by Drew Housman
March 25, 2019

The way we learn is changing.

Nowadays, a teacher in Africa can educate a student in Australia as easily as if they lived next door to each other. Udemy, the company leading this interconnected learning revolution, is able to execute on their bold plans because of a company culture that encourages innovative thinking, lifelong learning and taking chances. 

“This is the first company I’ve worked at where people aren’t afraid of failing,” Customer Success Manager Han Hong told Built in Colorado. 

We spoke with Udemy team members about how their internal company ethos encourages them to be their best selves and how the Denver office is building a unique culture. 

 

udemy office
Photography by Haley Samuelson
udemy office
Photography by Haley Samuelson
udemy office
Photography by Haley Samuelson

 

FOUNDED: 2010

EMPLOYEES: 510 nationally; 20 locally, with plans to hire an additional 50 in Denver in 2019

WHAT THEY DO: Udemy is a marketplace for learning and instruction that connects students around the world with everyday experts. They believe that the best teachers aren’t always found in the classroom.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Udemy just moved into a larger Denver office in Lodo by Milk Market. Their headquarters are in San Francisco.

BRAIN BOOSTERS: Udemy employees get free access to every course on the Udemy and Udemy for Business platforms, as well as a yearly stipend that can be used for other professional development and training.

EVENTS FOR EVERYONE: Pretty much no matter what you’re into, Udemy has a company event you can enjoy. They host wellness events, bowling nights, yoga classes, cooking classes, karaoke, sports outings and more. They also have an annual awards ceremony, the Demmys, to honor outstanding achievements.

 

udemy office

udemy office
 

Han Hong, Senior Manager, Customer Success

Han leads the commercial customer success team in the U.S. They’re responsible for partnering with Udemy for Business’ most valued customers in order to drive adoption and ensure customer satisfaction, growth and retention. 

BEYOND WORK: Han finds pure joy in trail running because she likes to push herself physically and mentally beyond what she thought she could do. Her hope is to run the Oregon Coast 50K in October.

 

During the job searching process, what tipped the scales toward Udemy?

My boss. When I was talking with her and meeting with others, it became obvious to me that my manager was world class. Time and time again, I was told she’s the best manager people have ever worked with.

During the interview process, she had inspiring, contagious energy that made me think, “I’m going to miss the train unless I jump on with her.”

It also became obvious that I could learn a lot from her, both functionally and as a leader. And with each day that passes at Udemy, I’m more and more grateful to have her as my manager. She has empowered and equipped me to be the best leader I can be.

 

That’s quite a first impression. What else inspires you about Udemy?

What I especially love is that people live and breathe learning here. Everyone is focused on how they can learn and grow.

Also, I know this is clichė, but they’re not afraid of failing here, because their ultimate goal is to learn and grow from everything they do. This is the first company I’ve worked at where people aren’t afraid of failing. That attitude breeds innovation and creativity.

 

What I especially love is that people live and breathe learning here. Everyone is focused on how they can learn and grow. ”


How would you describe the culture in the Denver office, specifically? 

There is a unique and special bond in the Denver office like we’re a family. We’re supportive of each other and are each other’s biggest fans. We take care of each other both personally and professionally.

 

Udemy allows employees to access all of its courses for free. What have you learned since you started? 

How to give feedback, how to have effective one-on-ones, thought leadership in the talent management space, how to ask better questions, and the basics of AWS and Agile. I’m looking forward to learning more about data science, change management processes, like ITIL, and how our customers manage a digital transformation.

 

udemy office

udemy office

 

Jared Cassidy, Emerging Business Account Executive

Jared works with companies that range from 5-200 employees and takes them through the sales cycle: qualifying, demoing, negotiating, finalizing agreements, and launching their platform. 

SURF’S UP: Before he moved to Denver, Jared competed in surfing for over 10 years as an individual and on teams. Surfing taught him a lot about patience, dedication and perseverance. Sometimes the waves keep coming, and you have to keep paddling to make it past the breaking waves — the key is to never give up. 

 

What do you like about working in the Denver office? 

We’re a small part of the overall Udemy for Business sales team, so we feel like a startup within a startup. We know everybody on the team by name and have conversations with each other every day, which really has brought camaraderie to the Denver office. 

For example, Lyle is the go-to guy for all things IT. Got a question about screen sharing? Need a new monitor? Lyle is your guy. Don’t let his nice smile and willingness to go the extra mile fool you, though — he will definitely burn you in a ski race down the mountain. 

 

What was your transition like moving from San Francisco to the Denver office? How did Udemy make you feel at home in your new city and office?

A few of our colleagues and I were really testing the unknown by starting this new office, but the Udemy team was super supportive by providing us all the resources we needed, including housing. Additionally, a different manager flies out each week from SF to work with our team and make sure we’re being supported in our roles and have all the necessary items to perform our jobs. 

Also, I’m a huge Broncos fan, so I already felt at home here even though I can no longer surf like I used to in California.

 

We’re a small part of the overall Udemy for Business sales team, so we feel like a startup within a startup.” 


Udemy aims to reward learners within the company. What does that look like in practice? 

We’re really invested in “eating our own chocolate,” as our head of learning and development puts it, and that’s what our DEAL Hours are all about. It stands for Drop Everything And Learn, and it refers to how we spend one hour a month dedicated to our own career development. 

This year we’re awarding vacation credits to the person most invested in their personal development! It has absolutely enhanced our culture, as everybody chats about what and why they are learning. Also, these courses come up in our review cycles. 

 

udemy team

udemy office

 

Doug Aspland, VP of Sales

Doug is the global VP of sales, and his main goal is to improve lives through learning all around the world. 

BEYOND WORK: When Doug’s not running around with his kids, he’s running or biking outside. 

 

How would you describe the culture in the Denver office? 

The Denver office is very similar to the SF office, and that's by design: We wanted to keep the same type of culture, and we had people move to Denver to help us maintain the same SF Udemy feel. Also, one of the reasons we chose Denver as our new home was that the Denver culture fit the Udemy vibe.

Culture is especially important to us, so we are looking for the right people who are looking to work hard and help us grow. We aspire to have our new folks be as passionate as we are about Udemy.

 

What was the origin of the Drop Everything and Learn (DEAL) initiative?

We have found that employees struggle with finding the time to learn at work, so if the company dedicates time for employees to learn, they don’t feel guilty taking that time to learn something new. DEAL is all about making sure every employee spends time learning new skills.

 

Culture is especially important to us, so we are looking for the right people who are looking to work hard and help us grow.” 


Who do you want working by your side as the Denver office grows?

I am looking for individuals who want to grow and learn, are coachable, and share the same passion for Udemy as I do. I find it easy to be passionate about selling an awesome learning tool, so I love when I see candidates who share that passion.

 

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