How culture is at the core of our business

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By Adrian Escofet

August 24, 2020

Montevideo, Uruguay: it’s Monday 9 am and I’m about to enter the office, looking forward to greeting the Arion bunch and prepare myself for a great week.

My mate (our local version of coffee) is now prepared and I’ve exchanged about the weekend with my tribe fellows, including stories about soccer matches (some hard-to-believe awesome goals included), camping & fishing (again, strangely huge fishes captured), and family barbecues (no surprises here). Seems we all had a great one!

So I get prepared for my first call of the day with my Arion mates in Medellín, Colombia, and a healthcare startup based in Boston: a couple of guys who are creating a solution that integrates machine learning for medical imaging processing & early diagnosis of diseases. I love putting my English skills to the test while creating awesome products and working with great people, so nothing can go wrong!

This scenario happens not by chance but by design. Since day one, culture has been the center of our efforts at Arion, affecting how we recruit, engage, deliver, sell and grow. Why? Because culture happens, whether you actively create it or not. So why not create a culture we love? Of course, building the right culture is an ongoing process that needs to be defined as early as possible so that it works as a commitment that embraces the entire company.

But what is Arion’s culture? And why is it that we consider it key?

There are some concepts that define what we are and what we want to become. This is what drives our company purpose:

1. We are outcome-oriented. We all have a clear understanding of where we are going and what needs to be done. We also understand that our people depend on us and our results as much as we depend on theirs. That’s all that matters.

2. We empower our people. We believe our teams perform at their best when we provide them with the tools and freedom to make their own decisions.

3. Agility comes first. More than ever, changing scenarios in business and markets make it impossible for companies to succeed unless they can adapt fast. We know about uncertainty (we were born during a pandemic!) and how to manage it.

4. Diversity matters. Because we better understand the world when we see it through diverse eyes. That’s why we actively seek to enlarge our talent pool diversity in terms of professional and cultural backgrounds, gender, minorities, beliefs.

5. Transparency matters too. No time for bullshit. We have clear goals which can only be achieved by a great trustful team and one agenda. Trust can only be gained with full transparency. Candid good intended feedback is given and expected, that’s the only way we know how to do stuff.

6. Innovation comes with failures and it’s ok. Innovation occurs when our teams feel comfortable trying new ways of solving problems. The outcome may not be what was expected, so trying and failing fast is key to learning and evolving. That’s why we have built a working environment where psychological safety is assured (you can read more about this here).

7. Personal growth. Of course, the better our people are and evolve, the better we as a company are. We work hard to make this happen.

8. Dream big, act fast. So far, we are a small company with big dreams. We share a start-up spirit, everyone knowing what is going on and helping each other in whatever needs to be done. We want to scale and maintain this mindset.

I know, all this sounds great, but why is it relevant anyway? And why should anyone care? Good questions. This can be summed up in one statement:

We want to have an impact.

A good one. For our customers, our people, and our community. We need to build a big company so that our positive impact is significant. That’s why our culture is at the core of our business; it’s the operation system on which Arion runs. From how we sell and deliver services to how we recruit, partner, and manage our offices, we care about being innovative, efficient with resources, and working and partnering with companies/contractors that share our vision. As a LATAM-born company (Uruguay and Colombia as of today, more locations to open soon), we believe our region has the capacity of increasing its footprint in the global tech market. Tons of skilled professionals and world-class infrastructure make this feasible.

Needless to say, our culture alone doesn’t make this dream come true. That’s why our operational model enables our teams to define actively and freely what their own way to deliver is, as long as it is aligned to our cultural principles. Our fully autonomous squads work face to face with our customers defining objectives and methodologies, where our tribes (formed by many squads) consolidate the knowledge, best practices, and failures generated by each team so that we all learn how to improve our skills (if you’re interested in going deeper into our operational model, click here).

The People Experience (PX)

You are probably familiar with the concepts of Customer Experience, right? It’s obvious that any company that wants to succeed should have their customers at their center in terms of defining all processes so that their journey is the best they can possibly offer. Similarly, at Arion we believe that PX is essential (meaning how our people live, learn and grow every day within the company).

Such an experience should be:

● Challenging: either because the project is technically complex, or the customer is awesome, or new technology needs to be understood; or a mix of all the above.

● Collaborative: since challenges are part of our normality, it’s natural that any of us may ask for help as well as provide it whenever needed. That’s the way we all grow both personally and professionally.

● Actively engaging: we do our best to provide what’s necessary so that our teams feel thrilled and motivated. In return, our people give back good vibes and energy to make things happen. All of us want to build something great.

● Fun: why not have a good time at work? Not everything is about solving problems for our customers; we also need to have a beer from time to time…

None of this happens unless you work hard and focused. That’s why we are currently designing our renewed HQ and a new second location in Montevideo, so that our teams have a cool and cozy environment to work in (for those days when they decide not to work from home); we are reaching great customers both regionally and globally (Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Central America, and USA; more regions to come soon) with complex problems to be solved using top-notch technologies; among other actions.

To sum up…

We want to delight our customers. We want to delight our people as well. We look forward to building long-term relationships with both. In order to achieve both goals, we believe our culture needs to be an active facilitator. This is the way we know to do business, create a great company and make a difference.