In my role at AFB, I get the unique opportunity to speak with numerous candidates who are interested in joining our team. More often than not, during these conversations, I get asked about what it’s like to be part of the team, the AFB culture and why I’ve chosen to stay with the company for the last 10 years.
To be honest, these are some of my favorite moments in an interview, because the culture here is special, and I’m not saying that because they pay me to… I’m saying that because it actually is.
So what is “it” like?
1) We work together.
I never played sports as a kid (no, that one season of basketball in 7th grade, where I mostly sat on the bench, doesn’t count), so I didn’t have as much exposure to what true teams and good teamwork looked like until being part of it in my first job out of college. That exposure pales in comparison to what teamwork and collaboration looks like at AFB—within our own team and with our customers. We’re not perfect—no one is—but we’re better than most. Being at AFB has stretched the perfectionist in me that tends to want to do everything myself. Why? Because we are better together, smarter together and stronger together—for our customers and for our business—than we are alone.
2) We deliver results.
I’ve always appreciated how much my colleagues strive to win and to deliver for our customers and for each other. If there’s a loss, it hurts, and when we win, there is a noticeable pride among the team because it means that our customers have won. Some organizations that I’ve had experience with over the years are great at integrating this results orientation into some but not all parts of the business; at AFB, I have seen how it can be done at all levels, jobs, teams and locations. It’s just part of who we are.
3) We enjoy our work and each other.
At AFB, we work hard but also tend to enjoy being around each other. Over 10 years, I’ve collected story after story of the kindnesses that my colleagues have shared with me or I’ve personally observed. We don’t always get along—what team does? But I’ve seen and experienced the goodness that can come with an enjoyable work environment and colleagues that genuinely care. We are different in every way you can imagine… from typical descriptors like gender, race, cultural and ethnic identify, religious affiliations, etc., to differences in how we think, global perspectives and experiences, our educational backgrounds and uniqueness in work experiences. These differences make us better, stronger, higher-performing teams, and I’m proud to be part of a company that recognizes that different is better.
4) We can always find a better way.
We are a continuous improvement organization. I love that about our company. This team constantly pushes each other to look at work through the lens of continuous improvement, where everything can ALWAYS be better. It’s difficult but worth it and delivers better results for our customers and better work experiences internally.
5) We grow.
We change a lot at AFB. Change is constant, because growth is constant, and growth is good. Working in a future-focused organization with people who are looking for new ways to serve our customers better is exciting. Change is often messy and difficult and uncomfortable. However, it’s easier to work through the mess when working alongside people whom you respect and you know have the customers’ and company’s best interests at heart. I recently heard one of our senior leaders say how exciting it is, getting up and coming to work every day, because the future of this company has that much potential. That kind of energy and growth mindset is contagious and is part of who we are.
You know that generic interview question “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I have to admit, if someone had asked me that 10 years ago, I’m sure I would have gotten the answer wrong because I’m not sure I realized at the time—as a 20-something with not much experience under my belt—just how fortunate I was to have found a company I hadn’t heard of before, in an industry I didn’t know much about. It has been at THIS company, with THIS team, serving the BEST customers in the world, that I’ve been able to far surpass any professional and career development goals I ever set for myself back then.
What about you? What have your last 10 years looked like? What about the next 10? Maybe you have it mapped out… maybe you don’t. In either case, don’t settle until you have landed in a place where the work, the cause, the team, the values and the culture fit who you are and what you value. It won’t always be perfect, but it will be worth it.