At 14 West, only go-getters need apply - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Mar. 14, 2019 11:17 am

At 14 West, only go-getters need apply

Program Manager Radhika Shenoy is drawn to solving problems, which makes her a great fit at 14 West. She shared what it's like to work at the Mount Vernon-based company.
Inside 14 West’s office.

Inside 14 West's office.

(Photo by Kristin Dudley)

Radhika Shenoy is drawn to solving problems.

That’s part of the reason why she’s so in sync with her colleagues at 14 West, a unit of a local publishing firm with a growing technical team.

At the company, which uses analytics to better connect with audiences, Shenoy is actively encouraged to seek out ways to apply herself, even if it means breaking down traditional business barriers.

“Here, you’re expected to take the initiative, make decisions on your own,” she said. “Here, you’re expected to come in and give your best every day.”

Shenoy grew up in Bangalore, India, moved to America in 2004, began as a software developer at Microsoft and earned her MBA. She then moved to Baltimore and took the role as a business analyst for 14 West and soon after became its elite business intelligence team’s program manager. All of this within a span of six years.

Take a deep breath and say it slow: in six years. She’s driven.

14 West is the business services unit of The Agora, a network for over 40 companies in media and direct marketing that exist across 17 countries. In her role today, she’s responsible for the delivery of the projects aligning with requirements set from the independent publications. Shenoy works as a bridge between client needs and dev team delivery and must embody both development and management mindsets. She enables both sides to communicate more efficiently.

But it’s not just about the work itself. She loves her job at 14 West because of the company’s culture, too.

We could start the conversation with the company’s open door policy for dogs in the workplace (no more than two dogs per person, please). And we might end with the company’s happy hour traditions (get your drink order entered into the Drizly account).

But when we heard her story, we wanted to know more about Shenoy’s personal employee experience at 14 West. We recently sat down with her in a spacious conference room in one of 14 West’s 12 unique buildings in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

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What is a typical work day like for you?

I expect things to be different than what they were yesterday. Because things change quickly, you can expect that every day’s going to be different and that no day is going to go according to plan.

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How does the team work together?

We work very collaboratively. Every project has a project team and that team will carry it through. In most organizations, on the development side, you have a separate requirements team, a development team and a testing team. In those organizations, the requirements team hand a project to the developers, and when they are finished, the development team hands it over to the testers. Here, it works completely differently. Everyone sits together and works together. If the developers see any problems in the requirements, they can immediately ask the question to a project manager. They don’t have to wait a week for an answer. You just figure out a solution.

What are some of the products you’re working on right now?

We are working on these different self-service initiatives where instead of waiting for the different Agora companies we support to reach out to us, we are building self-service products to enable them to access the reports they need themselves. We’re also looking at a couple of cutting edge new feed applications which once we load the data in, generates those reports on the fly. Ultimately we’ll be able to now track what the companies are actively retrieving and need, so that we can continue to build other ways to support them.

What’s something that makes 14 West unique in comparison to other places you’ve worked?

I would note that it’s a very flat organization, in the sense that you can walk up to anybody in the building, anybody in the management and the executive team, and talk to them. There’s no hierarchy that you have to talk to your manager and your manager has to talk to his or her manager and that goes up the chain. If you have an idea, you just walk up to someone and pitch it and people are willing to stand behind you and help you with those ideas and help you implement those ideas.

What advice would you give for someone looking to join your team?

This is not a place for everybody. If you really like to work in a very structured environment, or get told what to do next, I don’t think this is the place for you. Here, you’re expected to take the initiative, make decisions on your own. Here, you’re expected to come in and give your best every day. We don’t expect our people to sit back and just do what they’re told to do, because that’s not the culture.

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