At HubSpot, we believe that learning and sharpening our craft is part of growth. We're serious about it and our culture is shaped by it. Below, hear from Anthony Roldan, Sr. Director of Engineering, about a few traditions and rituals which epitomize our culture of continuous learning in Product & Engineering at HubSpot.
This week is our Engineering and Product Internal Conference (or EPIC for short), and it’s one of my favorite HubSpot Product traditions that we have. During EPIC Week, we dedicate half of every day to a series of talks from people in different roles across the product organization on everything from deep dives into testing strategies in Java to driving cross-functional projects to strategies for working remotely out of an RV. And although EPIC week is an outlier in terms of scale, the broader theme of growing each other and sharing knowledge, stories, and context is built into HubSpot’s culture and rituals in so many ways.
At HubSpot, we believe that learning and sharpening our craft is part of growth. We’re serious about it and our culture is shaped by it. We’re obsessed with helping our customers grow – solving for growing businesses, growing use cases, and a growing role for technology in small to medium sized businesses everywhere. Along with helping our customers grow comes growing our team and growing the people in it.
We talk a lot about scaling our product and systems but in our product and engineering values we also talk about “scaling each other.” We know that the time we put into teaching and learning is incredibly high-leverage: it gives our teams more context, a bigger toolbox to apply to problem solving, and helps us avoid making the same mistakes twice.
So on top of EPIC week, I wanted to share a few traditions and rituals that I love which epitomize our culture of continuous learning and scaling each other.
Engineering Onboarding Workshops: Learning from day one
Unsurprisingly, learning starts the first day on the job and goes on from there. As soon as new engineers land on their teams after HR introductions, they start by going through an onboarding workshop. The workshop walks new hires through the very basics — getting a local environment set up (with a script, of course – we’re talking minutes not hours) all the way through to building and deploying a full-stack app, sampling the basics of how writing code, development, testing, deployment, and monitoring work at HubSpot.
The workshop gives all our new engineers a foundation in our software development best practices and most-used internal tools. New hires leave knowing how to set up new repos, how we structure our projects, how dependency management works, and how to leverage test frameworks. And since new hires almost always start in groups, they get peer support from other new hires (as well as designated HubSpot mentors) as they work through the workshop in a dedicated Slack channel.
Our infrastructure teams and new hires themselves keep the workshop up to date (it’s powered by markdown files living in a git repo) as our stack and tooling evolve, creating an evergreen resource that captures the latest recommendations for building software at HubSpot.
Company Meetings: A foundation in SaaS economics
Like many companies, HubSpot leaders host a quarterly meeting that everyone in the company attends across levels, locations, and functions. Our leaders cover company strategy, key plays, and business results. But it’s not just big announcements and rah-rah.
Every quarter, our CFO Kate Bueker gives a software-as-a-service (SaaS) economics 101 introduction, taking everyone from the newest hires to C-level execs through the key metrics that we and other SaaS companies care about, defining them for everyone, and clearly explaining the signals we’re seeing and how those translate to company priorities.
And then as we go deeper into business, product, or people strategy, the rest of the leadership team can tie those strategies directly to the business metrics we’re trying to move. Nobody makes assumptions about what everyone knows and it gives everyone in the company greater shared context.
Tech Talks: Actionable lessons from our peers
We have a weekly all-hands meeting within Product and Engineering for an hour every Wednesday, hosted by a member of the engineering leadership team. Each week, someone from the Product team - could be an engineer, designer, user researcher, product manager, or anyone else - shares a bit about a technology, tool, process, or idea.
Having our roots in a marketing company, each Tech Talk usually comes with a call-to-action too – a way that folks in the audience can start using what they’ve learned in an actionable way, extending past just curiosity.
Tech Talks have been the place where we've “officially” introduced new technologies to our stack, shared our approaches to reliability, and explained internal platform changes.
Here are a couple of recent tech talks to give you a taste of the kinds of things we get to learn about every week:
- Evolving ChatSpot into a Native AI-Powered Co-Pilot for HubSpot - a couple of engineers on the newly formed ChatSpot team talked about how ChatSpot and LLMs work, the development philosophy behind it, and how teams can plug their apps into ChatSpot’s AI-powered chat interface.
- Unlocking Scale with Product-Led Growth - engineers, product managers, and designers from our Growth org talked about how we think about product-led growth, shared some success stories, and how different apps can leverage our PLG components library in their apps.
Engineering Leadership Show & Tells: Building strong teams and orgs
Learning doesn’t stop as our employees grow, either. One new addition to our learning rituals, started by Richa Khandelwal, one of our engineering directors, was the creation of Engineering Leadership Show and Tell. As any engineering leader will tell you, success in a leadership role is a lot more nuanced than just having deep technical knowledge.
This show and tell is open to anyone on the engineering leadership team and gives our leaders a place to trade stories, learnings, and techniques around anything leadership-related, from encouraging adoption of a new technical framework within a group to rolling out a successful re-org to building stronger team alignment.
PEER Week: Global Collaboration at Scale
Seminars and workshops are only part of the picture here, of course. Professional development and learning is as much about building relationships and collaborating together as it is about growing each of our toolboxes.
As a global, hybrid company, we’ve found there’s no substitute for getting together in person when it comes to learning about each other and building and deepening personal relationships. So while it’s not strictly learning-related, one of my favorite new traditions for development is our Product Engage, Excite, and Reunite week – generally referred to as “PEER Week.” During PEER week, we bring all of a region (so North America or Europe) together into our Cambridge and Dublin offices in-person so teams can meet up face-to-face.
We spend the week with workshops, introductions, brainstorming, shared meals, and white-boarding. Diving deep on how we use in-person time to strengthen the connections we form online is a whole other blog post, but suffice it to say that PEER week is one of our most popular programs for good reason.
Honestly, it was a struggle to pick just five examples of how committed to personal and professional growth HubSpot is. Learning and growing is part of every day on the product team at HubSpot, from a new software engineer joining on their first day to an executive-level engineering leader. It’s a critical part of our culture and key to how we grow better for ourselves, for HubSpot and for our customers.