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unitQ Voices

This is why I am working with unitQ’s founders, again!

I am Ryan Rilllera, a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer at unitQ. I used to work for unitQ founders Christian and Nik at Skout, a social networking mobile app they had founded and later sold. Working for them and that company was fun. We “worked hard and played hard” as you call it. Our teams would make sure to get all the new features and improvements out every release, but also made sure we went on fun team outings like wine tasting, river rafting and scavenger hunts. 

Skout was a very diverse and inclusive environment — which is why I decided to join unitQ and work for the same two founders again. I am happy to see that we are baking the same Skout culture into unitQ. Many of my unitQ colleagues are remote, but that does not mean we cannot still have fun together. We take part in activities both in-person and online every quarter. We play the two-truths-and–lie game with all the new employees who join the company.

Filipino-style spaghetti

Recently, it was AAPI Month (Asian American Pacific Islander) and Pride Month. I try to celebrate these two occasions every year because I am a Filipino American as well as a gay male. I organized my first AAPI potluck at our Burlingame, Calif., office. I made Filipino-style spaghetti, while other people brought to our Silicon Valley office things like Ube cake, Japanese snacks and homemade hummus.  

Then for Pride Month, my coworker and I hosted a pride bingo lunch with prizes, as well as a lunch-and-learn on LGBTQ+ fundraisers. We talked about the San Francisco AIDS/Lifecycle, and the AIDS Walk, San Francisco. We discussed the events’ history, the routes, how much we’ve fundraised and much more! We hoped people enjoyed the lunch-and-learn and will participate or donate to these events in the future. Both events support local organizations who are helping people living with HIV or AIDS. 

Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus 

In our unitQ Slack app, I created a #coffee-chat channel. This turned out to be a huge success and everyone loves it. The Slack bot randomly pairs people in the channel every Monday, and the pairs decide on a date and time to have their Slack coffee chat. During the coffee chat, people have an opportunity to learn more about each other. It was very easy to set up, and I recommend every company have a coffee chat channel of their own. 

Another thing you may not know about me is that I am part of the Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, and love to share our concerts and photos on Slack. My co-workers show their support by replying with uplifting emojis and words of encouragement. A few colleagues actually attended some of my chorus events, which makes me feel good to know that I have coworkers who support me both in and out of the office. 

Being in an open, diverse and inclusive environment allows me to be who I am and be part of a family of sorts at work. I look forward to coming to the office everyday and working with my coworkers to improve and grow the company. At the same time, we are cultivating personal and working relationships — all reasons why I am working with unitQ’s founders, again!

If you’re interested in a career at unitQ, check out our jobs page!

Ryan Rillera is unitQ senior quality assurance engineer.

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unitQ Voices

An enduring lesson from my mother

As I stare down 40, I can tell you that there were lessons learned, and lessons I wish I had learned at home before I left for my freshman year at the University of Southern California. Now over 20 years removed from that day, I like to think I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way — and I have the literal scars to prove it. 

One important lesson, particularly for the former athletes among us, is that you can absolutely play basketball after 35. Just be sure not to jump too high or play defense, and definitely don’t play in an open league against recent college grads. 

Had I known this ahead of time, perhaps I would have opted for a designated shooter role and avoided the ruptured achilles, MRSA infection, and four surgeries that left me in bed for months. 

Quitting is not an option

The comeback wasn’t easy — early morning PT, significant pain, days with seemingly no progress other than my ability to endure greater levels of pain, and a goal of “full recovery” that seemed far off in the distance. But I kept going, and one day about halfway through my year-long recovery a light bulb went off in my head. That light was a memory of the most important life lesson of them all — and it was from my mother.

My mother had through her words and actions taught me that, no matter what, I was not allowed to quit. If I just kept learning and going I’d eventually reach the goal and have a more positive impact on myself, my family and the world as a result. 

Building unitQ

That mindset, which helped me endure my physical pain until I recovered, is also quite helpful when it comes to company building. unitQ founders Christian and Nik gave me an opportunity to join the founding team at unitQ when I had absolutely zero operating experience. I never gave up despite the light at the end of the tunnel seemingly barely flickering at times.

Over four years later, the light at the end of the tunnel is as bright as it ever was. We have built a world class product, signed customers like Chime, Strava, Spotify, and raised rounds of funding from Accel, Creandum and Gradient Ventures. 

Thanks mom

We’ve had some great success and, like every company at this stage, have had to fight through our fair share of challenges. But we kept going. As Christian says, “we work hard to get a little better every day.” Over time those days add up. Over time the incremental improvements become giant leaps forward. Over time a group of individuals becomes a team through open discussion, a shared mission, and shared values. 

I believe the values that define us, that will define our success at unitQ, are the same values that I learned from others and especially from my mother — the importance of not quitting when the going gets tough, of working hard to get a little better every day, and winning as a team.

Thanks for the advice mom. I love you.

(Anthony Heckman is Sales Director and a founding member of the unitQ team.)

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unitQ Voices

unitQ has great culture because my old job didn’t

It was about 4pm on a Wednesday, and I was sitting in my dark, gray cubicle, working on my accounting spreadsheets amid a small sea of other drab cubicles.

My teammates were standing up and avoiding eye contact with me. Something was up. I noticed my boss, the assistant controller, was wearing his hat as if he was on his way out. I saw a coworker put on her coat, another his sunglasses. What was going on? The whole finance team, except for me, all 8 of them, were gathering to leave and it wasn’t even quitting time. The CFO came out of the elevator and everyone left, without me. 

Then the office manager, who wasn’t on the finance team, messaged me: “Omg, the CFO invited me to go to happy hour with his team, but it was last minute so I didn’t go.” 

Mean spirited 

I was crushed. I felt so left out. My colleagues were grown adults who were behaving like the mean girls in elementary school.

I had been at this job for about two years and had gone through a lot as I helped my team grow. Now, I felt like I’d been left out. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was already feeling frustrated with my role here, and this got me thinking about my next opportunity at another company.

Fortunately, within about 6 months, a former colleague reached out to me with an amazing opportunity to join a Series A startup as their financial controller. This was a huge step up and I gladly accepted.  

When giving notice, I quipped to my boss, the assistant controller, that I’d keep him in mind if I ever needed an assistant. He did put together a nice counter offer, and it would have been more money, but it was too little too late. I simply felt like an outsider to a company where I routinely put in 70-hour weeks.

Everyone is invited

unitQ holiday party!

Being left out taught me to value how important it is for employees to feel part of a team, of a work culture, and not to feel left out. I’ve carried that same thinking to unitQ, a growing startup where I’m the senior finance director and I also lead the human resources function from our Burlingame, Calif., office.

I plan a lot of team-building events and virtual gatherings. Everyone is invited. I care deeply that my colleagues feel included, respected and valued. 

Food bank volunteering!

When new hires join, we play 2 Truths and Lie over Zoom to get to know them. We have a Coffee Chat channel in Slack where people opt in to be randomly paired with another team member. It’s been a great way to interact with our hybrid-workforce team members stationed everywhere.

Don’t mess with us!

For co-workers in the Bay Area, I organize in-person team building events. For our holiday party, we not only invited all of our US-based remote team members to join, but we paid for them to bring a guest as well to the Bay Area. It was lovely to meet our remote team members’ significant others!

In the last few months, we’ve volunteered at a local food bank. Let me not forget about our team go-karting excursion that seemed more like a smash-em-up derby. And I’m still trying to recover from the hiking trip that seemingly was uphill on the way out and back! We also have weekly company dinners, too!

Go-karting winners! 

Getting to know each other outside of work has helped form deeper bonds, and only improves our working relationships. 

Startup magic

Of course, things change as companies grow and scale. As headcount increases, it makes sense that certain events and celebrations will become team specific rather than for the whole company. My advice to growing companies is to make sure that, as you scale, you don’t push people out of a team into isolation. No one likes the mean girls. No one likes to be left out. 

Does planning team building events and developing a stellar company culture sound like something you’d be into? Come work for unitQ. Take a look at the job description for our new People Ops Manager role! The ideal candidate will be based in the Bay Area and work in our Burlingame office a couple days per week. 

Is People Ops not your thing, but working for an awesome startup with a fun culture is your thing? Take a look at all our open jobs!