quite a bit of multilingual employees or C’s too where they’re speaking four or five different languages, growing up in many different countries that have been able to get a lot of diverse experiences. And then we’ve got quite a bit of people that I think I may have told this story when we were speaking on a panel over at San Diego start-up week, the early beginning of our company was a bunch of UCSD water polo players. And so we have a very disproportional representation of water polo players on our company.
Well, that’s been a big part of our culture is sports, but looking at different ways in which that plays into our culture and the diversity of sports now that we have on our team too. Well, not a huge relevant point, but looking at different ways in which we can support those things and making sure that people feel included based on language, based on different countries and cultures that they grew up in, how they’ve grown up here in the United States from different backgrounds, from where their families have come from. Those are the type of diversity things that we really love to see and want to bring those perspectives to our team as well.
Chelsea: That’s great. That’s great. I love the way that you talk about … you talk about diversity so eloquently, I was … I think read in the article it’s such a sensitive topic, and I think that there’s a lot of fear behind it, a lot of fear of saying the wrong thing, of offending somebody, of not including somebody because you didn’t know and things like that. And so I appreciate your honesty. Have you guys had conversations within your team about how to kind of tackle the sensitive subjects of that so that you’re being conscious of maybe when you’re making these decisions?
Dana: Yeah, we definitely have. Jessica who’s the author of the article you’re referencing has done a really good job in the hiring process talking about this is very important to us. So if this is something that you aren’t comfortable with of being in a diverse culture, helping to grow diversity and be cultural adds to our company, maybe we’re not the right fit for you. We do a lot of vetting around that. It’s not just do you have the skills to do the job, but it’s do you have the ability to work in the culture we’re trying to create, how can you really add to the culture that we’re trying to create as well?
And we’ve also gone through quite a bit of diversity and inclusion trainings that have been really interactive, and to try to bring light to some of those challenges that exist, from the many different ways in which you can look at the diversity across our company. And one thing that we’ve also have done quite a bit is finding different communities within our company to create that support system.
So we use Slack as our communication channels, so there’s a whole bunch of different Slack channels on different topics. Those that have kids, those that are remote workers, those that have other topical interests to make sure that people feel included in those things. And from the remote worker perspective it’s something that we try to be very, very conscious of, of how we’re running our business and how we’re being inclusive with that, with our community. Because working fully remote is a very, very difficult thing to do. And helping to support them and talk about those issues, so those in the office are sensitive to the challenges of those that work remote.
Well, sometimes you might not think, “Oh, yeah, we’re having a conference call. I don’t need to turn my camera on. Let’s just talk and I know I’m doing other things.” But that employee doesn’t get the chance to look someone in the eye while they’re working. How can you be there to support them and help them, look them in the eye and say, “Cool, I hear you, it’s so great to work with you,” and how that helps to build a community?
So there’s a lot of things we try to be very conscious of with those things, especially when it comes to food in the office, with allergies, with making sure that those that can’t have certain things that there’s stuff for them. And having those little moments of thoughtfulness around those things have really transformed into bigger ways across inclusivity within the company, which always makes me so proud. Those are the example with Lance have been like, “Oh, my gosh. I should have thought about this.” And I love that he thought about it and he’s probably going to hate me for telling that story, but it’s something that I think is extremely important to continue to talk about.
Chelsea: Right, and to create an environment where someone can say those things, where they can be vulnerable and admit that they don’t know something or that they’ve said something wrong. And I think that you have to be very conscious about creating that kind of space so that people feel like they can speak up when they don’t know.
Dana: Yeah. And it’s also not just speaking up, but it’s also being able to call someone out when they don’t do it, which I have definitely been known on occasion to be like, “Hey, not being very inclusive here. Like, let’s maybe if you really want to invite everyone to this event, like post it in general and legitimately don’t talk about it in a corner and just like, yeah, anyone who can come, then come.” Well, if you really mean that, if you intentionally mean that make sure everyone knows about it.
So it’s little stuff like that that helped to build that inclusive culture and that ability to be very transparent and okay to say, “Hey, Chelsea. No, that was not super inclusive. Maybe we should do it this way next time.” And for you to be able to call me out on it too if I’m doing something that isn’t fitting with that desired culture.
Chelsea: Yeah, well, and I love that it’s coming from so many different levels within the company, all the way from the top-down, that you’re creating a space where people can speak up on both sides of it, whether they need something or they see something they’re able … they have those resources in order to do that, that’s pretty amazing.
Dana: Yeah, it’s top-down and it’s also bottom-up. That’s something that I try to strive very, very intentionally across the business of if someone says, “Hey, we should do this as a company.” And I go, “That’s a good idea, you should lead it.”
Chelsea: That’s my favorite trick.
Dana: Like, “Yeah, that’s a great thing, the company should do that. And you sound like you just volunteer to do something.”
Dana: And that’s kind of how we’ve instill a lot with our culture committee, where we get together, and it’s literally led by our staff. It’s not a top-down thing. They talk about culture and they provide suggestions for how we continue to improve the company from a bottom-up perspective, knowing that they have the authority to do that from a top-down perspective. And that’s key.
Chelsea: Yeah, that’s amazing. Okay, so Measurabl is doing some amazing things internally with our team, I want to talk a little bit about the outside partnerships that you’re creating.
Chelsea: I’m going to put on my other hat. Full disclosure, I’m also a member of the Leadership Committee of Girls in Tech, so I can kind of interview from that perspective also. But so Measurabl just came on as a year sponsor with us, and we are very, very excited at Girls in Tech to have you there to help us promote our workshops, to our speaker series, our hacking for humanity which is coming up soon. Can you tell us about what Measurabl’s goal is and working with organizations like Girls in Tech?
Dana: Yeah, there’s many different goals that we see. One supporting a community that we want to see more representation in tech jobs, it is really the number one. Number two being a part of the conversation, so we’re really looking forward to encouraging and bringing our team to the table around how we can support and grow that community.
We also want to hire from that community too, so help to dissolve some of the pipeline challenges that we have. So we definitely want to make sure that that’s known that we are a great inclusive company, that we want to support and work with those at that community.
We also are really looking forward to really getting involved in some of these events that are going on as well. Hacking for humanity is very much in line with the goals of our company around how can you use tech to support good things. And it’s not just about financial things, it’s about how can we better our world and our community and using technology to solve that. So that to me was just like, “Yeah, duh, that’s literally what we do as a business.” And how can we continue to support creative innovation around that in really fun events like hacking for humanity.
Chelsea: Cool, well, and we have an event coming up at Measurabl, just next month, changing company culture from within which is very fitting considering the conversation, especially with what you were just talking about of being able to change culture bottom-up, top-down.
Chelsea: I think that the goal of the event we’re putting on a panel having a variety of different types of leadership on the panel, whether it’s C-suite or whether it’s entry level and things like that, just talking about how you can do that. And we’re really grateful to have Measurabl as a partner and part of that conversation because of what you’re doing with that.
Dana: Yeah, we’re really excited and we’ll be … it will be our first event hosted in our new office downtown San Diego. So we’re hustling a little bit to get some of the branding work done in the office, so we actually have a mural going up this week.
Dana: Which I’m really excited about. So Girls in Tech will be the first kind of external group that we’re going to have in the office, so we’re really, really excited about that, to kind of showcase some of the hard work that we’ve done to build an awesome company and then have an amazing conversation around culture and how do you build a culture, because it is not an easy thing to do, because we are all humans.
Dana: And we all …
Chelsea: We don’t fit into boxes.
Dana: We don’t fit into boxes, we fit into globs of things that fit into crevices everywhere. But how to build this thing comes with [unclear 55:28]. Something to laugh at there. But looking at how … Not only looking at what we’ve been able to do in our organization, but be able to provide tips and tricks for other people to bring back to their other organizations. And knowing that not every organization is maybe as open to these topics, there are different ways to have those conversations, and even in my career have come from many different organizations that have very leveled … very, very different approaches to culture, whether it’d be culture’s what you wear to the office, to culture is who you bring yourself into the office. And that is honestly the most important thing.
So I’m really excited to have that conversation, really excited to host that in our space, and really to bring more of that community into our home and say, “Hey, any of you guys want to work here? We got jobs.”
Chelsea: Excellent. Yeah, so that event is happening on October 10th, which I actually don’t know if this is going to air before or after that, but either way. And then the other, hacking for humanity is happening in November, on the 16th and 17th of November. And we’re focusing on working with veterans and veteran families on health and wellness, and creating technology around that. And so we’re really excited about that.
Dana: I’m really excited about that too. I hadn’t known what the the topic was, and health and wellness is an interesting one. I’ve already got some ideas. I’m excited.
Chelsea: Oh, good. You can come and build a whole new company.
Dana: I might or it might just be a module that we plug into how our companies deal with measuring health and wellness.
Chelsea: Yeah, excellent. Okay, well, I am excited to hear more about that. So let’s move into what I am very excited about, talking a little bit more about the partnership with LEARN Academy and Measurabl. We are putting together a scholarship, so up to three different individuals will receive a $6,000 scholarship, plus they will then go through our program, our four-month program, and then after the program they will get a 3-month paid internship with Measurabl.
I am so excited about this. I think that to me it’s a great way to help people that this wouldn’t necessarily be an option for them move into this field, give them a little bit of support with both the scholarship and the internship afterwards, that it’s a great way to help that pipeline, so that the pipeline just starts looking differently.
Dana: Absolutely. That is our goal. And we are so excited to support the LEARN Academy in this mission and be able to really, really help individuals looking to transition careers. And again, when you’re talking about diversity or whatever industry you’re working in, you can bring that knowledge and use it to do good in tech. So no matter what your background is, that diversity of thought, that diversity of experience, is so crucial to bring into the tech space even if you’ve never wrote a line of code in your life. If you’re looking for a great career change, technology is a great opportunity, and LEARN Academy is the best place in San Diego to go learn that skill set.
And guess what? If you can also get our scholarship and get the internship at our organization, the intention isn’t just to necessarily have it be an internship too, if there’s opportunity for it to turn into a full-time role we’re there for that too, depending where the business is at that time, but we want to help train and build the next generation of diverse tech talent.
And I’m really excited to launch that this year, and it’s something that we are committed to continue to do and potentially even grow as our company grows and be successful, and we can help pay it forward.
Chelsea: That’s great. Well, the scholarship is now live, so you can register for the scholarship at LEARN Academy’s website. The scholarship closes on October 11th, and we will announce the winners of the scholarship on November 1st. It does include, again, the $6,000 scholarship, the four-month program with LEARN, and a three-month internship with Measurabl following the graduation of the program.
So what are you hoping to see in this pipeline of people coming through?
Dana: Really a lot of that we’re looking for are passionate people that are looking to help advance in a way technology, and whether Measurabl is a good fit and a home for them, I would … that’s up for them to decide after internship. But really looking for how we can also support the San Diego community and bringing more diverse tech talent into that space and helping people to guide in that transition, because it’s not easy. I’ve been through a few career transitions, my partner has as well, and it is hard. So knowing that we can help financially support someone going through that transition and also give real-world experience is extremely invaluable to that individual. And we really want to make sure that we can support them in any way we can to set them up for success.
Technology is going to continue to be a huge economic opportunity here in San Diego. There’s a lot more tech companies opening up shops here, there’s going to be a lot more opportunity here in the future as technology continues to advance. The type of jobs 5, 10 years from now are going to be very, very different than what they are today with advancements in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and so, so, so much connected systems. Being in the home of Qualcomm with 5G technology and how that’s going to really transform our society, we need tech people to bring the transformation we want to see in the world. And that population needs to be a diverse population if we want to make sure that biases in AI are not apparent. Of course, we’re going to get a whole different topic there.
Dana: But those are the key things that we want to help make better in our world, whether it’s working directly for us or if it’s bringing that talent and experience to the San Diego community.
Chelsea: Yeah, well, I just want to thank you again. I think it’s such a wonderful opportunity for new people to come into this field. It breaks down some of those barriers and allows us to reach those different populations. And I think that that’s the only way we’re going to see some real change in the pipeline and then in the companies themselves.
So again, thank you so much for hanging out with me today.
Dana: Thank you.
Chelsea: I want to say one last time that if you’re interested in this scholarship, you can check out LEARN Academy’s website, learnacademy.org. Can you tell me is there a place where we can find you or learn more about Measurabl or anything like that?
Dana: Absolutely. Measurabl.com, because we can spell but you got to use Google SEO. You can definitely find me on LinkedIn, Dana Arnold’s at Measurabl, and you can definitely email me too at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsea: I love that. Again, thank you so much for hanging out with me. I love talking to you and learning more about what you’re doing.
Dana: It goes both ways, Chelsea.
Chelsea: Great. So thank you for listening to another episode of Collaboration Code Radio. You can follow us, you can like us on all the different social media channels, learnacademy.org. Facebook, Instagram, all those … I don’t know, all those things. Great. Thank you so much.