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How Pakistanis can build their career at a Silicon Valley company, remotely

Jon Sockell Written by Jon Sockell · 2 min read>
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Lessons from a Head of Marketing

When you work remotely for a company whose main office is halfway around the world and 12-hours apart, creating healthy, productive working relationships is a challenge. Horror stories of abused, overworked, remote teams are all too common. Remote employees burnout, work quality diminishes, and ultimately the main office is frustrated with the mediocre output.
At KeepTruckin, a Google Ventures company based in San Francisco, we’ve been fortunate to build a tight relationship with our Islamabad team. Establishing this kind of trust is rare, and requires effort from both sides of the globe. If you’re looking to discover a more rewarding career while working from afar, here’s my advice on what to look for in companies, and what to bring to the table.

What to look for in a US team, and how to identify it…

  1. Consistency and organization — When interviewing, identify how many projects you’ll be managing, how consistently you’ll be meeting, and how you’ll be measured. If your boss doesn’t know, it’s a red flag. A lack of organization might mean your boss constantly assigns new projects, you’re working day and night, and you end up being the one who has to track everything. That should be your boss’s job.
  2. Connection to the vision — If you don’t understand the company’s vision, and you work halfway around the world, your work won’t be as meaningful (particularly for startups). Look for bosses who want to understand your career goals and help take you there. It’s a sign you’ll learn a lot on the job and progress your career faster.
  3. Trustworthiness — Seemingly obvious, but it’s hard to identify when you’re not next to the person. Look for leaders who share personal stories, are supportive of good and bad ideas, and who give visibility into why projects are being taken on.

What I look for in a remote team, and what you should bring.

  1. Idea generation — Our lead marketing designer, Haris Imran, and I always joke that it’s not about who’s right, it’s about executing on the best ideas. Bring ideas, but do substantiate them to help your colleagues understand why they’re valid.
  2. Ownership — To build your career and be given free reign, you must be able to own projects from end-to-end. If you wait to take orders, you’ll just be an order taker. Instead, ask your boss what the project’s goals are, what success looks like, and then take ownership on finishing said project.
  3. Transparency — When you’re 12hrs apart, you need to give visibility into progress and challenges. If you’re working hard and taking ownership, your boss isn’t trying to enforce productivity. Rather, he or she wants to ensure you have the right resources to enable success.
  4. Communication > Raw Skills — Raw skills matter, but communication enables teams to scale. When ideas are fully understood by remote teams who can share them clearly with others, then it puts me in a position to elevate my employee’s position.
  5. Reliability — 80% of success is doing what you say you’ll do. Don’t overpromise.

Standard practices we do to make remote work more rewarding.

  1. Cadence — When I come in the morning, the day is wrapping up in Islamabad. I use my first hour to review projects and share feedback. We then have a daily standup to review things together as a team. Then at the end of my day, as Islamabad wakes up, we do an optional call in case there are more questions. We practice this routine every day because we value consistency, and it leads to higher quality work.
  2. Sharing Tools — Because we’re so far apart, we lean heavily on video calls, Google apps, and Invision. These tools allow us to better collaborate on projects and share experiences together. It leads to better working relationships and output.
  3. Best ideas win, period — Nothing kills morale more than a boss who just wants his ideas executed. A good boss wants his vision executed but is open to ideas that take them there. For us, it’s not about whose idea it is, it’s about doing what’s best.

Want to build your career at a Silicon Valley firm?

If these values and practices sound appealing, consider looking for work at a venture-backed startup. Working for a Silicon Valley startup is demanding, rewarding, and is an excellent opportunity to accelerate your career.

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Written by Jon Sockell
Jon Sockell heads marketing at KeepTruckin, a Google Ventures company based in San Francisco, where he defines company messaging, perfects designs, and builds hyper-targeted campaigns. Profile