Pythian BORG: bringing on recruited gurus

3 min read
May 2, 2018

When university graduation was rushing up on me and I hadn’t the first idea how I would start my career, my parents gave me the best advice I’ve ever received: Find meaningful work that you’re passionate about and collaborate with those who want to help you do it well. When I moved into my current role and took the reins of Pythian’s company-wide on-boarding program called BORG (geekspeak for Bringing On Recruited Gurus), I had a kind of early-career epiphany; this is what my parents meant! The BORG program gives an intimate welcome to our new employees and furnishes them with the information they need to be valuable, contributing members of our community early on in their Pythian careers.

BORG is both remote and on-site, reflecting our hybrid working environment. In every new employee’s first week, they meet virtually with me to hear about our business, the different departments, their objectives and leaders, and the programs, resources and tools that we provide to maximize our employees’ potential and to help them grow professionally. Within a month or two of joining, BORGers (as they’re affectionately called) from every corner of the world are flown to Canada, where they are treated to a week long visit at Pythian’s headquarters in Ottawa. By nature of being a globally dispersed, remote-native company, getting this patchwork group together for a week is a rare opportunity to be physically together, and one we take full advantage of. Throughout the week at HQ, BORGers are introduced to Pythian’s senior leaders who walk them through a series of workshops and learning activities designed to raise their organizational awareness. Founder & CEO Paul Paul Vallée kicks off the week with a bit of inspiration: he describes Pythian’s history, explains how a company with such humble roots has come so far in its 20 plus years in business, and empowers the cohort to influence and shape the kind of company culture it wants to see. From there, our VPs keep the ball rolling by explaining their departmental missions and how new hires can help to achieve those strategic goals. While the first two days of BORG are about our business and our customers, the third day turns attention towards the individual employees themselves, sets the cultural tone and enables them to start contributing to it. We discuss Pythian’s core values and aspirations, and brainstorm real ways to build a culture that they’re proud to be a part of. On the Thursday of BORG week, new hires take part in breakout sessions with their managers and teammates, allowing them to do a deep dive into role-based training and giving them a team-building opportunity over lunch.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, yes it is, but we also have a ton of fun! One evening, we take the BORG cohort out to a 100+-year-old grist mill turned microbrewery on the banks of the Ottawa River. The team tours their facilities, learns about the brewing process, samples some of their finest brews and shares some laughs over a delicious dinner together. We also spend a night at the office decompressing with refreshments, pizza, games and movies. For our international BORGers, the evening walking tour of downtown with a local expert is often the highlight of their experience, giving them insight into our beautiful city and the rich history of Canada’s capital.

The BORG program represents a massive, long-term investment in the development of Pythian’s most valuable resource – our incredibly talented employees. As the business adage goes, “invest in your people and they will invest in you”. Such a strategy has a profound impact on new employees’ perception of the business and their willingness to give 100% to help us succeed, but more importantly, getting our new employees together helps to build empathy, trust and a sense of community amongst a cohort of people who would otherwise be strangers; floating heads on computer screens talking to each other from opposite sides of the globe. BORG is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the awesome diversity of our people in all its forms. It manifests visibly as a rich tapestry of the different cultures, geographies, ages, ethnicities and skills that our people exemplify. It cultivates a view of our company’s diversity as inherently valuable for innovation, and fosters respect for collaboration and inclusion.

As an employee, it is a privilege to work for a company that invests so much to develop its people. As the person who runs BORG, it is an absolute joy to work with those who are the beneficiaries of Pythian’s investment. It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and an honour to build out the onboarding program for our amazing global talent community, and I look forward to iteratively improving the program so it continues to meet the needs of our business and new employees.

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