Cloudflare TV

Why is Cloudflare a great place to work?

Presented by Alonso Bustamante, Janet Van Huysse, Scott Tomtania
Originally aired on 

Why is Cloudflare a great place to work? This is a networking company do I have to be an engineer to join? Feels like a big place? What makes you stand out from other tech companies?


Transcript (Beta)

Get started. Hello Cloudflare TV. It's good to be with you. My name is Alonso Bustamante coming to you live from the northwest of London where Cloudflare has one of its European offices and joining me today are Janet Van Huysse and Scott Tomtania who lead our people team and our recruiting team.

How are you? Great Alonso.

Thanks for having us today. Thank you for having us Alonso. It's exciting to have you two on board.

It's exciting to do our first Cloudflare TV segment where we're going to talk a little bit about what it's like on the inside, what it's like to be a part of this company.

I think one of the common questions that all three of us get from a lot of people is, you know, do I need to be an engineer to work at Cloudflare?

You know, do I need to be super smart to work at Cloudflare? Do I need to be a follower of, you know, networking services and all these things.

I think we can answer some of these for people tuning in today.

So, excited to talk to you.

But first, maybe we can talk a little bit about how you got here. Maybe you can tell us a little bit of the story of what made you join Cloudflare.

Janet, you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Yeah, sure. I, you know, when I was doing my job search before I joined Cloudflare, I really make long-term decisions.

I like to stay at companies for a long time and I like to be, you know, early.

My 20-year career has been at small startups that, you know, got big. And so, I was looking for that kind of size and I know that's like in my happy place.

And so, but I had this very defining moment in my interview process with Cloudflare and I was having a conversation with Matthew.

We were talking about empathy and I remember thinking, oh yeah.

That's our CEO for people who might not know that. Sorry. Yeah, it's Matthew Prince, our CEO and founder.

And we were talking about empathy, which now I realize we talk about a lot at Cloudflare.

And he, and I was saying, oh yeah, of course, empathy for our customers and, you know, want to be proactive with their needs and respond quickly when they have issues.

And he said to me, Janet, our mission statement is not to help build a better Internet for people who pay us.

It's to help build a better Internet for anyone who uses the Internet. So, when we're talking about empathy, we're talking about anyone who uses the Internet.

We want it to be safe, faster, reliable for, you know, anyone, no matter what corner of the world they live in.

So, this view of empathy was much more expansive than, you know, I was initially thinking.

And I think what's that, what that has resulted in is this really deeply mission-driven company.

And so, I, you know, I, I characterize this a lot as, you know, my job search at that moment went from like a job search, like how do I get this job at Cloudflare?

And it's really, you know, I'm three and a half years in and no, not a day goes by that I don't hear us saying, you know, do, are we doing this because it helps build a better Internet?

Or we're doing this because it helps build a better Internet? Like, it's really a deeply mission-driven company.

And we all have, you know, an aligned sense of purpose in our work.

And it feels more important than ever with the global pandemic and the situations that we're living under now.

So, you know, it was a, one of the smartest decisions I've ever made joining Cloudflare.

And we're happy to have you here.

How about you, Scott? What's your, your origin story at Cloudflare?

Great question, Alonso. I, I really counted very fortunate to have worked in four different tech companies so far, especially for someone whose family comes from a country called Togo.

If you don't know where it is, it's on the West coast of Africa, right next to Ghana.

I, it is really incredible that I've been exposed to Google, Twitter, and Facebook.

And what really drew me to Cloudflare, I remember just having a random conversation with Janet, and Janet said, come check it out.

So I came to Cloudflare, attended beer meeting. And for those who don't know what beer meeting is, it's a company all hands, where we essentially talk about everything.

We present everything from our products, new ideas, anyone can present. I came in and attended, and it was probably the best thing I've ever done.

I didn't know that a company actually existed that exhibited all the different attributes that I was looking for in my next move.

Cloudflare definitely embodied the curiosity, transparency, deep empathy, and respect that I've been looking for in a company, and I was really blown away by it.

And fast forward a couple of months down the road, I went through several steps of interviews.

It was probably a long process in my head, but I'm very, very, very happy that I got to go through that, to be able to join a company that's making a meaningful impact in the world.

That's my story.

Good. Thanks for sharing that. Now, and you mentioned, I think, between both of you, your background is a who's who of big technology names.

You've spent time from places like AOL, and Sony, to Google, to Twitter.

You've been in names that, as our CEO likes to say, our parents would recognize.

What do you think makes this place different than other large technology companies?

Maybe I'm sure there's things that are some commonalities to all great tech companies, but there's some things that make us quite distinct.

Maybe you can pinpoint a couple of those. Yeah, I'll go first on that.

Since I touched on the hiring, at Cloudflare, what's unique here is right from the hiring process, we go slow to go fast.

It's something that I've never experienced at any of the companies that I've been part of, but it's something that I've come to embrace.

The reason for that is that every single person that ends up going through the process ends up understanding exactly who we are, products and services, the teams, why they want to join, if they truly want to join, they better understand our mission, they make sure they're well aligned, and then they get the chance to speak with the CEO or COO, Janet, or our CTO at the end of the process.

This is what you really call a leveled playing field, and that's very unique to Cloudflare.

Yeah, I agree too. I had a bit of a transition with Cloudflare's interview process as well, and what I love about it is we really believe that it's a two-way street.

It's not just Cloudflare getting to know the candidate, the candidate's getting to know us, and getting to know the team, and what the need is for the role, and what kind of impact they would have, and see, is this a company where I'm going to come in and be able to do my best work?

And so then at the end of the process, there's no surprises, and I think that has resulted in such better outcomes.

And I think that's what differentiates Cloudflare for me, is we have these stories from very early days when there was 10 employees at the company, where Matthew and Michelle, our founders, were making decisions about, will this work when we're 100 employees?

How about 1,000?

How about 10,000? And so there's this long-term thinking at Cloudflare that seems quite in contrast to some of the startups that I've been in, where it's just kind of short-term thinking, what's the next thing we need to do this quarter, this year, to be successful?

Where Matthew and Michelle, I mean, they're thinking, we want to be a highly admired, iconic company that endures for generations and all of our decision-making is to that end.

So just such long-term thinking that I think is really different than a lot of places that I've been.

Right. Now, there is something that we've got about 1,300 or over 1,300 employees around the world spread between North America, Europe, APAC.

We've got over 10 offices around the world.

There is a common thread. There's a common thread amongst us three and there's a common thread amongst those more than 1,300 employees around the world.

If you had to take a stab at saying some of the things that make us the same in our differences, what do you think those common threads might be?

Yeah. What it all comes down to for me is the culture of a company, right? And if you're doing this right, it shouldn't feel different if you're in the London office, the San Francisco office, or the Singapore office, or Munich, Beijing, or Sydney.

We should have a common culture, one cloud flair. And in my 20 years in tech, I've developed this very practical definition that culture is the behaviors that you reward.

And so the behaviors that we reward are consistent across all the offices.

And you heard Scott talk about it, being transparent. We really believe in transparent communication in order to build trust.

Doing the right thing, being principled, doing the right thing, not the easy thing.

High empathy, deeply curious, the ability to get stuff done, and embracing diversity to make us better.

So I think those are, we call those the cloud flair capabilities.

They are the behaviors that get rewarded at cloud flair. So sometimes I'm asked, what's your advice to be successful at cloud flair?

And I'll just say, be good at these six things.

And I think that those behaviors are really consistent no matter what cloud flair office you go to.

Right. Scott, anything that you want to add there?

Or maybe even what are some things that you've seen people who haven't found this to be their home for a long term?

What are some of those things maybe?

I think some of the things that might be missing in some of the folks that perhaps didn't find this place as their long term home is, I think you have to really walk into cloud flair and deeply understand that this is a company that's here for the long haul.

If you're looking for a company, just, you know, I just want to join somewhere quickly, make a quick buck.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for.

You might struggle here, right? Because the folks that we have here, I've never seen such a high execution rate before.

Even from my team on the recruitment team to the people team to the product and engineering team.

And it's incredible the amount of talent and the amount of goodwill and passion that we have to be able to get stuff done.

So, I mean, it's a great company tackling a big and vast mission.

So, if you want to join cloud flair, come in. Come in with all your goodwill.

We expect you to be highly productive to help us get stuff done. Yeah.

We like to ship. And that goes beyond product engineering. You know, sales is shipping, marketing is shipping, people team, finance, legal team.

We like to ship.

Yeah, of course. And I think that's important because, I mean, one thing that when I talk to a lot of candidates that I say, and I still believe to be true four and a half years after, you know, originally joining is I don't think I've ever been the smartest person in the room at cloud flair.

And I think that's incredibly humbling.

But at the same time, it makes you really want to, you know, work hard and perform because your peers are at such a high level.

That said, this is probably not a place where, you know, you can coast by by being a smart person, right?

It's about shipping. It's about delivering. And, you know, I think there's a certain humility that goes around with, you know, being in a place like this.

The other thing that I think makes candidates successful here is probably, you know, being used to a rate of acceleration that is high, like our growth curve, it's very high.

And it's unlike many places, at least unlike any place that I've worked at in the past.

If you've been in a high growth technology company, of course, you've seen that, but it requires a certain type of mindset where just things move very, very fast.

Yeah. The point, Alonzo, think about the fact that we're so engaged in defining the next generation of Internet standards.

That's a huge task.

And it takes really, really smart people, very committed, who are paying attention to the details of the Internet, right?

And again, you get into a room at cloud flair, you will learn so much.

There's so much you can get from it. And again, I'll tell anyone who's listening, who loves technology, this is probably the best place to join and learn as much as you want.

Yeah, I want to piggyback on all this too, because, you know, Alonzo, you talk about like the, I think there are a number of tech companies, especially here in Silicon Valley, that they really believe like we're the smartest people in the room, and we have all the answers.

And I think someone like that would really stand out like a sore thumb at cloud flair, right?

Because we've got really smart people, brilliant technologists, brilliant people in all the different roles.

But there's this humility behind it, right?

And so when you are the expert, and certainly we are surrounded by experts, you're a humble teacher.

And I feel like I really get to benefit from the fact that cloud flair really values curiosity and really appreciates people who ask questions, because I'm not deeply technical, and this company is very deeply technical.

And so instead of kind of like smiling and nodding in meetings and jotting things down to Google later, I can ask questions and say, oh, I didn't understand that.

Can you say it in a different way? And instead of people kind of saying, oh, you know, being dismissive, oh, you don't need to know the technology, they'll say, oh, I'm so glad you want to learn, let me tell you it this way.

And so I totally feel Scott, like you do, like I've been able to, you know, get smarter and learn because cloud flair allows me to do that without shame to say I don't know and be able to ask questions and really lean into the learning.

So yeah, that that is also very special to me about cloud flair. You know, it's I get a chance, I get a chance to talk to every new hire who joins our, our London office or current London, London virtual office.

And I usually ask people what has surprised you about this company?

What what hasn't has been new to you, or maybe you didn't expect it.

And I think one of the common threads amongst people who, who respond to that question is people like to teach people take the opportunity to teach and they have time for you.

Whereas in other organizations, I'm sure we've experienced it in other places.

You know, there's that whole mentality of like, you know, I'm busy, I don't have time, schedule a meeting three weeks later, and I might give you 10 minutes.

I think people here are quite eager to teach, you know, as a whole.

And I think that makes for a rich learning environment for curious people, right?

Yeah, so that's why what Scott's point earlier about coming to the all hands meeting that we have every week, we invite candidates to that meeting.

And Scott went and I went as a candidate as well. And yeah, I mean, you get to learn a lot sitting through that meeting.

It's pretty amazing.

Yeah, it's it's pretty incredible. So let's talk a little bit about diversity and inclusion.

This is something that is near and dear to both of your hearts.

You've you've both been with us for for many years. And I know we've had this conversation, you know, a lot, a lot over the years.

How do how does Cloudflare think about diversity and inclusion from a people perspective, an organization perspective, and from a recruiting perspective?

Maybe Janet, you can kick it off.

Yeah, I'll start. You know, we just think this is good business, right?

So there's a ton of research out there that more diverse teams make better decisions, more diverse teams are more innovative, more diverse companies have better financial results, more diverse companies are better place to work for everyone who works there.

And so to go back to being highly principled and long term thinking around the business.

So how are we going to realize our potential is we need to reap all those benefits that diversity offers.

So you know, diversity for us is just how you build a great business, one that's going to be highly admired, iconic and endure for generations, like, we need to build diverse teams for that and build innovative products as a result.

From my perspective, along with what Janet is saying is that at Cloudflare, we've taken steps to be highly intentional about what we do when it comes to diversity.

For example, you see that in the different programs that we support, because we are not just thinking about the short term, we're thinking about the long term approach to it.

And so we put that back on the managers, and we want them to learn a lot about why diversity is very, very important for us.

And we want each and every manager, each and every team to think about diversity when they're hiring, each and every step of the way.

I think that's a very important thing for us. The next step is, we are always willing to experiment on different things.

And we've built partnerships with groups like PathForward, with Afrotech, we've attended the Great Soccer Conference a number of times.

And we are pushing the envelope every step of the way, because we also understand that with the current global demographic, for us to be able to build a business that our parents know about, that our families know about, that our communities know about, we really have to embrace diversity, and we're taking it each step of the way to be able to do that.

You know what else, Scott, that you mentioned, it reminded me is, you know, in a lot of companies that I've worked in, if you didn't have these few specific schools on your resume, or these few other companies, you were never considered.

And one of the things that I love about Cloudflare is we hire a ton of people outside of tech, and they find their way very unconventional paths.

And the tech in Cloudflare, I think, does a really great job of spotting that talent and bringing them into the company, where other companies were, I think, just quick to dismiss, you know, that kind of background.

And so I think we've been really able to benefit from a diversity point of view in our willingness to really look for talent and potential, and not necessarily just have to look for certain names that are on a resume.

I guess, while we're on this subject, like how do, and we alluded earlier to the fact that, you know, we consider ourselves a global company.

We've got, I forget the exact number, I think 13 offices around the world.

You know, I can think of off the top of my head, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, New York, London, Lisbon, Singapore, Sydney, and I'm missing many others.

I'm surprised I missed the Chicago one.

Janet's from Chicago, so I'm surprised I missed that one.

But I guess, how would you describe how offices interact with each other, and how teams interact with each other to enrich ourselves, maybe from an international perspective, from a geographic perspective, and learning from what's going on in the rest of the world in our different offices?

Yeah, I think our weekly all-hands is a big part of that, and I love, and we are, I think, do this really well.

There's presenters from across the company, right? It's not just the executives getting up and talking.

In fact, it's rarely the executives getting up.

It's really people across companies, across different teams, and across all locations sharing their work, and it could be something that we're really proud of, that we're about to launch, or have launched, and share the results, and it's also things that, you know, didn't go as planned, or didn't go well, and what we can all learn from it.

So, I really think that weekly all-hands is kind of the backbone of our internal connection, internal communications.

We also have a role that we introduced recently called site leads.

So, each office location has a site lead, and they meet regularly, and have their own chat rooms, and talk about ways that they can, you know, either amplify what's going on in those, in their offices, and make sure that we're all aware of cool stuff that's happening around the world, and also connecting with each other, and I think that kind of connective tissue between offices for the site leads has been, you know, really impactful in the last year at the company, and will just continue to be more and more important as we grow, and get more distributed, and more global.

To add to Janet's point, she touched on the intentionality part of it, how we've created a lot of, you know, a couple of different roles like the site lead.

You see that many teams at Cloudflare also alternate between time zones.

If they have teams that span across Europe, U.S., and Asia Pacific, they do that intentionally so that they can make sure that all of our meetings are inclusive across the globe, and that's very, very unique here.

I know that a lot of other companies that do that, but I would say here you don't feel like, you know what, if I miss the meeting, I'm not going to be able to catch on to it because it was in a different time zone.

So, it's something that many of our teams and our leaders have done intentionally to ensure that the messages that are going across are being heard by everyone across the globe, and wherever they are, that everyone is participating within the company.

Well, and our customers are across the globe, right? So, we want to make sure we're close to them.

Yeah, I mean, as somebody who's based out here in London, like I know that, and I can tell to anybody who's listening that, you know, we get maybe half of the meetings in a live schedule, and maybe half of the meetings in a, or the all-hand or company-wide meetings on a video recording that we will watch the next morning, and that's done in very intentionally so that, you know, our APAC team can see things that are done live, and so the EMEA team can also see things that are done live, and we can mix and match.

And they can present, right, Alonso? Like, not just watch it live, but also be part of the presentations and share their work.

Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know, there's probably somebody sitting in, you know, Sydney right now listening.

There's probably somebody sitting in Johannesburg listening to us and thinking, like, well, that actually sounds like a, I've been a follower of Cloudflare, you know, from a product perspective.

I've always thought that their product has been cool, but that actually sounds like a place that I identify with.

That sounds like a place that, you know, resonates with me. What are the right avenues, and what are the options available for somebody who wants to learn more about Cloudflare, and whether they could join our team, or if this is the right place for them?

Great question, and I'll take a lead on that one.

Building a better Internet goes beyond just building products and services.

We need great people, and what I would say is there are a number of things that you can concretely do.

Number one is there's a repository of everything you need to know about Cloudflare from a life at Cloudflare, from the products, from the technology, what we're shipping, how we think through things, and that's our blog post.

So, if you deeply care about joining Cloudflare, indulge yourself in the blog posts.

Read them, learn a lot about it. The more you learn about it, the more you get really familiar with the company, the more you would want to join the company.

Number two, I would say take a look at the career site.

You see that we're hiring a ton across the globe, and we don't just hire engineers, and as you can see, Alonzo, Janet, and I are not part of the engineering group, so we're hiring sales professionals, we're hiring folks to do customer support, and we're hiring for tons of other roles, so take a look at them, familiarise yourself with them, and then the third step I would say which a lot of people do right now is go to LinkedIn, take a look at our roles that are posted, find someone that you think might be in that role, reach out to them.

Everyone at MetaCloudflare is willing to respond back to you, even if it takes them a couple of weeks to do so, and they're willing to share some insight into how to get started with a role at Cloudflare.

All right, I've got a question for Scott, so I want to know, I really love cover letters, and you don't really see them that often.

I mean, I've been in tech for 20 years, so I used to see them a lot, so I love a cover letter that really brings to life someone's resume.

Your resume is kind of straightforward, right, about the experiences and skills, but the cover letter I feel like really tells you the story that a resume can't in the applicant's words, and like why I love Cloudflare, like why I want to work here, why Cloudflare is the right next fit for me, and so I love cover letters.

I'm curious if you feel the same way about them that I do.

I would say I'm ambivalent about them, so I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I read the cover letter, but what I've read the most is someone who sent me a personal note without an actual cover letter attached that asked me, hey, Scott, I'm very curious to learn more about how you got started in tech and how you ended up at Cloudflare, and I will make time and jump on a quick call and walk them through my career and how I can help them join the company.

Those are more powerful, so if you are going to write a cover letter, I would say take a deep step back and be more creative beyond that and reach out to someone in your field that you're willing to learn from and go beyond the generic sense of the cover letter and be real about it.

Yes, well, that's what I'm saying, like I don't want a generic one, like that one's like you may as well not have one, but one that's like deeply personal about you and why you'd be a fit and why you're excited about Cloudflare and why, you know, it's something that you wouldn't, I would know that this is that this is only going to Cloudflare, right?

It's very specific. Yes, I would, I like those.

I would worry, Janet, about another attachment to go along with it, especially if it's too long, but to your point, I would probably not attach another letter but write it in the body of the email or the note I'm sending and write a couple of lines around why you are very interested in Cloudflare.

I guess if I'll add something to that is I think sometimes candidates might underestimate how much we want to know who you really are, not just what you can do.

I think the minimum viable requirement for anybody coming into the door is what they can do.

What really makes people stand out and differentiate themselves in the process is who they are and I think, you know, we care about who you are as a person.

We care about, you know, being our colleague and we care about who we're going to be spending time in, I guess, in these Zoom virtual meeting rooms now, but that's really important.

So I was recently talking to a candidate and it's like, oh, you really like the hobby line or the interest line?

It's like, of course, like you're a person. You're not just, you know, a resume and those things are important and those make you, those things also make you stand out.

So I guess one. I agree. I like that stuff on a resume.

Absolutely. I guess one last question for you, for both of you is, and we've got three minutes left, so we're going to make them short answers, is, you know, I feel I'm a candidate.

I don't know enough about the Internet. Will I be able to learn about it?

Will Cloudflare train me? I'd bring some skills, but will I learn about the Internet and will Cloudflare invest in my development and my learning?

So this is where Cloudflare value and curiosity, I think, really shows up in spades is, you know, we don't expect everyone to come in being an Internet expert.

But we will, like, we do expect you to, like, learn the business and why our products and services are important and who our customers are.

And to, you know, if you want a head start on that, there's no place better than the blog.

Like Scott is very right.

Indulge yourself in the blog. I love that line. But no, we will come in.

And like I said, our all hands has been a tremendous learning experience for me every week, three and a half years, and I'm still learning.

And, you know, and one of the things that I love about being curious, too, is I'll always invite new hires, like, go meet someone new and say, hey, I'm a new hire.

I just joined the finance team.

Like, what team are you on? What are you working on? What do you do?

Why do you like working here? And so to really engage in conversations with your coworkers, like, we really like to Scott say, like to candidates, like, come reach out to me.

I would love to talk about it. That's how everyone at Cloud.

We have over 1,300 people that would love to talk to you about their work and how it impacts our business.

And so to really have those conversations with your coworkers and learn.

Yeah. And another tool and another link I would mention is our roadshow video.

A number of candidates have mentioned that as being a great tool for them to do a crash course on Cloudflare.

And you can find that on YouTube, right?

On the Cloudflare YouTube page. Yes, you can find that on YouTube and perhaps you can send us as part of what we send out after this session.

And then number two is that when you join, you actually go through an orientation and you're off limit to your team for an entire week where you learn a lot about Cloudflare.

Matthew, our CEO, and I'm sure our COO still present, including Janet, talk about culture.

You learn a lot about Cloudflare. So I'm going to make it short.

I think we have a few seconds left. So back to you Alonzo.

Janet, Scott, thank you so much for joining us today. Congratulations on your Cloudflare TV debut.

It's good to have you here. Hopefully the people around the world who are listening in learned a little bit about who we are and what we stand for.

Thank you, Cloudflare TV. Thank you, Janet and Scott. Have a great day. Thank you, Alonzo.

Thanks everyone for tuning in.