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Company Culture Abroad

Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm

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Problem

"My company started an office in Bulgaria. One of the things we tried to do as part of scaling and growing was to force people to have autonomy and ownership. However, the management style in Bulgaria is very different from the management style in San Francisco, and our employees there actively requested to have top-down management."

Actions taken

"We had to actively seek out the right people to sit with both Product and Engineering to bridge the gap between the two. We took these people from our internal candidate pool to do this and sent some people from America over to Bulgaria and had them live there for around six months. We also brought a number of the Bulgarians over to America so they could see how people could work effectively when given autonomy and ownership. While it was expensive to fly people back and forth, we had to use multiple avenues to explain the importance of team member autonomy. This helped to shift our Bulgarian employees' mindsets so that they took ownership over their work and felt comfortable with being given autonomy."

Lessons learned

"You'll never have a situation where everyone in your company is aligned in terms of the culture you're trying to build. This is especially true when you are trying to make people who are fairly junior into owners of portions of a product. By ensuring that cultural alignment is included in your hiring process, you can make sure that people understand what they're getting into."


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Chris Steele

Engineering Manager at Affirm


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