‘Be Genuine’: Sojern’s Authentic Approach to Its People-First Culture

Sojern inspires its team members to ‘Be Genuine’ and ‘Win as a Team.’ Built In sat down with three Sojernistas to find out more about the company’s people-first culture.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on Jun. 22, 2023
‘Be Genuine’: Sojern’s Authentic Approach to Its People-First Culture
Sojern
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It’s not hard for Sojern Business Development Representative Adam Tucker to pinpoint the brightest spot of his day: his newborn son, who arrived last fall. 

“Being able to take 12 weeks off to be with him, in whatever cadence I pleased during his first year, was incredible,” said Tucker. 

Tucker savored two weeks off after his son’s birth, then used the remainder of his leave for another important milestone: a cleft lip surgery for the newest family member. 

“Sojern instantly cares about their employees and what’s happening in their personal lives,” he shared, noting that all employees have access to parental leave and PTO from day one. 

It’s a point of peace for Tucker, who finds it easier to feel the passion in his daily work when he can take a day to care for his family when needed. He knows the level of support he receives at Sojern is unique — only 21 percent of professionals in the United States have consistent access to parental leave, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

“It’s clear — leadership is on our side,” Tucker said. “I will always be so appreciative for the time I’ve been able to spend with my son.” 

 

WHAT SOJERN DOES 

Sojern is a digital marketing platform built for travel marketers. Powered by artificial intelligence and traveler intent data, Sojern provides multichannel marketing solutions to drive direct demand. More than 10,000 hotels, attractions, tourism boards and travel marketers rely on Sojern annually to engage and convert travelers around the world.

 

Photo of Sojern employees in an open office space.
Sojern

 

A Rich Internal Culture

While his home life is blossoming, Tucker’s work life is not without its own depth. 

When he previously worked as a business development representative at a different company, Tucker recalled an unfriendly, competitive environment. He said it was common for colleagues to root for a negative outcome. 

At Sojern, his experience couldn’t be more different from his past roles. “There is 0 percent negativity — everyone truly embraces inclusion and winning as a team,” Tucker said.

In team-centered activities, he sees a genuine effort by Sojern to nurture not only a team mindset but also work-life balance. 

A highlight in 2023 was a global employee conference held in Cancun, Mexico, that brought team members together from across the globe. “Meeting Sojernistas from different parts of the world and truly being able to connect with my coworkers was simply amazing,” Tucker said. 

Tucker attributes the glowing success of Sojern’s work-life balance to its robust internal values — including the imperatives “Be Genuine” and “Win as a Team.” 

“Sojern deliberately put their culture into place, but now it just happens organically,” Tucker said.  “As soon as you start with Sojern, every team member is friendly, kind and accepting.”

 

Photo of Sojern employees in a glass-walled conference room.
Sojern

 

Thriving In a Hybrid Setting 

From their first day, Sojernistas are set up for success in a hybrid environment. 

When it comes to finding the perfect addition to the hybrid team, Graphic Designer Jillian Manges turns to Sojern’s internal values as a cornerstone for maintaining a thriving collective.  

“I love hearing candidates talk about how they work,” said Manges. “Asking questions about our five values helps us find the exact type of person that will rise up and thrive at Sojern.”

 

SOJERN’S VALUES

  • Win as a Team
  • Deliver Wow
  • Center Around the Customer
  • Embrace Inclusion
  • Be Genuine 

 

Sojern’s values-driven culture touches every facet of its work — from implementing a “buddy system” at conferences to performance reviews, said Manges.

“We purposely infuse our values into everything we do,” she said. “Keeping them top of mind helps everyone maintain the culture we hope to see.” 

That culture is a two-way street, Manges said, with Sojern pouring effort into its team at every turn. 

“Our hybrid work model reiterates the trust Sojern has in its employees,” Manges said. “Sojern employees can live nearly anywhere or continue collaborating in person if they enjoy going into the office.” 

This care extends to mental health, where Sojern has made sure to “walk the walk,” from its entry-level employees to its C-suite. Manges notes that the company has fostered a sense of safety when talking about mental health. 

“When we notice someone struggling or feeling burnt out, we encourage them to take time for themselves,” she said. “Sojern knows we can’t work our best when we’re not feeling our best.”

When employees are doing their best work, the company is quick to recognize it. 

“Something I love on our team is focusing on one another’s strengths, delegating responsibilities to subject matter experts,” she said. “Our subject matter experts are often encouraged to share their knowledge and support others if they happen to be working on a project related to their expertise.”

“Having a ‘go-to’ person on the team really highlights the vast array of strengths we have at Sojern,” Manges added. 

 

‘#BeGenuine’ 

It’s not uncommon for a Sojern team member to sign off from any given message with a quick “#BeGenuine” or “#WinAsATeam.” 

“It means working with and for each other,” said Senior IT Manager Susan Hickey. “Feedback is a key element of identifying areas for improvement — in IT, we seek out ways in which we can enhance the service we deliver internally.”

In the ever-evolving environment of IT, a team mindset is key, Hickey said.

“The team can be working on everything from system administration, system implementations and integration to network upgrades, or procurement and endpoint management for our diverse and widespread workforce,” she shared. “We can be drivers for change in the organization, which is an exciting place to be.” 

 

BUILDING HYBRID CONNECTIONS

At Sojern, internal team-building initiatives include its DEI Council, SoFit group and Employee Social Committee — who organize events from potlucks to pilates sessions. Most notable was Sojern’s recent employee global conference, held in Cancun, Mexico, this year. “It’s great meeting up with people from different office locations, as we are all based in different countries from San Francisco and Omaha in the United States to Dublin, London and Singapore,” said Hickey. “We don’t often get the opportunity to meet up, so this was an exceptional trip.”

 

One way the IT team drives change is through its remote onboarding support, said Hickey. 

“A first day can be very daunting, so you want to make them feel welcome,” she said. “We carefully coordinate with our people team to foster the best onboarding experience.” 

By creating an immersive work experience from the first interaction, Sojern has developed a loyal and steadfast workforce. 

“We have quite a few lifetimers here at Sojern,” said Hickey. “When you get like-minded people together who are innovative, ambitious, honest and direct, you create a keen focus on what is being delivered to the customer — and an engaging culture that grows organically over time.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Sojern.

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