Being a hyper-growth company is exciting and exhilarating, but also comes with a few challenges. As we grow and scale at a rapid rate, bringing in the best talent and consistently being able to fill positions on the customer success team is important. As the number of customers and Anaplan users continues to grow, we need to make sure my team is ready to support them. To this end we created a graduate program in 2013, which allows us to bring in energetic talent fresh from university, and help them develop their talents and build skills for the workforce.
Offering the ability to land in an environment and try many different jobs rather than being stuck on a single track, the graduate program allows flexibility. Participants are exposed to a variety of opportunities on many teams, including pre-sales, customer support, and model building. Within our graduate program we have created a safe environment where participants can easily try out a role and decide if it is a natural fit. Moving fluidly from role to role is the foundation of the program, and it benefits both Anaplan and the graduate.
To find our initial class of graduates we participated in multiple career fairs in both Minneapolis and San Francisco. After visiting a few campuses and giving presentations, we found our first group of four graduates to kick off the inaugural program. Since then we have slowly built out the graduate program and are looking to double the number of participants next year. The program is currently running in Minneapolis and San Francisco, and in 2015 we plan to expand the program to York and London as well.
The graduate program exposes the participants to many facets of the customer success team. While there are many differences in the skills that the graduates bring to the program, a few commonalities can also be seen. Graduates in the program tend to have an entrepreneurial spirit, are interested in leading-edge technology, and are used to moving fast. We had a graduate who started a business fixing iPhone screens while in college, and another graduate who built and sold violins. We don’t look for a certain set of skills outside of basic finance modeling; rather, we look for innovative graduates who fit with the culture at Anaplan and align with our core values.
“Anaplan is a relatively new platform, which creates quite a bit of opportunity for someone with ambition,” reflected Greg Crawford, a participant in the graduate program. “I have been interested in pursuing a rotational program for some time, but I felt that the opportunity that Anaplan presented was particularly interesting because Anaplan’s platform is exceptional in both the way that models can be created through the use of Excel-type language, and its scalability.”
Once they have been accepted into the program, the rotation begins. Each participant receives training and exposure to different areas of customer success at Anaplan: customer support, application model building, helping solution architects on client sites, and working with pre-sales. The time frame of the program is flexible, but usually lasts six to twelve months, and for some graduates it has been shorter than that. As the graduate rotates through the different areas of the department, team leaders observe the process and watch for areas that are a natural fit for the graduate. If there is a role that the graduate is interested in, they can build their skills and hone in on that area. The transition out of the rotation and onto a team is very smooth, as the graduate already has working relationships and strong rapport with team members and leaders.
The flexibility and exposure to real-life situations and projects is a win-win for both Anaplan and the graduate. We’ve found that recent graduates bring fresh ideas and new perspectives into their roles, and are calculated risk takers. At a hyper-growth company, having people with stamina, willpower, and the ability to quickly change direction is important.
“The exposure to different fields within the company has been amazing,” said Zane Koeller, a graduate program participant who has been in the program for six months. “I’ve gotten to work with the finance team, sales operations, partner alliances, and customer success. It’s given me a much better sense of the company as a whole, along with a view into how the sales and implementation cycle works in a SaaS company. The most unexpected bonus from the graduate program, however, has been the freedom to choose my own path.”
If you would like to learn more about our graduate program and other opportunities to join us, visit our careers page.