We caught up for coffee with Justin Hancock, Global Head of B2B Marketing at Gett, to find out how one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe tackles professional development.
How Am I Going: Justin, firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Perhaps next time we can have our coffee delivered via Gett Taxi?
Justin Hancock: Indeed. The sector’s definitely about more than just transporting people now. We’re now using our ecosystem to move the things people want to them (as you can see from some of our additional offerings in the app).
HAIG: Tell us about Gett and its employees. How does Gett differ to other places you’ve worked?
JH: I’ve worked exclusively for startups since I left university, some my own. I enjoy the environment because it’s highly engaging. You work on a range of problems that require creative thinking – there’s nothing mundane about the day to day.
Most of the entities I’ve been with have been early stage ventures. Gett is a now a late stage startup with over 720 employees and $600m in funding, so the workplace vibe is basically the aforementioned scenario on steroids.
"Prioritisation is key at Gett as there’s so much happening on a day to day basis – you can work super hard but on the wrong stuff, and then you’re good to no one."
HAIG: What’s the key reason behind Gett being able scale as rapidly as it has – both from the customer side and from the employee recruitment and retention side?
JH: On-demand mobility and the movement of goods and services to people is a BIG market (we’re talking trillions globally). In short, Uber can’t address it all and we’ve been able to take a slice of the pie because of this and because of our differentiators, for instance a comprehensive enterprise solution. Strong results attract strong investment and strong talent, so now we’re just growing as quickly as we can, and attracting some great people along the way who are loving the experience.
HAIG: OK, so it’s clear that Gett is a leading innovator when it comes to on-demand mobility and that your colleagues know a thing or two about on-demand platforms. Tell us about how your colleagues responded to our on-demand mobile feedback platform at howamigoing.com?
JH: HAIG is a simple product, done well. My colleagues at Gett were really impressed with how the clean the platform was and how it addressed a real problem in the market. Most startups get too lost in their idea and end up creating something overly complex and shiny that the market doesn’t need, at great expense.
Congrats on a job well done guys.
HAIG: Thanks! Moving onto the topic of feedback then, what does professional development mean to you? And what does professional development mean to Gett?
JH: For me, it’s about making sure your career moves in a direction you want it to, and provides a fulfilling and challenging experience along the way.
At Gett, it’s about how we learn from experimentation to grow. Understanding where we go wrong and learning from that in a positive way is a big part of the culture, as is being humble and not egotistical – we find that if the environment encourages continuous, fast learning with no egos and no scorn for getting things wrong, people think outside the box, take risks and develop fast.
HAIG: Other than being an early adopter of How Am I Going?, in what other innovative ways does Gett foster professional development? What’s the feedback culture like in general? Does it differ across your offices in Tel Aviv, New York, London and Moscow?
JH: Appraisals are done in a globally homogenous way, but there’s of an more informal culture of guidance and helping each other out in the company too. It happens vertically and horizontally, and by that I mean I learn a lot from those more senior to me here, but also from my peers and those who are more junior. Helping your colleagues out on a more informal basis breeds connection and diversifies your learning. The only difference between our offices is whether feedback is delivered over a Bud, a Stella, a Tolstiak or Goldstar.
HAIG: Which attributes tend to get people promoted faster at Gett?
JH: Doing the right work is a big thing here. Prioritisation is key when there’s so much happening on a day to day basis – you can work super hard but on the wrong stuff, and then you’re good to no one.
It’s important to work efficiently on the right things, and to lead well. Often that doesn’t mean you’re a manager, merely someone who owns the project you’re working on and accepts full responsibility for it not hitting the mark if that be the case.
"People need and want feedback consistently and an easy to use platform that allows for 360 reviews is what the market’s been waiting for in my opinion. HAIG is addressing a problem I personally can relate to, as well as everyone at Gett I’d say"
HAIG: How often are you asked for feedback from your team, and what’s the usual feedback medium? What’s your view of the ‘right amount’ of feedback?
JH: I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think anyone asks enough for feedback, and of course they don’t get enough. The more, the better. As mentioned, it’s a great way to develop your career and also one’s relationship with your colleagues. Here at Gett, casual interpersonal feedback or the Annual Appraisal are our only two mediums.
HAIG: Being at the helm of a high-growth tech company, what role do you see technology playing in professional development going forward?
JH: I definitely think the area is ripe for disruption. People need and want feedback consistently and an easy to use platform that allows for 360 reviews is what the market’s been waiting for in my opinion. HAIG is addressing a problem I personally can relate to, as well as everyone at Gett I’d say.
HAIG: So, to wrap it up then, what’s the best piece of feedback you’ve been given and why?
JH: Man that’s a tough one. I feel I’ve been the beneficiary of some amazing feedback over the years. One piece I got from a high powered tech CEO recently though is worth sharing.
In a super high growth scenario where so much is on the line and the pressure is acute, it’s often easy to get too caught up in it all. You can literally care too much. This individual’s point was literally, “care less”. In caring less, you stress less about outcomes and get on with the job, and you’re more inclined to take risks which you think will deliver value because you’re not concerned with what people will say or think about you if it goes wrong.
Practise “not caring” (within reason!) and suddenly you don’t feel like you’re dragging the weight of the business on your shoulders, which ultimately will cripple and burn you out. You should be enjoying your work and having fun. If not, time to feed that back to your bosses and move on!
HAIG: And lastly… what’s the next big thing for Gett? Any particular on-demand segments or geographies that you’re focusing on and able to share?
JH: It’s all a bit hush hush as you can imagine but we’re all pretty excited about our latest investment from Volkswagen. It’s great to be working with one of the world’ leading automakers on literally the future of human mobility. Watch this space.