What’s it like to work at Instrumental?

What’s it like to work at Instrumental?

Anna-Katrina Shedletsky
December 12, 2017

Excellence. Integrity. Customers First. These aren’t company values, they are table stakes. Our values are what makes us unique and separate from any other company. As our company has grown, we’ve iterated on them, adding new voices to the conversation. While our values haven’t yet been codified on posters that hang in our office, they are core to the way we work, and are frequently discussed, referred to, and invoked as we got through the messy business of building something from nothing. While we’re forging our own path in building our company and product, our team is unanimously aligned to these guiding principles that dictate how we’re going to arrive at the destination.

I asked four of our team members to share stories of how they see our values in action every day.

Act like an owner

We empower every team member to take initiative, be proactive in finding problems, and plan for the long term. We approach our work with a mindset of continuous improvement and willingness to roll up our sleeves and address whatever issue is at hand.

Simon Kozlov, a machine learning engineer, sees this value in the way team members go above and beyond to act like an owner. “A recent example was when I was working on a project and we ran into an issue surrounding security protocols. Fortunately, the issue fell under an area that another engineer had previously taken ownership of. That engineer had become an internal expert in security specifically to prepare the team for the possibility of a future need -- and now that proactiveness was paying off. His foresight to act like an owner armed him with the expertise to establish the fundamental documentation and roadmap which enabled the team to create and implement the set of protocols we needed.”

Simon Team Copy

Simon (left) plans ahead in a game of Blokus

Be Low Ego

At Instrumental, we create an atmosphere of camaraderie, respect, and teamwork, especially when it comes to each others’ ideas and opinions. We work as a team: all ideas are team ideas for the benefit of the team.

Roni Zelikson, a software engineer, sees this value in how the team collaborates every day. “At Instrumental, people aren’t afraid to disagree, or part with their own ideas when a colleague proposes a better solution. Something different at Instrumental is how collaborative we are when creating technical specifications. We have detailed discussions of every aspect of a project from feature prioritization to scheduling. There are a lot of competing ideas, but nobody speaks in an accusatory or defensive way. This keeps the team in tight sync.”

Roni Team

Roni (right) emerging from a hiding spot during a game of “Sardines”

Be Deliberate

We think things through and are purposeful in our actions. We strive to be explicit during discussions in stating our goals, reasoning, assumptions, and level of conviction. We avoid buzzwords, and try to be clear on letting others know what areas of thought have or haven’t been thoroughly examined.

Janzel Manalansan, Executive Assistant to our CEO, saw this value in action throughout her candidate experience. “I was very impressed by the interview process, and I could tell every portion was deliberately designed and had a purpose. Everyone I talked to was prepared, and no questions were repeated. Prior to our conversations, my interviewers prefaced with explanations about what they were trying to learn about me during their portion. I also liked how the engineers on the team were vested in my interview process, and reached out to me after my interview even though I wouldn’t be directly working on their team. The deliberateness and thoughtfulness of the process was one of the signals which led me to taking the job, and I was happy to confirm the team genuinely does work by this value.“

Janzel Team

Janzel (center) with a deliberately designed engineering product

Play the "Tenth Man"

If everyone seems to be agreeing on A, then it is your duty as an Instrumentalist to argue in support of B, even if you also think A is the right choice. Intended to prevent groupthink and unconscious bias, we believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere. An unintentional result of this value is that it sanctions true disagreement, which results in richer discussions and greater innovation in solving problems together.

Isaac Sukin, a software engineer, saw this value during the development of Instrumental’s Detect feature. “When we initially scoped the project, we scoped a giant release that was going to entail months of development work. The entire team was on board because we knew our customers wanted this feature, but team members played the tenth man and questioned every aspect before we committed. Ultimately, this process led us to develop the feature in a more modular and incremental fashion. As a result, we gained valuable testing and customer feedback information which led us to revise several aspects of the original plan, and ultimately deliver an even better final product. This was a case where everyone was excited and on-board with a plan, but healthy, intentional disagreement helped us be more deliberate.”

Isaac Team

Isaac (left) asking the hard questions

Interested to learn more about Instrumental? We’re looking for great teammates to join us. Learn more about our interview process with this walkthrough guide to interviewing at Instrumental and find out why we think our interview process is one of our most important products.

Check out our open positions. We’re interested in applicants from all backgrounds and encourage you to apply if you think there could be a fit. Many candidates wonder if they need manufacturing experience to work at Instrumental, and I assure you that’s not the case! If you’re excited about what we are doing but don’t see an exact match, please reach out and tell us about your interest.

Many candidates assume that they need manufacturing industry experience or knowledge in order to get a job at Instrumental -- we assure you that this is not the case! If you have any questions, reach out to us at jobs@instrumental.com.

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