Friday 20 October 2017

Could you be part of Slack's team? Here's how to get inside Dublin's newest tech firm

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

If you imagined that employees at Dublin's newest tech firm worked 12 hours a day and took naps in strategically-placed pods, you'd be very wrong.

All eyes are on Slack, dubbed the "email killing" messaging service, which officially opened its new European headquarters in Dublin last month.

According to founder and chief executive, the company expects to triple staff at the new HQ to 180 by the end of 2017. So naturally we want to know more about it.

Slack's Ali Rayl was preparing for her keynote speech 'The Art and Science behind World Class Customer Customer' at the Dublin Tech Summit when independent.ie caught up with her.

We are not killing email

"The email killer narrative is one that really sticks with the media but it’s not one that we came up with," said Rayl.

"Email has a place – and a permanent place I think – in our working society. It’s just not really geared towards people working together in the same office. There’s a lot of overhead in email in terms of figuring out who should be on it, composing it, editing it, having sign ons and sign offs.

What Slack has successfully done is eliminate all the inconveniences and inefficiencies of email in communicating with co-workers. the result is  a service that was "really designed for collaborating together to get work done in life".

Because things move quickly in a world where your colleagues are "firing messages off in a more rapid fashion".

"We are a company of very authentic people and that is the impact of Slack – the platform itself," said Rayl.

"People become very unguarded and you get to see everybody’s true selves; personalities start coming to the fore and we all know each other really well."

These are the people we want

And this translates to the traits that the actively hiring company is looking for in prospective candidates.

"We will welcome people who are not afraid of their authentic selves and are happy to express that in an interview process – they’ll probably make it a little bit further just because we’re truly trying to find out who it is behind the resume that we’re bringing in," said Rayl.

Slack is growing. Last month, the company launched a new feature called Threaded Messages, which makes it easier for users to follow different conversations within the Slack messaging app.

The company also just launched Enterprise Grid — a new product aimed at corporates and other very large enterprises. And they are looking for the staff who can handle that.

"We’re growing significantly in terms of enterprise sales so we’d be interested in account executives who are really familiar in selling to big enterprises, to work with big enterprises," said Rayl.

"We are also looking to internationalise our product offering this year so pretty soon we’ll need people who can speak French, German and Spanish. We are very particular about language, the written and spoken word. So generally people who are not just fluent but people are extremely comfortable with the language, who like to play with it and people who like to express themselves through those languages will also have a good place with us."

Rayl runs the customer experience team at Slack and reveals that she can hire a wide diversity of people with a broad range of backgrounds, not necessarily doing customer support. 

"If they have the right mind frame and the capacity to learn and the desire to help – we can teach them all the skills they need to succeed at their job," she said.

Work hard and go home

Unlike other companies that have come out of Silicon Valley, Slack was a very mature company from the beginning.

"Our founding team has been through it before so they founded Flickr and sold it to Yahoo and then went to Yahoo for a few years."

With all four of the company's co-founders now having children and many people in the company having children, Rayl says that Slack is genuinely focused on a work-life balance.

"A lot of firms pay lip service to this but we like to tell our people to work hard and go home. We don’t kit out our offices with ping pong tables or arcade games – we really want people to come in, focus on our work, take advantage of the time to be together to collaborate and get things done – and then go home," she said.

"Because the outside world has way more fun things to do than we could ever provide in the office."

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