The Culture of Aumni
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
At Aumni, we encourage everyone to share their learnings and insights as we grow and adapt to our ever-changing environment and within our individual roles. My name is Lindsey Everill, and I am the HR Assistant at Aumni.
When I was asked to write on Aumni culture, my first thought was to write about Aumni’s values. Past companies I have worked for have had long-established, formal, written values that framed company culture. By contrast, Aumni is a newer startup that hasn’t yet presented or written a formal values set. At first I was completely stumped on how to write an article about company culture with no values to guide my thoughts, but I realized I was approaching this article the wrong way. Culture is not only derived from established values, but is also made up of great people who ultimately play a huge part in developing those formal, written values that so many future employees look to. I viewed this as a great opportunity to individually poke my head in on what my fellow colleagues thought of our Aumni culture.
First and foremost, I was relieved none of them said anything about the free snacks and drinks in the kitchen. Surprisingly, all of them had similar observations and thoughtful insights.
Here is what I’ve found:
Desire & Passion: We have a lot of high performers with a humble attitude and a results-driven focus. As a result, there is real grit and determination to achieve our goals together. We have business development team members working directly with product developers to facilitate end-user feedback into new product ideas. Conversely, no one is above learning something new thus enabling us to be open minded and do our best each day. Software Engineer Nate Western said “If I don’t understand something, literally any person I ask will take the time to help me understand a concept.”
Communication & Transparency: Vice President of Pixar, Ed Catmull, said “... to hoard ideas only impeded our ability to get to the finish line.” According to Catumull success within a company comes from sharing ideas, responsibilities, feedback and opinions. There is a realism behind Aumni’s transparency with one another. Without having to establish guidelines on communication, everyone stays in touch and shares ideas through exceptional team-collaboration, email, Slack and Zoom. We meet weekly as a company to give real-time feedback and updates about the status of the company, celebrate big wins for the week, share lessons learned from our losses, and touch on financials. No one is left in the dark, and everyone is encouraged to speak up and ask questions. There’s a company-wide open door policy.
Caring People: Aumni has a dedicated Slack channel to give out “gold stars”— which are given out daily to any Aumni employee doing great work. This form of communication helps employees feel publicly recognized for their contributions and lets them know their work is valued. Aumni is also very unique in that it encourages its team members to do what makes them happy—and more importantly, healthy. Woke up to a fresh snowfall? Go shred some powder. Not feeling well? Feel free to work from home. Lastly, Aumni employees care about one another’s well being and go out of their way to get to know each other outside of work, which builds stronger bonds. We genuinely care about each other.
What I have learned from this project is that no two companies will define their culture the same way -- and that’s okay. What works for one company might not work for another. Aumni is on the right track letting our culture unfold naturally while its values may not be set in stone yet. We are an amazing group of people that have created a superb culture organically and will continue to hone in and focus on what already makes us wonderful. I have no doubt that when our values are created they will reflect what already has made us great.