Culture

Contino has grown from a small team of four to a global tribe of 150 since I first started here two years ago as the company’s second permanent employee (originally in London, now in New York). In the US alone, we have nearly doubled the size of our team since I previously discussed how enterprises can attract top talent (and that was just 3 months ago!).

Before I joined the company, I had pretty good insight into the overall vision and culture because Contino was actually a recruiting client of mine. It made the decision to join a lot easier, and as I helped hire and build out the teams in the UK and now the US, it was very important to me to keep that vision and culture at the forefront while screening candidates.

As it turns out, there’s also a real corporate benefit to having a strong culture that can affect the balance sheet. As James L. Heskett wrote, “effective culture can account for 20-30 percent of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.”

I think that makes sense; the culture created by Contino co-founders Matt Farmer (our CEO) and Ben Wootton (our CTO) has certainly proved a big reason for our continued growth and success. It really makes Contino an incredible place to work. In my opinion, culture should definitely be on the top of any list of reasons to work anywhere.

But how do you successfully scale that culture as the business and headcount continues to grow?

Here’s a few things I’ve found to be crucial:

Most importantly: we don’t hire talented jerks!

That has been the motto from day one. We could be interviewing the most talented engineer or recruiter or salesperson in the world, but if we think they could cause tension or problems in our working environment, then we won’t hire them. Other candidates also tend to like this rule because it means they’ll be working with good people, who also happen to be very talented.

We follow this up by fostering collaboration as much as possible within the business. Encouraging productive and harmonious attitudes is also crucial: minimizing pride and ego and helping everyone (whether they’re in the US, UK or Australia!) to help each other.  

Also, from day one there has always been a no-nonsense policy. It’s simple: everyone is transparent and honest with each other. Ensuring an adult environment in which you are trusted to do what you need to do has been an important part of what makes Contino a successful venture.

Flat hierarchy and approachable leadership!

We know the day-to-day stresses of work and life sometimes get to be too much, so we try and maintain an ‘open door’ policy to encourage communication between all levels of the business and keep the hierarchy as flat as possible.

We also organize a team night out with food and drinks once a month as a way of keeping everyone connected, which will only become more important as we grow. It's always fun to meet people within the business and get to know them personally (and not just their Slack avatar!).

A hiring committee can help maintain quality

We have a hiring committee of people who are always involved in the hiring process. Our core team of interviewers have been involved in almost every hire. By doing this, we have stayed true to our ‘no talented jerks’ motto. Because, while people can typically be taught to use various technologies, we can’t teach someone the right attitude. We also like to hire people that love to learn, and we encourage employees to keep learning by providing a generous budget to do so.

Trust and treat people well

Personally, I believe that a cornerstone of good culture is trust, particularly between the management and the various teams. This means that everyone can have fun, work in their own style and preferred way, but still be highly productive. I believe policies like this increase productivity and help build peer relationships. People enjoy going to work knowing they can be trusted to do their job without being micromanaged.

We also believe in treating people well. We want to make sure everyone feels valued and not just a resource in a spreadsheet or another cog in the machine.  

While it may sound clichéd, what we have built actually does feel like a small family. People get on very well, better than I ever thought possible: we laugh, we joke, we make fun of each other, and we enjoy hanging out outside of office hours.

Finally…

These past two years at Contino have been incredible. It’s awesome to see how fast we’re growing, but it’s even more rewarding knowing we’re hiring the right kind of people. Being able to help make Contino the type of place where people want to work is something I am incredibly proud of, and I'm one of the lucky ones that can hold my hands up and say I love going to work every day. At a young company like Contino, you never know what’s in store for you each day, but if the next two years are anything like the last two, it’s definitely going to be a wild and exciting ride.

We are hiring for the business in multiple areas: Sales, Technical Consultants, Recruitment and Delivery across the globe - so please get in touch! My email is rhys.davies@contino.io.

  • Rhys Davies

    Recruitment Director (US)

    Rhys is our Recruitment Director who has extensive experience in the DevOps recruitment sector reaching back over a number of years, since the demand for those with related skills hit its inflection point. Since then, he has assisted many organisations in the UK and rest of Europe in building talented, collaborative and technically strong teams that can meet continuously changing business demands. Since he has joined Contino at the start of 2016, when the company received its VC investment, he has been instrumental in the growth of the organisation bringing in some of the best global talent within the DevOps sector.

    Recognising that the approaches and technologies used by DevOps are constantly evolving, Rhys tracks developments as part of his involvement with the world’s largest DevOps Meetup, based in London. His knowledge of emerging technologies has been enhanced recently with exposure to hands-on Docker experience at community events. Rhys also retains a high profile within the community as a leading recruiter through his attendance at conferences, seminars and other major networking events.

    A true believer in the efficiency and profitability benefits that a DevOps philosophy can bring to enterprises, Rhys also maintains a basic level of technical competence. In his spare time he produces music and also runs a successful vinyl only record label