Scaling People, Not Just Product: HubSpot’s Internal Conference Week

Over the past few months we’ve been planning our yearly internal conference, affectionately named EPIC Week (Engineering & Product Internal Conference Week). Each year, the team gathers together to run our own set of talks, programs and events that tie back to one goal: to learn from each other. 

EPIC Week

It’s no secret that creating a world class company culture is incredibly important to HubSpot. But when you think of culture, you may not think of continuing education. Sure, we have ping pong tables and cold brew, but we also have an incredibly strong set of values that guide us, both as HubSpotters, and as folks on the Product & Engineering team

We believe that our best perk is our people. That said, we should aim to scale not just product, but also each other. We hire (and are always hiring) great people. It would be a disservice to the team for us not to capitalize on the immense knowledge and insights folks have and are constantly gaining regarding product, engineering and UX. We also believe in sharing openly and being transparent. We want to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to our core values. From that knowledge, and a desire to keep enriching our culture, EPIC week was born. 

What is EPIC Week? 

EPIC Week is our Engineering and Product Internal Conference that takes place over the course of four days each year. We’ve iterated a ton on the content and format over the years, but generally the bones of the week looks like this:

  • 2-3 Keynote events 
  • Engineering talk series 
  • UX talk series 
  • Product talk series 
  • 2-3 miscellaneous programs 

This year we have 700+ attendees, and 60+ speakers and sessions running across our Cambridge and Dublin offices as well as remote. As HubSpot has grown we’ve been able to leverage Zoom for events like these and it’s made a huge difference for the remote experience. Everyone on the team, no matter where they live, is able to participate in EPIC week. 

What content is presented? 

There are multiple different talk tracks that we have running each day during the conference. We call this series the “Whiteboard Talk Festival” (yes, that is WTF for short). When EPIC Week first began many years ago, the WTF was only a small portion of the schedule. We’ve since expanded the WTF to cut across all 4 days and it’s the cornerstone event of the week. Here are our tracks and some examples of the talks in each: 

Engineering track 

  • Why You Don't Have GraphQL Yet
  • Making Friends with Maven
  • Charles Proxy: The Swiss Army Knife of Debugging App Network Traffic

Product track

  • Building and Executing a Vision
  • Why Customer-Obsessed Teams Ship Better Products, Faster
  • Product Rollouts, From A to Z

UX track

  • An Introduction to Screen Reader Audits
  • Visualizing the Invisible Connections Within a HubSpot Experience
  • Picking the Right Visualization for Your Data

Non-tech track

  • Fix Your Writing
  • Meet Your (API) Customer | A Look into HubSpot's Developer Community
  • Becoming a Better Engineer, Designer, or PM by Holding Opposing Ideas in Your Head

Like I mentioned above, we have more than 60 talks in this series so this is just the tip of the iceberg but gives a great view of the types of content we aim to showcase during the week. 

How you could do this at your own company 

It’s likely not surprising to anyone who’s planned events, but EPIC week is a *ton* of work. We’ve iterated on this program for the past four years so luckily we have a lot of momentum around the event. Here are some tips if you want to get this started for your company or team: 

  1. Get leaders bought in early. EPIC week is only possible because the Product & Engineering leadership team advocates for it. They encourage their team members to sign up to give talks and they support each other giving talks as well. 
  2. Pick one goal for the week. One mistake we’ve made in years past is combining too many goals and then not achieving all of them. Or worse, having so many goals that you don’t achieve any of them. Our goal for EPIC week is to learn from each other. That means we aren’t planning social events during the week, or asking external speakers to come in. We’re able to target the content to that one goal. 
  3. Seek out people who are passionate about continuing education and leverage their expertise to source and vet talks. If you’re planning a series like this, it’s likely you don’t know the ins and outs of each function. Planning and sourcing top quality content is not easy. Put team members from all different disciplines on the talk committee to help you ensure content quality is top notch. 
  4. Hype it up! This is an awesome time for folks to stretch themselves through public speaking, or show off their domain expertise. If you have quality content, people will be really excited. So leverage that and have fun with it. 

This entire program wouldn’t be possible without the amazing people who work at HubSpot. If joining a company that takes learning within your role seriously is interesting to you, take a look at our openings. 

Maybe we’ll see you at next year’s EPIC week! 

Emily James

Written by Emily James

Emily James is HubSpot's Product Employee Experience Lead.

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