Apr 7, 2022

Giant Things are Happening at Giant Machines

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By Drew Welton

Someone whose work can genuinely drive business growth…we wouldn't have gotten this far, this quickly, without you CEO and Managing Partner, Bow & Arrow

2021 was a challenging year for businesses, as we all entered a second year of upheaval and uncertainty from the pandemic. However, for Giant Machines, it was also an opportunity to put its culture into practice. 

“Giant Machines is a very flexible and understanding organization,” Jen tells us. It has no serious mindset that employees need to be in the office five days a week or even be local to New York City. “We really trust our employees to get the job done, and to sit wherever they need to sit to have the time they need with their family.”

Throughout the pandemic, Giant Machines brought in outside experts to lead sessions on managing anxiety and stress for the team. “They're not just this part of their professional selves when they come to work. They're the whole being. So whatever's going on in their lives with the pandemic or lack of childcare, we really wanted to be able to meet them where they're at,” Jen said.

The sessions provided a level of vulnerability that might not have been experienced in a more normal, non-pandemic setting. People started sharing some of the challenges they were facing, which led to greater understanding and empathy. “It strengthened the bonds of not just the individual teams, but across the company as a whole,” Jen said. 

 

Giant Machines Grow to Become, Relatively, Giant!

2021 was also a year of tremendous growth for Giant Machines. Jen oversees recruitment and talent development, and tells us the agency began in 2021 with about 30 full-time team members; it ended the year with nearly 80! Along the way, Giant Machines didn’t lose sight of the culture it established seven years ago, when it had launched as a much smaller company.

I always say we just have a group of really kind, good people who enjoy doing great work and learning from each other.

 - Jen Cox, People Manager at Giant Machines


Jen tells us she’s proud of how the agency managed to bring in such a large number of new people while still finding success and making sure everyone was folded into the agency’s culture of inclusion and collaboration. 

Giant Machines is committed to a thriving society with a focus on racial justice, gender equality, social justice, and more sustainable communities - The team recently participated in a Volunteer Day at Riverside Park!

eIt’s not an easy feat. Harvard Business Review documents the toll that “hypergrowth” can take on an organization’s culture, including the dilution of company values over time, a slowdown in culture training after onboarding day, challenges with quickly scaling in-person training, and busy managers and leaders, who often serve as culture models for new employees. 


New Capabilities Means New Hires, Aided by an Agency that “Gets It”

Giant Machines made a strategic pivot last year, which was a key driver for its growth. “We had operated for several years mostly on the build and execution side of projects,” Jen said. Clients came to the agency once they’d already determined what product they needed, and Giant Machines would build it with them. “But as we've matured as an organization, we’ve begun our innovation practice,” Jen said. 

“While we've had product managers and designers in the past, the innovation lens has really shifted our needs for these roles. They're no longer managing a product that's been defined and getting it through to launch, they're actually helping to define what that product should be,” Jen explained.

To successfully launch its nascent innovation practice, Jen and her People Team, with support from leadership, needed to rapidly define and fill several new roles. “The talent was out there,” Jen said. But, who was Giant Machines looking for? And how?

We look for people in non-traditional ways. We're not a pedigree organization saying ‘you have to have this degree from this college

 - Jen Cox, People Manager at Giant Machines


We often hire career changers, especially on our engineering team, who've maybe come through a boot camp rather than a traditional computer science degree,” Jen said. These diverse backgrounds and life experiences only add to the breadth and depth of the work that Giant Machines can offer its clients, from digital product development to innovation, she explains. (For more on non-traditional hires and untapped talent pools, please see our earlier piece on Talent Pool Tip-Offs.) 

But Giant Machines also had a second strategy focus last year: “Part of our strategy in 2021 was to engage with great partners like Bamboo Crowd. I think it’s really helped us to move forward and meet our goals for hiring,” Jen said.

“Bringing in our new Director of Innovation, Nicole Lenzen, we wanted to make sure that we were partnering to reach this kind of niche talent of designers, strategists, and product managers in a very noisy talent field right now. What we found in Bamboo Crowd is an agency that gets it,” Jen said.

“They have a very keen understanding of what specific skill sets are needed. We provide the added color of our culture and the team and the personality, but in terms of the roles that we needed, it was a really great synergy,” Jen said.

The level of talent that they bring to us has just been above and beyond what we've seen from other players we've used.

 - Jen Cox, People Manager at Giant Machines


To date, Bamboo Crowd has helped fill four roles with Giant Machines and one other offer is currently pending. 


Championing the Potential of the Lesser-Known Agency

Giant Machines is a young agency (it launched in 2015). From a recruitment point of view, it simply can’t deliver the brand recognition of, say, Google or Apple. But, in partnering with Bamboo Crowd, “We found someone who can champion and sell our culture to candidates and get them excited and engaged about us,” Jen said. 

“It goes back to [Bamboo Crowd’s] deep understanding of what we're trying to accomplish and build with this [innovation] team, and what that translates to in terms of the background and experience that these candidates need to have,” Jen said.

Jen sees Bamboo Crowd as a key resource to help the agency stand up to new projects, and go deeper on engagements where maybe it lacked the skill set before.

The several hires that we've made through Bamboo Crowd are directly correlated to us being able to take on new business, which of course means more growth for us and more revenue for the company, which is amazing.

 - Jen Cox, People Manager at Giant Machines


“Bamboo Crowd is also wonderful in terms of prepping candidates,” Jen said. Her People Team has been able to pitch candidates about why they should consider a company they’re probably never heard of. After the initial connection with talent via Bamboo Crowd, Giant Machines takes it from there. “Then it's our job, through the interview process, to continue to introduce them to our team and what we're all about,” she said. 

 

Learn, Practice, Contribute

And Giant Machines is all about some really good stuff. The agency’s social mission is built on a 1% pledge to allocate: 

  • 1% of its time to social good via group volunteerism
  • 1% of its services to high-impact projects
  • 1% of its profits go to causes that fight for racial justice, social justice, and sustainability. The most recent donation was made to agencies helping with the current war in Ukraine.
  • 1% of equity (in the event of an acquisition, merger, or sale) into a donor-advised fund or individual charities.

“We look for candidates who equally see this as an important aspect of their professional lives and want to be able to give back, to be a part of the discussion about where we can help divert funds from the company to organizations that we care about,” Jen said.


In 2020, Giant Machines donated $11K to NAACP LDF & USPAACC, as well as donated 1,214 meals to CityMeals NYC.

Another pillar of Giant Machines is its desire to provide opportunities for career development. 

We asked Jen what advice she has for people looking to get into digital design, or to grow within their existing roles. Her answer: Find a mentor. 

I think being able to find a person that understands what you're trying to achieve in your career, who can be candid with you in terms of where you need to grow, is so invaluable. I still hear things that my mentor told me ten years ago, and take that to heart as I continue to build my own career.

 - Jen Cox, People Manager at Giant Machines

 

 

Do you want a position with an agency that gives back? Are you eager to grow with an organization that is, itself, growing? Be sure to reach out to Alex Pavlou for more information on open positions at Giant Machines. Taking Jen’s advice, another mentorship resource to consider is Bamboo Crowd’s insider scoop, where you can learn of other industry trends and career opportunities. Digital developers, job-seekers, or just plain curious people can register for it here.

 

 

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