Dataminr is a company that is growing rapidly, expanding to the southern hemisphere for the first time with an office in Melbourne, adding satellite offices internationally, and entering new markets around the world. Over the course of my first few months with the company, I’ve been participating in town halls (as I mentioned in my last blog) with our various offices. One question that comes up often is: “When we’re growing so fast, how do we maintain our culture?”
The question is critical. During periods of rapid team and revenue growth for a tech company, it is deceptively easy to lose sight of what makes your organization unique and special.
First of all, it’s critical to clarify what makes your culture unique in the first place, so you can point to something specific as a unifying force across a global team. Fortunately, at Dataminr, the overarching culture is clear. What connects us is our belief in the power of real-time alerts for social good.
We all know Dataminr’s real-time alerts are making a significant difference in the world—from saving lives by accelerating first response, to protecting millions of corporate employees across the globe, to helping support critical societal institutions, such as global, national and local news organizations, and a broad range of global non-profits. There is a distinct pride that comes with that knowledge.
Secondly, if you need to hire a lot of people in a short amount of time, there is a strong temptation to rush. Typically this happens when a company prioritizes growth over proven hiring practices. That runs the risk of adding people who are not aligned with your purpose, an unfortunate reality that dilutes and eventually erodes your culture.
That’s why Dataminr is focused on expanding globally—but in a very deliberate way. Yes, we have a great deal of urgency, especially in the growth of our sales teams to meet accelerating global product demand. But we’re not moving so fast that we sacrifice the quality of our hiring practices. We need to be thoughtful about how we build our business so that we can sustain the growth we’re working so hard to achieve.
Rapid growth also highlights the need to understand culture as a multifaceted entity. Every Dataminr office should have its own unique culture. If you’re part of our team in Dublin, for example, your daily experience should feel special, or essentially Dublin-esque, for lack of a better term. Likewise, New York, Bozeman, London, Seattle, and Washington D.C. At the same time, every Dataminr office needs to create and reinforce our shared, overarching culture—the mission and values that unite all of us, that make working here both meaningful and meaningfully different than working anywhere else.
To make sure we have a consistent culture—without losing our local character—we have a talent acquisition team that knows how to find candidates who are hardworking, inquisitive, and passionate about our business. This is an area that’s especially important to focus on. For example, at Dataminr, we are now having all new employees go through expanded orientation. This will hold true when we open a new office, so everyone knows who Dataminr is and who we aspire to be. An expanded orientation is a unique opportunity for employees to not only learn about their new job, and their new team, but also their role in the broader organization.
Beyond these items, maintaining our culture is more of an art than a science. These are, of course, just a few aspects of ensuring culture scales as your team grows and you open new offices across the globe. Regular meetings with all of our offices is also something we continue to prioritize more, as are increasingly frequent check-ins with people from different parts of the business, so that all cross-company teams can have a better sense of each other’s important work.
Whitney Benner is Dataminr’s Chief People Officer. Before joining Dataminr, Whitney held senior leadership roles at Cision and PR Newswire.