DG Summit: “There's this energy in the air, like we're all in this together and can tackle whatever comes our way”

29 May 2024

5 min read

Company photo
Company photo
Company photo

Almost ten years after it was founded, DigitalGenius (DG) organised its first summit since going fully remote (thanks, Covid!). Having doubled their staff in the space of a year, it seemed only logical to bring everyone together in London and huddle around the company’s core values, whilst drawing up the future and, more importantly, getting to meet face-to-face the people they work with every day. 

“Initially, there's a conflicted mix of familiarity and novelty as though we've hung out countless times, yet uncovering subtle ‘new’ mannerisms that I’d never noticed before”, says Nadia Siddiqui about meeting her co-workers live for the first time. “I also found that many people were taller than I had imagined - or maybe I'm just short (laughs)”.

Nadia is DG’s Chief of Staff and Head of Product Design and, for a few weeks, she was also in charge of co-organising the company’s summit, bringing together 35 people from all over Europe and North America over the course of three days.

Nadia Siddiqui, Chief of Staff and Head of Product Design with Benji Stone, Director of Customer Success

While the pros and cons of remote working are still very much up for debate, one thing most authors will probably agree on is that it is harder to do some effective team building at a distance. If you were working through Covid and were dragged into a session or two of online bingo you know exactly what we are talking about.

One of the perks DG offers many of its employees is the chance to work remotely, but as a thriving startup that is growing fast, the DG Summit was a much needed opportunity to establish the company values and bond as a team.

According to Nadia, “the [summit’s] primary objective was to enhance cross-team collaboration (including Service Delivery, Commercial, Product and AI teams) primarily through the exercises we engaged in over those three days. This is something that is already hard per se, but even more so when you are remote”.

Her colleague Bora Titizer could not agree more. As DG’s Chief Customer Officer - and the leader of the biggest team - he knows very well the unique set of challenges that comes with working apart from each other: “As a largely remote business we invariably miss out on those serendipitous conversations that can naturally drive cross-pollination across the company. That’s why finding ways to foster connections across the business is something that will always be a focus for us. I certainly feel the summit helped a lot here.”

Bora Titizer, DG’s Chief Customer Officer

For him, finally meeting everyone he works with was like that moment “when your Pokémon suddenly evolves into the next level after going to battle with it for so long”. For all the non-gamers, Bora further explains: “I already feel so close to these people given all we accomplish week in, week out that when we finally meet it's like the relationship levels up instantly”. 

From talking values to valuing each other

Meeting face-to-face was powerful but it was only the beginning. Throughout the summit’s three days all of DG’s staff worked together to understand not only what drives them, but ultimately what drives the company forward. 

This included answering and discussing deep questions like “What motivates/demotivates you?” Or “What are your personal values?”. Among many other findings, the answers showed that, in spite of being mainly remote, DG people still value each other above anything else. Most of them answered Team Culture when asked about what motivated them.

Were there any other answers that took the company by surprise? “Thinking about the post-it exercise where everyone had to write down values they thought DG embodied, Resilience came up. This was an unexpected word, but really on point given everything we've been through on this startup rollercoaster”, says Nadia.

Bora thought it was heartwarming to see so much alignment between people’s personal values and what they felt the company represents. Resilience was the standout for him as well. “This is a value I certainly feel DG embodies, both historically and currently, so to see people identify it as a company value was really cool. I also see it as an inherent trait of so many on the team. Building a successful startup is no easy feat and wouldn't be possible without a remarkable amount of individual resilience and resolve across the team”.

As the company is still very much growing and hiring at a steady pace, the plan is to have more events like the DG Summit going forward. “As we grow I consider it even more important to bring everyone together at least once a year (if not more!). Being able to come together to celebrate one another and all we've accomplished, share what we've learned and the challenges we face, align on the vision for the future and strategies for achieving it -  it's like a booster shot for so many positive things”, says Bora.

After three days of working together in the same space, getting to understand better not only what drives them but also who’s at the helm of the company and what fuels it - and sharing a few pints, of course - things feel different at DG. 

“Working in a remote company can feel very siloed at times so [the summit] made everyone feel a lot more comfortable with each other to reach out when needed. There's also this energy in the air, like we're all in this together and can tackle whatever comes our way,” says Nadia. “Hopefully this energy stays for a while.” 

Bora’s felt it too: “Since the summit I keep hearing about projects people from different departments are working on together upon their own initiative. I love it!”. 

To keep the good energy flowing and bring people and ideas together, DG aims to make their summit an annual event.