A little over four years ago, I was working at a small data management company called Millbrook. We were in the midst of having our second round of "discovery meetings" with some folks from a company called Guidewire. I was aware of Guidewire, as we had shared some of the same customer base, and had crossed paths with some of their employees at mutual clients' offices in the past. During these meetings, they inquired a lot about our product, our processes, and how we do things in general. It was pretty safe to say that the office scuttlebutt around the water cooler revolved solely around an imminent partnership or acquisition. We feared the latter.
For 14 years, I had been working at Millbrook. It was my first "real" job after college. I actually started out as an intern during my Junior year, writing VBA code and building servers in what was basically a closet...no joke! You could imagine how my experience working for such a small company (about 25 employees) for such a long time, had shaped my view of the "corporate" world. I told myself that I never wanted to work at a larger company and deal with all that "big company nonsense" I would often hear my college buddies complaining about: Ladder climbing, office politics, back-stabbing, or being just one of many lost in the shuffle of things...Nope... sorry, that wasn't for me. I was a "small company guy".
So, during what turned out to be an acquisition process (oh no!), we had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people at Guidewire. We were introduced to various directors, VPs, managers, architects, as well as the CEO himself, Marcus Ryu. They would talk about how excited they were to integrate our product and expertise into the Guidewire fold, and how there would be a lot of new opportunities for career growth that we just wouldn't have had at a small company like Millbrook. This is also where I first learned about Guidewire's core values of rationality, integrity and collegiality. I remember there being a lot of emphasis placed on just how important these values were to everyone at the company. I was told that no decision was made without first making sure that the outcome adhered to or abided by these core values, and how they also formed a foundation to allow and encourage all Guidewire employees to have a voice on any matter. This would help ensure that the right decisions were being made for the employees, the customer, and the company. At first, I was skeptical and told myself that they were probably just trying to dish out a bit of the ol' Kool-Aid...you know, to make us newbies feel all warm and fuzzy, until of course it was too late...
Well, it has now been over four years since that process began.... so Guidewire is either guilty of one of the greatest deceptions of all time...or the company genuinely does live and breathe by those core values. It's safe to say that I am now a true a believer. In my mind, the values help to minimize that "big company nonsense" that I had been so worried about in the past. They also help foster a very positive work environment for the employees by providing a strong foundation of company culture that encourages career growth, teamwork, and a good work-life balance, among other things.
With Guidewire, I had a career coach for the first time, who would work with me on my strengths and weaknesses, and encourage me to stretch outside of my comfort zone. We looked to the future and explored options that were available for me to pursue that were a good fit for both myself and the organization. I was genuinely interested in going the management route and there was an opportunity available there, so we molded my goals (always based on the core values) in a way to help me move in that direction. Eventually after some hard work, dedication and fortuitous timing, I was promoted from Data Management Consultant, to Consulting Manager. This type of career move just wasn't really possible at a small company like Millbrook, where positions were basically set in stone, with not much room for advancement.
At Guidewire, no matter what level employee you are, or what department you work for, there is a confidence that the decisions being made are done so with our core values at the forefront. Are there times when we may question a decision on the basis that it appears to violate these values? Of course! The freedom to speak up and provide your own input is encouraged, and is not exactly a rare occurrence at Guidewire. This is true at all levels in the organization. I believe if Guidewire were to form its own constitution, then collegiality, rationality and integrity would be its Bill of Rights. Talk to any Guidewire employee, present or former, and see if they don't agree with me.
So this "small company guy" has clearly changed his mind about working for a larger company.... Okay, maybe not all larger companies... after all, I still hear horror stories from some of my college buddies. But it is clear to me that Guidewire's dedication to live by its core values really sets them apart from the pack, and forms the foundation of what makes Guidewire such a great place to work. I am excited to come into the office every day, and am excited for what lies ahead for me at Guidewire.
Consulting Manager, GSC at Guidewire Software