On November 11 through 16, as part of an open tour, HDRs and CEOs of leading CIS-based companies personally met with top managers from Airbnb, Netflix, Google HQ, Whole Foods, Plug & Play, 500 Startups, Cisco, and Zappos.
Lecture by a mentor at the Plug&Play accelerator and professor at University of California, Berkeley
The CEO of one of the best IoT (Internet of Things) companies in Silicon Valley gave us a lecture on Corporate Culture and HR in Silicon Valley.
There were many interesting insights such as that LinkedIn is the main tool for attracting the best job candidates in the Valley. Yes, it doesn’t come cheap, but the recruiting department gets a lot of bang for its buck.
What’s more, there has been a lot of talk about a four-day workweek and whether it’s effective and necessary to implement.
Getting introduced to Plug & Play Center
Plug and Play Tech Center nurtures around 300 startups at the same time. They can benefit from seminars, webinars, and consultations on business operations, building business models, and promoting projects. But the most important thing about Plug & Play is that it gives access to a pool of 180 venture investors all over the world.
Lecture and Q&A session by the head of talent acquisition department at the recruiting company CPrime
CPrime, Inc is a global consultancy lending assistance to businesses undergoing transformation. The solutions offered by CPrime Agile Project Management help clients introduce Scrum and other agile practices as part of a larger management ecosystem.
In the last six consecutive years, CPrime was named one of the fastest growing companies in San Francisco Bay area.
Meeting an expert from Walgreens Boots Alliance
Our expert used to be Senior Vice President and CEO for digital, mobile, and e-commerce at The Walt Disney. Quite recently, he headed several different teams at Amazon including Amazon Echo, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, the biggest-selling product in Amazon’s history.
Our meeting was about recruiting and developing talent in media companies as well as about the overall situation with employment in Silicon Valley.
Business visit to Cinemood
Cinemood is a manufacturer of handheld projectors with pre-installed content and online services for the whole family under the brands of Cinemood and Multikubik.
Cinemood’s partner in the US is Disney. The mini-cinema was licensed to show Disney cartoons and numerous e-books were adapted for Cinemood. In the US, its digital platform has Disney cartoons and e-books pre-installed and users can also access Netflix and Amazon Prime.
In the first quarter of 2019, the company employed 60 people. Between 2015 and the early 2019, the company sold more than 27,000 pocket projectors in 90 countries all over the world.
The co-owner and manager of Cinemood gave a lecture and held a Q&A session on “Personnel management. KPI/OKR. Differences in recruiting and training people in the CIS countries and the US”.
During the meeting, the speaker emphasized the following points:
As for KPI and OKR systems, Cinemood uses quarterly planning where each KPI is divided into three or four target metrics. Meanwhile, OKR is unrelated to employee bonuses; it merely helps keep the focus on the target KPI and achieve them as soon as possible.
Q&A session at Google HQ
Google develops and supports a number of internet services and products, generating profits primarily through advertising via AdWords. Google operates more than a million servers at data centers all over the world to process more than a billion of queries. Moreover, Google is developing the Android mobile operating system used on numerous smartphones, as well as Google Chrome OS and Google Glass.
Incidentally, if you want to know more about the company and its corporate culture, we recommend reading How Google Works by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle.
Visit to Whole Foods
Whole Foods Market, Inc is an American supermarket chain that purchases retail products from local, regional and international wholesalers. Most products are purchased at the regional or national level to make it easier to negotiate discounts with large suppliers and distributors.
Some stores even have special employees called foragers whose only job is to look for local produce for their store.
Meeting at Airbnb
Describing what Airbnb does is probably redundant at this point, as we would wager that most of the readers of this diary have used this company’s services at least once. We have spoken to Airbnb employees, and they all agree that since day the company was founded, it has been about strong culture, clear values and unusual rituals. Everybody knows that one of the first large investors in Airbnb, Peter Thiel (Founders Fund) claims that the company’s culture was one of the main reasons he decided to invest.
To learn more about how the innovative service has developed, we suggest you read The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher.
Visit to 500 Startups
500 Startups is one of the world’s largest accelerators specializing in incubators, seed funds and infrastructure for startups. The fund’s capitalization is more than $350 million. Its network of mentors is called 500 Family (these are the alumni of previous accelerator programs, mentors and experts from PayPal, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and Apple).
The main topic of the Q&A session at 500 Startups HQ was “How to look for, work and get results with startups”.
Visit to Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s is a private American supermarket chain that has 504 stores in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Each store sells more than 4,000 different products. What makes Trader Joe’s stand out is its personnel. There are no sales assistants, loaders or merchandisers, no uniforms or position-based duties. Any employee – or rather crew member, as they are called at Trader Joe’s – can perform any function in the saleroom like operating the cash register, arranging items on shelves, talking to customers etc.
About 20-25 people work one shift. Employees are required to communicate with customers and be as accommodating as possible, which includes describing products, showing customers to the shelves where they can find the items they want and helping shoppers to bring their purchases to the car.
Meeting at Cisco
Cisco is the largest high-tech company in the world that sells network hardware to large organizations and telecommunications businesses. The company’s unusual business model includes a multipath certification system for network engineers. For instance, Cisco’s CCIE certification (Expert) is one of the best known and most respected in the IT industry.
The speaker from Cisco told us much about the fight for talent, recruiting and onboarding, as well as in-house training.
Visit to Zappos
When Western executives and managers want to describe a kind of business that thrives thanks to the power of its corporate culture, they often say “Zappos-like” or “Zappos-style”. That’s why when the time came to visit Zappos, we decided to discuss the ways corporate culture is created and supported, as well as the company’s values and features, employee motivation methods and what the WOW Effect should look like.
Meeting at Netflix
Netflix is a unique company with a very unusual corporate culture and some astounding achievements:
Netflix analyzes everything from its users’ preferences to the most popular movies on pirate websites, which gives the company a clear understanding of its audience so that it can offer the most sought-after products.
Touring the Valley of Fire
There used to be a desert where the Valley of Fire now lies, but sand dunes had gradually turned into sandstone, while the wind sculpted them into tall “hives”, gentle “waves”, graceful arches, picturesque valleys with “layered” slopes, and all kinds of figures that were later named. Interestingly, some rocks and faults in the Valley of Fire are more than 150 million years old.
During the six days, the participants of our HR management tour received a lot of new impressions, knowledge and valuable contacts.
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On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.
We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.