Grand Rounds Blog

Every month, we hold an all-hands meeting for engineering, product, and design. The agenda always starts with a cherished tradition, “MeetMe’s.” Each newly-hired team member introduces themselves, including what we can’t find on LinkedIn and a special talent. These introductions consistently do not disappoint. As a way of sharing this fun tradition with folks outside of Grand Rounds, we launched this virtual version.

Welcome to our MeetMe web series. In each episode, we interview someone on the engineering, product, or design team to learn more about them and their team’s work. We talk about what matters most to Grand Rounds contributors and how they bring their best selves to work every day. We hope that through this series of peer-to-peer interviews, you get to know our team, as individuals and as a group of people with shared goals and values.

Our second MeetMe kicks off with a conversation between data science managers, Carolina Marquez and Rick Wolf. Watch the full video of Rick interviewing Carolina or see highlights from the conversation below.

Rick Wolf:
Hi, and welcome to the Grand Rounds MeetMe web series. In each episode we’re interviewing someone from the Grand Rounds team. I’m Rick Wolf, I’m a data science manager, and my team focuses on measuring and delivering the clinical outcomes for our members. I’m joined by Carolina Marquez, also a fellow data science manager. Carolina, I’ll let you introduce yourself.

Carolina Marquez:
Hi Rick, thanks for having me. As Rick mentioned, I’m one of the data science managers, and I lead the value and engagement team. My team is focused on creating the best member experience, and that includes using data insights to drive recommendations, to identify savings opportunities, and to make sure that members are on their best wellness path. I started in July 2020, so I started this position remotely, and it’s been a lot of fun since then.

Rick Wolf:
You really hit the ground running during your remote transition and onboarding. I have also had a role change from an IC (individual contributor) to a manager since we’ve been working from home and so I
thought it would be good for us to talk a little bit about culture while working remotely since it’s top of mind for everybody.

Carolina Marquez:
Yes. I think it really depends on the team. For example, on our data science team, people tend to really like working from home, but they still miss the personal connection that they get in the office. We try to go out of our way to make sure that there are opportunities to connect in a social setting that are not all about work. We have tea times and game times, and work to make those activities super inclusive. I’m terrible at games, especially Among Us, and it’s okay. We still have fun! Everyone’s included; I’m still allowed to play. It’s really a good time.

Rick Wolf:
It is a good time. It’s not all about winning. I’d say, if you had fun, you won. I also think that it’s important to build relationships beyond just your immediate team, with your day-to-day coworkers, and have an opportunity to expand your influence across the organization. So to that end, we also have fun social hours put on by our engineering, product, and design organization. Each week, somebody else hosts the event. We get great participation. Everybody, from newer IC’s all the way up to our CTO Wade Chambers, pops in to talk about anything not work-related — their latest quarantine hobbies, anything that’s fun.
I also love that participation is encouraged, but it’s also not “forced fun” where it becomes an extra part of the job that you have to worry about. It’s a natural and enjoyable environment where we get to build friendships. So that’s a little bit about our overall culture. Carolina, what about onboarding remotely?

Carolina Marquez:
That was something I was really nervous about. Starting at a new company, as a manager, being remote and not being able to meet my team face-to-face was something I was really worried about, but it turned out to be really good. In my first week, my first job was to participate in the promotion cycle discussions and deliver feedback to my team members. So I started with induction by fire, and it was good. It set a good pace for the work that I was doing and gave me a good opportunity to understand the Grand Round values from the very first week. I got to know my team and important stakeholders. Everyone’s been very open in sharing ideas and willing to get together and have video one-on-ones whenever I need to have extra context.

And you, Rick, you also were really great at putting together all of the onboarding material that had tons of information that was really valuable to get me going. It’s been great. I feel like I have been completely onboarded. I’m being productive and looking out for the team.

Rick Wolf:
I think the one thing that I was trying to help with when you were onboarding was something that I found very useful, even outside of remote context, which was having a structured onboarding plan to address what my first 30 days should look like, all the way out to my first quarter, and even my first year. That really helped me transition to being a manager, and I found that it helped me not only get the work done, but understand what my role and responsibilities were. Something that’s really great about all of the roles at Grand Rounds, whether you’re an individual contributor, tech lead, architect, or manager, is that you get a lot of responsibility that’s appropriate for your skillset, and you also have the opportunity to fail safely. As a result, you’re always pushing yourself, getting real-time feedback from your peers and your manager, support from other people, and increasing responsibility so that you’re growing and challenging yourself.

I also feel very supported in mentorship opportunities at Grand Rounds. This has come from working with more senior managers, understanding the skills and strengths that I need to be growing, and taking on new opportunities for me to grow in a particular blind spot or in other aspects of our business that I was unaware of prior to transitioning to a management role. There’s a lot of focus from the top down on what success looks like within a given role at Grand Rounds, and that’s also true of managers.

Carolina, I think one aspect of our success is being able to grow your team’s capacity to win, and grow IC’s in their skill set. Early on, you were successful in promoting members of your team. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Carolina Marquez:
Yes, it was a great way to start. I feel, as a manager, my number one priority is to make sure that the team members are achieving their career objectives, and that’s a very personal experience. So you really have to invest the time into getting to know every single member of your team, understanding what their skills are, what they need to be working on, and what their career objectives are. Promotion time is a really great opportunity to see how all of these aspects come together and how a team members’ growth and performance stacks up against the values of the company. My first week at Grand Rounds, I was able to deliver the news that a promotion was granted. It made me really happy for the team, and it set up the next few weeks in a very positive way. Professional growth is something that I’ve continued to really prioritize with my team in making sure that they are on the right track and that they’re able to reach their career goals.

Rick Wolf:
I really love that there’s so much focus on growth and giving people opportunities here, while also increasingly the team’s capacity to win. Those two priorities are rarely at odds. If you’re growing in your career, that means that you’re getting better at your job, you’re able to take on more responsibility, and that begins to affect others around you as well. You’re impacting your entire team rather than just impacting yourself and your day-to-day work. You’re influencing the entire output of the organization. I think that’s something that has been just reinforced by the entirety of our culture here, and is really compelling because it means that you’re always growing.

Carolina, I know we could talk a long time on this topic but cut us off here. I did want to end on a fun note. Right now, we’re a little bit house-bound because of shelter in place. It’s currently raining outside my apartment, and so I’ve been spending a lot of time inside. My big quarantine hobby is video games. I’m curious if you have any recommendations for me.

Carolina Marquez:
I don’t know about recommendations, but my son who’s eight years old introduced me to Panda Pop, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with that. I’ve always been into Match 3 games, and he started
playing because the pandas were super cute, which they are. And then for every season, there’s a new panda, so you get ones for Valentine’s day, and for Halloween, and they’re just adorable. But it also helps to increase his confidence as he gets from one level to the next, and helps him to think strategically. So particularly with shelter in place being so challenging for kids, it has been a really good activity for us to bond over, and I really have been enjoying it. How about you, Rick? What have you been playing?

Rick Wolf:
I play a lot of Mario games. I think it’s fun and lighthearted, and like you said, also challenging. You get a little reward for every time you solve a puzzle, push a block in place, or pull off that tricky jump that you died 12 times trying to do.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Carolina, and thanks everybody else for watching and joining us on our MeetMe web series. Stay tuned for more of these episodes as we get to know more of the members of the Grand Rounds team. Thanks everybody, have a good one.

Thank you for joining us on our Meet Me web series. Stay tuned for more of these episodes and get to know more members of our EPD (Engineering, Product, Design) team. And if this sounds interesting to you, check out our open roles. We’re hiring!

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