"Everyone here shows genuine appreciation of those around us." — How (and why) to get a job at Pixieset
Co-founder and COO Phoebe Jiang on scaling sustainably, the role Survivor plays in how she sets culture, and fostering meaningful relationships at work.
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Hiring came up the first time I connected with Phoebe Jiang. Her company, a transformative outfit for content creators known as Pixieset — a software company that builds tools affording photographers a better way to share, deliver, proof, and sell their work online — had just secured some growth capital. I wanted not just the backstory of that funding but the company’s founding.
That time, our call happened to land on a Tuesday, a day famous not just for its spot as Monday’s workweek encore, but for its Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee meetups. In filling me in on the early days of Pixieset — how she was a techie who read TechCrunch “religiously,” how her experience as a photographer fueled her entrepreneurial passion, how its earliest users helped her and co-founder/husband Simon Wong settle on a name — the Birds and the Beets was discussed. The coffee shop was our homebase for Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee 2.0 and I had stepped away from that to chat with Jiang. The Birds and the Beets also just so happened to have significance for Pixieset office 1.0.
“We used to have our office right across the street from The Birds and The Beets,” Jiang revealed with a smile. “I used to conduct quite a few interviews for our team there. So, I know it quite well.” In short, Jiang was a natural fit for our How to get a job series. Here are the highlights from our (most recent) conversation with her.
This interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
James Matthews: In what ways has Pixieset grown since we first chatted in September of last year?
Phoebe Jiang: 2022 has been a busy year for us. Our team grew by just over 50 percent. Adding this many team members also means we had many newly-created leadership and managerial roles. It’s been exciting to see existing team members step up and grow as leaders, as well as bring on new leaders and leverage their experience in this next stage of our growth.
As it pertains to our products, we have added some game-changers to our platform, and successfully delivered numerous features to our now 800,000 users around the world. The feedback to date has been incredibly positive and rewarding. Each year, billions of photos get shared and delivered with Pixieset.
Though we are approaching our tenth anniversary in 2023, it feels like we are just getting started. Collectively, we want to continue delivering — for photographers and creative professionals worldwide — a suite of simple and beautiful products that help them run their businesses at every stage. We cannot do that without the great team that we have. Taking care of the team is always a priority. We are proud to have been recognized as a Great Place to Work Certified employer and one of the Best Workplaces in Canada for 2022, including in the categories of Inclusion, Professional Development, and Technology.
JM: In your role as co-founder and COO, how do you go about building the team? How do you set culture?
PJ: In the role, I work with our leaders to ensure we are building the team thoughtfully (much like how we create and refine our product), as opposed to scaling too quickly or recklessly. When it comes to hiring, we try to convey as much of our authentic selves as possible to the external audience through our careers page, social media, and interview process so that future prospects can get a true glimpse into who we are and how we operate. Then, they can determine whether there’s a strong value alignment [with us].
As a team, we devote time to foster meaningful relationships and contribute to a positive and playful environment, both in person and virtually. We are deliberate about investing in events throughout the year where we can gather to connect, celebrate, and have fun. Fun fact: We play a lot of games at our events – many of the ideas I get from watching Survivor — though I’m more inspired by the strategic ones than the physical ones.
JM: How would someone go about joining the team?
PJ: By checking out our careers page to learn more about us and applying for any openings that pique your interest. If you don’t see an open position that suits your skillset but are interested in joining our team, you can submit a general application. As well, follow us on LinkedIn where we regularly post various types of content, including announcements on new openings.
JM: Does the team predominantly work remotely or in person?
PJ: The team in Canada is predominantly based in the Vancouver area with some remote team members dotted throughout B.C., the prairie provinces, and Ontario. In Vancouver, we have a beautiful office in Yaletown. While we don’t have any mandatory in-office requirements, everyone is encouraged to use our office space and connect with fellow teammates in person. We also fly remote team members in for in-person events throughout the year. We emphasize the need to document everything so we can maintain a stronger, better-informed, and more connected team. We’re also intentional about choosing between sync and async communication in order to stay connected while maintaining efficiency.
JM: Macs or PCs? What about other workplace tools?
PJ: We use Macs. Other workplace tools include Slack, Notion, Figma, and Loom.
JM: What else would you like to add about working at Pixieset?
PJ: At Pixieset, we work with self-motivated, innovative individuals who are passionate about and take great pride in the work they do. Everyone here shows genuine appreciation of those around us. We approach things in a positive and optimistic way. We’re constant learners and are always striving to become our better selves. At the same time, we’re intentional about building meaningful relationships and celebrating our successes along the way.
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