How a passion for building complex spreadsheets led to a new Verkada event
Introducing Verkada’s Google Sheets Olympics
With our growing team of sales and finance all-stars impressing us with their Google Sheets and Excel skills, Verkada co-founder Hans Robertson had an idea to bring this community of pros together for some healthy internal competition. Modeled after Microsoft's Excel Championships (yes, there really is a world championship for spreadsheets), the Google Sheets Olympics was an internal experiment in showcasing the formula-building skills of our team. The event tested for speed, formula building, and more, and was an all-around fun event that gave people a chance to compete for real prizes.
Is there a backstory?
Yes. Do you know how there are people who say they are proficient in spreadsheets and list that skill on their resume? It turns out there is a global event focused on turning spreadsheets into a competitive sport for these types. Verkada prides itself on attracting the best and brightest analytical minds from companies such as Morgan Stanley, Bain, and J.P. Morgan and graduate programmes such as the Stanford Graduate School of Business, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So we were ready to showcase this group’s spreadsheet skills.
Months in the making, the event launched this summer when Sales Operations Associate Justin Sun – who worked in investment banking before joining Verkada – took on the role of planning the activities.
"We have a lot of community events at Verkada, and they're incredible. Rarely have we walked into the realm of celebrating the intellectually diverse in a fun way," said Justin Sun. "Many people here pride themselves on knowing obscure formulas, are quick at making complex sheets pretty, or can build cool models and tools within sheets. We wanted to take those skills and test them in the wild.”
A rundown of the event and activities
The event brought together Verkada’s finance, sales operations, sales, engineering, and security teams, all pumped up to win the gold medal. With 30 live participants (and more watching on Zoom), we had support across the company from sales operations, strategic finance, security, and more.
There was a lot of coordination in setting up the three-legged race, which tested formula knowledge (who is the savviest in obscure formulas), a speed portion (fastest formatting), and a modeling portion (who can build a complex model quickest and the best!). Prize giveaways were also on hand, and IT and our facilities teams helped coordinate the event flawlessly.
And, of course, there was some good old-fashioned debate among participants heading into the competition - was Google Sheets or Excel the superior tool? Index Match or Vlookup the superior lookup function?).
“We consider the first annual event a huge success. There was more appetite for the competition than we originally thought, and the team can't wait to plan our next gathering.”
Winners received Visa gift cards for $500, 250, or $150, and the top winner – Michael Li, a strategic finance associate – gets a Verkada trophy with his name engraved on it and, most importantly, bragging rights until next year.
What's next? Bigger, better. More sheets and formulas.
The event will become part of our annual internal events at Verkada. It will be hosted again in the future with some more fanfare, visibility, and participation from regional offices. Most importantly, we’ll continue celebrating our team's diverse communities and unique interests (like spreadsheets). Stay tuned!
At Verkada, we believe that when people feel they belong, they're free to be more innovative, happy, and successful. To learn more about Verkada's communities, visit Belonging at Verkada – and visit our careers page for open roles.