It’s that time of the year again when we pack our bags and set off on the adventure of Crab Week. What is this, you might ask? Aiven’s annual offsite that brings our Cast together - this year’s theme was Claws United.
The beginning of 2023 was a tough moment for all of us working in Tech, Aiven included. Therefore more than ever we needed to come together as a team to rebuild and reconnect. Meeting fellow Aiveners face-to-face and investing in team-building has so much value and lets us build that common Crabby spirit.
April is also the start of our fiscal year. It’s the perfect opportunity to align on our refreshed strategic approach and ensure that everyone understands how they contribute to Aiven’s vision, ambitions and strategic initiatives.
Travelling sideways to Portugal
It’s no easy task to bring everyone together to one location. After months of planning, a small group of 7 Aiveners brought Crab Week 2023 to life. A big shout out to our clawsome organizing committee, the Crab Week Core Team, and Jolos (our events agency) for making this event happen. With 3 main objectives in mind - Big picture, Impact, and Community - we began our journey to have our Claws United in sunny Albufeira!
Our way forward
We spent the first day all together for company-wide sessions, there were so many highlights! Oskari Saarenmaa (our CEO and co-founder) announced our new vision to be ‘The trusted open source data platform for everyone’ and spoke about how we turn this vision into reality.
Next, we had a burst of energy on stage in the form of Aiven’s new CRO - David Wyatt, who brought Top Gun to Aiven (fighter jets, maverick flight suits, aviators and, Crab Cash!?). Dave presented our Go To Market Strategy with ‘intentionality’ (yes, that’s a word) and got us out of our seats and excited for the future with a hype man in tow. Our Product Strategy was presented by the dynamic duo, Hannu Valtonen(our CPO and co-founder) and Jonah Kowall (VP of Product Management) followed by an executive team panel led by Anna Richardson (VP of People) that dived deeper into our Employee Value Proposition - Think Sideways.
The session after lunch was a big highlight, we welcomed representatives from two of Aiven’s customers on stage; Diogo Gomes from La Redoute and Janek Wonner from Conrad Electronic Group, for a fireside chat with Ian Massingham (VP of Developer Relations). This panel was so impactful for Aiveners as it gave us the chance to see Aiven through external eyes, it also gave us the opportunity to meet and hear directly from our customers. We learned how we help them solve their challenges and how Aiven brings value to their businesses. It also gave us great motivation on how we can improve in the future. A big thank you to Diogo and Janek for joining us at Crab Week!
We wrapped up the day’s session with an outdoor team-building activity, a 'Think Sideways' chain reaction challenge where the randomly formed teams were on a mission to release Crabby, our playful mascot. The experience was an absolute blast! We collaborated, problem-solved, and let our creativity run wild. We discovered the incredible power of teamwork and the joy that comes from working together with Crabs from different backgrounds.
After working up an appetite, it was time for dinner and our annual Crab Awards where we recognised our Crab peers and applauded their exceptional work. Head on over to our LinkedIn page where you can find out more about the categories and winners.
From Crabs, to Crabs
Days two and three were dedicated to functional content where teams gathered together to align and connect. When you work in a distributed team, having face-to-face time with your colleagues is like ‘gold’. The agendas were varied across departments, some teams reshaped roadmaps, others had guest speakers. Our People team participated in a ‘Dragons Den’ inspired brainstorming activity, whilst Marketing and DevRel learned what it’s like to be a CMO for a day.
When organizing the event, the Core Team wanted Crab Week to look and feel like our Cast so having sessions led by our Crabs was important. Wednesday afternoon was devoted to sessions hosted by various Aiveners presenting topics they're passionate about. This included talks on Leadership Skills, Aiven’s Sustainability Journey, Why Storytelling Matters, Your First Steps as a Public Speaker and A Tactical Networking Session for Growing a Pipeline. There was also a panel discussion about the various cultures that make up Aiven, including our ERG groups Lift: Women of Aiven, Proud Crabs and our Neurodiversity group. This panel created healthy discussions among the participants and created a safe space for folks to be able to show up as their authentic selves. A big shout out to the crabulous speakers who led these ten sessions for their fellow peers!
Crabs get festive!
The pièce de résistance was the Crab Festival hosted in the lush resort gardens under the palm trees. There were garden games, face painting, crab tattoos (temporary, of course), a live band, DJ Fabz, karaoke and later on a silent disco. Seeing everyone networking and having a good time was certainly a highlight not only for me but for the rest of the organizing team. This helped to form professional bonds, but also connections between people. And who doesn’t love live music, good weather and the chance to connect with your work pals as the sun goes down over the Atlantic Ocean?
The future is bright
We ended the week with some cross-functional activities and a relaxed outdoor dinner by the pool. As the sun set on the week we were grateful for new connections, a better understanding of Aiven’s way forward as a united team, and for some of us, a tan! The value of bringing people together face-to-face is unmatched and this is certainly an event we’ll be talking about for a very long time.
On the final day, we asked everyone to describe their Crab Week 2023 experience in one word and it’s given us some great new Crab puns (thanks folks!).
And Crab Week 2024……. Yes, we’re going to do it all over again next year. We see the value of bringing everyone together to collaborate and connect. Let’s see where we land (sideways) as we continue to make Crab Week a highlight each year.
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