"I wish everyone could have a work experience like this." — How (and why) to get a job at Klue
VP people Zuleika Sgro chats with us about the sustainability of Klue’s pacey growth, her team’s “four p’s”, and the interconnectedness of its international team.
Klue’s VP people Zuleika Sgro (photo supplied).
I’ve come to associate Klue, the Vancouver-based AI-powered platform that collects actionable competitor insights for its clients, with fast growth. The company has been recognized for its pace two years on the trot. Deloitte added Klue to its list of the 50 fastest-growing firms both in 2021 and 2022. In the last year, Klue’s growth is an eye-popping 1,041 percent, which landed it at number 23 on Deloitte’s roster. Naturally, this had us thinking about what it might be like to be a part of that environment. We reached out to VP people Zuleika Sgro as part of our How to get a job series. Here are the highlights from our conversation with her.
This interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
James Matthews: How did you end up at Klue?
Zuleika Sgro: I've been with the organization for just over two months now and how I ended up here was really through the story of entrepreneurship that exists at Klue. I was attracted to the vision of both of our founders, but I met Jason [Smith], our CEO and co-founder, and knew he was a one-of-a-kind CEO. This was an extremely unique opportunity. Then I got a chance to meet members of the team. I was even more inspired. I knew that there was something being built at Klue that I really wanted to be a part of. The people were kind, driven, intelligent, supportive — culture is ultimately about elevating each other each day. That’s a place where I want[ed] to work. I've always been drawn to, in my career, roles where everyone can see their purpose. I really felt that in my conversations with Klue.
JM: Your title is VP people. It's sort of a funky one. Can you unpack what it means?
ZS: It is a funky title. I'm glad you said that. I've been in the HR community for so long, I think it means so many things to different organizations and to so many different people. For me, it's all about maximizing the potential of people in a business. So whenever I think about systems, strategies, [or] interactions across the business, it's all about whether we are doing the things to maximize the potential of the people in our business.
I have a philosophy that I'll share with you, the “four p's”: people, purpose, potential, and promise. Ultimately, I'll know I'm successful if every person in the company can answer these questions and feel like the organization is living and breathing these aspects: Do people know what we're achieving together, no matter what role they hold? Do they know our mission? Do they understand their purpose? Am I inspired by the environment I'm in? Do I enjoy the environment of the folks I get to work with? Am I able to grow and impact? Do I have a track here? Do I see my skills developing? Do I feel like I have enablement in my future in the business? Is Klue doing what we said we’d do? Have we followed through on the commitments that we've shared with folks when they've decided to join us?
I think that if people can answer those questions, we've done our job well. I take it really seriously. I think about these things all the time. I mean, we spend most of our lives at work, we reach the ultimate potential at work. I truly want to ensure that in any environment that I'm in and where I'm lucky enough to have this role, conditions are created for that potential to happen.
JM: Klue is routinely recognized for fast growth. How are you ensuring that this growth is sustainable?
ZS: Number one, we're addressing real, critical problems. The problems that we're solving around data consumption, ensuring that information is getting translated and can be useful, is a huge challenge. It can also be relevant when the market is good, when the market is bad, whenever. When we think about growth, and what product and service offerings we provide, we have longevity. We were also really strategic about our funding. I think we did a really good job with our Series B round. And so we've been able to build a business plan that's really stable, that also will support our continued growth in a mindful way, no matter how the economy continues to evolve. That’s really important for us as we go into 2023: keeping that growth, and that sustainability, capital efficient. For Jason, it's a mindset that he reinforces at all levels in the company. It's our heartbeat.
JM: How would I go about joining the team?
ZS: We have an incredible careers page. You can just apply directly online. We keep it really current. Our careers page is also a very good window into what it's like to work at Klue. So, I always encourage people to explore it: review the videos, review the content. It allows you to have a sense of what our culture is like. Then, we have a competency-based model for our interviewing process where you would go through various stages. Meet with folks on the people team, meet with your ideal manager, and — potentially — meet with members of your team. One of the things I really like about our process is we try and get as practical as possible so that you can actually envision and practice what it's going to look like working with your team. There might be an assignment or a presentation that you would give, and it just helps you to get a sense of what success would look like in the role. We're really clear about defining that upfront. If you were to review our job descriptions, you'll see that we outline what success looks like. We want those who join us to win. So, we have to tell them what that means, right?
JM: Macs or PCs?
ZS: We have a very good mix between Macs and Dell XPS PCs. We just really want our team to have awesome equipment. We're really mindful also of not being wasteful and try not to send them things that they may not need. So, we take a really tailored approach to make sure their technology is set up in a way where they can be as productive as possible. When you're onboarded, you get a choice of what works best for you.
JM: What about other workplace tools?
ZS: G Suite is our main software and Slack is our internal communication channel. So, that's the key channels we use to communicate.
JM: Does the team predominantly work remotely or in person?
ZS: We’re hybrid. Our predominant workforce is based where our headquarters are, in Vancouver. But, I'm actually based out in Toronto and we have a hub here. We have another hub in Amsterdam, and they have an office of their own. Then we also have a hub in the U.K. Where we don’t have a physical office space, we leverage a WeWork. Hybrid work today is all about choice. So if working in an office X amount of days works for you, and you have access to one of our brick and mortars, we're like, “Great! Go in, access it.” Then, if you prefer working from home, that’s great too.
JM: So, quite the international team, then. Are there any times where you are all working together either online or in person?
ZS: One of the things that we're really intentional about is how we end up coming together. Every Friday, we have something called Show, Don't Tell. It actually fits all of our timezones for one hour. Everyone will jump on and be in this raw conversation. Anybody can have the mic, we share what we’re working on, and we welcome any new hires — those rhythms are really important to keep the commonality and the connection. So, that's one mechanism we use. We’re also looking to all come together in person for the first time since COVID in Vancouver in 2023.
JM: That’ll be awesome. Any last words about working at Klue?
ZS: I would just say that we're exactly who we say we are. Even being new to Klue, I’m just blown away by this culture. I'm blown away by the authenticity of every team member. I wish everyone could have a work experience like this. Truly, it's a great place to work. There are incredible people here you will learn from. You will get to make history in your career. So, yeah, I just want to share the love for Klue.