First Weeks at STRV: What to Expect
In short? Freedom, friends, fun - and food.
We sat with Vojta Diatka, one of our product managers, to get the full scoop on what it’s like to join the STRV team. From learning about STRV, to the hiring process, to onboarding - here’s Vojta’s summary of his first weeks with us.
Vojta Diatka (Product Manager), Filipe Teixeira (Project Manager)
What brought STRV to your attention?
I’m actually a result of HR marketing. I learned about STRV thanks to a FB ad advertising one of the cool events STRV organizes. I knew shit about STRV, but a project manager from Amazon was going to be a guest at STRV’s Silicon Valley Insights. That caught my attention. I went to the event, was exposed to the culture, and I found it all amazing from the very first impression.
What exactly made it amazing?
Right away, the office space - especially the big event space. It isn’t a part of the office area; it’s just for organizing events. There are no desks, no office chairs.
Then, Scrollbar. Free beer, pizza, the balcony, the views. I talked to people and saw how excited they were to work there. I said to myself, ‘Hm, I can imagine working here.’
That’s how this relationship started. After that, I couldn’t get this “hot chick” STRV out of my head.
How soon did you start working at STRV?
I started reading about what STRV does, how they work with great U.S. startups in Silicon Valley. That got me excited. It took me a year to finally decide I’d been disappointed with my job for some time, and knowing what I could have at STRV was the last push. So I sent my CV.
Can you describe the interview process?
That’s another awesome thing about STRV. I’d never experienced anything like it before. Straight away, you see an example of STRV’s entertaining, friendly culture because HR uses gifs in their emails.
The interview process follows specific steps: You send your CV. You get a take-home task. You enter the HR round. You meet your future boss. You have a team lunch. The references you provide are actually contacted (we all know that’s super rare). And finally you meet the CEO. It might seem like “too much” to some, but it helps STRV choose the right people. And it’s indicative of how this company cares about the people they hire; culture fit is as important as the right skillset.
Can you speak specifically about the product team’s hiring process?
For our team, the intro lunch is quite important because it focuses on the culture fit aspect. Once we get to know you, everyone on the team has to vote ‘yes’ on hiring you. If there are any thumbs down, those people need to be persuaded during a team discussion. Only once everyone agrees can the candidate progress to the next round.
Once you’ve been hired, what’s the onboarding like?
Incredibly welcoming. Apart from getting any and all information you might want to know about STRV, onboarding includes things aimed at making you comfortable here. There’s a screen at the reception that shows superheroes and says something like, ‘Welcome Superhero Milan.’ It’s a silly, simple little thing, but it does the trick.
And once you get your picture taken, your photo and name pop up on screens around the office for a month. It’s great for making new faces more familiar to colleagues. That photo is actually taken by STRV’s photographer, and it’s one of the coolest pics I have of myself. I use it on LinkedIn, Slack...it’s very different from my previous work photo, a shitty webcam thingy.
Before my onboarding, I was a little worried that this image of what it’s like to work for STRV was some kind of urban legend that’s sold to potential employees. But it isn’t. It really is as good - and with as much freedom - as it seems.
How quickly did you feel like a part of the STRV community?
Your first day, you already feel like STRV is familiar territory. The next three weeks are all about getting to know people.
Once a week, you get a voucher to have lunch with a colleague from a different department, chosen at random by a fancy algorithm. Because they’re not in your department, you get to know someone you may have never seen or talked to otherwise.
STRV pretty much pays for your lunch so you can chat with a coworker. It reinforces the friendly atmosphere we have here.
Does this friendly approach continue after you’re settled in?
Yes. There are so many little things.
Everyone’s birthday is celebrated with a cake. And when people see cake, they gather :) Suddenly, a bunch of you are chitchatting over dessert, once again getting to know each other.
Then there are thank you notes. You just fill out the recipient's name, describe what they did, and the rest is done for you. The person gets your message delivered with a little chocolate, and it’s all shared on STRV’s ‘social’ Slack channel.
But the most striking thing to me after a few weeks here was to what extent STRV cares about organizing events and parties for its team.
We have two floors. One is a working floor with the event space; the other has our Scrollbar, a chillout zone and a gym. This company invests in so many square meters that are meant to make people’s time here pleasant not only during the day but also at night. We can grill, drink, relax...even the times we’ve gone somewhere else after work, we’ve often ended up here. It’s just such a perfect space.
Then there are other events, like laser tag, ice skating, a Halloween party... We also have a lot of events for strangers - for hiring purposes, for instance - but our people are always welcome to join.
You mentioned freedom. What creates that sense of being ‘free’ at STRV?
I can only speak for our product team, but there’s no micromanagement. The way I approach clients, the way I organize meetings, what I do, when I do it - it’s all completely up to me. So the working hours at STRV are completely flexible. There are vast options for working remotely. My boss cares about the results, not where I deliver the results from.
How did you learn to manage that freedom in the first few weeks?
STRV’s culture is very helpful. If you aren’t 100 percent sure about something, you can approach anyone with a question and know you’ll get a patient answer.
I was apprehensive about this job, as I’d never dealt directly with customers. I’d been an internal product manager, so I dealt only with internal stakeholders.
So of course, there were many moments when I was lost. But my boss, Evan, and other product managers were always there to consult with. Whenever I’ve had an issue, Evan has helped me find the right solution.
Freedom is great, and I need it. But whenever there is something that I can’t influence with my position, I need to have a supportive boss who I can talk to and consult with. And that’s what Evan is.
Any other surprises STRV threw at you your first few weeks?
Food everywhere. All the time. I put on some weight in the first two months. I tried to fight it, but it was very difficult. Sweet Tuesday, Monday lunches, Friday breakfast - not to mention all the parties where there’s always a shitload of food.
And birthdays! No automated birthday messages a couple of minutes after midnight. Here, you get a cake and avoucher to Ambiente as a gift.
After six months, I’m used to these things. But that doesn’t make them any less exciting.