2 Growing Tech Companies Share Their Hiring Plans and Approach to Scaling

Two local companies with big growth goals share insights into their plans for the year ahead.
Written by Eva Roethler
June 24, 2021Updated: June 24, 2021

Growth is exciting. But as a company scales, its processes, technology, culture, team structures and onboarding must adapt, too. 

We talked to quickly-growing companies about their hiring process, plans for smooth scaling and what they are looking for in a candidate. These companies are adding serious numbers to their ranks, in one case doubling the size of its team.

So how does a company avoid the growing pains of rapid growth and maintain its identity? These local companies have some ideas.   

At Akili Interactive Labs, Head of Talent Acquisition Sam DeMello is looking forward to entering a new chapter of business as the company launches its flagship product, a prescription treatment delivered through a video game. The 10-year-old company has largely been focused on research and development for the past decade but is looking to expand the team as its first product hits the market. 

“It might not sound like the sexiest thing in the world, but having a company-wide organized system for when and how we conduct meetings has been key as we scale and adapt to the challenges of working even more remotely during COVID,” DeMello said. 

Meanwhile, at Peapod Digital Labs, the e-commerce engine of grocery giant Ahold Delhaize USA, Manager of Talent Acquisition and Onboarding Kate Kiely is looking for something somewhat surprising in candidates: humor.

“Adding over 200 employees is never easy and we’re taking aggressive steps to prepare ourselves for this influx,” Kiely said.

To learn more about how these companies are proactively planning for major scaling, read on. 

 

Kate Kiely
Manager of Talent Acquisition and Onboarding

What do your hiring plans look like this year? And what are some of the key characteristics or traits you look for in new team members?

Peapod Digital Labs plans to hire more than 200 employees in 2021 across a variety of departments, locations and levels. Our core values serve as a model for what we look for in new team members: courage, care, teamwork, integrity and humor.

 

What steps are you taking to making sure this period of rapid growth goes smoothly from an employee experience perspective?

We’ve built out a robust onboarding program that doesn’t end after the first day. We check in with new hires after 15, 30, 45 and 90 days and offer them exposure to leadership and mentorship right from the beginning. In addition, we’ve added checkpoints to solicit feedback on the process, so it’s always improving in real-time. We also have other ways to get involved early through our business resource groups. These include our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, Women in Tech+ and wellness groups that help new and tenured employees stay connected to the rest of the organization.
 

We have completely revamped our onboarding process. We’ve implemented a number of feedback loops to stay abreast of issues and drive these changes.”


What is the most interesting challenge facing your team at the moment? And how are you working to overcome it?

Adding over 200 employees is never easy and we’re taking aggressive steps to prepare ourselves for this influx. We’ve increased the size of the talent team by 200 percent in the last two months, and we have completely revamped our onboarding process. We’ve implemented a number of feedback loops to stay abreast of issues and drive these changes. We’ve also reimagined new hire swag and fun ways to keep our employees engaged virtually through a variety of activities, such as happy hours, yoga and cooking classes.

 

Sam DeMello
Head of Talent Acquisition

What do your hiring plans look like this year? And what are some of the key characteristics or traits you look for in new team members?

This is a very exciting time as we get ready to bring our flagship product, EndeavorRX, to market. We plan to grow our team from around 75 today to around 120 by the beginning of 2022. We’ll be hiring across all areas of the business, with a special emphasis on our commercial organization to help make our launch a success, our engineering organization to help build and maintain our infrastructure and improve our products as the business scales, and our game design team to help start thinking about what future Akili products are going to be!

It’s very important to us to find talent with professional expertise who are eager to contribute to the vibrant culture we’ve built over the last 10 years. The mission to ignite new hope for those living with cognitive impairment guides everything we do, so a commitment to those we are serving is also fundamental. Lastly, we serve a very diverse set of people, and it’s imperative that our team reflects that diversity. We are always looking for employees with diverse professional experience, life experience and a desire to build the future of digital medicine.
 

The mission to ignite new hope for those living with cognitive impairment guides everything we do, so a commitment to those we are serving is also fundamental.”


What steps are you taking to making sure this period of rapid growth goes smoothly from an employee experience perspective?

We’ve spent a lot of energy creating a top-notch onboarding program. We start all new employees in small groups every other Tuesday and follow a very structured process that makes the logistics of getting set up with new equipment and account access go smoothly, which enables new employees to become immersed in the culture. New employees spend time with our senior leadership learning about the history of the company, as well as what our future plans are, and they get paired with a partner who ensures they feel connected to the Akili community.

Our amazing admin team put together a super-efficient scheduling process that ensures employees on both coasts can collaborate effectively, can protect the time they need to do individual work, and maintain the work-life balance they need to thrive. It might not sound like the sexiest thing in the world, but having a company-wide organized system for when and how we conduct meetings has been key as we scale and adapt to the challenges of working even more remotely during COVID.

While we miss being together in the office together, we’ve pulled off some awesome virtual events including cooking classes and movie nights.

 

What is the most interesting challenge facing your team at the moment? And how are you working to overcome it?

Akili is in a very unique situation. We have existed for 10 years now, operating primarily as a research and development organization. Over that time, we’ve had the opportunity to build an incredibly dynamic culture, with a well-defined set of shared commitments. Now, as we transition to becoming a commercial organization and begin to scale the business, we face the challenge of evolving the fundamental cultural values that are so integral to who we are while continuing to meet the growing needs of the business and the patients we serve.

We will overcome this challenge by continuing to be both inclusive and incredibly selective in our hiring process. Akili’s culture continues to evolve in alignment with our mission and values and is both nurtured and protected by every person who works at Akili. We ensure we have a fair and equitable hiring process that focuses on the values and strengths of every candidate we speak with in order to keep Akili strong.

Transparent communication is fundamental for us. We’re doing something brand new at Akili, and we’re going to make mistakes. Fostering an environment of sharing and learning is key.

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