CareerFest: Talent Incubator Meets Music Festival
By Mazzy Cameron, Global Director, People and Organizational Development at eBay & StubHub
I love music festivals. It’s safe to say that many of us here at StubHub love a good music festival — that’s why we’re at a company centered around a passion for live experiences. I love multi-stage music festivals for the variety they offer. You can see Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator on one stage; then catch Florence + The Machine and The Strokes on another. You have the freedom to explore and experience whatever you want.
It is with the joy and diversity of the music festival in mind that we created StubHub’s CareerFest: a multi-day event that offers all of our employees across our global offices the ability to develop their professional skills and explore different potential pathways for their careers.
The goal of CareerFest is to help Stubbers move forward in their careers by providing them with an in-depth look at the machinations and business objectives of other StubHub teams with whom they may have had little exposure.
We took a page out of a music festival’s book by creating a free-flowing space inside our San Francisco office, where recruiters, interns, and leaders, among others, milled about to speak with one another, catch a panel in person (or broadcast from Europe) and take in the information and wisdom from our presenters.
StubHub aims to serve as an incubator for our employees — with CareerFest serving as an important anchor in this pursuit. Our hope is that by exposing Stubbers to different sides of the company and by showing various sides of the business, employees will see that the careers and growth opportunities they seek can be found within StubHub’s very own walls.
Catching the Biggest StubHub “Acts”
Several times a year, we conduct an internal engagement survey with our workforce to get a quantitative gauge of employee satisfaction and well-being. For me, the biggest takeaway from previous surveys was that people were not sure how to grow their careers.
One group said they didn’t know what to do with their careers. For instance, one Stubber knew he was good at his job on the analytics team but felt stuck. He just didn’t know how to grow his career beyond what he was already doing.
Another group said they knew what they wanted to do next and knew what skills they needed to move towards their career goal — but they just didn’t know where they could go to learn the skills they needed to attain the goal.
Taking what we learned from these surveys, part of the programming for CareerFest included giving Stubbers insight into how leaders like our President, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, and others built the careers they wanted.
One panel featured our very diverse leadership team — one French person, two Israelis, an American, a Brit, a Tanzanian, and a Canadian — and focused on the role diversity plays in career development and how to work in different cultural environments.
Some of our leaders have developed their careers by working in different international offices. Their experiences taught them “cross-cultural intelligence” and how to be respective of how certain behaviors may be accepted in one continent but may not be accepted in another.
For instance, in America it’s expected (in some instances encouraged) to talk openly about your career accomplishments and qualifications. But in Shanghai, for example, speaking about your career can be perceived as boasting. Learning more about these cultural nuances helped many of our leaders grow their careers and skills, both of which helped them step into leadership roles that depend on working with all of StubHub’s international offices.
To me, growing your career might feel different if you feel different — particularly if you’re female and/or hail from a different country. One of the sessions we ran was centered around how to grow a career as a female leader in tech.
Help us help you grow your career
Another takeaway I had from CareerFest is that, in some instances, our employees didn’t know about the job opportunities that could well suit their qualifications and career aspirations. Just because they might be an out-of-the-box candidate doesn’t make them an unlikely candidate.
To address this, we ran a panel where we featured Stubbers who had made a transition from one team to another (from communications to marketing, for instance). They shared their experiences on how they successfully achieved changing teams.
One such Stubber was Marc Escuro. Marc is a 13-year veteran of StubHub. He started off as a business and operations analyst and, until June, was a compliance manager. Today he is the chief of staff for Arnie Katz, our new Chief Product & Technology Officer.
Marc tells me that he has been with StubHub for so long because he loves the people, the business, and the flexibility of our work environment. But he admits that there were points during his 13 years at the company where he felt stuck. To grow into a new role, Marc thought he’d have to leave StubHub and go elsewhere.
In his previous role, Marc established a compliance program at StubHub. At the time, StubHub was experiencing rapid growth, and as our business grew, so, too, did our obligations to meet government regulations. To solve this, he built StubHub’s Payment Card Industry Compliance program, which established processes and procedures to protect card transactions and information.
Having built the PCI Compliance program and a separate privacy program for StubHub — both entirely from scratch and with little direction — Marc found himself asking how he could best fit in StubHub’s workflows in a way that challenged him and helped him develop new skills. He knew he loved working in a fast-paced environment, and ultimately realized that working with Arnie Katz was the perfect opportunity to learn StubHub’s business from new perspectives. He knew he could have a front row seat in helping make strategic and high-level decisions come to life — ones that will have far-reaching implications for the company.
Since then, Marc says he is exercising brain muscles he never used before (his words, not mine!). Above all, he’s loving the new challenge.
We all want our Stubbers to feel like Marc.
Choose your own adventure
After some careful thought, we believe that people need to see an actual roadmap of what’s possible for their careers. More specifically:
- See it to believe it: We needed to show our employees that there are always different paths to take within the company. Make sure they know what’s possible.
- It’s okay to not have all the answers: The leaders who spoke on our executive panel really surprised us with what they had to say. They explained that there were many points in their careers where they were not sure what they wanted to do. There were times when they knew they were in the wrong job but were too scared to change it. It was an important lesson for all of us. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and lost in your career sometimes. There is no perfect solution that will work for everybody. It’s up to all of us to explore what the next best step in our careers should be.
- The definition of “success” is always changing: Sometimes people want a simple answer to the question “How do I have a successful career?” But success means different things to everyone. Achieving success will always mean first asking yourself the hard questions, utilizing the career tools you already possess, and speaking with colleagues who have succeeded in finding the role you want.
The big takeaway of CareerFest is that ultimately, it’s up to each person to drive their own professional growth. Feeling powerless and lost is actually a good thing: both can serve as a prompt to explore new options.
If you’re a leader, it’s on you to help grow and develop your team. Then again, if you’re a person on that team, it’s up to you to grow and develop as an individual. Your superior can’t do that for you.
The best part about working is that you are free to constantly reassess your goals and skills. We all are. At StubHub, we want our Stubbers to know that they have the control and the ability to make that happen for themselves. Fortunately, we believe they’re at the right place to do it.