When Nick Robin joined Braze in April 2017 as a customer success manager, he initially viewed his role as the job before the job.
Robin had just left a consulting position at a Big Four accounting firm and wanted to join a smaller tech company where he could make a real impact with his work and learn new skills.
Nearly seven years and almost as many promotions later, Robin is a group product manager who leads a team of four “insanely talented” PMs working on the customer engagement platform’s email, SMS, WhatsApp and other messaging channels.
So, what changed?
“As it happened, there have always been new challenges to address and new things to learn, so I ended up never feeling the need for that next job,” Robin said.
Braze’s headcount has grown tenfold since 2017, and, while it’s no longer a small company, Robin said he continues to discover new opportunities to learn and grow every day.
Braze is a leading comprehensive customer engagement platform that powers interactions between consumers and brands they love.
What makes Braze a unique place to work from a professional development perspective?
I figured I would get a ton of on-the-job training and skill development, but the company has also been extremely supportive when it comes to continuing education and professional skill development. We are provided with a continuing education stipend to put toward workshops, online classes and in-person instruction; I’ve even used it to purchase books to read up on our domain.
What sets Braze apart is the support we’re given to carve out time in our day-to-day schedules and explore what we’re passionate about in our careers, through classes or professional skill development. They also create opportunities to present what we’ve learned to the team.
How have you grown professionally at Braze, and what skills have you learned?
When I started, CSMs spent a lot of time addressing technical support questions from customers. So as a team, we took an online course on Android development to better troubleshoot questions about using the Braze SDK in Android apps. We set aside a few hours each week to work on it as a team and shared the apps we built with one another, which was a lot of fun.
I continued to build my technical skills through Node.js courses and AWS certifications, which were extremely beneficial to my role at the time and is knowledge I still use today. Braze provided support both in terms of allowing me to make the time to study and through tuition reimbursement.
Now as a manager, my continuing education has evolved, and I focus less on technical development and more on strategic planning and coaching. Braze has continued to support me by reimbursing my membership fee for a private network and peer group for product leaders.
How are managers involved in the career development of direct reports?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have managers and leaders who identified stretch opportunities and allowed me to tackle new challenges and grow in my role. Now as a manager myself, I continually work with my team to understand their goals and seek out opportunities for their development. It’s crucial to have honest conversations about what a team member finds motivating so you can align those opportunities and set them up for success.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have managers and leaders who identified stretch opportunities and allowed me to tackle new challenges and grow in my role.”
How has joining Braze positively impacted your personal journey?
Braze has helped me grow tremendously as a person. For example, I’ve been volunteering at the Hoboken Shelter since 2016, where every other month we prepare a full meal for about 100 residents and community members. Since joining Braze, I’ve been able to recruit a handful of my team members to join in our meal preparation and cooking, which is made possible thanks to the paid time off we get for volunteering. The extra support has allowed us to step up our meals, and as a result, we’ve made some pretty elaborate dishes.
What are you excited to accomplish next?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is enabling others to succeed and advance their own careers. As a manager, this is naturally my primary goal for my team. However, as a tenured member of the company, it’s also been incredibly rewarding to connect with others outside of my team, share advice, advocate for them internally and highlight opportunities that would be excellent for developing their own skills. I look forward to continuing to do this wherever possible.