Podcast

Finding alignment during times of transition with Dipti Salopek, Chief of Staff at Snyk [Podcast]

Tips for riding the wave of hypergrowth.
December 23, 2021
Oyster Team
Finding alignment during times of transition with Dipti Salopek, Chief of Staff at Snyk [Podcast]

Welcome to New World of Work: a podcast exploring the new frontier of the modern workforce. In each episode, we’ll hear from some of the world’s best and brightest people and culture experts on the cutting-edge topics HR professionals are most interested in today, explored through a global lens.

Episode description

Since 2020, we’ve all had to cope with major transitions to the way we work, live and communicate, no matter your age, occupation or nationality. Major shifts to the status quo rarely come without a few hiccups along the way, and anyone who manages people for a living knows this all too well. In this episode, Rhys sits down with Dipti Salopek, the Chief of Staff at Snyk, a developer security platform that has seen major growth in recent years. During the episode, Dipti shares some of her secrets for maintaining alignment throughout the organization during periods of major growth and change. She also shares some of the strategies Snyk has implemented recently in response to these rapidly evolving times.

Episode transcript

Rhys: Welcome to New World of Work: a podcast exploring the new frontier of the modern workforce. 

I’m Rhys Black, Head of Remote at Oyster, a global people operations platform making it easier than ever to build a brilliant team on an international scale.

On New World of Work, we’ll hear from some of the world’s best and brightest people and culture experts on cutting-edge topics that people ops professionals need to hear today, all through a global lens. 

Join us as we navigate this new world of work together and learn more about each other along the way. 

Since the beginning of 2020, the world has been on a seemingly never-ending roller coaster ride of change. No matter your age, occupation or nationality, we’ve all had to cope with major transitions to the way we work, live and communicate.

Major shifts to the status quo rarely come without a few hiccups along the way, and anyone who manages people for a living knows this all too well. On today’s episode, we’ll be hearing from Dipti Salopek, the Chief of Staff at Snyk—a developer security platform that has seen major growth in recent years.

She’ll be sharing some of her secrets for maintaining alignment throughout the organization during periods of major growth and change—for example, a massive global pandemic. I’m looking forward to learning more about the new strategies Snyk has implemented recently in response to these rapidly evolving times. 

To kick off the episode, Dipti walked us through her career background so far, how she ended up in her current role as Chief of Staff at Snyk, and the overall mission of the company.

Dipti: So just in terms of my career, I've I've I have a pretty international background. So I grew up in India and Mumbai, and then I moved to London for college and then lived there and got my first job and have been in and lived in London for like seven or eight years before I moved to New York, India. And so I've been living in New York now for many years. But that internationalist, I think, plays a big role in the kinds of companies and cultures and stuff I look for in my career. I've worked in the air field my entire career almost until my most recent job, where I moved out of it. And I think probably a pivotal part in my career of his joining the M&A or mergers and acquisitions team at American Express many years ago. Now, I got to go more than 10 years ago. But I was working there in the M&A department and was responsible for. We were acquiring a lot of companies and was responsible for integrating these people into our mix. And I found myself really liking the companies that we were acquiring more than I liked Amex itself, and it was like my pivot to be like this startup world. It's more refreshing. It's more nimble. I like the cultures more. I like how people are so integrated and passionate, and that was kind of my pivot moment into the startup world thing. That's actually where I want to be playing and haven't looked back since. Since then, I've moved from a bunch of different startups, and I love rapidly growing hyper growth in the tech space international, globally distributed companies. That's just like my shtick where I feel at home.

So one is I was probably the right person to head the people team at sneak. When I joined, we were like a hundred and twenty people brought us up to. We're almost knocking on a thousand people in there. I was probably the right person to lead the people team through that. But as we look at the next phase of our journey going from maybe a thousand people to 5000, potentially becoming a public company, that's a very different kind of skill set experience level that you need and focus area. And so I'm not the best positioned leader to take us through that. So I started this dialog with our CEO a while ago saying, You know, I need to step down from this. We need to bring a new chief people officer, and it's my turn to go have another career adventure of a different kind. And that's when he asked me. He was like, Well, I really need a chief of staff and I want someone I really trust and someone who knows our business inside out and has relationships with people. Would you be interested in that? And that was like right up my alley of things that would give me your career at adventure and have me like immersed in learning a whole different skill set, I think. And so this has been such an incredible opportunity for me to embrace new, very cool. 

I got to go three months to two or three months at this stage, so I'm still very much in learning mode, still very much drinking from the firehose. But it's given me an opportunity to look at a company that I thought I knew inside out and now look at it from a whole different lens, double click on a whole different area of issues than I ever did in the past, and just kind of learn all the ins and outs of how we operate. And that's been so fascinating for me. Just an immersive experience, really. 

So Snyk is a company in the cybersecurity space, right? And we really focus on what's called developer security. So essentially more and more things are moving online. You're doing all of us are living more and more of our lives and apps, and you really want these apps to be developed securely. It doesn't matter if you are on Yelp or you're on Google or your and or your banking. All of these are dealing with your personal data and you want the app to be really secure. And so what we do is sneak offers developers tools that are constantly scanning their security environment to make sure that they had a button for vulnerabilities and fixes to make sure that they're developing security and how it just helps them go faster to have a tool like that.

Rhys: Indeed, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important as we continue evolving in this digital age. Companies that specialize in this field or other emerging areas will likely see even faster hypergrowth over the coming years, which in itself, will present new challenges for people operations leaders everywhere.

Like many tech companies today, Snyk is a globally distributed team with almost 1,000 employees spread across at least 22 countries, with the majority of employees working remotely. As they continue to see exponential growth like they have over the past year, companies like Snyk will need to maintain a flexible approach when it comes to people operations, while having a keen awareness of the benefits of in-person working models.

Dipti explains how the pandemic forced the company to shift gears, and how they pivoted their operations in response.

Dipti: I guess the best way to start with that with understanding Snyk's approach to people ops is to really understand how the company is structured, right? So we are very globally distributed. You know, I mentioned before, we're now knocking on close to a thousand people. That last count, I saw at least 22 different countries represented in that. We probably are a little bit more now at this stage because it seems like we opened a new one every other week or something. And when you're growing as rapidly as we are, so like, for instance, we just started this year at a 400 and we will end this year at almost it that was in. And so when you're growing that quickly and you're diversifying across so many different countries and people are remote and distributed and just in fundamentally different jobs all over the world, you need some kind of flexible operating model that allows you to cope with that kind of scale as quickly as possible. So I think, you know, we are an entire mix of fully remote people that could live anywhere, work anywhere versus we have a bunch of hubs. So we have some kind of hybrid model. We have a whole part of our population that loves coming into the offices, enjoys the camaraderie of that, enjoys being with each other and the in-person element of that kind of teamwork. So we have a segment of our population that's in offices, in major cities, around the world and in Boston. We have Ottawa, we have the Bay Area of New York. We have London, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Sydney. I think, you know, there's new offices opening all the time here. And then outside of that, we just need some kind of flexible way to keep going in different countries wherever we find talent in the way we need to. So we partner with Theos such as oyster, for example, and oyster happens. Not we happen like not to be a client of oysters, but very similar model that we use and that allows us to scale incredibly quickly. So wherever we find talent in Ukraine or in Lithuania or wherever it might be, we're enabled to hire that while we figure out our long term hub strategy. 

So we were probably about 20 percent of for people who are fully remote before the pandemic. So we already had a muscle around it and some percentage, but that has definitely shifted significantly to the right. So now I would probably wager that we're about 40 or 50 percent of our people fully remote. It's very hard to tell because a lot of people live in a hub cities but aren't yet comfortable coming in. So we don't know where this where the dust will settle, to be honest in the end. But we're OK with that. We've just embraced a kind of flexible work strategy that says, you do you whatever works for you is fine for us. We think there's a ton of benefit from being in person together, but that can also be taking the place of like occasional travel that brings the team together and off sites and stuff. So it doesn't mean people have to be living in some of our hubs and some of our homes are in some of the most expensive cities in the world. So that's not necessarily the long term scaling strategy for a company like ours either. So we we're kind of embracing the flexible at the moment, but fully recognizing that there's a lot of value in in-person interaction. 

So definitely a lot of shock in the pandemic, but I think we were better positioned in many ways than a lot of other companies for two reasons. One is like, like I mentioned before we already had, we were globally distributed already before and we had a bunch of our folks being remote anyway. So we had a muscle around that right leg. So it wasn't a cultural shock in the same way to move fully remote. And then the other thing we had is we had a really big office in Israel. Israel was one of the first countries to respond, react, see what the pandemic was going to lockdown so way before and if our peer companies in the U.S., for example, were even thinking about it, we already had a heads up because we'd seen what happened in Israel. And so we were kind of planning on our operations, shutting down and moving to a remote, probably three or four weeks. Before a lot of the dialog in the U.S. was picking up, so it just we had an advantage and a lot of ways. Now having said that, any edge advantage you had right at the beginning kind of didn't matter because everyone was dealing with the same anxieties that went on for a lot longer than we all thought, right? Everyone had the same child care issues. So we really doubled down and especially in the like last year, when in the throes of the pandemic, we really doubled down on culture. Right. So people's health care, let's take care of that. Let's make sure people feel secure, secure about their jobs. They're not going to lose a job just because they have to stay home to take care of a parent or child, you know, then we focused on flexibility and especially we had a lot of young parents who suddenly had two or three year olds at home who you can't just say, Go work, go sit in the other room and mind yourself, you know, like it just and without nannies or any support systems or parents or grandparents or any of the things that we are used to leaning on. All of a sudden, that really impacted our own workforce as well. So we kind of really leaned in on empathy and flexibility for a long time until things normalize. People figured out new systems of support and and structures to work with. And I just think in the end, we came out of it like it was certainly crisis and tension and anxiety, but we came out of it a lot stronger. I think we learned the muscle for remote, we learned the muscle, the distributed, the very comfortable and all of that. We probably went into the pandemic being in five or six countries and came out of the pandemic. Now we're in 22 countries. Like I said, I don't even know prior to the pandemic, but it fundamentally changed the demographics of the kind of company we are and how we operate. And I think it just it took a base that we already had and just made it a lot stronger for us going forward.

I think it's. It's something around resilience, right, like and I don't just mean like the anxieties of the pandemic, but it's like your ability to keep on pivoting like so day one, you're just worried about being remote data, you're worried about people's health. Day three, you're worried about child care. Day four, you're worried about how do we sustain this kind of remote thing where nobody has seen each other? You know, we reached a point in our organization where only 20 or 30 percent of us had actually seen each other at all. The rest of the folks have joined new during the pandemic. And so, so then you're thinking, how am I integrating these people? How how are we building relationships? Are reestablishing trust? So every single day, there's kind of a new challenge in front of you that you haven't encountered before or had to think through in the past. And it's just having the resilience to say, I'm going to experiment, I'm going to pivot with kind of all learning on the job, and we're going to figure this out. And if it isn't working, we'll change direction. That resilience, I think for me, is the muscle that we we developed very strongly.

Rhys: As the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. And Snyk’s experience certainly serves as a testament to this. Like many others, the company has experienced rapid growth in recent months, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

In any crisis situation, resilience and adaptability are two key qualities that will take you far. With everything happening at hyper-speed lately, Dipti has developed a few guiding principles to help her and the team at Snyk navigate the company’s quick pace of evolution.

Dipti: I think that's probably the biggest thing is when you're transforming so quickly, you know? And I think also really has gone through this at the same time as just this nature of like what worked at 50 people doesn't work at 250 anymore. When you're going through it so quickly, you have to re transform yourself like every quarter, every six months, like it's it's very fast that you have to question, Hey, this this process or this approach that I put in place three months ago, I need to be able to I need to be willing to abandon it and rethink it and recognize that it might not. We might have outgrown it already. And the perfect example for us is something around like communication, visibility and alignment. So like when you're growing so quickly. And I didn't see this as much when we were less than 500 people, but I feel like we hit that inflection point of five hundred and it suddenly started falling apart. And it was something around like alignment, right? And you're saying, here's what, I'll try and explain it. Be when you're growing so quickly and when the world around you is changing so fast and is such a what we call like a fuchi environment. I don't know if you've heard this acronym be you see a it's like volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. I think it's like a military acronym. But in any case, right, like the world around you is all ambiguous and complex, and you need to be able to figure it out. You can't have like a top down hierarchical decision making movement. It just doesn't work because you need things to happen so much faster. So what you need is like leaders on the ground for local teams or local units empowered to make decisions. But you don't want them all going off in different directions. So you need them all to have instantaneous Real-Time context as it is developing all the time. And that's what I mean by the challenge of alignment and visibility and transparency is how much information can you push down to all of the local leaders across the company globally and all the different departments, teams, geographies, et cetera, to allow them to have enough contacts to pull in the right direction at the same time? And that's where empowerment lies, and it's probably one of the biggest challenges of hypergrowth that that we are encountering. And honestly, when I speak to some of my peers, they seem to be going through the same challenges, too. So I think for us, that's probably an area that's very top of mind right now in terms of how we continue to grow without without anchoring ourselves or encumbering ourselves with the weight of bureaucracy.

I work a lot in my role as chief of staff, I work with the executive team. Any of our executives are never as close to the actual happenings on the ground as the teams, the working on it are. So if you need the executive to always weigh in to a decision, then you're just losing precious minutes. By the time it flows up all the levels of the hierarchy and someone gets enough contacts to be able to make a decision, and then that flows down to everyone. That's just not how you operate at speed. And sure, we got to be able to thinking of think of different, much more scalable manners in which our company operates almost like an organic organism where you you just have enough information where you don't have to actively think to tell your fingers to go do something, they just do it like, it's instantaneous. 

And I think, you know, we also hire people that have come from a lot of different backgrounds, and a lot of people might have been from backgrounds that were much more hierarchical or bureaucratic and how they operated. And so now you're breaking all these habits for all these people that have come from different places that are relatively new to sneak and may have never been into an office and don't have the culture. And you know, like there's all of these challenges start compounding with each other at some point. So, so I don't have a magical answer for you. I guess it is the start of it, but I think what we find is just pushing out and sharing as much information as we can. And these are the daily sounds so basic. But I think they are the truth of how it operates, whether it's information cascades or now we're building something where it's a meeting where we pull all of our VIPs together and give them a status and all the company KPI is yours. What's going on? Here's where things are challenged. Like every single month, you need to know the bigger picture of what's happening outside of your team. Then we start thinking through like more instantaneous communications. How do we make sure that those are happening asynchronously, whether it's on slack or are in different documents that are being shared? But it's just we are really trying to work through the challenge of how are we pushing as much information as we can down to the folks on the ground who need it, and therefore it empowers them to make the right decisions. The challenge with that is information overload. So it's like less that like we haven't found it to be like, how do we change people's habits as much? Well, I totally agree with your point there. It's as much about our people reading it. Like we all talk about async communication because it is so, so globally friendly and distributed friendly. But when I speak to people, they're like, you know, there's so much going on in Slack. I only ever read like a tenth of my messages. So now how do you cut through the noise and make sure people get exactly the information that they need? That's probably our latest challenge we're trying to work through.

Rhys: Information overload are two words the vast majority of us can appreciate these days. As leaders, it’s an essential component of the job to help streamline communication channels and cut down on the clutter that can easily cause things to get lost in translation.

Dipti shared an interesting example of this that will likely resonate with many other fast-growing teams.

Dipti: I should first start and say, just like I have never had more admiration than our commercial team here, it's not like they manage this, they balance this there. They embrace the duality of it in a way that I haven't seen any other company actually be able to do so. Like really kudos to the team. Having said that, I'll give you a super tactical example of where this is challenging for us internally in the company. We do not use email at all, like zero, zilch. You won't get a single email from us. Everything happens in Slack. However, externally, if I think of our commercial teams that are all dealing with people outside of the organization, it's all e-mail like they're not in our slack instant server environment. And so all of its email. And so now you're putting pressure on this team to be up to date with real time information from a multitude of different sources, whereas everyone else in the company, if you're not commercially facing everyone else in the company, can kind of afford to just live within our slack environment. And while Slack can be crazy and chaotic unto itself, it's one workspace. It's one environment where the commercial team always has to contact switch between external emails and internal slack. And like, it sounds really basic and simple because it's two tools, but it's actually about how information is shared, how how it is exchange, where you access it, where sources of truth said like these are the questions that it brings up when you have more than one system competing against each other. 

We made a big investment in our sales enablement and our product marketing teams to say they own their source of truth so that it doesn't like because otherwise what's happening is like, you have a salesperson who's in a specific product Slack channel and they can see, Oh, this is the direction the product is going, and then they feel it where they feel very comfortable going to sell that to a client. But it's actually just in discussion. And then we pivot and change direction, and we've gone and sold something that actually didn't end up getting onto the roadmap in the first place. And so there was some level of when you give people so much visibility into stuff, then things like this start happening because there is no source of truth, because truth is always evolving every single day. And so we had to put a stop to that and say, like at the end of the day, there's one source of truth and it's in a system that we we happen to use a system called seismic. But I think that's agnostic of systems you need. Hey, here's where you go for everything that is the truth about about anything single product or bundle or pricing plan or anything that you can do. And our enablement team and our product marketing teams that work work tirelessly to make sure that it's absolutely up to date in every format that they can. But we did have to put those governance gateways in exactly to the point that that you're asking there now.

Rhys: Hypergrowth has become a common buzzword in business today as companies and startups in emerging spaces struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands. But what actually qualifies as hypergrowth, and how can companies find effective ways to cope with this stage instead of getting lost in the chaos? 

According to Dipti, there’s no perfect, clear-cut answer—the companies that swim instead of sink have simply learned how to ride the wave without going under.

Dipti: So, you know, I would have just called hypergrowth, growing incredibly quickly, and I actually did come across a definition of it in a book that one of my peers wrote, and that was doubling in size within 12 months. And you know, obviously that's relative to your size. If you're starting off at two people, 12 months doesn't feel like hyper growth rate. But, but I think it creates some level of pace. It's set some baseline expectation. So I think, you know, sneakers certainly been growing dramatically quickly. 

And I think, you know, for us, one of the things we actually like literally just had a big meeting like an executive offsite about this notion of hyper growth. And I think, you know, years how I explain it as a Snyk challenge. It's not just a challenge of people growth, although absolutely that's a part of it. Like, the hyper growth for us starts with the fact that we're a revenue is growing so incredibly quickly. The market opportunity is growing so, incredibly quickly. So you're almost trying to keep up the pace with the market opportunity, right? And let's take something like oyster. I could see see you guys, probably in a lot of the same situation, the demand suddenly with COVID just bursts. And then you're like, how like, what's tripping us up is how quickly can the company grow to meet the surge in demand, right? Like so it's like it's not competition, it's ourselves. And that is our biggest constraint. And that's kind of a little bit the position that Tony is in as well. It's like the markets pulling us up with it. But can we grow in time? And that's our personal constraint of hypergrowth. Then it becomes a issue of can you find the talent that you need in time and place right now? I'll give you an example to meet the market needs. We are trying to grow like we're trying to grow on a product angle, like diversify our product portfolio. We're trying to grow in a geography angle. We're trying to get into open up in Asia-Pacific at the same time as Latin America at the same time as the US and growing in Europe. We're trying to grow into enterprise, so we're trying to grow into market segments. We used to be very much SMB in commercial or mid-market, and now we're growing an enterprise now growing on all those indices at the same time. That's the challenge of hypergrowth, right? It's not just how do you absorb 200 more people into your headcount? How do you do that while you're rewriting all your processes, all your priorities and refocusing people every quarter on something fundamentally different than what they were hired to do? And so, so I think that's something that I don't think anyone has cracked them not on. And I don't think there's an easy answer other than you kind of got to grind through it and grit your teeth a little bit. But this is exactly why we're talking so much about those empowered teams. You can't do this in a top down hierarchical model like the world is two in which we are operating in this hypergrowth mode. It's too volatile, it's too complex to operate like that anymore. And so like the stance that we've taken is really this is about empowering our local teams on the ground to be able to make decisions incredibly quickly as autonomous units. 

Rhys: Empowering teams is certainly an essential component of any people ops role, and Dipti seems to have this function down pat. 

I was curious to know more about what Dipti and the team at Snyk are up to in the near future, and as expected, Dipti had some great insights to share.

Dipti: So a few different things, I think, like a bunch of different areas. So one is we're just investing in like in our hiring and talent, like when we bring in people, we're looking for this kind of experience and people who have managed global teams who overindex and communication like these are things that we're actively looking for in the town that we bring into the organization. So I think it's got to start from there. You know, one of your questions earlier and in this conversation was around how, you know, how do you break habits? And you're right, that is a challenge. And the easiest way to do it is to not have to break a habit because you have because you hire someone who has the same habits, right? Like that. So that's a little bit of a part of what we're looking for. Another thing is we're building out a bunch of different forums where you can have information sharing information cascading that allows teams to just have access to information, which we think is the bottom line that will allow teams to be autonomous. So I'll give you an example. Like right now, we used to have even just four months ago, we had the executive team and then a middle layer of management that kind of all reported into the executive team. So information fluid flowed down very, very easily. Now we've hired a bunch of VP's, and it's just a matter of the growth of the rate of growth of the company. But all of a sudden it's created silos. It's created information flows down one layer, but it doesn't trickle down further. It's not anyone's fault. It's just like, this is what's happening and immediately like, one of my first priorities in my job is to make sure has information cascading and flowing to all the right places in the organization. So I think, you know. We're building out a bunch of forums where information exchange can happen, like within R&D, within the sales and commercial organization, who's responsible for a source of truth and making sure that everyone is up to date on what is the latest real information. I think this is a big part of our challenge, just like people just have access to information, but they don't trust that it's the most up to date or the most accurate because somewhere else in some other Slack channel, someone might have decided differently that you just didn't have visibility into. So I think, you know, this piece is like governance structures on how do we know what the source of truth is and make sure that information is cascading in some kind of rhythm periodically is a very critical piece. 

But for me personally, I think this piece is probably one of the biggest things that is a priority in my mind, which is around the scalability of the organization and the executive team. That's my mission. And essentially, like, like I said, like even just four months ago, the executive team was the crux of decision making because there was only LeClair or Tupelo that. And now that since that's changed, we really don't want it to be like that. You want that layer of the peas or whatever the leaders might be below the executive team to be very empowered to have the decision making in their specific areas. So a large part of what I'm doing is just figuring out where the point of collaboration and where the points of contention of friction and nine out of 10 times when I dig into, you know, like, Oh, this team went and sold something when they shouldn't have because it wasn't ready and they overcommitted and the client's unhappy, like, that's a very classic kind of problem that comes up in every single company. And when that comes up here, I kind of dig into it and start saying, OK, where did this go wrong? Like, who spoke to whom and where did it happen? And then nine out of 10 times you find out that it was a communication and an information problem. It's rarely that someone admits intent or someone, you know, intentionally disregarded any instruction. It is just mostly that people just didn't know something else that happened somewhere else. So really, a ton of what I'm doing is focusing on this lateral information exchange mechanisms and tools. And some of it is as basic as just having offsides. Do we have the right people together? And I know some of it is like surfacing what we think are the most critical priority issues and saying, Oh, lucky you, who's working there in a corner? And this project, actually, you wouldn't realize that will impact these 20 other teams. So I needed to go and present to them right now, so they have insight into what you're doing. It's like those really small things are making sure that the left arm and the right arm are talking to each other and not everyone's running off in different directions. Like when I say alignment is like my job or my mission. It's really just figuring out what's happening all over the organization where someone is and talking to someone else and then pulling them into the fold of the dialog. 

Rhys: Finally, Dipti shared her answer to our favorite question here on New World of Work: what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made? In particular, Dipti’s answer stood out to me because it speaks to the power of keeping the faith even when everything seems to be going wrong.

Dipti: It's a really good question, and I've certainly made a lot of mistakes. I would. So here's what I'd start by saying, right? I know a mistake is really unpleasant to live it because nobody likes to live in the consequences of whatever mistake they've made. But actually, I personally find that a lot more of my learning and growth as a person comes from my mistakes, right? And I'll give you an example. Before joining sneak, I worked at this company called Etsy, and I joined as their their head of people. And I can't say enough good things about Etsy. The culture, the company, their mission. It's a whole phenomenon. The role, as it was designed, wasn't what I was personally looking for or the kind of role that I would thrive in. And so I went and joined in this organization where I personally just couldn't be successful. I was I felt like I was on a like a hamster on a treadmill, working really, really hard and not getting anything done and not getting anywhere. And I'm sure it was kind of frustrating for them and frustrating for me, and it took a long time for me to realize that more hard work or more hours just wasn't going to solve this. It was the way the organization was structured, where decision making happened, where people had visibility and my personal work style and aptitude. All of that just wasn't meshing, and so I think it was like less than a year before. Ultimately, I left the company. But that was probably a big mistake that felt really awful at that time to go through. I felt like I felt the weight of the failure on it, on my shoulders, like this was my big job at glamorous Etsy, and it was supposed to be wonderful. And it just didn't turn out to be any of the stuff that I had dreamed for myself in that, and I didn't turn out to be the kind of leader I dream for in that. But it actually then ended up kind of pivoting me in this direction where I joined sneak and I've had probably the most wonderful career journey I could have ever wish for in my life. And I don't. I I said that like, it's past tense, but it's not. It's going on. But it's this. It's fortuitous, you know, it's like this idea that I thought I was failing. I thought things were wrong. But actually what it did is it pivoted me into life. I would have never found a place like Etsy, like Snyk. I wouldn't even have looked for it if that had been successful. And what I've got here is an opportunity that, like I would never, ever have exposure to and I probably won't again in my lifetime. You know, it's incredibly special. This company, this opportunity and you know, I almost feel like the oyster feels like on the journey. You're almost a year behind Snyk, but you're following exactly the same path. And I almost feel like you don't know what you have. It is so special to hang on to it. I know what's coming for you. I feel like saying that. In fact, I just did say that. And it's just because this stage of growth of a company where you are shaping the company into what it's going to be. It's an incredible experience when it's coupled with a company that actually is being successful and is growing that quickly when you can pull it all together. That's very rare. That's actually not as common as people seem to think it is. And to have that is something really special. So I'm really grateful for it in the end. 

Rhys: Being an integral part of a company’s initial growth phase is indeed an opportunity to be grateful for. Dipti’s positive outlook and grateful disposition are completely infectious, and I was glad to have a chance to hear her perspective on this ever-changing landscape. 

Here are a few of my key takeaways from my conversations with Dipti:

  • Leaning on empathy and flexibility during a crisis situation is crucial. In the throes of the pandemic, Dipti and the team at Snyk relied heavily on the company’s ability to take an empathetic, flexible approach to leadership. This ultimately helped them grow stronger as a company, and emerge on the other side having gleaned several helpful insights.
  • You’re your own biggest competition. Dipti said that when in stages of hypergrowth, it’s essential for companies to not view other companies as their main competition, but themselves. This means always doing your best to keep up with the demand for growth, while consistently looking for new ways to improve.
  • Our greatest failures are often our greatest gifts. Although at the time, Dipti was crushed that her opportunity at Etsy didn’t work out, the closing of that door ultimately led her to her current role at Snyk, which has turned out to be a much better fit for her skill set and working style. While mistakes and missteps can be painful in the moment, they often lead to something even better down the road, or at least an important lesson we can apply to other areas of our lives.

Rhys: Thank you for listening to New World of Work, the podcast exploring the new frontier of the modern workforce through an international lens. We hope this episode served to expand your horizons and open your mind to a new perspective.

Be sure to subscribe, rate and review the podcast so we can reach more listeners.

I’m your host, Rhys Black. See you next time.

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About Oyster

Oyster is a distributed HR platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches or the expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll and great local benefits and perks.

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