Our People Heroes series celebrates People leaders across the globe. These insights were pulled from our conversation with David Hanrahan on the New World of Work podcast.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought on waves of change for businesses everywhere—with the events industry certainly being no exception. For some companies, this meant pivoting their product offerings. For others, it meant shifting their way of working. For some, it meant both, and People leaders everywhere were required to step up and lead their teams through this massive change. Eventbrite’s Chief Human Resources Officer, David Hanrahan, was one of the leaders who supported his team through the major transition to hybrid work.
David started his HR career in the oil and gas industry. He spent a brief time working in a movie studio environment before making the move to tech, which is where he’s spent most of his career. He’s worked at Twitter, Zendesk, and now Eventbrite, which is a company he says he’s always been a fan of.
Julia Hart is the CEO and co-founder at Eventbrite, and a big part of why David wanted to join the team. She's built a company culture that's been very prominent as employer of choice, and was one of the first tech companies to implement a generous and equal parental leave policy of 18 weeks for all parents. As a new parent, and someone who was intrigued by the live events industry, joining the Eventbrite team was a no-brainer. David has seen the company through many changes, but the most notable has been the company’s shift to a hybrid working model.
“I'm not going to paint your picture, but I'm going to hold the mirror up and I'm going to show in the data what is working for people.”
In many instances People Operations teams are required to act as a liaison between employees and leadership. Responding to the pandemic was no exception. David explains how the role of People Ops professionals during a major transition is to hold a mirror up to the organization and facilitate conversations that spark change from a leadership level.
“I think a big part of the hybrid model is it's really learning from other companies and learning internally what's working and what's not working.”
When it comes to an organizational shift like changing your entire way of working, experimentation is key. David explains that the Eventbrite team didn’t go to sleep one night and wake up the next day as a fully functioning hybrid workforce. Plenty of communication and trial and error was involved in the process. Other businesses should feel empowered to try out different operating models and see how it impacts employee engagement and productivity.
“A really interesting challenge we're trying to embrace is be compassionate at our core and become high-performing.”
David shared how Eventbrite recently launched new values, which created a unique challenge for his team. They’re now tasked with thinking through how to make the cultural shift to a company that always had compassion at its core, to now also being focused on high performance.
He reiterated the importance of staying true to your values. No matter what’s going on externally or however many major transitions the company is enduring, maintaining strong core values like compassion, kindness, and innovation is essential.
While hybrid work may not be for everyone or every company, David believes that it is the future for certain types of businesses. The pandemic has opened up the opportunity to rethink the way that we work—and 40 hours a week or in offices may not be the right fit for everyone.
David anticipates that hybrid working at companies like Eventbrite will be an iterative process that continues to evolve as employee needs shift, and as we learn more about what works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved along the way.
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