“Celebrate change.” One of our core values here at Sprout Social, and a phrase that defined my unique career path. Over the past six years, my journey at Sprout has taken me from the marketing organization to IT and engineering. Along the way, I used the many growth opportunities Sprout provides to find the role that’s right for me.
Here are some of the highlights of my career so far, and a few important lessons I’ve learned.
My Sprout Social Beginning
I started my career at Sprout in November 2016, focusing on Product Education. Our small but mighty team produced, facilitated and expanded the two-week product training every employee at Sprout experiences as a part of the onboarding process.
Right off the bat, the thoughtful space Sprout created never failed to astound me. Each new cohort of colleagues brought interns, engineers, designers, marketers, salespeople and executives into the same room–one named after computer programming pioneer Grace Hopper.
Rear Admiral Hopper once said, “The most damaging phrase in the language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way.’” Even as I found my footing in that role, Sprout continually showed me that solving hard problems was about finding individuals with different perspectives who wanted to try new approaches. I was one of those individuals, and over the course of the next three years, I trained each new employee on the Sprout product.
Over time, my increased responsibilities led to a curiosity for the project management space, and a position for an Associate Corporate IT Project Manager opened up. I knew professional development was at Sprout’s core when I broached the topic with leadership; not only did they offer support, but I was encouraged to seek other ways to expand my skills and knowledge. It didn’t matter if it meant “losing” a valuable team member to another part of the organization, so long as I continued to grow. At Sprout, you are emboldened to take a non-linear path, not shy away. So I went for it.
Project Management in a Global Pandemic
If you ask people what a project manager does, you’ll find varying answers depending on industry, organization, and department. At Sprout, it’s not only important to build the space for others to learn and grow, but to help define what roles look like and how they best support the business. When I stepped into the role, the world was in the midst of figuring out how to exist in our new reality. What was initially supposed to be two weeks at home turned into more, and suddenly, my reality became learning the ropes of a new job remotely while building relationships with a new team and leading projects to success.
If you told me back then that managing the build of a new office in a city 2000 miles away across multiple internal departments and external vendors was possible, I would’ve laughed. But that’s exactly how we had to execute. I learned a lot working closely with our Workplace Experience team to ensure IT was informed and prepared to equip our new space in Seattle. It was like one big puzzle, and one that involved brainstorming, discussion, sequencing, and collaboration. No one individual could have completed that initiative on their own, and it could have been the moment in time, but the feelings of togetherness and teamwork really shone through and made me proud of what our team accomplished.
The Seattle office build is just one of many projects I’ve been able to manage from the Corporate IT side. Many others sprung up as Sprout kept scaling and requiring solutions that grew with us, including the migration of our Human Resources Information System (HRIS), the removal of physical phones and commitment to digital, our Dublin office build, introducing Sprout’s Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP), plus several iterations of Return to Office, to name a few.
This is what project management currently looks like at Sprout: it’s the ability for one person to gather the right stakeholders to discuss and agree upon a project’s goals, milestones and target timeline. We define what project management is, given our different ways of working, as opposed to forcing rigid structures and tools across teams. While we leverage many best project management practices, we aren’t beholden to them. Once a project plan comes into fruition, it’s about keeping the project team on track, engaged and informed. Project risks are omnipresent and one (or many) things may fail in the process, but out of failure comes growth.
Fail fast, fail forward
In Agile methodology, failing fast is the concept of experimenting while working towards a desired outcome, often gathering feedback and pivoting, or adapting, as needed.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an environment like Sprout that not only embraces this notion, but also encourages the exploration of ideas from everyone. Individual contributors are not only invited to share ideas, but to step up and own the vision and projects they’re most passionate about while determining how to execute on the strategy set forth by senior leadership.
If that ultimately leads down a fail fast path where an idea or project doesn’t pan out as initially hoped, the fail forward learning and development that stems from it is embraced and applied to future ideas and projects. This leads to a deeper culture of transparency and accountability, one where issues or failures are identified more quickly and efficiency in development projects is improved.
Onwards and upwards
I share a few of my experiences and career path at Sprout to demonstrate our team’s mobility, encouragement and accountability as continual strengths. If you have an idea, you’re encouraged to share it. If a process is broken, you’re empowered to fix it or, at the very least, initiate a conversation and assemble a group of individuals to brainstorm solutions and fix it together. If new opportunities spring up within the organization and you feel drawn to the challenge, you’re supported to go after it. Sprout is not only a place where you can be your authentic self, but a place where you can grow both personally and professionally. Where you have the ability to carve out the path that isn’t quite defined yet. Where you can make your mark.
As for what’s next, I plan to continue amassing knowledge, gaining perspective, and building myself and others up to achieve the goals we set. Interestingly enough, it only seems to get better with time.
If you’re interested in joining our growth-oriented team, check out our open positions and apply today.