GRAYBOX’s Mark Middleton promoted to Director of People and Culture
Watching GRAYBOX Grow
GRAYBOX has grown rapidly over the last 4 years. I joined as a Senior Web Developer as part of the first wave of full-time employees back in 2013. Over the years, I’ve been involved in development, technical architecture, team leadership and about two years ago I took on the title Director of Technology as the team continued to grow. There have been many successes and plenty of growing pains over the years, but I can say confidently that the one thing that has been consistent is GRAYBOX’s ability to bring together an amazing team of people. As leader and manager of the Development Team, I was responsible for recruiting, hiring, coaching, training, and providing ongoing professional development of the team members. I love our close-knit group, and as the Director of Technology I found myself not just directing them, but frequently instigating team outings, getting to know the fun and quirky personalities of each of our developers, coaching them professionally, and acting as a kind of social glue for the team.
I’m told this is why GRAYBOX leadership both surprised and honored me with this new position. Starting this month, I’m taking the cultural development part of my job and expanding it company-wide with my new role as Director of People and Culture, or “DPaC”.
A Passion for People
I love people. I get the biggest rush when I see someone take the seed of an idea and grow it to maturity as they learn a new concept, language, framework or other skill. It makes me feel great when I see one person on the team working through a problem with someone else. There are few things as exciting to watch as a team of skilled professionals build a complex system that elegantly solves business challenges. It’s my passion to help people learn together, grow together and accomplish great things together.
As DPaC, my job covers four main areas, with quite a bit of overlap:
- Standard Bearer of GRAYBOX Culture
- Recruiting and Onboarding
- Training and Professional Development
- Events and Community Involvement
1. Standard Bearer of GRAYBOX Culture
We have a great team, an awesome office, and amazing client-partners we work with. “Culture” is that intangible feeling that exists between all the written rules, meetings, personalities, fun and friction of an organization. Culture is the community vibe, swag, the pulse, and tone of leadership, staff and how people spend their time together. Culture isn’t something you just “do”, it takes years of persistence, connection, and investment in our people to get it right. I will continue to help the organization develop, nurture and evolve our culture.
2. Recruiting and Onboarding
Finding people for a great team is not easy. At GRAYBOX, we provide services in ecommerce consulting, systems integrations, business consulting, brand strategy, web and mobile development, design, SEO, pay-per-click advertising and other marketing initiatives. If it involves digital services, GRAYBOX is probably the best to partner with to get it done right. As our business increases, our team is constantly growing both in number and skill. It is now my job to help identify and recruit new team members into the GRAYBOX family and train them in “The GRAYBOX Way” – our term for the consistent process of serving our client-partners well.
3. Training and Professional Development
The technology industry moves at light speed. It is critical for our team to have ongoing training, certification and other professional development so we can provide the most value to those we work with. This involves private study, 1-on-1 trainings, small groups, lunch-and-learns, conferences and other training events. Our back-end developers need to understand the impact on Search Engine Optimization their choices make. Our designers need to have a firm grip on the nuances of front-end development to make sites that are both incredibly attractive and perfectly functional. Our technical support team needs to know everything. Professionals in the technical development world no longer have the luxury of specialization to the point of isolation. I’ll make sure our team is constantly learning, moving forward, and participating in cross-disciplinary collaboration. The organizational training and professional development is now centralized out of my office.
4. Events and Community Involvement
During GRAYBOX’s growth over the previous years, we’ve been so busy serving our client-partners that we have had very little time to “get off of GRAYBOX island” and involve ourselves in the outside community we live and work in. This is something we’ve wanted to change for years, and it’s now my role to explore, expand and share what GRAYBOX has built with a larger body outside the office. I’m excited to be involved in these efforts and started spearheading new initiatives right away. One of my first actions was I recently engaged us to sponsor a group of middle and high schoolers building robots (FIRST Robotics Team 1510… Go Wildcats!). It was inspiring to go to their championship tournament and root them on as they applied their skills in programming, engineering and team collaboration to try to best those from other schools. As DPac of our office, I’ll be getting us involved in more opportunities like this and will act as the point person for events here at the GRAYBOX office as well as community events we are involved in. Check out our events page to see what events are on the horizon and come join us.
To the Future
GRAYBOX, like many companies, has always claimed that “our people are our most important asset” - and we have taken great measures to take care of our people. With the new role of Director of People and Culture, I’m humbled and thrilled that it is now my charge to expand what we have already started and nurture it into further greatness as our company continues to grow.