At CrowdStreet, Values in Action Propel Responsible and Sustainable Growth
“It’s always funny. Two weeks after somebody joins my team, there’s always a day that comes when they ask, ‘is it really always like this? When do I see the seedy underbelly?’ And I get to say: ‘there is no seedy underbelly; this is how we always are.’’”
Tasha Hock is head of talent acquisition at CrowdStreet. Having worked in a variety of industries, including finance, tech, consulting and agriculture, Hock came to CrowdStreet in 2021 with a surfeit of experience. At CrowdStreet, a fintech company operating a commercial real estate platform and marketplace, Hock found a company with which she shared values. She also found an opportunity to do more than ply previously-acquired skills.
“I was looking for something new, somewhere I could learn and not just leverage what I already knew,” Hock said. “I’m excited about the integrated ecosystem of talent that we’re working to create and support here. Embedding our core values into our assessment process and our performance management and calibration process is super compelling to me.”
Hock was also looking for a place to champion justice, equity, diversity and inclusion; to build a team that celebrated those core values — collaboration, respect and impact; and to develop a culture that would truly be an expression of those “values in action.”
The J.E.D.I. Way
Through partnerships with PowerToFly, Hock and the talent acquisition team have been able to do just that, even despite uncertain economic headwinds. CrowdStreet is realizing its values-in-action as the company continues to scale up, build its team and redouble its commitment to cultivating a collaborative, respectful and impactful workplace.
Joining the Crowd
Elizabeth Agbuya is an investor relations manager with CrowdStreet. She’s also a mother working in a field that is not traditionally known for respecting — let alone celebrating — work-life balance.
“Ever since I had my daughter, it really gave me a good glimpse of what I want in an employer,” said Agbuya. “Motherhood has really shaped how I see myself, my career and how I want to live my life. And CrowdStreet afforded me the ability to fully embrace motherhood and not feel like I have to choose between being a mom or being a manager.”
Agbuya first encountered CrowdStreet in 2017 while working for a traditional investment manager. Impressed by the possibilities of the company’s platform — particularly the ways in which CrowdStreet was helping to make commercial real estate investment opportunities available to non-traditional investors — Agbuya followed the company on LinkedIn.
“I thought to myself, holy moly, they are transforming the way individual investors invest in commercial real estate.”
Three years later, Agbuya was at a crux in her career and a chance login led to a life-changing opportunity.
“It was almost like fate,” Agbuya said. “I went on LinkedIn just to see what was going on, and the first thing I saw was a listing for an investor relations manager position at CrowdStreet. I thought to myself: I could do this.”
The opportunity to grow her skills and join a dynamic tech-forward team felt like kismet. Confident in her abilities as a manager and an investment relations professional, Agbuya’s only trepidations revolved around leaving a tightly-knit company culture she knew for one that she didn’t.
“My previous company had 22 people, and it was very much like a family, so I was scared,” Agbuya said. “And when I interviewed with CrowdStreet, I said: ‘you have to sell me on culture; you have to sell me on how you’re going to engage me, and you’re going to have to sell me on whether I’m going to have a healthy team.’”
Agbuya received the assurances she sought immediately during the interview process. Throughout the onboarding process, Agbuya was impressed by the openness and willingness of her teammates and coworkers, as well as with leadership’s approachability.
“In previous roles we would talk about collaboration all the time. But at CrowdStreet we really live it,” said Agbuya. “What I love about this remote atmosphere is that, when you do collaborate, it’s intentional. You are carving out time. You’re logging into Zoom. You’re making it very apparent that you want to be there.”
A profusion of artwork lines Justin McCullough’s home office walls. A bold blue backsplash is decorated with a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings — “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” — and more than a dozen works of art depict — among other things — rainbows, Baby Yoda and the logo of the Indianapolis Colts.
While the range of McCullough’s hobbies and interests are extremely visible, it’s his four daughters who currently take up his time and attention.
As CrowdStreet’s director of software engineering, it’s incumbent on McCullough to lead a growing team of engineers. And, McCullough notes, CrowdStreet’s remote work policy and flexible schedule not only allows him to be a dedicated parent; it has a direct impact on his and his team’s ability to do quality work.
“I think the company has one of the best remote work policies I’ve ever seen. To make that leap has been really exceptional,” said McCullough. “Not only that, we are able to hire the best talent wherever they happen to be.”
CrowdStreet’s “work where you work best” or W3B policy allows team members the flexibility to take care of their families while allowing them to make an outsized impact at the company. To this end, team members receive a $150 per month stipend to help facilitate work — be that defraying the cost of at-home meals or buying ergonomic solutions for the home office. Team members have the flexibility to work from home, from CrowdStreet’s headquarters in Austin, TX, or — through a partnership with Industrious — more than 150 co-working locations throughout the U.S including a dedicated Industrious hub in Portland, OR.
And while the flexibility of CrowdStreet’s W3B policy is enticing, it’s ultimately the ability to “work best,” that makes the policy really exciting for McCullough. The opportunity to contribute meaningfully and to shape the trajectory of CrowdStreet, rather than slot into a circumscribed role within a bureaucratic structure, is among the company’s strongest selling points.
“One of the things I like about working at a smaller growing company is the level of impact that you can have,” said McCullough. “You’re not just filling a gap. You’re here to get things done and move us in the direction that we want to go.”
Focus on People
Of CrowdStreet’s three pillars, respect is perhaps the most difficult to quantify. It’s also, perhaps, the most important. For McCullough, respect is “a given” on the engineering team. For Hock, it’s apparent in the intentional ways with which the company is supporting and celebrating diversity. It’s in the superlatives, the heaps of praise that CrowdStreets team members have for their workplace and their teammates, that respect comes across.
For Agbuya, a workplace culture with ample opportunities and many channels to address issues has been key; “I’ve never had healthier relationships with my team members and managers,” she said.
“We’re not without challenges. We’re not without problems; that’s the nature of living in the world,” Hock said. “But the genuine regard that we have for one another, the way we get to work together and the things we get to do are truly unique. We don’t have to come to work; we get to come to work.”