ScaleFactor’s first international office is housed in Vancouver, Canada. After opening in May of 2019, this office is home to an extension of our Product and Engineering group. I recently sat down (via video conference) with members of this team to discuss their experiences as the first ScaleFactor international office. It’s immediately clear that they get along well. The banter back and forth was balanced by sincere compliments of hard work.
As we were getting started, one of the folks (who shall remain nameless) spent the first few minutes rapidly cleaning his desk. The other two people on our call jokingly suggested we should do these calls more. Watching this take place from my seat in Austin, I noted the clear camaraderie as they laughed about him putting a dirty spoon in his glasses case to hide it from my view.
Below is a little more about the team and how they work together.
Another Home of the ScaleFam
The team benefits from the leadership of Pavel, who has been with ScaleFactor since July of 2018. When Pavel started at ScaleFactor, he was the only team member in Canada, which meant he frequently flew to Austin to spend time with our Product and Engineering teams. Now, the team enjoys coming to Austin quarterly for our all-hands meeting, when we also fly in all of our remote team members to join.
Asked if the team ever feels like celebrities when they come to HQ, Pavel responded, “I traveled to and from Austin so frequently in the beginning that it felt more like I would arrive and people would unenthusiastically say, ‘Oh, Pavel is here again.’ Now, we go once a quarter and it feels more special to catch up with old friends and meet the newer people. It feels like everyone is a celebrity at ScaleFactor.”
Vaibhav, who goes by V and has been at ScaleFactor since July of this year, moved to Vancouver from New Delhi, India. When asked what it’s like working for ScaleFactor, V said, “I moved across the globe to be here, and I felt really welcome before I even started. They reached out to me before I joined to help me with my move and gave me very useful tips about the area. Then when I started and communicated with other people at the other offices, I realized the same culture exists in the entire company—no matter where you go.”
“Really, the only thing that makes us different from the U.S.-based ScaleFolks is that we use the maple leaf emoji a lot more,” said Kenny.
“It feels like everyone is a celebrity at ScaleFactor.” — Pavel Rodionov
Around the Office
Outside, the Vancouver office boasts bay windows facing a majestic mountain peak. When you enter the building you’ll spot a new board game in the corner that has quickly become a team favorite. Gloomhaven, a role-playing board game makes an appearance every Thursday afternoon. “This is where we reimagine ourselves as stronger characters and solve the world’s problems,” a laughing Kenny stated when I seemed confused.
According to the team, they manage to get out and explore their area through food during scheduled weekly lunch outings. Other times they are inclined to stick with one local gem of the area: Foodies on Board. The restaurant was started by an award-winning chef from Hong Kong who makes a variety of specials every day. I asked what brought the chef to Vancouver from Hong Kong to which Kenny firmly stated, “He’s not about the money—he’s all about the food.”
Pavel, Kenny, and V face a huge challenge being in a different time zone and country from the people who they work with most directly. But they don’t see it this way. The differences in distance mean everyone—themselves included—has improved their communication. The team manages their resources on one platform, which makes managing the distance much easier.
V credited the team and Pavel with the speed of their work saying, “Any tasks that are assigned to us are completed quickly. This is due to a combination of team effort and Pavel’s planning. He plans very intricately so every task is broken down and no one is blocked, which increases our velocity to get stuff done.”
“I moved across the globe to be here, and I felt really welcome before I even started.” — Vaibhav Thakur
Pavel chimed in with a shrug, saying, “I love the culture of shipping stuff, getting stuff done, and delivering value to the customers right away. We have an enormous scope of what we support. Somewhere else it would be terrifying, but here it’s challenging and interesting to work on. The whole surface area of index space we work on with passionate people who love to build software and solve problems is amazing.”
To stay in communication, the team speaks with other ScaleFolks from offices over Slack constantly. If there is ever any misunderstandings or particularly difficult items need further clarification, they are able to hop on a Zoom call to talk it out quickly and get the information they need. The “Get Stuff Done” culture is palpable in speaking with our Canadian colleagues.
The Big One: Tim Hortons
The only proper way to wrap up this discussion with the Canadian team—besides a chorus of O Canada—was a burning question about a Canadian staple. I asked for their verdict on Tim Hortons, and their responses were surprising. The resounding answer was “Man, it’s just sugar,” and, “It’s not that good.” Shocked, I asked if they’d be kicked out of Canada at the publication of this piece. The team agreed that they’d find out, but they stand behind their stance regardless.