Photo Courtesy of HashiCorp.
Lauren Caplan managed what many would consider a nightmare: She started a new Enterprise Account Manager role just weeks before COVID-19 shut down the working world.
Thankfully, Caplan’s new company, HashiCorp, had an adaptable, supportive culture that made navigating the uncertainty a bit easier. It’s a kind of culture that can be difficult to find in the male-dominated technology space, especially in a business function as “cutthroat” as Sales can be, and one that Caplan says drew her to the company from the offset of her job search.
Caplan’s transition was also made a bit easier thanks to an especially unique aspect of the HashiCorp culture. Her colleagues already knew how to make remote work feel productive and friendly. Why? Pre-Covid, HashiCorp was about 85% remote (currently 100% remote) late-stage startup, so her colleagues had plenty of camaraderie-building efforts and remote social events for her to join in right away, something that was important to her as an “extroverted extrovert.”
In her first few months on the job, Caplan has found it’s not just her colleagues who are invested in what’s going on at HashiCorp. She says everyone should know the company has a “borderline fanatical” user base who are invested in both integrating and improving HashiCorp products. These relationships have made doing her job feel that much more purposeful.
So, how did Caplan find a great career move at a tech company that walks the walk, pays her what she feels she deserves and knows how to socialize over instant messenger without the awkwardness? Recently, she shared details of her job search, the interview process and other facts job seekers should know about HashiCorp.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I started at HashiCorp at the end of February 2020, so it was an interesting time to say the least! I feel grateful that I was able to start before the world officially shut down with the onset of COVID-19. I most recently came from one of the world’s largest tech companies, selling enterprise data center solutions with a focus on storage, backup and hybrid cloud technology.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
I’m responsible for selling HashiCorp’s Enterprise suite of products to organizations in the Chicagoland area. HashiCorp’s tools help to streamline and secure application delivery while enabling seamless integration with a large number of strategic partners, ranging from public cloud providers to independent software vendors.
I’ve been in the tech space for a decade and I’ve never worked for a company that has a more passionate (and sometimes borderline fanatical) user base. The adoption of these tools is widespread around the globe and the solutions themselves are second to none, so the practitioners will often know more than I do about our products. It’s truly incredible and makes outreach enjoyable.
What were the three most appealing aspects of this job or the organization that led you to apply?
As many folks in the technology industry are well aware, this world can feel incredibly insular and your reputation is everything. When I was starting to look outside of my last role, I asked leaders in the space that I know and trust where they would go next if they were in my shoes and I was referred to a number of organizations. I had a few non-negotiables in my search for my next move:
1. Well-funded or late stage startup with proven tools that will stand the test of time: I’ve realized that I’m well-suited for the fast-paced startup world at this point in my life and career. I’ve also been around for long enough to realize that while there are a lot of technology companies out there, there are a plethora of products and services that aren’t set up for long term success.
2. A culture of inclusivity and positivity: Anyone who has been in sales for any length of time recognizes that the world of sales is often cutthroat and high-stress which can lend itself to a competitive culture that leads to employee burnout and churn. It was important to me that I find a place where I could see myself staying for a long period of time and one that values the wellbeing of its employees. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry can be difficult at times and the promotion of diversity is a buzzword at the center of most tech companies. But there's an enormous difference between saying that diversity and inclusion is important and integrating these values into the ethos of the workforce. It can be a difficult aspect to quantify but that was a necessity for me.
3. Benefits and compensation commensurate with my experience and expertise: It’s no secret that compensation is important. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and want my pay to reflect as such. I also find it telling of how a company values its employees by taking a hard look at the benefits package to ensure the health and wellbeing of its employees.
How did the hiring or interview process stand out to you as being a positive experience?
I was referred internally by one of the local sales leaders that I had crossed paths with in my past professional life. Every person at HashiCorp that I interacted with throughout the interview process was responsive and professional while also being incredibly kind and welcoming. I never once felt that I was a burden and always felt like a priority. Throughout the process, I was always kept up to date with expectations and timelines, which has certainly not been the case in past interview experiences.
One thing that really stuck out to me was how everyone talked about how incredible the culture was, which made no sense to me since the company is nearly 100% remote. I had to take a bit of a leap of faith on that front and I’m glad I did! I’ve realized that this culture comes from the people and that’s why HashiCorp takes hiring so seriously. The “no jerks” policy is what really sold me and I believe it’s what will keep the culture going even as the company continues to scale.
Tell me a bit about your first day (or week). What kinds of things made you feel comfortable?
My first day at HashiCorp was day one of HEX (HashiCorp Exchange), which is an all company kickoff that was held in Atlanta this year. Folks from all business units around the world come together once a year to celebrate the year that has passed, look forward to the new year and to learn about our products and processes. This may seem overwhelming to some, but I found it the perfect way to dive in and immediately experience the HashiCorp culture. As I knew only a handful of people, I took it as an opportunity to meet as many people across the organization as I could. The ability to interface with folks from sales, leadership, engineering, product management and everything in-between was incredible! There was no moment where I felt like the “new kid” which truly sets my HashiCorp colleagues apart.
Starting a new job can be overwhelming. What have you done or who have you gone to when you’ve had questions or needed help?
HashiCorp is growing quickly and has over 1,000 employees to date, but it is still a late-stage startup. Questions are going to come constantly and some won’t have answers. The beautiful thing about a well-run startup is the openness to new ideas and the ability to truly make an impact. I have yet to come across a teammate who is unwilling to give me time to ensure that I am successful and that I have the help that I need. I’ve never been pushed aside and everyone that I’ve interacted with from the top-down has made me feel like a priority.
Now that you’ve been in this role for about a half a year, what’s your favorite aspect of HashiCorps’s culture or your favorite company perk?
Being an extroverted extrovert, I initially thought that I would struggle with a company that is nearly 100% remote. I thrive on the energy of others and appreciate any time I have to get to know someone new. Because HashiCorp employees were already comfortable with this, it was easy to piggyback on the efforts of others to build relationships and camaraderie. It’s been incredible connecting with so many coworkers cross-functionally and around the globe.
What’s something you think most job seekers don’t know about HashiCorp that you think they should?
They should know that we have a rabid and passionate user base of both open source and enterprise solutions. It’s been shocking to see how excited customers and prospects are to talk about how our solutions have changed their day-to-day lives for the better. Our practitioners truly understand the value of what the HashiCorp suite can bring and are often bringing us new ideas for features and functionalities that end up being implemented in new product or version releases.
Is there anything else that prospective employees should know about HashiCorp or the sales organization?
HashiCorp has been such a good move for me and I’m grateful to be at a company that walks the walk when it comes to showing how much they care about their employees. Starting any new job is scary, but starting in a new role, at a late-stage startup, in a largely underpenetrated territory, amidst a pandemic is borderline terrifying. I can’t imagine any significant ways that HashiCorp could have made me feel any more comfortable in an uncertain and ever-changing time. This commitment to their employees is why HashiCorp has been able to build and foster such a positive and inclusive culture even in the shadow of an unprecedented global crisis.
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