Hiring is the most important thing we do. That might sound like an obvious statement, but it’s worth repeating.
Onshape could not have grown from 6 employees to 100+ over the past seven years without adding the right people. We couldn’t have built a fully SaaS product development platform – something many CAD industry experts doubted was even possible when Onshape was launched in 2012 – without hiring the right people. And I’m not just talking about talented and smart people, but also the kind of people you want to surround yourself with everyday.
As we celebrate Onshape’s debut on The Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work in Massachusetts” list – and congratulate our new parent company, PTC, for its third consecutive year there – I want to pause and reflect on what kind of workplace culture we’ve sought to build and the values that guide us. Our first and most important relationship with each other should be as fellow human beings. The ideal is for everyone to treat each other the way they would like to be treated. Our second most important relationship is as fellow employees, working toward the same professional goals. And our third and least important relationship is where we all are positioned on the organizational chart – or who is managing who.
I’m not suggesting that people don’t care about their job titles – ambitious, motivated employees have every right to be rewarded and recognized – but those titles shouldn’t present any barrier to communication or collaboration. I’ve wanted Onshape to be a place where a new college intern won’t feel intimidated to ask questions to the CEO or share their ideas with a senior engineer who holds multiple patents. I feel that we’ve become that place.
Onshapers tell me they feel a sense of empowerment to make decisions that truly impact the direction of the company. It’s important to know you have influence over your work and not have to go up the management chain for every little decision. It’s not like employees can unilaterally do anything they want, but in general, people are trusted with more responsibility here.
Perhaps the greatest compliment about this Boston Globe honor is that their employee survey was conducted anonymously – rankings were determined by the highest percentage of a company’s participation and the positivity of the comments themselves. It is really tough for companies to buy or coerce five-star reviews with this format. They can only provide the conditions that make career fulfillment and happiness possible.
What’s it Like to Work at Onshape?
We have a couple of wonderful traditions here related to longevity. The first involves employees celebrating their yearly hiring anniversary by sharing a surprise treat with their co-workers. It might be a few dozen bagels or fancy donuts (sometimes from Union Square) or maybe a homemade dessert. This isn’t some HR employee morale initiative. It has happened organically.
The second tradition happens at our weekly company meeting, which is also called “Demo Day.” Employees observing their 5-year anniversary are celebrated by their co-workers, given a 3D-printed Onshape logo trophy and then are expected to make an off-the-cuff Oscars-like “speech.” Software developers are far more sentimental than they appear on the surface and I’ve heard countless testimonials that have made me proud to be the CEO here.
Because the “Top Places to Work” surveys are anonymous, I unfortunately can’t share any of the original employee comments about Onshape. Instead, I asked for some fresh commentary from some of our 5-year-veterans, people who have been here before we even had a commercial product:
- Andrew Kimpton, Director of Development – “Working at Onshape is fun in a ‘I enjoy problem solving way,’ not the ‘everyone here is a standup comedian’ way. It’s meaningful because we can see the very real impact our technology has not just on our direct customers, but also what they can use it for to help anyone and everyone.”
- Philip Thomas, Customer Success Engineer (Enterprise Accounts) – “This place is like a mental gymnasium. There are always interesting problems to tackle and their impact – both solved and unsolved – can be felt across our customer base.”
- Jesse Bischoff, Sales Manager – “Onshape is a place where I can learn something new everyday. From 3D-printed rockets to bionic arms, there’s almost always an interesting person on the other end of the phone.”
- Kori Ryter, Principal Engineer – “We have a top-tier team that is not only very technically talented, but is also very collaborative and fun to work with. The work that I do reaches a higher quality bar because of the continuous feedback from my team.”
- Elif Tosun, Director, Part Studios – “We get to help improve the designs of every kind of product you can imagine. Seeing the products get realized after having been designed in Onshape is very satisfying. Seeing the products get used is even more meaningful.”
Thank You to Team Onshape!
Talent, intelligence, and innovation aside, Onshape has always attracted a high percentage of “mensches,” or innately nice people. This niceness factor may reveal itself by how we naturally welcome new employees and make them feel at home or by how people support each other’s efforts to help various worthy causes. Employee-driven charitable efforts have included donating brand new Lego kits to Big Sister Boston, and also teaching some of the girls engineering skills by building bridges and towers with toothpicks and gumdrops and testing their strength.
We also field a cycling team every year for the Pan-Mass Challenge ride for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One of the more engaging aspects of our company’s 2019 fundraising was a silent auction in which Onshapers were encouraged to donate their unique skills and talents. Items up for bid included homemade peach pies, a professional photoshoot, skiing lessons, a tandem skydive (one of our Customer Success Engineers is a skydiving instructor on the weekends!), and fresh venison hunted by an Onshape software engineer. Not only did we raise a lot of money for cancer research, but we also learned a lot about each other in the process.
So I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all 108 Onshapers, not only for helping us earn “Top Places to Work” honors, but also for making every day of my Onshape experience more meaningful, challenging and fun. I look forward to continuing to enjoy their spirit as Onshape continues its journey as part of PTC.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both Onshape and PTC were recognized on The Boston Globe’s list. We now will have the opportunity to blend the best elements of our workplace cultures together and I expect we’ll keep cracking that list for years to come.
What I truly hope results from these “Top Places to Work” honors is that more of the best (and nicest) talent in Boston will keep Onshape and PTC on their radar and will want to join us. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, hiring is the most important thing we do.