In this post, we’ll introduce you to a few of the people who make up Verkada’s fast-growing People Team — that’s the team responsible for supporting all our employees' People-related needs, as well as the team that deserves a fair portion of the credit for Verkada’s presence on multiple “Best Place to Work” lists, including a recent one put together by Inc. Magazine.
Let’s dive in with some questions — first, we’ll meet the team’s leader.
Dervilla Lannon, Vice President of People
What is the mission of the People Team? The mission of my team is essentially to make Verkada an amazing place to work. In executing that goal, we want to make sure that each part of the employee lifecycle is a positive experience. From the interview process to onboarding, we’re ensuring that we’re fostering an inclusive environment. So our team focuses on the day-to-day work required to ensure that people feel welcomed and supported throughout their employment at Verkada. From my experience with more traditional HR organizations, the answer to many employee requests has been no — and as a result HR is seen as a blocker to employees. When I took this role on, I knew that I wanted to change that.
Celeste joined Verkada one and a half years ago. Having worked at accounting and legal firms such as Grant Thornton, Norton Rose Fulbright and Arent Fox, she says she wanted to take a leap of faith and join her first tech startup — and she hasn’t looked back!
“When looking for the right employer, I primarily looked for two things: a leader I could learn from and a role where I could have true impact,” she says. “At Verkada, I have both in spades.”
What excites you about coming to work each day? The people are what sets Verkada apart. The people on our People Operations team are behind-the-scenes miracle workers, the People Partners strive to build true relationships with the teams we support, and our leader empowers and guides us to be the best versions of ourselves daily. The teams I support are incredibly hard-working and respect the function as a whole, which to me, makes all the difference.
What is the most gratifying thing about your job? The direct impact that I can have. There’s no better feeling at work than knowing that you have helped an employee, leader or colleague cut through the noise and find a solution to their issue. From an operational perspective, Verkada is the first job I've had where if you see a gap or deficiency, you are truly empowered to find a solution and enact it immediately.
Describe the culture at Verkada. Culture at a high-growth, early-stage startup can be hard to define. Right now, I see Verkada as a company that insists on the highest standards, strives to win as a team, and has never lost sight of having fun along the way!
Eula Chu, Senior Associate, People Operations
Having been at Verkada for almost three years, Eula has seen the company grow from 250 employees to 1,300 employees around the world. Before joining Verkada, she worked at both high-growth startups and global companies — and before that, she spent years as a math and English tutor to elementary and middle school kids.
What has surprised you about your role or about Verkada since you started working here? I love that I can make such an impact at Verkada. As with many fast-paced startups, there's always work to be done. I have the autonomy to take action and own projects. This is not always the case in this kind of role, so I'm grateful.
What is the most gratifying thing about your job? The most gratifying thing about my job is being able to work with such an amazing team every day. We're a People team that actually cares about our people. We work hard to improve the employee experience, and I look forward to what we can achieve as the team grows. Also, Verkada is such a fun company, and we love to celebrate our wins. I love coming into the office and enjoying the great perks.
Katya Pechenikhina, People Partner
After graduating from Stanford Graduate School in December 2021, Katya was in search of a new challenge — and she felt that Verkada’s dynamic growth and people-oriented culture were a perfect fit.
“Before joining Verkada, I spent more than 15 years working in different HR roles in large corporations and nonprofits,” she says. “I’ve always been passionate about unlocking people’s potential and allowing them to achieve their most ambitious goals.”
What is the most gratifying thing about your job? There are two things that make work meaningful for me: one is helping people, and the other is creating something new — something that didn’t exist before I arrived. I get both at Verkada.
It’s also easy to get the green light for new initiatives at Verkada. If you see a need for a change and your idea is relevant, you get all the tools to implement it. The sky is your limit. I’m excited about building our learning and development capabilities at Verkada: we’ve already started a Verkada Engineering University and are building a development program for managers.
How does your work challenge you — what keeps your workday interesting and enriching? We’re a rapidly growing company. We’re currently building our people processes and establishing our best practices. There are a lot of things we need to figure out on the fly. It’s a dynamic and fast-paced environment — which is fun and challenging at the same time.
What excites you about coming to work each day? The people around me — our People Team, where we all have one another’s back, where we learn from one another and laugh a lot. And the teams I support — talking to these brilliant people is always a pleasure and an intellectual challenge.
Maryanne Gad, People Partner
Maryanne says that when she joined Verkada one and a half years ago, she set out to make an impact — one person at a time — and being a People Partner for the Sales and Finance functions has allowed her to do just that.
“I spent the majority of my career working in various legal and compliance advisory roles at global financial institutions,” she says. “Prior to joining Verkada, I spent nine years at BlackRock — an eternity in Silicon Valley! — in both London and New York, as a VP and director leading their Americas Regulatory Engagement & Development team. I relocated to San Mateo for the Verkada opportunity, and I can genuinely say that pivoting into tech and a people function has allowed me to have the most fulfillment, fun and variety I’ve ever had in a role.”
What excites you about coming to work each day? Knowing that no two days will ever be the same and that I’m part of building an awesome company! I’m inspired every day by my incredibly talented colleagues and am very excited about Verkada’s growth trajectory and innovative technology. I also really enjoy learning about international employee relations. I find it fascinating!
What is the most gratifying thing about your job? The direct impact we have on our employees’ day-to-day. For example, just a few weeks after I joined, we implemented a fertility benefits reimbursement of up to $10k. It’s very cool to see how company initiatives directly benefit our employees and their families. I’m also the chair of Verkada’s Multicultural Community group, and I love putting on educational and fun events to celebrate the cultural diversity of our employee base.
What has surprised you about your role or about Verkada since you started working here? How easy it is to effect change. We all have the same mission — to make Verkada successful and the very best place to work — so people are always happy to collaborate, and to challenge and enhance the status quo. People at all levels roll up their sleeves to get the job done as efficiently as possible.
Taylor Coutts, People Operations Associate
“I can’t believe it’s been two years since I packed up my bags in Boston and moved to San Francisco for Verkada,” says Taylor. “Having had my start at a healthcare startup, I can’t put into words how amazing the transition into tech has been. Verkada has challenged me, accelerated my professional growth and, most importantly, given me a second family.”
She adds, “I am incredibly grateful to be part of such an amazing team with a boss who is the epitome of what a role model should be.”
Describe the culture at Verkada. The people at Verkada are my favorite part about coming to work every day. The office exudes a culture of collaboration and creativeness. Every employee brings a different perspective, experience and uniqueness — because we’re from all over the United States and the world. We have various backgrounds, from technology to healthcare and finance. I love coming into the office every day because the energy and work ethic of Verkada employees is contagious. We’re passionate about our company, and we’re passionate about one another.
Verkada has been named a “Best Place to Work” three times recently, including by Inc. Magazine. Why does Verkada so frequently earn this honor? Verkada is the best place to work because the community that this company has created is unmatched. I moved from Boston to San Francisco for Verkada in the heat of the pandemic, in August 2020. As my entire network was located on the East Coast — from my family to all my friends — I was nervous about what this transition might hold. Over the past two years, Verkada has become my second family. The people I’ve met here will be a part of my life for years to come.
On top of the support network, Verkada allows you to accelerate your professional growth and gives you autonomy to take on projects that you’re passionate about. Through hands-on experience, I have been able to lead projects that I could not have imagined at this point in my career.
How does your work challenge you — what keeps your workday interesting and enriching? I enjoy working in the People function because I am challenged every day with coming up with solutions that require me to think outside the box. As our company grows astronomically fast, it pushes us to think of more efficient, faster, and more streamlined processes. There is always a better way to complete a task, and we are encouraged to find those ways.
Tyler Teunissen, People Operations Associate
“My background is somewhat ‘unconventional,’” says Tyler. “I graduated from UC Davis with a BS in textiles and clothing, and went on to be a general manager in the retail space. I spent a year and half traveling throughout the U.S. and Asia, overseeing store openings and/or remodels. After realizing that the root of my passion was people and wanting to challenge myself in a new industry, I joined Verkada in December 2019 — and I could not be happier. It has been incredible to see our immense growth: from headcount to product offerings.”
What has surprised you about your role or about Verkada since you started working here? The amount of opportunity not only within my role but also throughout the entire organization. There are always new opportunities to grow your responsibilities and expand your reach. This team and, ultimately, Verkada as a company provide limitless opportunities for the people here. You truly can expand your reach as far as you desire and leave a huge impact on our current and future employees, as well as on the community through initiatives like Verkada-Gives.
What excites you about coming to work each day? I regularly get asked this during new-hire orientations, and my response is always the same: the people! Something that sets Verkada apart is that our employee base is in-office. Having the opportunity to interact with my peers face-to-face has allowed me to foster genuine relationships while being more efficient. I enjoy helping to shape the employee experience and providing our teams with tools and support so they can be successful at Verkada.
How does your work challenge you — what keeps your workday interesting and enriching? Every day is different from the last; there’s rarely a day that goes by that repeats the past. We work in an ever-changing environment, so it can be difficult to sift through what’s most important in the moment as responsibilities evolve over time. While it’s a challenge, I find excitement in knowing that every day will be different, and that I’ll continue to work on new and exciting things here.
Yihang Yan, Director, People Operations
Yihang recently joined Verkada to lead the People Operations team, overseeing all the team’s processes, workflows and systems in order to provide clarity and create rapid scaling.
“Before joining Verkada, I served as an expert/engagement manager at McKinsey & Co., where I worked with companies across industries, leading initiatives to transform the way organizations work,” she says. “I also held various product and analytics roles at VMware and Dell. Now I’m super excited to work with our team to build and execute strategies on all stages of the employee lifecycle and help launch global talent programs and initiatives.”
What has surprised you about your role or about Verkada since you started working here? Just how open and receptive everyone is to new ideas! I love thinking about what makes a team work efficiently, and there are so many opportunities to continuously optimize how we work. I was able to collaborate with multiple teams to design and implement a few changes even within my first month.
What excites you about coming to work each day? I get excited about opportunities to work with all kinds of hardworking, dedicated colleagues — and with all kinds of cool technology. Verkada’s rapid growth and continuous innovation create a positive, motivating environment that I enjoy being a part of. Everyone shares a common goal of building a successful and sustainable business, and this really enhances our commitment and productivity.
What is the most gratifying thing about your job? Building! I get a huge amount of joy from building my team, as well as building programs and processes — and being able to see them through from start to finish.