Konval Matin is the Director of Culture at Shopify in Ottawa, leading the culture team that spans across the company's multiple offices. I first learned of Konval and her role at a Slack event in Toronto where she was speaking on a panel about how Shopify used Slack in creative ways to keep everyone in the company engaged and informed. She talks about what culture means at Shopify, how her and her team work to help scale that culture as they grow and what some of the challenges are in such a unique role.
Tell me a little bit about your role as Director of Culture and what that encompasses.
I work with the leadership team across the company to figure out where we need to be as a team and the mentality we need to have. I also spend a lot of time with my team of culture specialists, mobility specialists, designers, and internal communications to help execute ideas from the leadership. In essence, the culture team helps bridge the gap between the executive team and the rest of the company, making sure everyone is aligned.
My day-to-day is comprised of 1-on-1s with the culture team, and working with other departments to give them the culture lens on what they’re shipping out to our team. I spend a lot of time thinking about what we’re doing well and what elements of our culture we want to keep around as we continue to grow. Over the years I’ve learned that regardless of scale, there are certain things that are super crucial to our culture. For example, the fact that we default to open, and that we have weekly Town Halls. Those are things that we never want to lose, but finding a way to keep them around as we grow, is really difficult. So my team and I are obsessed about not losing our culture but balancing that with the fact that it does need to evolve and change in some ways. At the core, it’s about maintaining whatever culture we’re trying to embody, because if it goes in a direction that we don’t want it to, it’s a lot harder to reign in. We’re thoughtful and critical about every decision we make, often right down to the tools we implement, and the messaging we send.
Can you tell me more about culture and what it means at Shopify?
We define culture as the sum of every single individual at Shopify. Every person plays a part in creating it, and when someone leaves or joins, they have a direct impact on the culture. It took me some time to figure this out, but I think about what we do as creating holistic employee experiences and we partner with all different teams across the company to do that.
My team, for example, takes care of internal communications, so we have a good idea of the messages employees hear before they join Shopify up until they’re fully onboarded and integrated into the team. We know what the messages are and where to place them. We partner with other teams to give them more context on how to deliver their initiatives in the most impactful way so that it resonates and sticks with our employees.
As for the culture team specifically, it’s comprised of four teams at the moment. The graphic designers take care of all the visuals you see throughout the offices including the office design itself. They are great at making sure our culture comes to life in a visual way. The internal communications team—which is a small team of two—focuses on any message that we need to put through to the company, whether it’s a small change to our professional development perks or a larger change management communication piece. They have a good sense of how employees feel, what they need to know and how to deliver it in a way that makes sense. And the culture specialists have a very mixed and, I think, exciting role. They’re the eyes and ears on the ground. They’re really close to people and there’s a lot of relationship building. They onboard new hires every two weeks, and set up the Town Halls. They work with coaches and leads to find out what we’re doing well and where we could improve. They are kind of the voice of the people and we have one in almost every office.