When Diana Edelstein embarked on her career journey at Epsilon in 2014, the company — and the marketing industry — was a drastically different landscape. Internal teams were smaller, the collaboration was tight-knit and the supportive energy coursing throughout the offices felt rapturous with possibility.
“Everyone was united on the same goals and there was a constant atmosphere of camaraderie,” the manager of training recalled.
Today, Epsilon employs more than 8,000 associates in over 40 offices around the world. Yet through company expansions and acquisitions, digital innovations and more, every day at work still feels like day one for Edelstein.
“Since I started, none of that has changed,” she said.
Mariana Skinner, with more than 10 years and eight roles under her belt at Epsilon, echoed Edelstein’s sentiments. “It’s collaborative instead of a competitive environment, so everyone has the drive to do a lot of great work,” the senior director of strategic consulting said. “We want to win business and we want to deliver excellence, but we’re not competitive with each other and it feels like everyone makes room for growth.”
WHAT DOES EPSILON DO?
Since 1969, Epsilon has been helping marketers personalize consumer experiences of brands by employing cutting-edge technology, solutions and services. Powered by comprehensive data on consumer transactions, the company’s platform allows businesses to connect with consumers through their preferred channels and tailor their marketing strategies to their unique needs. “There is a culture of innovation and improvement, and one of our values is this idea that we’re growing one percent better every day,” Senior VP of HR Mike Dixon said.
But according to tenured employees like Skinner and Edelstein, that kind of development and longevity in an ever-evolving industry doesn’t happen by accident. In fact, intention has proven to be crucial in Epsilon’s successful evolution over the course of 50 years.
That’s why, in 2022, leadership launched the company’s first formalized internal mobility program promoting continuous growth for every level of employee.
“One of the things we embraced during the Great Resignation was that we’re a company powered by data, and we wanted to understand what our data could tell us,” said Mike Dixon, senior vice president of HR, global learning and employee relations. “People want career development and an organization that’s willing to invest in them. What we found out is that when we allow somebody to grow into a new role, they’re going to be more experienced than somebody we hire from the outside in a shorter period of time.”
Epsilon’s goal in having a fully functional growth program is to help employees have intentional conversations of future growth early on with managers, instead of waiting for a promotional cycle one-on-one or requiring individuals to speak up themselves. And thanks to the company’s extensive continuous learning resources, like AI-powered training courses and certifications, employees can sharpen skill sets throughout their careers so when that next perfect opportunity arises, they’re ready.
“My career has grown significantly since the day I started, and so has the organization,” Edelstein said. “Having growth opportunities, having managers that believed in me and helped me grow — it’s been everything I needed.”
Why was formalizing the internal mobility program important?
Manager of Training Diana Edelstein: We’ve always had the opportunity for internal mobility, but now we’ve given employees the tools to be able to approach the subject and clearly imagine what that next step looks like. How do I go about applying for this job? What are the steps involved in applying? What do I know about this role? We focused a lot of our efforts this year in establishing the message that this is an opportunity for you if you’re looking to grow in your career — here are some resources that you can use, and you can even build your own opportunity.
Senior Director of Strategic Consulting Mariana Skinner: I’ve been on this strategy team since 2018, and my career switch happened before this program had been established. Having something to help my transition process would have been extremely helpful. Change can be stressful, even when it’s positive, so having a program to help navigate that process is important.
“Having impactful conversations to build a development plan is a huge part of how we live out our value of becoming one percent better every day.”
What is the process like for an employee looking to grow in their current role vs. another department?
Edelstein: The process doesn’t start any differently than it would be if you were thinking about growth on your current team. Now that folks can start having those conversations early and often, they can prepare by taking the proper courses and making relationships with the right people. With our internal mobility program, we put an emphasis on being thoughtful about what it is that you want to do first before you decide to apply or go down the route of switching teams. We’re encouraging people to lean on either their mentors or their managers to help have those conversations and focus on the exploring phase.
Senior VP of HR, Global Learning, Org Dev and Employee Relations Mike Dixon: We also have an impressive library of available trainings to get technical certifications, both on our products and on industry norms. Do you want to get certified on AWS cloud architecture, Microsoft Azure, Databricks, Python or Salesforce Marketing Cloud to make a transition? We’ll make that happen almost immediately. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the consumption of learning assets more than double. We’ve never forced anyone to do that — it’s because they want to hone their skills and want to be better. It’s cool to be able to look at the numbers and see that if someone takes a management development program or associate training, your turnover rate becomes a lot lower.
SEARCHING FOR THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
“From day one, we want any new hire to feel the spirit of collaboration and support,” said Vice President of Recruiting Dave Lucey. But what makes a great fit at Epsilon? “A positive attitude that contributes to our culture along with versatility and adaptability will take you far,” he said. “During our interview process, we look for specific examples that align to the core competencies for the position. We want to hear why you want to work at Epsilon and how you will make an impact. The best part: I’ve never worked at a company where everyone is truly invested in supporting each other.”
What does continuous development look like at Epsilon?
Edelstein: When I was looking to make my transition to learning and development, I had spent the majority of my career in an account management role. I was considering taking a coaching course to become certified because Epsilon wanted to create a coaching culture, but it needed additional support and effort. With my manager’s approval, I was able to get tuition reimbursement through our program — in the middle of the pandemic, even. But because we believe in investing in talent, today we’re able to push a coaching culture and create courses internally.
“Change can be stressful, even when it’s positive, so having a program to help navigate that process is important.”
Skinner: When I first started in the marketing technology space, I realized that I was good at my job. One day, my boss was telling me that his goal was to get promoted so that I could take over — and my very first thought was “I do not want your job.” Something clicked in my head to ask if this was what I saw myself doing in five years. But I knew that I loved Epsilon because of the people and a culture committed to investing in employees, so that’s what started my impetus over to the strategy and consulting side.
Being on this side of the house requires a completely different skill set in technology, because you’re thinking about how to make sure you’re delivering the right thing. At first it was difficult, but through trainings and other support from the team, I confidently grew into the role. Now, I’m tackling problems that I enjoy solving and I’m where I see my career heading in the next five years. If my boss were to say that I can have his job, I’d be thrilled about it now.
What are the most important traits that a successful employee looking to advance should possess?
Dixon: We’re looking for people who have a certain percentage of skills to take on a new role, but also the learning aptitude and work ethic to make up for the rest. Sometimes as leaders, we want to place jobs into these boxes when we say something requires X number of years work experience, certifications and so on. Is it actually a purple unicorn job description, where there are very few of these perfect candidates who actually exist? Or can we flip that around and say, “This person has most of what it takes, let’s give them a shot”? We’ve even taken the college degree requirements off a lot of our job descriptions to become more inclusive and explore where the next generation of tech talent is coming from.
Edelstein: The first time I had an opportunity to lead a team at Epsilon, I realized one of my direct reports had been at the organization longer than me and had never been promoted. When I wondered why, I had a lightbulb moment — nobody’s going to come to me and say it’s time to step up. I then started helping to coach him in thinking about what it is he wanted to do, because he never had those conversations with anyone before. That’s when he hit his stride, got promoted and is still doing really well on the team.
You have to have that drive and interest in growth, but having those impactful conversations with your direct reports to build a development plan is a huge part of how we live out our value of becoming one percent better every day.