Joining TAB: what a difference culture makes

Jacob Mullaly
By Jacob Mullaly under #TABLife 19 May 2016

The tech industry is booming, and if you are either in it or thinking of joining it, there are a lot of options to consider. From the booming giants to the innovative start-ups, there is so much on offer that it can be hard to separate the good from the bad. Pay and perks are one aspect, but there is a lot more than that to consider. Having joined TAB not too long ago, the deciding factor for me was the company’s clear focus on both culture and values.

If you ask anyone at TAB, they will tell you that the culture here is great. Until you experience though, you would be forgiven for rolling your eyes. After having spent a few months here, though, I can say in all honesty, I absolutely agree. However, the real question for me is what actually makes that culture great? Is it the craft beers on a Friday, the social events or the quality of the coffee on offer?

When I zoom out and consider the foundations of TAB’s culture, I keep coming back to three fundamental themes: trust, responsibility and community.

Trust

Trust is a big part of what makes me happy at TAB. Coming on as a junior, I very quickly felt my voice was cherished and respected by my colleagues. I put this down to the lack of ego in the office. TAB’s flat structure means that it doesn’t matter who is junior or senior. What matters is how we work together in order to make the best product we possibly can. This is a great confidence builder for those like me, who are still honing their craft. When it comes to my routine work, I always have the genuine autonomy I need to do my job to the best of my ability.

Whiteboard workshop

Sometimes, though, we don’t have all the answers - and that’s ok. TAB’s mentoring system means that there is always help along the way. What is really valued here is being able to get stuck in and always pose solutions. Hierarchy and seniority are not the defining factors in how things are done, and that means as a company, we are always open to what is right for the project. This is incredibly empowering on a day-to-day level.

Responsibility

Having worked in a few different companies, what struck me at TAB is how much responsibility is on offer from the the moment you start. From day one, it was quite clear that I could, and should, take ownership for the work I do here. I found this refreshing in light of my previous experiences, where micromanagement had been such a hindrance.

Hackathon at TAB

This extends to other areas at TAB as well. For example, if you want to start a weekly get together based around the latest technology, no one is stopping you. If you want to write a blog on the “challenges of testing”, it’s up to you to get it off the ground and make it happen. The point is that TAB gives you the opportunity to make it happen - but you’re in the driving seat. Essentially, it is a perfect environment to learn, be challenged, and thrive in.

Community

Community and solidarity also play a very important role at TAB. Firstly, there is a big emphasis on ‘communities of practice.’ This means that every week I meet with the other members of the testing team. With all of us working on various projects, this is the perfect time to catch up and share learnings about the different challenges facing us as testers. It is also great for keeping on top of new developments in the field generally, and for continuous learning. All disciplines at TAB hold similar regular events.

On an external level, TAB is very quick to encourage speaking out, attending meetups, and visiting conferences. For instance, earlier this year some of the testing team attended TestBash in Brighton; we have held several Agile meetups at TAB HQ, and iOS and Android developers have been to WWDC and Google I/O respectively. These again provide invaluable opportunities for learning and as long as there is justification, people are encouraged to attend events when they can.

On the social front, TAB regularly organises get togethers such as Christmas and summer parties, or TAB’s birthday celebrations. We also have a weekly wrap-up meeting to sign off the week, where we have a drink and share progress from the various projects at TAB. Together, they help build a wonderful sense of camaraderie around the office.

TAB social

Wrapping it up

TAB’s foundations are built upon these three simple ideas; trust, responsibility and community. One of the things that genuinely strikes me as a new starter is that, unlike other companies, I believe these are really, and in practical ways, woven into the fabric of the company. That authenticity matters.

This post isn’t intended to suggest TAB is perfect - we’re always trying to improve and things do go wrong or people make mistakes. At TAB, there are so many different projects at play. There are so many different technologies at work. Everyone is pushing themselves, trying to create the best results for their client.

Naturally, in a demanding, challenging environment like that, problems occur.

Rather than shrink from that fact, at TAB we always fail forward, learn from it - and do better next time. This can only happen in a place that genuinely empowers its teams, trusting them to push themselves and continue learning.

TAB does this better than any company I have come across. It’s the difference you feel between a culture that talks the talk, and one like TAB that really walks it - and that difference is dramatic.

If you are interested in learning more about what makes TAB different, hit us up.