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August 31, 2017, Article

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Always a startup: 4 major brands tell us why they’ll never lose sight of culture

But what happens when your family rapidly expands in size across multiple markets around the country? Much like maintaining any kind of long-distance relationship, startups can have a tough time staying grounded while they scale. Here’s how some of the larger startups in NYC have managed to keep their cultures strong.

MediaMath started back in 2007 in NYC as a way for marketers to engage in real-time media buying. Since then, the team has expanded to 16 offices across North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. SVP and global head of professional services Jenna Griffith joined the team in 2008 as employee number eight. The team is now 750 employees and growing. She told us what the team does to keep everyone feeling the way they did 742 employees ago.

How do you retain a startup culture despite having grown so quickly?

The ability to not only share new ideas, but also put them into practice and try them out within a short period of time was a major reason why I joined MediaMath almost 10 years ago, and I want to provide others with that same ability to innovate. My team has found success in keeping this culture alive through frequent and informal all-hands meetings, both in and out of the office, as well as consistent transparency to the team on what’s working and what needs improvement. Further, fostering global mobility across roles and regions keeps a high level of excitement and knowledge sharing embedded in the day-to-day. In short, the right people combined with a high level of communication, transparency and mobility has been key to continual innovation and a fun and open culture.

Why is it important for your company to keep its small startup feel?

One of the key outputs of a startup is constant innovation, which I have always known as a good thing for company health. Without fostering the culture described above, innovation can quickly be snuffed out by process, often leading to people feeling out of touch with the company and its goals.

What are some challenges you’ve faced when trying to keep a strong culture with such a large team? How do you overcome them?

There are always challenges when you are running a large, global team. People in remote offices can feel cut off from what is happening at headquarters. You can’t help geography, but you can do things to bridge the gap. Ensure regular visits by and to teams in other offices; keep multiple channels of communication open across email, phone, HipChat and other telecommunication and collaboration tools; schedule meetings at times where most global teams can join; regularly solicit input from these teams so they know their voices are heard from afar; and ensure you are developing and recognizing talent no matter which office they are in.

Read the rest on Built in NYC.

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