The sights and sounds of Lunar New Year filled the Southern California air. Children approached dragon dancers with wide eyes, and their parents snacked on dumplings and rice cakes while chatting with friends.
The campus of Anduril’s Costa Mesa headquarters had transformed into a night market.
“It's honestly really nice to see my culture and my fellow employees being celebrated,” said Sarah Yoo, a legal operations associate at Anduril and the head of the Asian and Pacific Islanders employee resource group (ERG), which had planned the event. “Anduril has always been good at making sure employees are taken care of, and these cultural events are just another example of that.”
For Yoo, events honoring Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival are just the beginning of how Anduril shows its support for the AAPI community at the company. “We’ve celebrated good food and cultural traditions, but we’ve also explored how we can empower employees here. Anduril is growing fast and becoming more diverse every day,” she said. “Our employee-led ERG communities and affinity groups are also a key part of Anduril’s newly formed diversity council. I’m excited to not only be a part of fun events but also look at how Anduril fosters a diverse environment with opportunities for all employees.”
Hayley Walthour understands the importance of a supportive ERG first-hand. When she returned to work from maternity leave earlier this fall, she turned to a group of her fellow parents at Anduril.
“I asked how they survived their first day back to the office without their babies,” the corporate communications manager said. “I asked for tips, practices and advice. I think having other moms to lean on and being able to find a community in your workplace is really important. We have a great group that’s able to get together to talk openly about everything from labor and delivery to plans for after the baby arrives.”
That supportive culture is baked into every aspect of life at Anduril, including finding ways for employees to grow. Kayla Deneault first joined the company as a recruiting coordinator.
“I said I would do anything to join the company,” Deneault said, laughing, as she recounted her personal path at Anduril. “So I came on to support scheduling with no direct scheduling experience. They took a chance on me and brought me in to support two recruiters.”
That chance paid off for both Deneault and Anduril. “As time went on, I started volunteering more for people and HR tasks and then pivoted fully to the people team,” she said. “And more recently, I moved into a manager role within people operations, and I am actually in charge of the recruiting coordination team — really a full-circle moment.”
According to Deneault, her comfort in taking on new challenges and transitioning into new roles is thanks to the people she had on her team. “We have a lot of folks here who are really good at what they do,” she said. “If you ask for mentorship or advice, they tend to give it in exactly the way you need. I’ve been given a lot of projects that were totally uncharted territory for me, and when I hit a wall or a challenge that needed a second pair of eyes, I always had someone on my team who was willing to support me. I’m trusted to do good work. But I know if I need help, I’m not on my own.”
Built In sat down with Yoo, Walthour and Deneault to learn more about the benefits that make Anduril a great place to grow professionally and the people-first culture that offers community, support and celebration each day.
What features of Anduril’s benefits or culture have been most meaningful for you?
Hayley Walthour, corporate communications manager: When I started looking at Anduril, I wasn’t yet planning to start a family, and so I considered the benefits package more holistically. But when I did get pregnant, knowing that I would be supported and taken care of here at work was one less thing I had to worry about. Our 16 weeks of parental leave is fabulous, and so many people at Anduril have families and children. It’s a very safe space for parents, which has been incredible as I’m transitioning back into the office and work after my leave. Everyone on the team understands that it can take time for a new parent to get back to 100 percent.
Kayla Deneault, manager of people operations: Our benefits package is really competitive, with perks like not needing to contribute to our own healthcare premiums. But for me, even more exciting is how much we invest in budding talent and growing people in their roles. As a person who comes to work at Anduril, you’ll get the opportunity to do something you haven’t tried before or step into a role you hadn’t previously been able to pursue.
Sarah Yoo, legal operations associate: I’m really grateful for that, too. There is no sense of plateau or getting stagnant here. I have never stopped learning here, which can keep me extremely busy, but I am never bored. I always feel like I have the opportunity to expand my skills, and I have people on my team who will hear me out and let me tackle a project from a new idea. We are surrounded by competent, talented people who are amazing at their jobs. We’re encouraged to learn from the people around us, too.
Benefits for every stage of life
What steps has Anduril taken to foster a people-first culture?
Walthour: When I came back from maternity leave, it was to a new office — I didn’t even know where I sat. Having a new baby can be very isolating when you’re in a newborn bubble, and it was invigorating to come back after a few months and reconnect with my team and catch up on what had happened.
Really, that was thanks to my ability to check out while I was on leave. Anduril does a great job supporting parents with how each person wants to take their leave. We don’t want people to have any pressure to log on. Also, no one is required to take their leave consecutively, which is something a lot of dads take advantage of in order to support their family both when their baby is new and when their partner needs to go back to work.
Deneault: I got married this summer, and when we were planning our honeymoon, our plans just kept getting longer. I knew I wanted to take one longer trip this year rather than sprinkling it throughout, and I was able to take an entire month off for it. Kind of a go-big-or-go-home moment for me. I chose to draft up a whole plan for my team and fully check out, which I was able to stick to and everyone fully supported.
I feel fortunate that we have the PTO that allows for that kind of flexibility, and we were able to go on a full Mediterranean loop through Italy, France, Spain, Egypt and Greece. Our PTO policy is what really made it possible, and our annual vacation bonus was a great incentive that allowed us to enjoy it a little extra.
What kind of support have you found in your current role? How did company leadership or your own team help to succeed?
Walthour: We have a $1,500 stipend for people to utilize on learning annually. For me, I'm heading to a conference in two weeks. I think internal communications has changed a lot in the last few years, even though we’re not a hybrid-first company. There's so many different ways to communicate best practices, and people want to receive their information in different ways. Having something as simple as that gives individual opportunities to employees to better their own careers.
Yoo: The company has been growing so quickly, so we're all working on how to scale our teams. I've gotten to work on projects that are helping Anduril grow, and the opportunity to make a lasting impact is always exciting. Our whole team is dialed-in on the mission, and because of that, I have the autonomy to execute work the way that I think will support our team while still getting great guidance from my managers.
“We’re on the same team, working toward the same mission.”
How do Anduril’s leaders exemplify the company’s cultures and values?
Yoo: Even at the level of our most senior leaders, there is a level of humility that I find extremely refreshing and trickles down to all of the company. Before Covid-19, all the leaders' desks were in the open office with everyone else. After the pandemic, the amount of Zoom calls really escalated, which required taking up communal office rooms so that now our leaders have offices, but not because of a super hierarchical structure.
Our leaders are able to balance traditional corporate management styles and “startup culture'' because many of them have already gotten companies off the ground before they came here. They’ve found some of the secret sauce to make something great, while still being low-ego and open to ideas.
Walthour: That really all comes back down to like the veteran mentality — it's get the job done at whatever cost. We’re on the same team, working toward the same mission, and like Sarah said, there is no ego. There’s no job too small for anyone to do — executives included.