Built With MongoDB: Italic
Derek Tu and Jeremy Cai , two high school friends from the Chicago suburbs, began aspiring to become entrepreneurs at a young age. Their pursuits took them to Babson College, where they overlapped until Jeremy received a Thiel Fellowship and dropped out of school to build his first startup. Now, the two friends have teamed back up to create Italic , a membership-based marketplace, with Jeremy as Founder/CEO and Derek as Product Lead. The game-changing Italic platform offers manufacturers the chance to sell their products directly to consumers and reach a global customer base. Since its launch in 2018, the company has raised $15 million and given consumers the chance to shop unbranded quality goods at prices 80 percent lower than what comparable brands would ordinarily charge. Italic launched with a waitlist of more than 50 thousand people, and it’s also built a team of 54 employees across the world. In this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we talk with Derek about building the new “everything store” and his experience building a game-changing ecommerce platform with MongoDB. MongoDB: What was the original vision for Italic, and what does the product look like now? Derek: The original vision for Italic was pretty simple in my opinion. It was to make good on the original promise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce, which is to cut out the middleman, sell goods or services straight from the source, and pass the margin savings back to the customer. We strongly felt that existing DTC incumbents weren’t upholding this promise and had become themselves the middlemen in this entire equation. We eventually found that we could best deliver on this promise by operating a subscription model in which we charge for a membership that grants customers access to our entire product offering. By doing that, we’ve been able to drop the prices on products to a level where we are essentially passing all the savings directly to the members and where we profit only from the annual subscription fee that our members pay. MongoDB: What does the tech stack consist pf at a high level? Derek: We’re running on a Jamstack , consisting of a Next.js framework on the front end with deployments handled by Vercel. Our back-end system consists of Node.js services that interact with our MongoDB cluster via an Apollo GraphQL client. MongoDB: How did you decide to start building on MongoDB? Derek: Prior to MongoDB, we used Shopify directly as our pseudo-database, but when we went to launch our membership app, we realized the need to create and manipulate data outside Shopify. There was pressure to launch and test the membership app as quickly as possible, so we tried to find a database system that’s highly performant and easily scalable, yet quick to implement. We needed to start deploying features ASAP, because time was a luxury we didn’t have. That’s where a nonrelational database such as MongoDB helped, because we didn’t need to spend hours upon hours finalizing a data schema with primary and foreign keys first. We were also looking to ingest data from Shopify, so not being bound to a certain table structure allowed us to save time on ETL. We tried hosting a Mongo cluster ourselves at first but quickly realized we needed a fully managed service that could abstract out DevOps for us. Ultimately, that’s why we started using MongoDB’s Atlas solution. MongoDB: As you've grown over the past two years, how has it been working with MongoDB? Derek: The best web services are the ones you set up once and they keep running in the background with minimal upkeep. That’s how I’d describe MongoDB Atlas. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had to log into our dashboard to resolve a database-related issue. When we started, we leaned heavily on MongoDB’s technical support to help answer our questions and triage some of our issues. And of course, the startup credits that came with being a part of the YC alumni network definitely helped, because they provided us the opportunity to test the service out before truly committing and paying for it. MongoDB: As a product lead, what resources do you use to upscale in your job as you grow in your career? Derek: Honestly my engineering peers have been the most valuable resource for me as a product manager. Just from answering my questions and through candid discussions, they’ve taught me more about building products than any bootcamp or college degree ever could’ve. And, as I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve stopped asking them how the software is being built and started asking them instead why the software is being built a certain way. I’ve learned over time that feature limitations often stem from how underlying technologies are selected and implemented. Therefore I’m a firm believer that all successful product managers need a deep understanding of systems design. MongoDB: What is the last good technical book that you read or podcast that you listened to? Derek: Not super technical, but I’m currently listening to All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg . It’s refreshing to hear their unfiltered, personal takes on major events in the public and private markets. In terms of more technical reading, Wiley’s textbook Systems Analysis and Design is my reference for anything related to systems design. I’ve also been a huge fan of Glossier’s tech team from the early days and have learned a lot from studying them. This article from an early team member provides an in-depth walkthrough of their data pipeline and shows their deliberate efforts to invest upfront in technology that paid dividends for them later on. MongoDB: Who are some technical mentors that you admire for their technical and product management skills? Derek: We have a large roster of angel investors who are seasoned tech executives and founders at hyper-growth startups, public companies, and everything in between. I won’t name drop them all here, but they’ve all been instrumental to our success to date. We’ve been able to lean on every one of them for advice and mentorship from time to time. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.
A Field Marketer Adapts to a New COVID-19 Landscape: Meet Amy Rosenberg
I sat down with Amy Rosenberg, a Senior Manager for MongoDB Field Marketing based in New York, to gain insight into how her role transformed when the COVID-19 pandemic started, her newfound love for data, and the ways in which MongoDB helped her adapt to a new working environment. We also spoke about the initial hardships of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York, scouring for toilet paper and Clorox, and how she envisions Field Marketing in a post-pandemic landscape. Andrew Bell: Thanks for sharing your story with us, Amy. Can you tell me about your journey into field marketing? Amy Rosenberg: I started my first “grown-up job” three weeks before graduating college. I was a one-woman marketing department for a 10-person startup. Over the course of my five years there, I had the chance to try my hand at every part of marketing: content, product, demand generation, social media, communications, advocacy, and events. I realized early on that what I love and what I am good at is being in the field interacting with and building community for customers. About three years into my career, someone told me that what I did sounded a lot like field marketing. I’d never heard that term before, but after reading some job descriptions, I decided it sounded fitting. One of the perks of working for a startup was the ability to change my title and team’s name. We became Field Marketing, and I officially became a field marketer. AB: How would you describe field marketing to those who aren't familiar? AR: When people hear the words field marketing, they think of events. They picture the team searching for venues, coordinating with A/V, running promotional campaigns, and handing their sales team leads to follow up with. This is definitely a part of field marketing, but to me, it’s not the full picture. Maybe it’s because I started my career wearing all of the marketing hats, but I’ve always seen myself as responsible for understanding when and why to do these events, how to ensure the leads make it through the sales funnel and become new customers, and how to track and analyze the ROI. This is one of the main reasons I joined MongoDB. In my first interview, my future boss discussed how MongoDB Field Marketing was part of a larger account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. I wouldn’t be an event planner; I would be the CMO of my region and a business partner to my regional Sales team. Events would be one of many tools I could use to support driving new leads and accelerating deals. I’d never heard field marketing described as such a strategic and impactful function, and I jumped at the opportunity to join the team. After a year without live events, the scope of my role feels even more true today. AB: What was a day in your role like prior to COVID-19? AR: Before COVID-19, I was always on the move, jetting around the world to host various events. This gave me the opportunity to get to know my Sales teams, talk to our customers, and visit dozens of incredible places such as Montreal, Beijing, and San Francisco, to name a few. My suitcase was always packed, and I got pretty used to spending only two or three nights in my New York City apartment each week. I like to describe MongoDB as the perfect mix between startup and established company. The company is doing very well and has the structure, leadership, and product to succeed. However, we still have my favorite parts of a startup culture: transparency from leadership, fun perks such as surprise swag gifts, unique benefits such as Headspace memberships and Carrot Fertility, and — my favorite part — the ability to make a meaningful contribution no matter what your level of seniority is. I hosted my favorite event about six months after joining — a C-level dinner at Classic Car Club Manhattan. Our CEO gave the opening talk, and our Chief Product Officer hosted a customer panel. No one questioned whether a new manager should own something so big, and my leaders gave me full autonomy to make it what I wanted. It ended up being a huge success and still gets brought up two years later. Hosting two or three events a month was exciting and made a huge impact on my region, but it was also exhausting. By the time I was back at my desk in New York, I hardly had the energy to analyze whether or not my projects were yielding the best results. I knew hundreds of customers and potential customers attended my events each month, but I rarely had the opportunity to think about things such as whether or not those were the customers with the greatest potential to buy, if the Sales Development Representatives were following up with the right materials to ensure conversion, or if the leads were being accurately routed to the right people. I knew I wanted to be even more strategic in my role. AB: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your personal and professional life? AR: In March 2020, my entire world turned upside down and inside out. I went from spending a few nights a week in my one-bedroom apartment to not leaving it for weeks on end. New York City was one of the hardest-hit cities. I remember in early April I accidentally missed a meeting with one of my Sales teams because someone told me a store nearby finally had toilet paper and Clorox wipes in stock, and there was no way I was missing an opportunity like that. I felt comfortable putting myself before my work because from day one of the pandemic, MongoDB’s leaders encouraged us to do exactly that. They gave us companywide mental health days, hosted biweekly all-hands to keep us informed, and offered forums to discuss the current social and political environment. I then started hearing how companies were taking down job postings for open field marketing positions and some were even laying off existing field marketers. Field marketing equaled live events, and no one knew when live events would happen again. Naturally, this scared my team and me. Pretty quickly, our leadership sat us down and told us there were no planned layoffs, but we needed to get creative and find new ways to support the Sales team. Sales goals hadn’t changed, which meant we were still responsible for driving new leads and accelerating opportunities. I picked this job because I thrived on the social interactions it gave me. Suddenly, I was left with Zoom calls and an empty apartment. My fiancé is a doctor and was sent to battle COVID-19, working 24-hour shifts with limited PPE. I am extremely grateful that neither of us has gotten sick. It’s been a very lonely and stressful time, but having a team that jumped in to help when I needed a day off or scheduled a random Zoom happy hour just to chat made it much easier. AB: How have you pivoted in your role since the COVID-19 outbreak began? AR: When my job was producing live events, they had to be run based on location, meaning the same event could take place in five or more markets in a given month. Even if we could reuse the content, the hours spent on promotion to each location, traveling to and from, and managing the spreadsheets full of tasks to make it a success ate away all of my time. With the transition to virtual, this duplication became irrelevant. A webinar can reach hundreds of customers across the globe at once. As a Field Marketing team, we began to talk about and better understand what each region needed and where we could find overlap. We found that we could split up the work and build a marketing program targeted to different industries and use cases. Then, we could all take advantage of a single program for our relevant accounts. This sounded as if we were doing less work, but it really just gave each of us time back to focus on improving the work we did, rather than rushing to do more. The webinars became much higher quality, since each field marketer was producing less and could spend more time improving an individual program. An unexpected benefit of this sharing of work was our team becoming much more collaborative: team brainstorming sessions, asking for and providing feedback on work we could all take advantage of, sharing resources anytime we saw a success from our work, and bringing half a dozen brains together to create a much stronger program. AB: How has MongoDB helped you transition during this time? AR: Before COVID-19, the lines differentiating teams within Marketing were mainly based on the types of activities we owned: Field Marketing hosted in-person regional events, Demand Generation ran digital ads and webinars, and Strategic Events managed our large-scale global events. With no live events, these lines became blurry. With a lot of help and guidance from our Marketing leadership, we created lines based more on goals than on activity type. For Field Marketing, our goal is to source new and accelerate existing deals for our specific sales region. Events (now virtual) were just one of the tools in our toolbelt, along with customer stories, digital ads, executive engagement, direct mail, and even sales enablement to improve conversions on the inbound leads from Marketing. I told my manager that my new motto was “avoid doing work.” Naturally, they got very concerned. But, what I really meant was to take advantage of what is already being done by others, instead of duplicating efforts, and then reallocate my time to things such as lead flow handoff improvements, data hygiene, advising other teams on customer stories, and educating my sales reps on the self-serve tools we provide. This has been a very scary change of mindset for me, because I always equated success to the programs I owned. I’m insanely grateful I have such amazing leaders who completely supported my new mentality. This change also helped me finally realize what it means to be the CMO of my region: working collaboratively with the entire Marketing organization to ensure my region has everything it needs to hit its numbers. Not only has this made me much more strategic in my actions, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet and become friends with people outside of my direct team. I can say with full confidence that I work on the best Marketing team out there because of the people. AB: You've fallen in love with data during quarantine. How did that happen, and how do you envision it playing a role in your approach moving forward? AR: Some people baked sourdough bread. Others completed puzzles. I learned Tableau. We were given access to new data dashboards right around the time lockdown started, and maybe I just needed an escape from staring at my own face on Zoom, but I began spending a lot of time in these reports. Going back to the concept of being the CMO of my region and all the time I saved by “avoiding work,” I wanted to have a clear and deep understanding of what programs, messaging, promotion strategies, and content worked best in my region, so I could double down on what works and either stop or change the things that didn’t work. I’d never been trained on using Tableau or looking at data this way. When I expressed my interest in this analysis, my manager gave me the time to learn and asked our Marketing Ops team to help. I spent hours building new reports, asking Marketing Ops questions, and then discussing my findings with other stakeholders on the team. I began making changes and improvements to the programs I ran as well as to the ways all inbound leads for my region were handled. Without adding more events, I saw our conversions to new deals increase. On a personal level, I’ve found that I’m actually pretty good at this kind of analysis. My team and leadership now come to me with questions, and my manager actually helped take other work off of my plate so I could focus on this. I was even given the opportunity to present to our global Sales leaders on the lead flow process I helped improve. I absolutely love finding new insights and uncovering challenges I get to fix. AB: What do you think MongoDB Field Marketing will look like in the future? AR: I’m not going to lie: I really miss live events. Although we still achieved our goals this year, there is something special about how events foster relationships and community between a company and its customers. But whatever the world of events looks like in the future, I don’t expect Field Marketing to go back to being solely event planners. This past year made us learn how to work much more collaboratively and efficiently with the entire Marketing organization. We built better cross-functional relationships, learned the tools to help us analyze what our regions needed, expanded our use of digital marketing, and got extremely creative with our virtual events. We also demonstrated the importance of a strong partnership between Sales and Marketing by getting involved in enablement and lead conversion improvements — areas I’d never even thought to investigate before. We’ve shown the value Marketing can bring to Sales and the entire company when given the time, and it isn’t just more leads. When we slow down, think strategically, and become experts on our region’s needs, the impact has nothing to do with events. Calling this past year extremely challenging is the understatement of the century, but I always try to find the silver lining in every situation. In my experience, the pandemic gave field marketers the chance to become stronger business partners to our Sales leaders and own the role of CMO of our region. Interested in pursuing a career in Marketing at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and we would love for you to build your career with us!
Built With MongoDB: Gryphon Online Safety
Think Big, Go Far with the MongoDB Customer Success Team
Customer Success Managers (CSMs) play an integral role at MongoDB by providing our customers with the tools and guidance they need to make an impact on the world with their applications. Our Customer Success team is made up of employees from all around the world and collectively speaks 10 languages. Stay tuned to learn more about how the team has grown over the years and get insights into what a day in the life of a CSM at MongoDB is really like. Customer Success at MongoDB For CSMs at MongoDB, every day is different. With a wealth of growth opportunities, a diverse set of customers, and the chance to play a role in the full lifecycle of a customer’s journey, CSMs have the opportunity to constantly innovate and develop creative solutions. Here, Demarcus Lloyd and Paige Jornlin from the U.S.-based team share what it’s like to be a CSM at MongoDB. Demarcus Lloyd, Senior Customer Success Manager, Austin Candidates often think you need to have a strong background in tech to be a CSM at MongoDB, but that’s not necessarily the case. I, for example, completed a college degree in chemistry and international studies, and in 2015, I was working full time in a molecular biology and pathology division of a lab. Initially, I was worried that without a computer science or engineering degree, the move to a technology company would be too difficult of an adjustment, but the opposite proved to be the case. I transitioned my career and joined a health IT company, where I was promoted to a Customer Success role within a year. That role opened doors for other opportunities and eventually led me to join the database space with MongoDB. My portfolio includes computer software and hardware companies, as well as retail, media, oil and gas, and even healthcare companies. This type of diversity in industries creates exposure to some really niche and interesting use cases for MongoDB. One of my favorite success stories is about one of my customers that had major concerns around migrating from on-prem deployment to our cloud offering, Atlas, and sharding several terabytes of data for a customer-facing application. This hesitancy was delaying the company’s overall goal to offload from its data centers by 2022, which could implicate millions of dollars in cost savings. Knowing the team needed to see another successful customer example to move forward, I leveraged a key stakeholder relationship I built with another customer that had a very similar migration and sharding experience. The Lead Engineer agreed to provide me with their tech specs, success metrics, and migration experience to be shared back with the customer. By sharing this proof point, I was able to restore my customer’s confidence, and the company was able to migrate its preproduction workloads a month ahead of schedule and begin migrating production workloads in Q3, ultimately accelerating and de-risking an expansion. When it comes to our team culture, the Customer Success organization is a collective of some of the most talented and selfless individuals I have had the opportunity to work with. For most of us that don’t come from a database background, we recognize that MongoDB can be challenging for beginners to learn. However, the individuals on the team all have strengths and weaknesses, and this is where the collaborative spirit pulls through. A lot of the playbooks, team enablement, and initiatives that are in place for the team are spearheaded by the CSMs themselves, with a focus on the betterment of the global team. We also have a lot of team events. I manage our global happy hour sessions for all new hires every quarter to welcome them to the team. Recently, we had a trivia night as a team-building exercise. The questions ranged from films to history, music, and even Greek mythology. With the various age groups that make up the CSM team, it was interesting to see firsthand the generational familiarity across the topics. At times, it was really competitive, but it was a lot of fun. Paige Jornlin, Customer Success Team Lead, New York City When I first joined MongoDB in May 2018, I was blown away by the onboarding process. Right from day one, they guide you through your ramp-up and make sure you have everything you need to feel comfortable talking to these really technical customers. I also was paired up with a “buddy” at MongoDB to help me with all of my questions during my first few weeks, and I attended our incredible sales boot camp. Since 2018, we’ve only made improvements to these programs. At the beginning of COVID-19, we built out a Customer Success boot camp to take these concepts they’re learning about throughout their ramp-up plan and let them hear directly from the experts. I was certainly impressed two-and-a-half years ago when I joined, but it’s changed drastically, and we have a huge focus on making sure that any new hire has all the tools and support available to really get comfortable with it. The Customer Success team takes a really powerful, impactful product and jumps in to expedite and ensure a customer’s success. We offer a really deep level of guidance and partner closely with our clients as they work toward all of their upcoming objectives. We like to think of ourselves as an extension of their team. We also focus on making sure customers can take advantage of the whole ecosystem of tools they have available to them and on ensuring that their experience is seamless. Every day in my role is different. One day, I might be meeting with our Sales leaders from the various regions I support to strategize on how to best support accounts and de-risk them, while on another day, I might be working with my team to drive toward their metrics and career goals. I’m also really passionate about bringing the team together for enablement and mindshare of what’s going well and what the team might be struggling with. Our team culture is one of the things that excites me the most. Having a team of people I want to be around who are extremely intelligent, challenge me, and make me feel super comfortable is of the utmost importance to me. Because of COVID-19 and our office closure, I ate lunch by myself for the first time after two years in my role here, and it felt so weird because this is such a tightly knit team. We’re always doing things together — constantly looking to collaborate on projects or even just hang out. The team culture has been one of my favorite parts of working at MongoDB. Our team is also really diverse, and people’s differences are embraced. Without having that diversity of background, thought, race, sex, and so forth that exists on our team, we wouldn’t be able to innovate, challenge the norm, or think about different ways of doing things as much as we do. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!
Transitioning from Teacher to MongoDB’s New Enterprise Modernization Team: Meet Gabriela Preiss
As a global company, MongoDB has amazing employees with interesting backgrounds and stories. I recently sat down with Gabriela Preiss, an Enterprise Modernization Consultant, to learn more about her journey across the globe from the U.S. to Barcelona, Spain, and her experience transitioning from teaching to becoming the first hire for MongoDB’s brand-new Enterprise Modernization Team, shifting enterprises toward innovation and generating a ton of compelling content along the way. Andrew Bell: Thank you for sharing your story, Gabriela. I’d love to know how you got to where you are today in your role. What skills are important for someone on your team to be successful? Gabriela Priess: My career journey has been from one end of the spectrum to the other. Originally, I studied English and education, and I was a high school teacher for four years. I loved teaching, and I encourage anyone who wants to pursue it to do just that, but eventually, I hit a block and craved more mobility. So I moved from the U.S. to Portugal and studied web and mobile development. Finding myself back as a junior in a new industry, I worked my way up by freelancing as a web developer, building a curriculum for a coding school, and then quickly finding my way into a lead tech support role with a popular web application organization, where I also led the QA process. So, how does all of this add up to working in and with data? I truly believe every professional experience is the chance to extract something positive — a learning takeaway. This diverse background has challenged me and shaped me, as well as helped me to be confident in my choices, to trust I’m taking steps in the right direction, because ultimately each career move has been better than the last and has led me to where I am now, with MongoDB, as an Enterprise Modernization Consultant. Ultimately a career risk led me to a job that didn’t even exist a year ago on a new team. So, we can never truly say what the future holds for us; we may be headed toward a killer career that hasn’t even been invented yet. When it comes to being successful on my team, I think this role is open to so much diversity. I’m trying to narrow down any specific skills, but I think anyone who is ambitious, independent, takes ownership with what they produce, and is curious will succeed here. Curiosity is a huge asset — someone who is open to learning and diving deep into what they don’t yet understand, eager to keep growing, and tech-curious. A big part of what we do involves us keeping our finger on the pulse of tech and data innovation, so we can confidently discuss, debate, or write about it. This means feeding ourselves with the right tech news content. AB: I’d love to know more about the modernization team. What’s your role and your day-to-day like? GP: Our reach is quite broad, but if I had to define it, I’d say the Enterprise Modernization Team (EMT) assists, educates, and helps inspire large enterprises to move toward modernization and innovation. Often, large enterprises have the most complex, costly legacies in their systems and need macro and micro aid and insights to not only modernize but also to visualize and tally the endpoint. EMT Principles and Consultants have the industry expertise and capability to translate our value proposition to senior executives and engineering management. This includes generating training content for internal teams; meeting with other teams for potential and ongoing accounts; delivering webinars, published content, and interactive exposition presentations; and meeting with clients so they have a stronger understanding of how MongoDB helps them to modernize from the most basic format, such as adopting the document model, to truly leading in innovation, such as data science, machine learning, and real-time analytics. So, EMT is a bridge between sales, technical sales, and marketing for complex industry use cases and solutions. These are the teams we collaborate most often with, working closely with sales reps and solutions architects, collaborating with solution providers, and closely aligning with the marketing team producing diverse content and product alignments. So, if you ask me what exactly is my role, I’d say it’s all of the above. Our team is small, although it’s growing quickly, and we have big plans to expand exponentially in the near future. That said, we have a democratic way of dividing the work. We’re made up of our Global Head, Boris Bialek, our Principal, Steve Dalby, and the two Consultants, including myself and Vanda Friedrichs. And we’re all expected to bring equally to the table, despite who has more seniority. This lets us all have an idea of what everyone is working on, and we frequently dip into each other’s projects either to help out or request aid. Each project is free roaming for all: as long as we’re aware of the objective and deadline, we can get creative with how we reach the endpoint. My projects are constantly evolving and regenerating, and I could joke that the only thing they have in common with each other is they all have to do with MongoDB. However, when I was hired, Boris was very clear and direct that each day would be different, and his promise has held true. I don’t have a day-to-day like most others might in regard to consistent projects, but the objective is always the same for each: how can we showcase MongoDB’s value in modernization and innovation in regards to data and tech? Because my projects are so diverse, and often more creative-oriented than anything else, I make up for what some may call a “lack of structure” by being very structured in how I plan my day. Before each day, I predetermine how my next day is going to be divided hourly by projects, tasks, and follow-ups, and I reserve some time for “self-learning,” where I take time to continue my training curriculum, since that’s an ongoing track. AB: Since this is a new role, what tools and resources (e.g., Sales Bootcamp) were you given to help you ramp up? GP: True, this was a new role when I first stepped in, so I didn’t totally know what to expect. There was a running joke I was learning by a fire hose, just having everything blasted at me, and something was bound to stick. MongoDB sets all employees up with boundless learning resources, so I created a curriculum for myself. I prioritized from the top down, based on what I needed to understand ASAP, such as MongoDB’s services and functions, and from there I had freedom to roam based on what interested me the most and what my weak spots were, and was given time to dive in deep technically. For example, I ran POVs to see the data in action from a locally set up database. I know other teams within the company have established curriculums for onboarding, but because this was a new role, I used the resources available and that worked for me. I was given a lot of liberty with my learning because it was mostly autonomous and self-driven, but that’s not to say my learning is over. The company really promotes a learning culture, and every week there are new resources with webinars, learning materials, training materials, and so on. Early into my onboarding, I participated in what’s called our Sales Bootcamp. It’s a two-week intensive training that dives deep into MongoDB’s services as a whole and lays a strong foundation to build on. It’s usually something that’s done in person at MongoDB’s headquarters in New York City, but since this is the COVID-19 era, it was done virtually, with a big cohort of new hires included from Europe and the Americas. This was a cool experience, because I got to meet a lot of new faces. Professionally, my background is originally in education, so I used to write my own curricula for my students, and I’ve been impressed with what I find the MongoDB enablement and Learning & Development teams generating. AB: What content have you and will you create? What is the purpose of this content? How is it leveraged? GP: Among many other roles, the EMT is a content-generating team, so we’re constantly working on creating something new, or collaborating with other teams to create new content. As of today, I’ve been with MongoDB for four months, and in that short time, I’ve been able to generate a lot of interesting, challenging pieces. Each project I’m given is a chance to dive deeper into that subject and expand my understanding of it — like data science or fintech, for example. One of the first projects I had was the chance to write a blog about MongoDB’s partnership with Iguazio , and how our data platform is the ideal persistence layer for Iguazio’s data science and MLOps platform, which is used to develop, deploy, and manage AI applications. Clearly, each project is a team effort, but this gave me the opportunity to dive into a topic I find personally interesting, while building connections with some of our most innovative partners. My first or second week I was introduced to an internal deck created by one of our Solutions Architects, Pascal Jensen. It was a sort of think piece on how data is being driven by the growing uncertainties of the world, in a political, social, and economic sense, and how the most innovative leading companies are responding. We decided to turn this into a more holistic, complete white paper to reach a wider audience. With that, after really digesting the deck that was available and multiple interviews with the Solutions Architects that contributed to it, I built an extensive paper around it, giving breath to the expression “digital by default.” This was something I was quite proud of, because it was so early on in my time with MongoDB, and it let me dive into truly interesting topics. I was able to build on the holistic elements of data and how it’s reshaping even the most mundane elements of the world, propelling us into the future with innovative technologies and solutions for some of the most crucial global concerns, such as hunger or healthcare. Last month, I presented my first corporate webinar with MongoDB, discussing transitioning from a relational database to MongoDB’s document model. It was a huge opportunity, because we were focusing on Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. For me, this was almost a beta project, because I didn’t know what to expect in regard to reception. In the end, it was a massive success: overall, we had more than 6,500 registrants. That was a really exciting experience, because I knew as a team and a company we were clearly doing something right, engaging with the right audience, and connecting with the right people. There is a really positive response still outpouring from that webinar, and I was happy to be a part of it, especially as a rookie. Again, it just speaks to how much autonomy and freedom to create I’ve been given. My manager never holds me back from any opportunity and really encourages our success. In the spring, we’ll repeat the same endeavor with another webinar, covering a different topic I’m currently preparing in Spanish. AB: What was it like starting in a new role on a new team, especially during the pandemic? How do you stay connected to the team despite living in different countries? GP: Despite the pandemic, there was a lot to dive into because the company was running full speed ahead. It can be slightly intimidating being the new person on a fast-paced team, but I felt very included and seen from day one, and there was more than enough work and training to keep me busy. I haven’t really considered what it would’ve been like to work with MongoDB prepandemic, because at this point, this is all I’ve known. Staying connected with my direct team, though, has been the easiest part for me. I’ve never once felt disconnected despite never having met them in person. As of now, we’re dispersed across Dublin, London, Zurich, and Barcelona, and we’re growing. Plus, our backgrounds are even more diverse considering where we’ve lived, where we’re from, and the languages we speak. It’s refreshing to be part of a team that doesn’t feel limited to one geographic region, because it opens our minds and team discussions to diverse views and ideas. AB: How would you describe the team’s culture? And how do you maintain this culture during COVID-19? GP: The team culture is really positive, inclusive, and ambitious. Every team meeting feels like a brainstorming session, because part of our job is innovation. We’re all given a voice and are expected to use it as we shuffle through ideas and ongoing projects. But overall, our team culture is casual, in the sense that we engage with each other informally, but we all recognize what we need to be working on and by when. We’re each expected to take ownership of our work, and we’re given a lot of creative and structured autonomy. This means independently owning whatever it is we’re working on, and this goes for professional learning too. MongoDB creates a lot of resources internally that I take advantage of, from guided training and courses to reading material, interactive training, webinars, and so forth. I was paired up with one of our Solutions Architects, Benjamin Schubert, and he patiently made himself available to help guide me through some of the more technical aspects of our databases as I was learning how to maneuver through it myself, and I am eternally grateful. Of course, we have support any time we need it, and I can easily seek out resources or set up a Zoom call with an internal expert if I have any questions, but at the end of the day, the ticker moves forward only if everyone is doing their part, so each of us takes our part seriously. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love you to build your career with us!
MongoDB’s Customer Success Team Is Growing: Meet Members from Our EMEA Team
MongoDB is the perfect home for anybody looking to join a dynamic, fast-paced, and rapidly growing technology company that’s blazing a trail in the database market. And because we’re onboarding new customers constantly — from massive household brands to the newest startup — we need amazing people to set them up for success from day one. Customer Success (CS) is one team that does just that. MongoDB currently is looking for talented people worldwide to be part of a team that delivers next-generation solutions for driving digital transformation with a diverse roster of clients. Want interview tips for our Customer Success roles? Read this blog. As MongoDB’s frontline resource, you’ll share the journey with each customer from initial onboarding all the way through each phase of the customer’s plan, developing strong and lasting partnerships along the way. Members from our EMEA-based CS team give their take on what to expect while working at MongoDB. Diverse Backgrounds Are More Than Welcome The Customer Success team is composed of creative teammates from a wide variety of backgrounds. As an inclusive community that values your ideas and embraces differences, the CS team believes all backgrounds and experiences can provide value to the role and the customers we serve. Despite this diversity, team members all share two core characteristics: a shared passion for innovation and technology, and a zest for connecting with people. Giuliana Alderisi , a Customer Success Specialist at MongoDB who oversees the Italian, Spanish, and Nordics region, speaks to the diversity of experiences across the CS team. “Our background as Customer Success Specialists are really heterogeneous,” she says. “I’m a computer engineer, but I know teammates who come from very different backgrounds, such as economics, sales development, and marketing, just to name a few. Of course, to increase the level of support we provide to customers, we also come from different countries and speak different languages. I always enjoy the ability to look at things from a different perspective. So, needless to say, I love our coffee breaks where we share our experiences.” One of those teammates she enjoys meeting with is Lucia Fabrizio , a Customer Success Manager covering the Enterprise Italian market. “After spending some years in sales and enablement roles, I found myself eager to start a new challenge, and I really wanted to better understand what happens after the sale is closed,” Lucia says. “I knew I enjoyed inspiring and educating others, as well as guiding them as they solved problems and tackled new opportunities, but I was unsure what my next career move could be. Then I came across MongoDB’s Customer Success Manager role, and it ticked all the boxes. I would describe myself as an introvert, which doesn’t mean I am shy. I simply enjoy listening and using my genuine curiosity to dive deeply into any situation and then act strategically. I’ve learned that this is a great quality for Customer Success Managers.” What You Do Matters The opportunities for discovery and growth are seemingly boundless for MongoDB’s CSMs. “The team is incredibly skilled and inclusive,” says Giuliana. “It is rare that I spend a day without learning something new from my team members.” So far for Giuliana, this has included everything from pipeline generation and work on expansions to improving soft skills and stakeholder management. And according to Giuliana, building together within the MongoDB community is an immensely enjoyable process. “We all know each of us has different talents and different skills, so collaboration is not just essential — it is promoted. We brainstorm together and openly share the ideas we have to make our customers successful,” she says. “MongoDB is big, so sometimes it might be difficult to identify the right person or department you should reach out to get the task done. However, everyone at MongoDB is super friendly, and in a matter of minutes, you’ll find the answer you’re looking for.” Part of the golden learning opportunities for those on the CS team is the chance to familiarize yourself with the full range of exciting products at the company’s disposal. You’ll have the freedom to explore the many facets of MongoDB, gain an understanding of how the products work, and collaborate with a variety of talented individuals. “We work with a lot of different customers and industries,” Guiliana says. “We’re specialized in driving them to success while they use MongoDB products, no matter who is the final user. This also means we are product-certified and get to know the major MongoDB products so we can properly help our customers.” MongoDB does everything it can to provide team members with the tools, resources, and training needed to hit the ground running. We have a dedicated Customer Success boot camp that runs in parallel to our Sales boot camp, helping the team prepare to work with customers, including onboarding. In addition, the CS team has put together product certifications that focus on role-playing so members can practice working with customers. For those intimidated by high-level tech, the CS team is always surrounded by world-class experts who are giving of their time and eager to bring members up to speed on all of MongoDB’s latest offerings. This includes partnering with the Product team to receive additional training, particularly for new products and tools. Being Our Customers' Voice and Advocate In the CS role, you don’t just get to know the emerging and cutting-edge products; you also cultivate lasting relationships with your customers. This includes everything from brainstorming creative ways for customers to adopt new features to ensuring their business is set up for scale, continuity, and sustainability. And because the CS team partners with a range of people in various job roles and companies, the top skills needed to successfully drive these relationships are: Technical acumen and interest in our technology Curiosity and eagerness to learn continuously Empathy for our customers “The base of MongoDB’s Customer Success program — at least how I think of it — is moving from a ‘vendor-customer’ relationship to an actual partnership with our customers,” says Lucia. “This is because we understand the importance of being our customers’ advocate, not only supporting them through pain points but by listening first and bringing their voice to our internal teams. When I meet with customers, I tell them to think of me as an ‘orchestra director’ who’s bringing all the relevant MongoDB personas together to support them through each phase of their plan and create new goals together.” A Strong Culture Built on Core Values Both Lucia and Giuliana speak glowingly about the culture at MongoDB. As Guiliana explains, the team is encouraged to work together on brainstorming sessions and lightning talks to compare notes and share their knowledge with their peers. “We’re also asked to take the time to explore new initiatives to help the CS program grow and find new ways to help our customers,” Giuliana adds. “This was already great before COVID-19 and became even more important when the pandemic affected our lives.” Giuliana also appreciates MongoDB’s benefit offerings such as the Emergency Care Leave, which helped to ensure parents would not feel guilty taking care of their children during the height of the pandemic. As a matter of fact, she adds, “None of the customer-focused or new-hire programs, trainings, or onboardings stopped; MongoDB simply adapted and pivoted with a great effort of creativity and relentlessness.” Lucia has some parting wisdom for those hoping to join the team : “Be comfortable challenging the norm and bringing your own perspective” she says. “You are the CEO of your portfolio, but it is essential to 'build together’ across the multitude of cross-functional teams here.” Interested in pursuing a Customer Engineering career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our team and would love for you to build your career with us!
Built With MongoDB: Spectro Cloud
Recently named one of the hottest Kubernetes startups , Spectro Cloud has been making waves across the tech ecosystem. An enterprise cloud-native infrastructure founded by three startup veterans, Spectro Cloud makes Kubernetes manageable at scale for enterprises that need manageability and flexibility. Spectro Cloud’s cluster profiles automate cluster deployment and maintenance across the enterprise and help operations prioritize the needs of the applications teams and simplify infrastructure administration. The company has raised $7.5 million in seed funding and has 36 team members. In this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we talk to CTO/Co-founder Saad Malik and Vice President of Product Tina Nolte about Spectro Cloud’s deeply technical team and why they #BuiltWithMongoDB. Siya Raj Purohit: What makes you want to work at Spectro Cloud? Tina Nolte: Most of the team comes from Cisco, where the founders previously worked, so we already had good rapport and were truly friends. We believe that culture is something you build from Day 1, and once it exists, it’s hard to change. For that reason, we have a strict no-jerks policy. How that plays out is that we provide a lot of autonomy to the team and help support goals that individuals have. For example, we encourage everyone on the team to write blog content about things they are interested in to share their knowledge and build their personal brands. It’s something that our engineering managers even nudge junior engineers about: “So you haven’t shared any wisdom with the world recently — why don’t you write a post?” If you—as a developer—experience some kind of issue, or it took you time to understand something, it’s likely that someone else on the planet has experienced that issue too. So we encourage our engineers to help them out, and it’s good for our engineers to have an external presence, too. See Spectro Cloud’s post: Kustomize your way to MongoDB ReplicaSet Finally, we talk about Spectro Cloud as a family. We’re pretty confident that other people have our backs whether it’s personally or professionally, and that kind of connectivity is pretty special. SRP: How did you decide to start using MongoDB? Saad Malik: Our application is not very data heavy in terms of transactions or relations; it’s very document based. Although we are running a SaaS platform, we didn’t want to be in the business of doing backups, managing policy, and storing configurations. We wanted to use a platform that managed these things for us. So we were looking at Amazon’s DocumentDB or MongoDB Atlas. We realized we would have to use an on-premises version of our platform, so obviously if we were to be running an on-premises version of MongoDB, it would make sense to use Atlas. Our team also had experience with MongoDB so it was a clear choice. And it’s been fantastic — we have been very happy with the performance, and so far, it’s been scaling very well for us. SRP: What has it been like to scale with MongoDB? SM: It’s been fantastic — we haven’t had any outages with Atlas. We obviously have our notifications configured so if there are any outages or things going wrong with the MongoDB clusters, we can catch when one of our clusters is misbehaving. That visibility and getting the monitoring upfront is very helpful to us, because we’re able to figure out which of our application issues is causing the problem. When we were getting started, we had a technical advisor from MongoDB provide us with a one-day seminar on best practices for utilizing the platform and how to optimize queries. From then on, the online documentation has been sufficient for us to problem solve and scale. SRP: What does the database infrastructure look like today? SM: On the database side, we have three different environments: dev integration, stage, and production. All three of them run an Atlas version from a database that is completely separate. The stack that sits on top of it is Kubernetes application, all using Golang, DB drivers for MongoDB, and accessing the application on there. SRP: What advice do you have for developers who aspire to someday become CTO? SM: The number one thing I look for is someone who is very curious. When I was an early-career engineer, my mentors would tell me to always be very curious and focused in terms of what you’re doing. Understand how things are working, not just at the library level, but keep on digging down until you understand not just how, but why something works a certain way. If you understand the nuances, you’ll be able to identify true game-changing opportunities. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.