• Yusuf Raza

Start Me Up

If you’ve been following the Panalyt LinkedIn channel over the past week, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve put the spotlight on our team rather than our usual people analytics content. This is because we at Panalyt truly believe in what we preach- “The majority of your company isn’t about the WHATs but the WHOs”.

We’ve managed to build an amazingly diverse team (8 nationalities and counting!) that combines the deep HR experience of our founders, Daniel West and Takako Ogawa with the drive and passion of a group of younger employees and interns. We leverage the combined knowledge of our extended network through partners such as our accelerator program Accelerating Asia, our trusted startup, HR and tech advisors, and beyond.

As a co-founder, I’ve been at the forefront of seeing our team grow. We went from just Daniel and I discussing Panalyt in hotel rooms over long weekends in summer 2017, to a tightly-knit team of 17 people across 3 countries. I’ll try my best to give you a glimpse into the culture we’ve built at Panalyt over the past two and a half years and hope to maintain as we scale our team to realise our collective vision of making people analytics accessible to everyone.

First and foremost, Daniel’s ability to let other people take responsibility yet maintain a keen oversight, guiding but not overbearing, has allowed our early team to really blossom into responsible leaders . This sense of ownership (shared in some cases) is central to the Panalyt culture. We make decision based on information from multiple sources without any handholding. And, most importantly, we build fast in a scalable and secure manner, rather than just follow the cliched ‘build fast and break fast’ approach that’s been lionised based on a few success stories but has led to the early demise of many startups. More than the failed rockstars living the Keith Richards way of life.

I’ve been working with Daniel ever since he was consulting for various high-growth startups after heading HR APAC at Uber. Despite being fresh out of university, I was given the opportunity to develop my skills at the frontline. I put myself in front of senior stakeholders from management and HR, yet was guided through the entire process. This exposure and the sense of responsibility that came along with it helped me exponentially jump start my career.

This hands off approach is also followed by our Japan Head , Takako, who believes in nudging and hinting at people to making the right decision rather than micromanaging. I wouldn’t be here writing this article were it not for Daniel and Takako’s willingness to listen to and refine, despite their wealth of people analytics experience at firms such as Google, Uber and Apple, my abstract ramblings about new use cases for people analytics. Innovation, encouraging new ideas and improvements, starts from the core at Panalyt.

I’ve come to realise that actively encouraging someone to stretch their skillset and placing them in situations where they need to push themselves (without completely throwing them to the wolves) plays wonders in personal growth and development. This is especially required in a startup where everyone’s wearing multiple hats simultaneously.

Our lead developers, Pratyum and Sharique, joined us as interns while still at university, as excited as we were at the prospect of creating something new. We’ve had countless nights where we’ve had to step up to hit our targets to cover for personal emergencies, because of the staffing pains familiar to startups. We’ve had to work odd-hours while working with and learning from Aliz, our technology advisors and Google Cloud Platform experts. The two find themselves in Vietnam soon, scaling up our remote dev team in Vietnam with our trusted partner NFQ.

“This is very similar to what we’re doing at Google, only way more beautiful “-Google People Analytics team member.

Our UI/UX designer, Iwani, seized the opportunity to join a startup and then completely revamped the look of our application/website to rave reviews. Her design x data approach is a cornerstone of our product development at Panalyt. It still amazes me how she’s able to fit in other endeavours such as modelling, acting, art and designing amazing clothes and posters into her schedule, while never having missed a deadline- p.s. here’s the amazing Panalyt video she’s made recently!

Our Head of Data Science, Abdel-Rahmen, doubled up as a data engineer when needed and took on the additional responsibility of optimising all our data pipelines and building out integrations. He has set up a solid data team to kickstart the next phase at Panalyt, consisting of Alex-who is not only handling QA/QC on our reporting but also setting up Google Analytics and in-app user activity tracking, Taha- who is working directly with our clients to ensure smooth implementation, and Ismael- who is building predictive models to help our clients understand their people better. By the way, we’re hiring 2 more data engineers to be based in Singapore and Tokyo! ;)

It is really nice to see our ideology coming full circle with our current group of fresh hires and interns. At the recently concluded RISE conference in Hong Kong, despite advice from various people saying not to bring along someone not completely familiar with the product to exhibit at our booth, our customer success lead Anu trained our business development intern Mitch so well that he was successfully giving product demos and generating leads by himself. It was a very a proud moment for me to watch!

Meanwhile, Taha, has also stepped up to understand the caveats of our business model and is pitching Panalyt to interested clients, investors as well as to a large crowd of people at the weekly Open Houses conducted by Accelerating Asia every Friday. Interns Yuolmae and Mathilde are preparing hard for future conferences and implementing our social media marketing plan!

Growing a startup also comes along with a free roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’m glad the combined dedicated efforts of our team helped us pull through when our backs were against the wall. But you can’t always get what you want- we lost a few Panateers along the way, but we wouldn’t be here were it not for the hard work put in by them during their stints that laid the groundwork for their replacements to build upon.

Pardon the musings of a co-founder missing his team during the first few weeks of his transition to being a “digital nomad”. Well, there’s our biggest offsite yet next month to look forward to!