A while back I wrote about hiring for culture, not skill and I talked about how G Adventures has a culture fit interview which is the final go, no-go as to whether or not an employee is hired. Because of this post, one of the most popular search terms for this blog is “working at g adventures” and I thought I’d take the time to write about what it’s like working at G Adventures.
The people at G Adventures are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. It really makes work enjoyable when coming in every morning feels more like hanging out with friends instead of a tedious chore. Along with the great people, G Adventures also has a very shallow management structure. Above me is my manager, the VP of Technology and then Bruce Poon Tip. This shallow structure allows decisions to be made quickly and without the waste of getting 50 people to approve a single decision.
Bruce is also one of the best CEOs/Owners I’ve ever known. He cares for the business, the travellers and especially the employees. I’ve worked at businesses where you never see the top management team. At G, my desk is 10 feet away from Bruce and conversations happen regularly. This is a leadership quality that I plan on taking to any companies that I create in the future.
Because of the shallow management structure, the developers at G are able to manage our own technology stack. This means that we have the final say on what software we use, what servers we host our stuff on and even on when we deploy. Because of this, we’re also able to try out new technologies faster. If we want to try out the latest CSS/HTML framework, new deployment script or the latest programming language we can try it out. If it works we’ll launch it into production.
To further our learning, G promotes going to meetups and technology conferences. This helps us as developers improve our skills which also helps the company. It’s small things like this that make developers feel at home here and foster a culture of innovation.
One of the important aspects of any company is the culture that it has. If you’re miserable at work it doesn’t matter how much you get paid; it’s not worth it. You often spend more time at work than you do awake at home so the culture has to be right. At G we have a number of things that help create a welcoming culture. Every Friday at 4 pm we have Beer O’Clock. Employees are encouraged to go down to the kitchen and grab a beer (or wine) and mingle. This time allows people that wouldn’t normally talk in their normal workdays a chance to catch up and talk about things outside of work.
We also do a number of things outside of the Travel Industry. In response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we raised over $10,000 for relief. We also have a number of outreach events in Toronto including Christmas in the Community for underprivileged kids. These events just add to the culture at G and make the work environment so much more rewarding.
Culture is so important at G that we even have a special “Culture Fit” interview that decides whether a person is right for the job.
Things We Can Do Better
Open Source All the Things: G Adventures writes a lot of code. With 16 developers and growing, we generate a lot of unique software tools and applications but most never reaches the development community. I think we should release more software, both to give back to the community as well as make our code better.
20% Time: Google is famous for its “20 percent time” policy that has employees working 80% of their week on their normal projects and 20% of their week on projects of their choosing that would normally be outside of their job description. I think this is a fantastic idea that allows developers to think of creative ideas that can benefit the company.
Hackathons: Hackathons are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Whenever I complete a hackathon I always feel revitalized and excited, coming back to work with new ideas on things to work on. I think G Adventures should host semi-regular hackathons, not only for our own developers but for the community as well.