Everyone at the Table
Everyone at the Table is a series that explores everyday topics from the perspective of people... with different perspectives!
Good evening from New York City and welcome to everyone at the table. I'm Hady Mendez, your host and the global lead for Latin Flare, Cloudflare's Latinx employee resource group.
Everyone at the table is a series that brings together people from around the company to explore everyday topics from the perspective of people with different perspectives.
To make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and have their voice heard, I will serve as the moderator.
And as a reminder to all of our viewers, we will be taking your questions at live studio at Cloudflare.tv.
Today on our show, we've invited employees from around the company to talk about how their teams have been staying connected while working remotely.
I really like this topic because I think people can get really creative with this.
On my team, we've done everything from holding virtual happy hours, to doing show and tell, to drawing elephants, to drawing each other, to cooking empanadas together.
I'm really excited and I can't wait to hear what some of your teams have been doing.
So panel, I want to welcome you to the show and let's start off by having you share your name, your job title, and what office you work in.
So Hyojeong, we're going to start with you.
Yeah, it's great to be here. I'm Hyojeong from Singapore office. Right now I'm working with the VDR.
I'm a VDR manager for the Inbound and Expansion team here in APAC.
Awesome. Welcome to the show, James. Sorry, I'm James Ball. I'm also based in the Singapore office.
I'm the head of solutions engineering for APAC.
So the solutions engineering team is a team which manages the pre-sales and post-sales technical relationship with Cloud First customers.
Yes, and as a customer success manager, I get to work with SEs every day.
So welcome to the show, James.
Spencer, you're up next. Hello, I'm Spencer Siegel. I'm based out of the Austin office and I'm on the business development team for new enterprise business.
Awesome. Welcome again. Welcome back to the show, Spencer. Hey, so happy to be back.
And Chloe. Yeah, thanks, Hadi. I'm Chloe. I'm a customer success manager, just like Hadi, and I'm based out of our San Francisco office.
All right. Well, welcome, everyone. Let's dive in. So my first question is, actually, I'm going to combine my first two questions and I'm going to ask you to tell me a little bit about your team, like the composition of your team, how many people is, you know, or is everyone in the same office?
Are people in different offices?
Kind of give me a little, give me and the audience kind of a little perspective about your team.
And then also tell us what your team was like before COVID-19.
So what kinds of challenges did you kind of maybe already experience as a team?
What was working really well and how often did you get together?
So Spencer, let's start with you. Yeah, so for the business development team, I'm on the field team of about 20 people before COVID.
And even now, everyone's scattered all over.
So we have some people that are remote and people based out of all the different offices.
I've only been at Cloudflare since February.
So whenever I started, I was only in the Austin office for four days before they had the work from home order.
Oh my goodness, I had no idea. Yeah, it was a little bit of a bummer, but so that's the side for the business development.
And then I'm also the global lead for GreenCloud, which is the sustainability group at Cloudflare.
Before COVID, we were really unorganized and believe it or not, this has given us a chance to really come together and combine people from all across the organization and the world to, you know, have this joint cause.
So it's been a lot of fun. Awesome. I did not know that. That is such like a unique thing.
So you literally were in the office only four days. Four days. I'm lucky because I got to go to San Francisco.
So that's... Oh yeah, that is great.
Wow. A lot of people aren't able to do that, which is a good experience, but...
Cool. All right. Well, thank you. That's a very interesting perspective. Chloe, tell us a little bit about your team and what life was like on your team before COVID-19.
Yeah, yeah. So I'm lucky enough to be based out of the San Francisco headquarters, which sort of feels like the, you know, where everything's happening sometimes, which is awesome.
And then of course we have teams in Austin, which is pretty new, and then the teams in New York, which Hadi is a part of.
And then, you know, because we work with enterprise customers around the world, we've got teams in Singapore and in London, and we get to talk with those teams, you know, every once in a while when there's availability with the schedules and the time zones.
But yeah. So I would say that, you know, as CSMs, we're sort of working with our own group of customers.
So we're usually sort of, you know, really busy and focused on having a lot of meetings and doing our own thing.
And it can be hard to make sure that we find time to collaborate with each other.
It's always, you know, sort of running past each other in the hallway at the offices.
But I definitely miss, you know, being able to just lean over and ask someone a question or get coffee with someone at a happy hour.
Yeah. I actually feel being part of the same, like, extended team, that Zoom in, like, from home is much better.
Because when we were in the office, I felt like it was very noisy.
And we, you know, doing group to group Zoom calls is not as fun as it sounds.
And I think everyone individually, you know, dialing in, it's just, I feel like it's just been a lot easier to get to know people and share.
Yeah. So that's my perspective on that.
But okay, cool. So that's good. So I like kind of how you set it up.
So Hoojung, tell us a little bit about your team then. Yeah, sure. So in APAC, we have in total about like 29 BDRs.
So and then in my team, we have about 15 BDRs at the moment and counting.
So actually, fun fact is before Singapore went into like this work from home mode, the team was 10 people in my team.
So we basically onboarded five new joiners and entirely work from home set up, which is I'm sure it was very unusual and not easy for the new joiners as well as for the people who work with them to ramp up.
So I think, yeah, in that sense, it was also We lost you a little bit, Hoojung.
Are you, can you hear us? Yeah, sorry. I can't hear you.
Okay, we lost you a little bit. So we missed like the last thing that you said.
Yeah, no, I think I was just saying that that was a very unique experience. Because I say this, because I think previous to the work from home situation, the BDR group, as much as they're very like busy and like packed, usually have a very packed day, just like how CSM mentioned about like very specific scope.
I do think that the BDRs had so much of this quarter talk, you know, live problem solving, as you like, as you go and do your job, there's a lot of interaction going on in the office.
Like I always see BDRs just, you know, crossing each other asking questions, you know, solving some questions that they just been bothering them for a while, they would just go into the meeting room and have a really like organically organized like meeting.
I think we lost Hoojung again. Okay, we're gonna move to you, James, and hear a little bit about Thank you, Hoojung.
We lost a little bit of the tail end of that.
But we're gonna ask James now to tell us a little bit about his team.
Sure. So the the APAC solutions engineering team is split across four offices.
So we have Beijing and China, Sydney and Australia. And we just recently opened about two, three weeks ago, our office in Tokyo, Japan.
And there's a solutions engineer split across all of those locations, a majority of them based in Singapore, we're a team of 28 people in total.
And I think around 21 of those 2122 of those people are based in the Singapore office.
I think for the SE team in APAC, they, it's not been a huge culture shock, the the pandemic, because a little bit different to the US market is, you know, Asia, so relationship driven, and all meetings are expected to be face to face.
So the solution engineering team was already traveling constantly.
So, you know, at any one time, there's probably only 30 to 50% of the team actually in the office, and they just overlap for a few days.
So I think we already have pretty good structure on how to run remote meetings and knowledge sharing sessions, and stuff like this.
But I do similar to what Kyojong was saying, I do think what we've lost in the pandemic is that, you know, the the organic learning when somebody is working on a problem at the desk, and then, you know, a colleague just pops his head corners and I've seen this problem before, have you tried this?
I think that's the part that we're losing.
Yeah. I could relate to that. Yeah, for sure. All right.
Well, that's really good setup. So now, what we what I want to kind of ask you all to share is a little bit about what sorts of challenges you've been facing while staying, you know, in, in trying to stay connected over the last few months.
So if you could give like some specific examples of what's been hard. So Kyojong, we're ready.
Oh, hopefully my connection is not too bad.
Um, I would say two things. One is, as I mentioned before, having these five new joiners having to ramp up in the work from home situation.
Even though I think, I mean, first of all, our sales enablement team and the onboarding team in general have done an excellent job of turning everything into virtual.
I think the piece that we have been missing is really about those organic learnings and a bit of a hand holding in the beginning.
Um, also because in our group, in the BDRs, we have a bunch of, a range of different profile.
Some of them would be a fresh out of uni.
Some of them would be only a couple of years of experience or someone who doesn't have any sales background.
So a lot of the conversations just to kind of understand the sales environment and like, uh, settle in, in the environment that Cloudflare is in.
Um, it's not always about training. The other thing also is, um, the other thing is that a lot of them moved here, like myself, as an expat.
So some of them may not have the whole emotional support system that we all need outside of work.
So I think that part is more personal level, but I definitely recognize some BDRs having that challenges as well.
And myself sometimes as well.
Yeah, that's, that's real. So, um, I can't wait to hear how you've been managing that.
So we'll get to that in a minute. Um, so James, you tell us a little bit about what challenges you all have been facing.
You're on mute.
Oh, there you go. Similar, similar to GoJung, I've had four new people join my team since, since the pandemic.
So, um, it's just bizarre, uh, having people with him team who you've never met in real life.
It's like a very, very strange experience, just completely alien.
So I have one SE based in Tokyo and I've not met him, but we have an office in Tokyo and they're open for business.
So that's great.
He, uh, he's able to interact with the Japanese team. Uh, we have a guy working from home in India and also, uh, uh, another gentleman working from home in, in Taipei in Taiwan, because we just, you know, we can't get work permits at the moment to fly people into Singapore where they'll be based.
Uh, I did hire somebody who's Singaporean recently on my team.
And the great news is that, you know, uh, things are not back to normal, but restaurants are open in Singapore.
So I was able to go and meet him for dinner. First time I've ever met him.
A few others went out. We were allowed groups of five people maximum. So we grabbed four or three other people from the office.
So we all went to dinner. That sounds awesome.
He or she must've been so happy. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it's, it was, it's hard to forget that, you know, obviously when somebody's relocated to Singapore, I mean, we've, I think Kyojo on your team, you had people who relocated to Singapore.
Then we pretty much went into lockdown immediately. Right.
Uh, which must be so tough, but even it's hard. It's easy to forget, but even for a Singaporean who's joined a new company and has never met any of his teammates, it's also really hard for them to, even though they do have that emotional support system because their families are in the same country.
No, these are excellent points. All right. So Spencer, tell us a little bit about what, you all have been facing challenged, like, you know, some challenges you have all been facing.
Yeah, I think, I think there's two, two main things on my end.
Number one, as a team, you know, Cloudflare is growing really fast and the business development team is as well.
And so we have a lot of people joining our team on the field side.
And I think it's kind of challenging for everyone to know not only who everyone is on the team, but where everyone fits in and who to go to for help or for advice.
And then the other thing that I noticed is from my initial time in the office, I was getting to interact a lot with people from other departments.
And now I feel really connected to the teams and the groups I'm involved in, but I think it's hard to, you know, branch out and kind of socialize with people in the other departments, which I think is extremely important.
Yeah, I hear that.
Thanks, Spencer. All right, Chloe, and you can finish us off with the list of challenges.
I'm going to make sure I'm going to keep you honest. Okay.
Yeah, I'm glad that Hugh Jong mentioned the emotional aspect as well. I think like, this has been a difficult time for many people.
So having a lot of honest conversations with different teammates about how everyone's doing and checking in often has definitely been, you know, everyone's facing sort of unique challenges.
I would say, too, to what Spencer was saying, just missing out on like a lot of those in-person conversations.
Like in the SF office, I could go find someone on the product or billing team and ask a question in person, and you have to take a lot of that and put it into the Internet somehow and, you know, find someone online and get ahold of them.
And that can be pretty challenging. Yeah.
My heart goes out for everyone, because I know it hasn't been easy. And like, yeah, we've only scratched the surface.
So what are some things that folks are doing to kind of make things better?
Maybe, James, we can start with you.
What's like at least one thing that you guys have done that seems to be working or getting some traction for improving things?
Yeah, I mean, as I mentioned before, I think we had pretty good infrastructure to, you know, pretty good initiatives in place because we're a team that travels a lot.
So I think we focus less on, you know, the business side.
So, I mean, we have just, we have two knowledge share sessions.
This is nothing new. We have two knowledge share sessions a week on the SE team where we bounce ideas each other.
We do similar sessions every three to six weeks with San Francisco, the London office that's been in place for many years.
We've a lot more focus on one-on-ones. So I have three managers underneath me and each of those managers have seven to eight people on their teams.
I'm doing a lot more one-on -ones with people I didn't do one-on-ones with previously, for example.
So I, you know, it's just an open door policy if you want to have one-on-one with me.
I have ad hoc ones, and then I have, you know, weekly and monthly, depending really on what the engineer's preference is.
And then the individual teams have a 30-minute stand-up every single morning where all of their teams join.
So hopefully that, you know, keeps everybody in touch and everybody knows what are the latest things which are going on and, you know, what are we seeing in the marketplace?
You know, what do our customers really like? You know, how can we improve experience for our customers?
So that's all in place. But I think what we've been trying to focus on is the social aspect, how we get together as a group socially.
So we're doing quarterly. We might increase the frequency.
We did one last quarter. We're going to do one this quarter, a virtual dinner.
So everybody just picked a food delivery service. You have food delivered to your house.
I like that. All eat together on Zoom and then we play the game.
We played one of those, you know, online drawing games. You have to draw a picture and then everybody can take a turn to guess what the picture is.
That sounds like a lot of fun.
Yeah, it was so much fun. And then my team were asking last week, oh, when are we going to do the next one?
So we're going to do that. I bet. That sounds like a really nice team building.
I'm going to pitch it to my manager tomorrow.
Yeah, it was super successful, really fantastic. And then we did something similar for the whole office, which is around 200 people in Singapore.
So we used to have a team lunch every Wednesday. So we reinstated Wednesday team lunches and we've done a pub quiz style team lunch.
And then we did the drawing game team lunch.
That's amazing. That's amazing. Good for you. That's great.
The final initiative we did is we did a virtual fitness event as well. We did one last month.
We're doing one again on Saturday. So anybody wants to participate in the office, track an event in Strava.
And then we built an animated background based off the GPS tracks as well.
Boy, I'm not even going to talk about what we're doing now after all that.
I don't know. Your empanada cooking class sounds amazing.
I really want to do something similar to that. Well, Chloe's going to talk about that later.
All right, Spencer, let's hear a little bit about a strategy you've all put in place that's working.
Yeah, I think a lot of times we'll do a weekly check-in where we all come together.
There's really not an agenda to the call.
But a lot of times things organically come up that you wouldn't have been able to have in a meeting with more of a formal agenda.
So in the office, you get a lot of that dynamic.
And that's something that we're talking about.
We talked about missing. So having that standing thing either once a week for your direct team or maybe once a month for the broader team has been really good for us because you can talk and get to know each other more.
But also a lot of good stuff comes up that wouldn't have otherwise come up in a formal meeting.
I bet. All right, Chloe, tell us a little bit about some strategies in Customer Success.
Yeah, I think I have to talk about the empanada making. Although I'm stealing the dinner idea.
I really like that a lot. It's already prepared for you.
But yeah, the Customer Success team did a virtual empanada making class with an instructor in Argentina, which was awesome.
Although pretty funny watching people on, you know, 20 people on Zoom in small city apartments trying to figure out how to make 16 empanadas.
How did yours turn out, Hadi? Not good. I think if I'm remembering right, my manager ended up with a bowl of meat because his empanada dough never came together.
And I think that happened to somebody else in our Austin office too.
And someone else had like an incident and all her empanadas fell on the floor before she could put them in the oven.
Because we were rushing. It was like such a rush.
I will tell you that I didn't even make empanadas today because I anticipated that it was going to be a show.
So I said, you know what, I'm just going to order Mexican tacos.
I ordered tacos and I ate tacos and I laughed while everyone was, you know, making empanadas.
So I think I got it right that time and I'll do it again.
So did anyone's turn out or was there all just...
Some of them turned out really good. Like I know Neil showed me his empanadas and they turned out great.
Yeah, some of us got some info ahead of time to start preparing the ingredients before the class, which helped a lot for sure.
Yeah, because she was booking through it.
And it was, like Chloe said, it was really funny watching people try to make, try to cook and bake and like, you know, they're on the call and they're like looking and it was just really funny.
All right. Thank you.
That was really fun, Chloe. Okay, last, Huijun, can you tell us one thing that's working because we're, we probably only have time for one more question.
So if you answer, just give us one cool strategy that your team has been using and then we'll go to the next question and I think that's it.
We're going to be out of time.
Yeah, I'm not sure if I would call it a cool one, but I think the new thing I would add is, it's actually really kind of connecting on a very personal level.
Like I think in the, in the one-on-ones that I have, especially because of this emotional support system that I'm aware of, like I was able to have some conversation with, and then I'll try to empathize because of my own situation.
So I was like trying to share my own struggles of not being able to know, like when would I see my family?
Yeah, that's good to know. And try to like empathize, yeah, try to empathize with the person in that position and let them know that, you know, no matter what happens, like aside from everything work, like on the personal level, we recognize it's important.
We recognize that we'll, you know, myself and the company, like we're trying to do everything that we can to like, yeah, I think that's really important on top of all the fun stuff.
I agree that that makes a big difference.
Amen to that one. All right, well, this is going to be the lightning round.
So we're going to kind of move quickly. So I'm going to ask you a question, and then I kind of want like maybe 15 seconds of why.
So is it more important, you think, for teams to stay connected?
Should they spend a lot of quality time together?
I'm sorry, should they spend quality time together, which might not be as much time, but it's good time?
Or should they spend lots of time together?
So quality time versus a lot of time. So this time, we're going to start with you, Chloe.
Where do you stand on this issue? Lots of time or quality time?
You know, I think I would go with quality time. I think a lot of us work in pretty big teams.
And so it's important to find, you know, in order to like talk to as many people to have really meaningful conversations with them.
All right. Thank you very much. Hugh Jung, quality time or lots of time?
Quality time. Okay. James, how about you? Yeah, same thing. Quality time.
Quality time. Hard in big groups to get quality time. All right. Thanks, Spencer.
Are you gonna be different? I think this is a false dichotomy, and we should all be open to finding balance between the two.
I like it. I love it. All right.
On that note, I want to bring this week's segment to a close. A big thank you to all of you for coming today and for sharing the creative ways that your teams are staying connected.
I really enjoyed the conversation and meeting some of you for the first time today.
So thank you for that. Next week on Everyone at the Table, we're gonna be talking to colleagues from around the company about the power of word.
So there's a big momentum in trying to come up with ways to make even language in tech more inclusive.
So we're gonna be hearing from some of our employees who are working on projects related to this.
And we're gonna be back to our U.S. AMIA time next week.
So that's 1130 a.m. Eastern for our viewers. And at the end of the segment, I typically share some good news today.
I'm gonna switch gears a little bit, and I'm gonna share an excerpt from Congressman John Lewis's last letter.
So many of you might know Congressman John Lewis.
He passed away a couple weeks ago. He was a big civil rights activist and leader.
And he actually wrote a letter that he wanted to share with the world after his death.
So this is a little excerpt from it.
He says, though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.
In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love, and nonviolence is the more excellent way.
So now it is your turn to let freedom ring. When historians pick up their pens to write the history of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last, and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war.
So up next, those are beautiful words, right guys?
Up next, please join us for more Cloudflare TV.
And once again, a big thank you to all of you for joining us and everyone at the table where your point of view is valued, appreciated, and heard.
See you next week.
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