Author Archive

AlleyWatch Feature: Hiring Female Tech Talent in NYC: An Open Source Experiment

December 10th, 2013 by Cat

I just wrote a piece for AlleyWatch about the difficulty I've experienced in hiring female engineers at Chartbeat. We're hoping to source some great ideas from people like you – so please share ideas and opinions in the Comments below. You can read the whole piece here, but enjoy this snippet below.

Like a number of growing startups in New York City, the Chartbeat engineering roster is impressive – and getting larger by the day. Since our second round of funding in April 2012, Chartbeat has more than doubled in size, hiring 39 new employees, including 16 engineers. Hiring developers in general is no easy task, as FastCompany explained in Why Your Startup Can’t Find Developers. So we’re incredibly proud of our growth, but there is one huge, glaring gap: we don’t have a single female engineer – and we never have in our four years of existence. And that simply must, no questions asked, change.

As Head of Talent at Chartbeat, this responsibility rests with me, and I will tell you that since I joined about a year ago, we’ve tried everything, from traditional job postings to leveraging our seemingly cool company brand at every opportunity, but we’ve continued to fail at hiring female technical talent.

The bad and good news is: we are not alone in this problem.

Hiring female engineers isn’t a novel issue. The New York City Economic Development Corp says that only 9.8% of the female workforce is employed in a tech-related industry in the city, even though 39% of women with a bachelor’s degree majored in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. So why aren’t they joining us? There’s no simple or one answer, so I won’t even try to break it all down. It’s pretty obvious that the stories hitting the front page of ValleyWag every day about the latest Pax Dickinson or the latest rage-inducing brogrammer culture example aren’t helping to solve the problem.. But the division starts long before the workplace. According to a 2010 study conducted by Women in Computer Science (WiCS) at Stanford, only 15% of all computer science undergrads were female. A gap in education this severe no doubt directly influences the genetic makeup of the tech scene.

But we know all this stuff. We’ve heard about it ad nauseam. So why are we bringing it up? To be honest, we need your help.

While “changing the ratio” is discussed constantly by smart folks like Rachel Sklar who are leading the charge, both on and off social media, on conference panels, in blog posts, and in the tech pressbecause it’s such a far-reaching issue (much farther than just the male-to-female ratio). And the tactical challenge of hiring female talent isn’t addressed all that often.

Like many problems in the tech industry, the issue of available female engineers might best be addressed through open sourcing, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing this publicly and transparently to address this issue head-on in a personal way, rather than as a theoretical discussion. I’m sharing what we know right now, what we need to learn, and how we plan to get the knowledge we need in order to create actionable plans going forward, so you can tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can do a better job.

Keep reading here. And please let me know what you think in the Comments!

Chartteam Spotlight: Andrew Oddo, Chartcorps Member

November 11th, 2013 by Cat

We’re on our fourth Chartteam Spotlight y’all and it’s about time I show you how the product-side of Chartbeat lives. After all, what’s a tech startup without the various individuals who make our products all that they can be?

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Meet Andrew Oddo, a member of the Chartcorps – Chartbeat's front-line and your go-to source for educational support about our products. Andrew comes from a rather untraditional background. Many years ago, he once thought he’d become a musician, but he put those dreams aside to study Marketing and Finance at Boston College. He still keeps the music alive by stashing a guitar at the office for those late night office jams. Andrew spent a couple years in the wonderful world of finance before jumping into the startup pool with Chartbeat.

What cool things are you working on these days?

There’s a huge education initiative at Chartbeat and within Chartcorps right now, as we look to roll out the next version of Chartbeat Publishing.  We’re trying to create the right materials to show our clients how to get the most out of this fiery thing!  As part of that, our team has broken down the publishing product function-by-function to understand how and why people are using Chartbeat the way they are, and how we can educate our customers so they can use it even more effectively.  It’s been a cool way for me to understand the narrative of Chartbeat’s story with our users in mind: how did the product come to be, and where is it going?

What challenges are you facing as we continue to grow?

My biggest challenge is figuring out how to capture all the knowledge from the wise men who came before me at Chartbeat, and how to leave behind time capsules of knowledge for those who will need to learn about our products in the future (as clients or as Chartteam members).

Sometimes it feels like we’re moving just as fast as the data pours in, and it becomes a race against the very thing we created.  How do we learn more so that we can serve our clients needs on a better level?  How do we adequately take their feedback and channel it to all of our sharp engineers, designers, data scientists, and product owners so that they can create a better product for our clients' needs?  It’s a race against the pings themselves!

What have you learned working here?

How the rubber meets the road, and where I can be a part of that.  I think we’ve all learned this one way or another, but the Chartcorps is in a funny position because we have our hands in many parts of the product, and certainly the client support side of things as well.  When you’re put in a situation like this, sometimes your biggest responsibility is to simply make sure the car keeps moving forward – even if it’s not quite within your “title” (whatever that is these days?!) – to do what you need to do to make that happen.  This position has taught me quite a bit about organizational structure and how efficient and awesome teams are built.  It’s also taught me about what it means to own many little responsibilities, to help keep things going forward.

What do you think one of the best Chartbeat perks are?

The culture of unlimited learning really is the best perk to me.  It’s really an awesome thing to be a part of. There are a ton of talented people here, many of whom have specialized skills that make them, to me, the best at what they do out of anyone I know.  And when they take time off from being great at what they do, they’re willing to teach someone else a little bit of their talents...they don’t have to...they just do.  We have group coding classes, “Startbeat” meetings where we learn about how startups work, guest speakers, lunch n’ learns, learning over beers, learning about beers, learning to make beers, learning to learn.  It’s a lot of learning, a lot of fun.

So you see, we’re a hardworkin' crew here at Chartbeat and our varied backgrounds power this startup every single day. If you’re intrigued, keep an eye on our Jobs page for forthcoming opportunities to join the Chartteam.

 

Chartteam Scenes (October 2013)

October 11th, 2013 by Cat

In our four years’ of existence, Chartbeat has always been the type of place that’s been focused on learning. And as our startup continues to grow, the big ask becomes more about how we share our knowledge and expertise with the next generation of tech enthusiasts. We want to be a part of a person’s decision to do big things in tomorrow’s Silicon Alley.

Last week, Chartbeat had the privilege of working with The Young Women’s Leadership School (TWYLS) of Astoria for the second year in a row. To give you some background, TWYLS focuses on providing young women between 6th and 12th grade high quality learning opportunities both in and out of school. These women are typically low-income students who will be the first in their families to go to college. Pretty big deal, huh?

We had a great time designing a day that centered on the girls brainstorming, developing their ideas, and actively participating in discussions. After all, what kid wants to sit in a conference room for four hours of meetings? So we talked about startups they could relate to and watched them tackle daily problems through the eyes of a creative entrepreneur.

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CEO, Tony Haile opens the day with some inspiring thoughts. The British accent was a hit.

 

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“The start-up activity was perfect. Once the quiet girls started talking, I knew they had them! I loved how the volunteers were able to tease out the students’ unique stories and voices, and have them imagine a business centered around them and their experiences. They loved being able to draw logos on the glass tables!” - Amanda (TWYLS Chaperone)

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We had an amazing time. Thanks for hanging out with the Chartladies, TWYLS!

This was an exercise in sharing our knowledge about entrepreneurship, technology, and introducing them to the concept of startups. The funny thing is, these 15 ladies taught us a thing or two about what it’s like to share our culture of learning. Want to volunteer? Reach out and I’d be happy to put you in touch with their team directly.

Chartteam Scenes (Summer 2013)

September 13th, 2013 by Cat

It’s been one hell of a New York summer and we’ve been busy enjoying the heat at Chartbeat. Here’s a quick summary of our adventures and all the fun we had when we weren't, you know, building things.

The team gets some serious training at Chartcamp. We’re Hunger Games ready now. The odds were definitely in our favor.

 

We kicked butt at softball (a few times) led by Coach “Gramps” Clarkson.

 

Not to brag, but some of us even conquered a half Ironman. The rest of us cheered them on the virtual sidelines.

 

We’re wrapping up the summer with happy hours and sailing, of course.

 BLOG | Scenes of Chartbeat (September) - Google Drive

 Want to get in on the action? Check out our Careers Page. We’re hiring. Apply to be part of the crew!

Chartbeat Spotlight: Ben Stahl

July 24th, 2013 by Cat

One of the most common interview questions I get from candidates is, “What’s it like to work at Chartbeat?” There's no one right answer to this question, but I’m a firm believer in being honest with candidates about what to expect when you're part of the Chartteam.

I write up these spotlights to give people that extra layer of insight, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I hope they show you why it kicks ass to work here and how different roles at the company contribute to the larger data pie.

Today you'll get to know Ben, our Marketing Engineer. He's seen Chartbeat evolve from a teeny tiny startup to a larger, much more “grown-up” business. Enjoy his inside perspective on what it’s like to grow with a changing company.

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What Ben brings to the table:

After a stint in finance, Ben joined Chartbeat and took on a role with the Chartcorps, focusing on client support and user education. He used this position to understand Chartbeat products frontwards and backwards, but always had aspirations to be in a more technical role. So over two years ago Ben started his journey from “pretengineer” to engineer. He did this by reading every book he could get his hands on, taking courses and combing the depths of the internet for anything that would teach him how to write good code and not just copy it.

Ben attributes a lot of his learning to working in an environment that allowed him to ask a lot of questions and get constructive feedback from solid technical minds daily.

More than anything, Ben has worn a ton of hats here at Chartbeat, working with the Chartcorps, outreach, account management,  business ops, product management, and development. This type of exposure makes him a great Marketing Engineer because he can see past the lines of code and think creatively about the business.

So what cool things are you working on now?

Right now we’re working on a fun way for outside viewers to get a sense of Chartbeat metrics without having to put any code on their site. Concurrents and Engaged Time are the way we measure the web, and anyone should be able to get a taste of our metrics. We’re building a responsive page chock full of parallax surprises to hopefully provide an engaging experience for curious perusers to get an insider's glimpse at our tech .

What challenges are you facing as we continue to grow?

I think we deal with a lot of the same challenges most companies in our situation face. It’s about balancing having a great, growing crew of extremely hardworking people who care deeply about every aspect of Chartbeat but also letting go a bit of this culture where everyone has their hands in every aspect of the evolution and building process around every single product.

As a company we are constantly coming up with ways to keep team members involved and informed, and we may well develop our own secret sauce over time, but sometimes I’m bummed to miss the creation process and only get to see end results of our initiatives.

What have you learned working here?

I’ve learned a lot of things, but the one that sticks out most is knowing the difference between overwhelmed and whelmed is usually just a few questions.

One philosophy our CEO Tony  has promoted since Day 1 is to ask for forgiveness before permission. And so far it's worked out pretty well.

At Chartbeat, we all try things that may not be in our comfort zone or expertise, and usually come out in a better place afterwards. Back-end engineers write front-end code, data scientists sell the vision, and dogs do business. This is a place where learning is encouraged, always.

What’s the weirdest Chartbeat moment you’ve had so far?

Nothing weirds me out, but the day we introduced the ability to search a word or phrase and automatically have the first Google image result inserted into our less serious (bullsh*tting) HipChat chatroom things TOTALLY got weird. For the sake of the readers I won’t divulge details.

What's the best perk about working at Chartbeat?

Sure, it’s cheesy, but I think the best perk about Chartbeat is the people. We’re an eclectic mix of characters from all different walks of life and somehow we manage to have a lot of fun together.  We’ve got former polar explorers, radio talkshow hosts, velodrome racers, and biochemistry lab geeks.

Each person is uniquely different and that’s a great thing because we all add our own flavor to the mix and end up with a harmonious atmosphere. We challenge, impress, surprise and alter each other's perspective, but most of the time we just smile (and drink High Life’s) together.

Want to ask Ben a question about life at Chartbeat as our Marketing Engineer? Add your questions in the comments and he'll respond to you!