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Esri’s Amber Case talks talent acquisition and management

3 min read


Esri’s Amber Case

When Esri acquired location-based services firm Geoloqi in 2012, one of the most critical aspects of the deal was that the management team, including co-founder Amber Case, would remain in place to lead the new entity: Esri R&D Center – Portland. SmartBrief sat down with Case recently and asked her more about her management style.

Culture is obviously important for a startup, so what is your approach talent acquisition?

“I ask each employee who the best person is that they’ve worked with in the past. Out of their entire career, who is the most incredible person that they wish they could work with again. They give me a name. I go out and find where that person is working and I hire them. … It helps avoid issues with work culture and conflict. You have people who are so excited because they get to work with the friends again.”

Developers are an integral part of your business. How do you manage them?

“Developers aren’t always treated well at some of the big agencies. They are considered second-class citizens. But they are the ones that make things work. I really fight to make sure our developers have the best of everything. I give them latitude to work on projects that interest them. I also make sure they have other little perks, like the best seats in the Zen-like portion of our office. My main goal is to make sure people are happy. If they are, then they do their best work.”

Staffing a startup presents unique challenges in that every team member is often interdependent on the work of others. What other strategies have you deployed?

“We have a program called “Done reports!” Every day each team member submits a report that details what tasks or projects they completed that day. All the reports get rolled into an email each night that summarizes what the entire team has accomplished. It’s really great if I am in another country, or if someone is out sick, or if someone is working remotely that day.”

What is the biggest change you noticed when you transitioned from a small startup to part of a much larger organization in Esri?

“Esri is quite unique. We live in a world where you have tech companies that rise and fall within a year or two. Companies get acquired or the market gets consolidated and suddenly you find you can’t even use their technology. ArcGIS has been around for 20 years and you know it is going to be there for you in the future.”