Briana Mathew is spearheading Telesign’s learning journey.
Mathew brings over 12 years of experience to her role as the identity verification API company’s global learning and development specialist. Since joining in March of 2022, she has used every drop of her background as a manager, leader and educator to deeply embed learning in the DNA of the organization with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives.
“When setting up learning opportunities, I think about the goal and outcome that need to be achieved, the context in which the opportunity is going to be presented and how it will be delivered so that it can be digestible,” she said. “Experience has taught me that this is the foundation of curriculum development and optimal learning.”
To facilitate that development, Mathew works closely with the company’s first employee resource group (ERG), Women at Telesign, and is working with the team to launch the company’s next ERG focusing on diversity and inclusion. Utilizing her extensive educational and DEIB expertise, she has brought a new level of cultural education to Telesign. Mathew’s initiative aligns perfectly with the company’s values of authenticity and growth-mindedness, and Telesigners met her drive with open arms and open minds.
“We didn’t do any formal cultural learning in previous years,” she said. “But we’re already slated to do nine Snack & Learn sessions, and are hoping awareness and interest grows from these efforts. This is not just a ‘nice to have’ — it is a company priority and as such, everyone from our CEO, Joe Burton, and the entire EC down in the company make time to attend and prioritize these events.”
Snack & Learns are Mathew’s pride and joy — hour-long sessions organized nearly every month that feature speakers and experts that partner with Telesign’s Employee Experience team and ERG to celebrate cultural moments together and expand the team’s knowledge of diverse communities. So far, sessions have included expert lectures on Asian-American history and Juneteenth, panels of LGBTQ+ Telesigners and members of the Women in Tech ERG, a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and two sessions exploring workplace neurodiversity.
“They’re such a fun part of my job!” she said. “We hope to continue the great work and focus on what matters to Telesigners in the future.”
Which of Telesign’s values are most important to you? How do those values affect your work?
Telesigns values are centered around four themes: committed, authentic, growth-minded and trusted. The authentic and growth-minded values are those that resonate with me the most. At Telesign, we define being “authentic” as the following: “We bring our full, authentic selves to work. We understand the impact we have within the larger organization, which is why we work hard to lift each other up. We are accountable, strategic, respectful, diverse and purposeful. We take ownership, speak with candor and bring our best — both to our projects and to our teams — in every moment. We make our work enjoyable every day.”
As a first-generation, Desi-South Asian woman who grew up in Chicago, I deeply value the freedom to be unafraid of who I am in the workplace. My social identities make up who I am, and I appreciate that I can unapologetically be those things at work and that it is valued.
“In my work, authenticity and growth-mindedness go hand in hand.”
Growth-mindedness is the pillar of the work I do as a global learning development specialist. Telesign empowers this value through encouraging employees in the following way: “Show up every day with a can-do mentality and lean into curiosity and inclusivity. We avoid complacency and strive to innovate, iterate and learn from each other’s diverse perspectives. We are proactive and ready to leave our comfort zones in order to grow.”
Knowing that the company values people’s continuous growth and learning makes my job so much more fun and limitless in possibilities. In my work, authenticity and growth-mindedness go hand in hand. When I work with people individually or in teams, I want to make sure we are creating a space for people to authentically share and be themselves — and in doing that, create a culture of growth-minded individuals and teams.
I recently led a session with a department, and before going into the depths of the learning around effective communication I made sure to do several activities and icebreakers that would make the learning fun and ultimately sink in. We practiced good and bad communication through a fun game and had break-out sessions where they were able to speak about themselves in a personal and professional light. In doing so, they were able to be themselves, learn more about each other’s working styles and ultimately learn and have action plans for how to communicate better.
What professional development or training opportunities do you make available to help your team grow their careers?
We conduct individual and team development sessions for folx who have consulted about areas they wanted more training around — effective communication, implicit bias and so on. We have also partnered with McLean and Masterclass, where all Telesigners can go through their own individual learning journeys. Not only does it help them professionally develop skills, but if they want to learn something outside of their professional role, they can — and we encourage it! When a person can develop as a whole person, and not just as a job title, you are going to see them feel valued — which makes them want to do their job better, which ultimately helps Telesign do the great things it is doing.
In addition to these opportunities, we also are planning on launching a managerial fundamentals training course for managers with five years or less of experience, a managerial roundtable every month for all managers, professional development sessions and Snack & Learns. Our goal is that every Telesigner is developed and upskilled while they are with us, and that continuous learning is embedded in our DNA as a company. When you are at Telesign, you are going to do great work, and we are going to equip you to be the best at it.
“I truly believe when people feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated in the place where they work, they thrive.”
What other events and programs have you been involved with at Telesign? What recent event or program are you proudest of?
It is hard for me to pick just one event or program that I am most proud of, as I am overjoyed to see so much great work happen in my tenure at Telesign. But if I have to pick one, it would have to be our Snack & Learn during Pride Month. We started the session off with the moderator, a Harvard professor, speaking on the history of the LGBTQ+ community both in the United States and globally. He then went to ask our panel of four Telesigners to share their stories. The Zoom chat box was filled with people affirming the stories they were hearing from their colleagues and sharing their own experiences. The faces on the screen were lit up with emotion and support — people were engaged for a full 90 minutes. No one wanted to leave. People at Telesign, during their workday, got to learn new things about LGBTQ+ history and know their colleagues in a deeper, more intimate way.
I truly believe when people feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated in the place where they work, they thrive. That day, I saw Telesigners thriving. I saw a sense of #TelesignTogether that I had not seen before. My slack messages were inundated with people thanking me and our team for creating that session. I am proud that we were able to create a space of learning and understanding that day, and I look forward to creating more spaces just like that.