After working for most of my career in big companies, the move to join a startup like Upgrade Pack (we’ve since quickly become a scaleup) represented a massive change for me.
Although I entered with certain trepidation, as you do with any new job, I was very excited to join a vibrant team looking to bring something new and potentially very disruptive to the world.
With six months under my belt as Product Manager, my enthusiasm has only swelled as we near the launch of our platform to deliver something truly valuable to airlines, hotels, banks, employers and consumers alike.
Below are my ‘top three’ three reasons why I’m thriving in a young and fast-growing company.
1. The ability to shape a market-first product
We have a poster in our office that states our company mission:
‘To transform the way upgrades are attained by the customers and employees of the world’s most innovative companies.'
It’s quite a lofty statement, however that’s precisely the product innovation we’re working towards at Upgrade Pack, by providing exclusively discounted travel upgrades within a closed marketplace
Working across both the product and technology teams, I am the bridge between the two, empowering them to work together, assessing the areas for improvement and implementing new, more efficient processes for collaboration. A recent example; after taking on board feedback and input from both teams I was able to create new process workflows, and introduce Trello to build out our product roadmap, giving each of the teams shared access to key information at a glance.
I’m also extensively involved in product testing and revisions as we onboard our airline and hotel partners, collaborating closely with both teams to turn ideas into reality and drive continuous improvement on our user experience.
Not only am I helping ensure we launch a high quality product as efficiently as possible, I feel like I’m able to shape a platform that promises to deliver significant value across many industries, and that will be used by thousands worldwide.
2. A flatter company structure
Just weeks into my time with Upgrade Pack, I was pleased to see how dynamic and adaptable a small organisation can be. It was refreshing not to have a large, multi-layered management structure above our heads.
This enables us to be far more agile, both as an organisation and within our internal teams. From my side, both the product and technology teams are able to quickly adapt our product primarily to the needs of both the user and the business, without waiting for approvals from multiple departments.
As the months went by, we made improvements to the app in areas where we saw changes were needed. With the entire company focusing on the same product everyone has the same shared goal which is to make it a success. This contrasts with working in more ‘siloed’ environments where things can be more multifaceted in terms of priorities.
3. Work-life balance
At Upgrade Pack there is a big focus on work-life balance, Thursday drinks trolley, team cook-offs and our ‘UP’ conference, we take time out away from our desks – whether to enjoy our surroundings in Richmond, Surrey at lunch, or to actually speak to each other rather than send an email.
We recently introduced a four-day working week trial too, giving all employees Fridays off to explore out of work interests/hobbies. Before launching it, our co-founders took the step of asking every employee for their feedback on the idea, with the results being overwhelmingly positive.
A pre-consultation, in person, not over email, before making a decision adds to the employee-centric culture Upgrade Pack are building. Our employee share scheme which makes us the first employee-owned tech company in the UK is further support of this. And just last month we were recognised as a Top 25 SME in the UK for company culture by Real Business. Quite a feat for a company that’s barely a year old!
As we near the launch of our much-anticipated app, I have no doubt my plate will be getting rather full in the weeks and months ahead. However, I’m loving being part of such a vibrant, growing company where I get to make a real impact every day.