The team at SHYFT Analytics has a complex job to do.
It’s not easy building the leading analytics platform for the notoriously finicky pharmaceutical industry. But when it comes to culture, SHYFT keeps things simple, focusing on having fun, teaming up to solve problems and helping each other grow their careers.
We talked with three team members about the meritocratic culture at SHYFT and how they're working together to make healthcare simpler.
EMPLOYEES: 161 (145 local)
WHAT THEY DO: SHYFT provides cloud-based data and analytics software that helps pharmaceutical and life science companies translate commercial and clinical data into insights. Those insights power the development of medications, treatments and programs for patients.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Boston
THEY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS: SHYFT’s old office was in a watch factory in Waltham and, to honor that heritage, all their conference rooms are named after watches.
FROM THE FOUNDER: Zack King launched SHYFT in 2002 to cure the issue of disparate data sources in the healthcare industry. Read more about his journey and what course the company is charting in the near future.
Francesca D’Alfonso, Lead Solution Developer
Francesca spends most of her time in SQL developing solutions for SHYFT customers and overseeing projects from a technical standpoint.
BEYOND WORK: Francesca enjoys running and recently completed her second marathon. When she’s not training for a race, she spends her time in the yoga studio.
What’s it like working at SHYFT? What’s your typical day to day look like?
At SHYFT, we use Agile scrum methodology, so I start most days by meeting with my team for our daily standup. In these meetings, we discuss our progress towards our assigned sprint work.
Depending on the day of the sprint, we may also meet to plan future sprints or discuss lessons learned from previous sprints. I usually have a few various meetings throughout the day that range from discussing technical solutions to interviewing candidates. As I juggle time spent in meetings with my SQL development work, staying organized and communicating with my team is essential. The Agile process allows for frequent team interaction, and taking advantage of that additional time to speak up about challenges I am facing is key to having necessary balance among my team members.
As long as we meet expectations and reach our goals, each person has the autonomy to operate in the system that works best for them.”
How does SHYFT's flexible work culture help you and your team?
My team’s culture places a strong emphasis on flexibility. As long as we meet expectations and reach our goals, each person has the autonomy to operate in the system that works best for them. We share a mutual respect that everyone is striving for the best outcome for the entire team. I find that when we allow flexibility for everyone’s personal needs, we create a culture where the team is eager to work hard.
There’s a gender imbalance in the tech world. With that in mind, how has the culture at SHYFT set you up for professional success?
I am fortunate to work on a team where I’m able to prove myself through the quality of my work and not my gender. An important part of my current role is that I am given the opportunity to mentor other female tech coworkers, which is a great way to discuss challenges and strategize on how to work through them.
At the company level, I’m part of our women in technology group. This is an initiative where we educate both men and women on the challenges facing women in technology and discuss what we can do on our teams at SHYFT to promote equality in the workplace. A company culture where these issues are openly discussed is a great first step toward addressing inequality in our industry.
Jared Byrne, Engagement Manager
Jared acts as the point of contact for customers by collaborating with their teams and ensuring SHYFT delivers quality solutions on schedule.
DOWN AND DIRTY: Jared grew up helping his father with his woodworking business and, to this day, he really enjoys building and fixing things. Whether it’s helping a friend with their boat or taking on new projects around the house, Jared is up for the job.
You’ve been at SHYFT for just over a year. How did the company make you feel at home when you started?
On day one, employees are tasked to complete a scavenger hunt that requires new hires to interact with individuals from different functions, tenures and levels — it’s a really fun way to get to know the team. SHYFT also has a great buddy program where new employees get paired up with someone who helps “show them the ropes” and get acquainted with the business in a less formal setting.
A lot of places say they are ‘team-oriented’ but SHYFT is really ‘team-critical.’”
What else does your team do to build culture and camaraderie?
We have the fun stuff like happy hours, free coffee and shuffleboard tables, but we also have regular, recurring all-hands meetings, team building activities and opportunities for employees to present to staff on topics they are passionate about. Together, this creates the kind of environment that is not only enjoyable and social but also inspiring and collaborative.
Is there anything you’ve found about SHYFT’s team culture that is different from other places you’ve worked?
The main difference is that it’s a true team culture. From the conversations at the coffee bar to the way we approach day-to-day business, it’s evident that each person in the organization realizes they need each other to be most successful. A lot of places say they are “team-oriented” but SHYFT is really “team-critical.”
Michelle Xia, Lead Consultant
Michelle is the lead consultant on the Center of Excellence team, which is responsible for defining and improving upon best practices for the professional services department. She also works directly with the implementation teams to ensure that everyone is following best practices.
GoT JUNKIES WANTED: Michelle’s ideal teammate is easygoing, hardworking, and has SQL skills and pharma industry knowledge. Major bonus points if they have seen all of “Game of Thrones” and can engage in a debate over who the rightful ruler of Westeros should be.
Tech still experiences inequality across the industry. Is there something unique about SHYFT which that levels the playing field for its team members?
I have had many mentors at SHYFT, both male and female. For this reason, gender inequality has never been an issue from my perspective. If I think I have something to learn from someone, which usually I do, I don't care what gender they are or how many years of work experience they may have — I will give you my undivided respect and attention.
Because SHYFT operates as a meritocracy, I know that my work will be evaluated on an even playing field as my male peers.
This was your first job out of school. How have you grown, and what opportunities are there for growth at SHYFT?
As my first job out of college, I have hugely appreciated the degree of which I was able to make a direct and meaningful impact to the company as a whole right off the bat. The fact that SHYFT operates as a meritocracy has been a huge motivator in me wanting to give each and every project my all because I know that, at the end of the day, my efforts would be recognized and even sometimes converted into best practices — making the next project easier for the next person after me.
The fact that SHYFT operates as a meritocracy has been a huge motivator in me wanting to give each and every project my all...”
On the lighter side of things, what’s your favorite SHYFT tradition?
Every Thursday for the past couple of years, we have consistently placed a large order at this one Taiwanese restaurant in Waltham that everyone goes absolutely crazy over — especially the General Tso's chicken. Not only does it give people something to look forward to each week, but it also unites us towards one common goal: ensuring we have a deliciously satisfying lunch week over week. With our move to Boston, we've actually had a bit of an identity crisis over how we are going to replace this tradition; however, luckily for us, we will be in close proximity to a lot of great food options, so I'm sure we can figure something out.