Let me tell you a secret that not even my bosses know.
I didn’t join Desana particularly wanting to do marketing. Which is unfortunate, given that the job title was Graduate Marketing Coordinator.
But I did know that I wanted to be part of Desana. I liked them as soon as I saw the job ad, which talked about transparency, flexibility, and - shock horror - actually said what the salary would be.
It was a young company as well, which meant that hopefully there’d be a chance to do other things and see how the rest of the business worked.
I knew I’d made the right choice when, on day three of my new job, our COO mentioned that he’d spent a good chunk of the morning emailing our pension provider asking them to improve their form - it only allowed employees to be categorised as male or female.
Nevermind that Desana only had two employees at that point. This was a company that had ambitions to grow and was determined to do right by those people working for it in the process.
Two Years Later
Fast forward two years, one global pandemic and several lockdowns later and A LOT has changed. For one thing, we actually have customers. This is no small feat, especially considering that between my first and second round interviews the business model completely changed from B2C to B2B.
As predicted, I’ve had the chance to see how other parts of the business work. Boy oh boy, have I had the chance to do other things. I sometimes say that it’s easier to say what I haven’t done than what I have. (Sales and product development are missing from my bingo card - but don’t worry, I have them in my sights.)
All of this could probably have been expected from joining an early stage startup. But there’s one thing that I believe sets Desana apart from many other startups - at least if scouring Glassdoor has taught me anything.
We’re not about that working-all-the-hours-God-sends Silicon Valley type constant hustle. As a business, one of the things we want to do is allow people to fit their work around their lives - not the other way around. So it’s only right that this is a business where people aren’t expected or encouraged to work ridiculous hours.
In the last two years I’ve been asked to work late once (I said I couldn’t and it was a non-issue) and once asked to work an hour on a weekend (I was lovingly bullied into claiming that hour back the following week).
This Crazy Little Thing Called Culture
Of my many roles, the most exciting has been helping to shape Desana as it grows. When I joined the company our entire team could (and did) fit into an Audi A4. Nowadays we’d need need a capacious minibus at least. Perhaps by next year it’ll be a double decker bus.
Being part of that growth has meant shaping this mysterious thing called culture. By and large, I’d say we have a pretty good one at Desana. When I talk to friends who work at other organisations and I mention weekly traditions (hello songa, hello poem) or even talk about the informal standups we have every day, they say they could never imagine that happening at their place of work.
But more unquantifiable than that is that there’s also this feeling that we genuinely are a team working towards a common goal. If you need help, you can ask for it and trust that it will be answered. It’s as close to a no blame culture as I’ve witnessed.
Plus, for a group of humans, there’s surprisingly little griping, passive aggression or all out feuds (although of course this could very well be because I’m the one everyone’s complaining about behind my back…)
Of course, I’m not saying it’s perfect (what organisation is?) and there will of course be challenges as we continue to grow. How do we keep that company culture consistent as we grow? How do we make sure that hiring for “company fit” doesn’t happen at the expense of diversity? How do we avoid accidentally creating a cult?
My Favourite Thing
I’m often asked in interviews (because, guess what, I’ve also been involved in interviewing candidates) what my favourite thing is about working at Desana. My answer is always long and waffley but it essentially boils down to one sentence: the leadership team actually give a damn about the people that work for Desana.
Despite Desana growing up, one thing has remained consistent since I joined: the founders (Ro, Steve and Michael) genuinely care. That’s been the case both with nice perks like offsites and bonuses but also when it comes to (the rare occasion) when I’ve had to raise concerns. They always responded with integrity and in accordance with the values that I’ve come to associate with Desana.
Accepting a job offer can be a bit like entering into an arranged marriage. You take a huge leap of faith after only one or two meetings. The wrong choice can waste years of your life. And you have no idea whether those fleeting interactions are a true reflection of what life will be like or just a pretty facade to get you to commit.
I feel incredibly lucky. My perception at the job interview matched up to the reality of life at Desana. I made the right decision.
If the fates align, here’s to another two years.
In order to help us reach that double decker bus status, we’re basically constantly hiring. If you think Desana sounds like the sort of place you’d like to work, why not follow us on LinkedIn to hear about new job openings?