We’re proud to share that we were named #19 on the list of Best Workplaces in Technology™ by Great Place to Work and Fortune in the small and medium category. Winning this award inspired us to reflect on what distinguishes a great tech workplace, starting with what sets working in tech apart from working in other industries.
While there are many unique aspects of working in tech, one of the biggest is the constant need to evolve — as a company and as employees. As a result, one of the greatest skills an employee at a tech company can have is the ability to learn new skills and embrace new ideas as technologies evolve and customer needs change.
If the ability to evolve is what makes a great tech worker, then a great tech workplace is one that enables its employees’ growth by empowering them to pursue their ambitions and ideas — together. That’s what we aim to do at Collibra.
We decided a great way to celebrate this recognition would be to share a story of a Collibrian who, along with her team, has lived this ideal of learning, collaborating, and innovating to continuously improve our offerings for our customers. Her success and Collibra’s success are a testament to Collibrians’ collective commitment to supporting one another and growing together.
A Software Engineer’s Journey to Collibra
Haydee (pronounced Hai-dee) Ortiz-Garrido, a Software Engineer on our Data Quality team, came to Collibra two years ago eager for a challenge.
After six years working as a software engineer elsewhere, she felt she needed to grow her career by making a change. As a mom of two, she also valued flexibility and balance. She wanted to work somewhere that would allow her to learn new skills, explore interesting work, and be present with her family.
She received multiple offers from big-name tech companies, but she chose Collibra because of the sincere positivity she felt from the hiring manager, Senior Director of Software Engineering Rob Johnson, and other interviewers.
“Rob and all the engineers I talked with seemed genuinely happy when they talked about their work. I liked the energy I was getting,” she remembered.
She was reassured by the consistent stories of growth she heard from all of the leaders she spoke with.
“Rob said he would support my efforts to pursue different areas I was interested in. At first I was skeptical, but every single person I talked to could personally say they had experience moving to different projects when their interests and business needs aligned,” she said.
Haydee said her experience in the past two years has delivered on what she saw in the hiring process and more. She’s had numerous opportunities to learn new skills and join different projects that have positively impacted our products and our customers during her tenure. In fact, one opportunity came up within her first month.
Delivering Opportunities for Professional Development
After a project she was originally slated to support was momentarily halted, her manager Rob offered her an opportunity to lead on another project that would stretch her coding and leadership skills. She took on the project and set out to learn React, along with other skills, like composing user stories.
These frameworks and processes were all new to Haydee, but she was up to the challenge. She also had mentors who helped her along the way, like Chief Product Officer Laura Sellers — who was SVP of Product Management at the time — and Principal Software Engineer Chris Channing.
“I was constantly reaching out to Laura to get feedback. Chris helped me when I needed it, but more often he encouraged me to take initiative and learn. That gave me the confidence to step into new roles I was unfamiliar with,” she explained.
Following that project, she began working with a small team on another product. While she primarily focused on the front end, she raised her hand to support the back end so that she could learn another new skill — Docker. As the project and her skills continued to evolve, she moved into a team leadership role.
“I felt confident taking more leadership responsibility because of the confidence boost I had from my first project at Collibra,” she said.
Applying New Skills and Meeting New Challenges
After a year at Collibra, things were going well when an opportunity came up with the Data Quality team. Keeping to his word to always support her in pursuing projects that interested her, Rob shared the opportunity and encouraged her to go for it, even though it would mean moving to a new team.
“He told me he didn’t want to lose me on his team, but he thought I would be a great fit,” she recalled.
She went for it, and, within a few weeks of being on the team, she saw an opportunity to improve the Data Quality product. Thanks to her experience learning React in her early days at Collibra, she immediately recognized that using React could make the product run faster and more efficiently.
Knowing the benefit this would have for our customers, she took initiative to spin up a proof of concept, got feedback from her new manager, and collaborated with an architect to make sure it was secure. She leaned on the skills she learned during her first year at Collibra throughout the process.
Finally, she and her manager brought the prototype to Kirk Haslbeck, VP of Data Quality. He immediately saw the impact this could have and went for the idea. Over time Haydee transitioned to working on the project full time, and now other Data Quality team members are working with her to develop React pages.
Success at Collibra: Initiative Plus Teamwork
While Haydee’s initiative spurred the project, she said her initiative alone would not have been enough to make the project a success. She relied on support from many people within Data Quality and throughout the whole company.
“You have to take initiative and ask questions, and you also need people willing to respond to that initiative and answer your questions,” she shared.
She sent countless emails and Slack messages for advice and help, and she received overwhelming support in return.
Haydee said Collibrians’ enthusiasm for jumping in, giving feedback, and offering solutions is a key characteristic of what makes Collibra a great place to work.
“People here are glad to help, and managers encourage collaboration across teams. Successful Collibrians ask a lot of questions, and we don’t take feedback personally,” she explained.
She enjoys this team-oriented environment because it helps everyone learn and improve.
“There is a fine line between being negative and constructive. The people I work with are good at seeing how things can be better and offering solutions,” she said.
Supporting Personal Wellbeing and Mental Health
This willingness to offer support extends beyond day-to-day work. Haydee said she has been grateful for her managers’ support and Collibra’s wellbeing benefits when personal and family priorities required her attention.
“I deal with anxiety, and my managers have been great as I’ve figured out how to manage it. The resources we get from Collibra, like the counseling and coaching sessions, have been life-saving. They helped me figure out how I can focus and balance my priorities,” she said.
She especially appreciated that, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her managers and colleagues reached out to make sure she had what she needed to be present with her two young children.
“I want to share this because it’s important to destigmatize talking about mental health. I feel comfortable sharing these things because of how welcoming and accepting my managers and others have been,” she said.
Looking to the Future as a Great Place to Work in Tech
While Haydee’s story is uniquely hers, many other Collibrians can attest to the professional and personal development they’ve experienced at Collibra. As we continue to grow as a company, we remain committed to providing opportunities for people like Haydee to grow professionally and personally. We believe that’s what makes Collibra one of the Best Workplaces in Technology™.
Thank you to Haydee for sharing your story, and thank you to all Collibrians for living our values and contributing to our culture every day.
About the Best Workplaces in Technology™
Great Place to Work selected the Best Workplaces in Technology by gathering and analyzing confidential survey responses from more than 151,000 employees from Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies in the technology industry. Company rankings are derived from 60 employee experience questions within the Great Place to Work Trust Index™ survey. Great Place to Work determines its lists using its proprietary For All™ methodology to evaluate and certify thousands of organizations in America’s largest ongoing annual workforce study, based on over 1 million survey responses and data from companies representing more than 6.1 million employees, this year alone. Read the full methodology.