For Prosodica’s Founder And CEO, ‘Policy is The Enemy’ of Cultural Progress

Mariano Tan shares his “reject rules, embrace belonging” leadership vision, which empowers employees to build the culture themselves.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Jan. 24, 2024
For Prosodica’s Founder And CEO, ‘Policy is The Enemy’ of Cultural Progress
Prosodica
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Many leaders see policies as the backbone of their business — but Mariano Tan perceives them differently. 

“Policy is the enemy of many of our cultural objectives, and too much structure thwarts autonomy,” he said. 

Before becoming founder and CEO of Prosodica, Tan held various roles at different companies, where he got to see the impact of strong cultures firsthand. Now, he has the chance to bring the best elements of those working environments to his own company, creating a workplace that he considers “fun and energized.” 

For Tan, the key to maintaining this engaging culture is simple: reject rules and cultivate belonging. 

“When people feel a part of something and their individuality is embraced, they find ways to be creative, take more risks and make a unique contribution,” he said. 

 

“When people feel a part of something and their individuality is embraced, they find ways to be creative, take more risks and make a unique contribution.”

 

Everyone at Prosodica is empowered to help the company achieve its overarching goals. And as employees share their talents with the wider organization, Tan explained, each one is provided with the support they need to fulfill their own professional ambitions — on their own terms. 

“In a perfect world, we want people to choose their own adventure,” he said. “This assumes that everybody here will apply their efforts in a way that benefits the company.”

Built In connected with Tan to learn more about his leadership vision, how employees play a direct role in shaping Prosodica’s culture and the growth opportunities and support available to team members. Read on for the full interview. 

 

WHAT DOES PROSODICA DO?

Prosodica’s voice and speech analytics engine enables businesses to gain deep insights into customer experiences, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. The AI-powered platform is designed to automatically tag, classify, and score every customer conversation to drive interactive data visualizations that identify operational areas of risk. 

 

What’s your vision for leading your team, and how is your organizational approach unique?

Mariano Tan
Founder and CEO • Prosodica

My vision is to recreate the best elements of various jobs I’ve had throughout my career and provide that kind of working environment for the team. For me, these elements were hard work, supportive leadership and a bit of levity. This vision is a bit self-serving in the sense that I get to come to work every day in a fun and energized workplace. 

The most distinctive thing about our organizational approach is an openness to experimentation. The workplace has changed dramatically over the last few years, and the leadership methods that worked in the past don’t translate all that well to the present. We try to be open to testing different ideas and solicit those ideas from all levels of the organization. 

 

“We try to be open to testing different ideas and solicit those ideas from all levels of the organization.” 

 

In terms of the changing workplace, I’m specifically focused on the expectations that our youngest employees are bringing to the workforce. This isn’t universally true, but I see more young employees wanting to be free of conflict, criticism and even deadlines. Those things are perceived as harmful to their well-being, but those same things are what make more resilient and reliable people. I know that we won’t be able to assimilate every personality, but we’re trying to be explicit about our belief that challenge, effort and a healthy level of stress are necessary ingredients for personal growth. In that way, we hope to attract people who support our values and ultimately mesh with our team.

 

Prosodica team member presents concept on whiteboard to peers
Prosodica

 

What defines Prosodica’s culture, and what role do team members play in shaping it?

Building a team culture requires team buy-in, and though we are small, we have a very diverse team. Different individuals value different things; some want purpose, some want balance and others want respect. We simply strive to be a good place to work. We seek hard work, autonomy, accountability and the personal growth that comes with it. This is important to us, because it translates directly into our mission, which is to use our technology to help other companies become better places to work.

We can’t claim to have a certain culture just because we want it, and a mission statement is only a statement until people internalize it. Therefore, our cultural norms are entirely a result of our people. Leadership provides an objective, but the team is responsible to turn that into a reality or, in some cases, reshape our aspirations. 

When I reflect on the culture we’ve developed, I see as much influence from current and former team members as I do from the leadership team. One example of this is something we call “show-and-tell,” which is a regular meeting that allows individuals to showcase a specific accomplishment or milestone. This provides a forum for the team to acknowledge an individual’s creativity, perseverance or technical acumen. We don’t know what will be presented going into each meeting, nor do we know what will be applauded, but the way the team responds to a presentation demonstrates what we value and does as much to shape our cultural norms as any platitude we might write on a wall.
 

PROSODICA’S GREATEST GROWTH TOOL

According to Tan, trust is Prosodica’s primary tool when it comes to fostering employee growth. “We trust that our employees can optimize their own work to meet company goals, we trust them to stretch themselves, and we trust that the inevitable mistakes they make will teach them and their colleagues to be better,” he said. To help team members thrive in this respect, the company aims to provide everyone with the technology they need to make their daily work less tedious, allowing them to focus more on difficult problems.  

 

Why should job seekers be interested in joining Prosodica? 

Our simple value proposition is that the time you spend here will be a time of both personal and professional growth. Admittedly, this means that we work hard, but hard work leads to growth. 

Importantly, we embrace the idea that everyone’s tenure with the company represents only a moment in their career journey. We strive to make that moment as productive and memorable as possible. In that way, each employee can achieve and grow every day, and the team benefits, no matter the length of one’s tenure.

 

 

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

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