Automattic had their 2017 Grand Meetup in Whistler back in September (if you’re not sure what a Grand Meetup is Read this). This will be my third GM (it’s crazy to me how time flies), and Automattic’s biggest one yet as we’re now at over 600 employees.
I feel like this year’s Grand Meetup was just perfectly timed. We’re actively hiring so there were are a lot of new faces and 3 new team members added to our team. Which made it great to meet everyone in person, and spend some time bonding as a team.
I’ve written about my amazing team Sparta here, but we work on WordPress.com support together. You’ll find us all in live chat, answering emails, and in general just crushing it. Our team is made up of members from the western half of North America, so we’re generally all in the same timezone. I was just SO excited to see all of them.
Flying in early
I decided to fly out to Whistler a few days early so I could continue with my normal job while everyone else was traveling or flying. My sister was tagging along for the trip, as she works remotely at Buffer, also our two friends Megan (who also works at Automattic) and her husband Brice joined us on the trip.
We decided to spend a day in Vancouver and then drive up to Whistler a few days early for some time in the village.
We stayed at The Listel Hotel in Vancouver. It was the perfect location, if you’re ever going to be in Vancouver I highly recommend it. What was even cooler, was next door was Forage, which was probably my favorite restaurant in Vancouver. We had an amazing dinner there!
The next day we went to Granville Island and Stanley Park, two of my favorite spots in Vancouver.
Then we drove up to Whistler (which is really, one of the prettiest drives ever) before settling into our hotel.
The Grand Meetup begins 🎉
We took over two hotels this year The Hilton and The Westin. It’s so beyond cool to see familiar faces everywhere.
Schedule of a Grand Meetup:
Our Grand Meetup is generally 7 days long (including travel days).
The evening of Day 1 has a Welcome Party. Which is always a great way to kick off the week by seeing all of your coworkers!
After that, each days schedule varies but usually starts with a big Breakfast buffet in the morning, and then breaks out into that days schedule.
This year at the Grand Meetup, we wanted to make sure that we were as responsive to our customers as possible, so I large number of Happiness Engineers including myself chose to work our Regular job. Some of my other colleagues either took a class (taught by a fellow Automattician) or worked on a project together (where your team builds something that is launched by the end of the GM).
The first day was designated as a Team Day. On Sparta, we focused on setting goals and planning our next quarter. Lots of great discussions about our direction were had. We also spent time with our new teammates throughout the week, not only getting to know them but also sharing productivity tips and tricks.
All in all, the days flew by and blended together all at the same time.
In the evenings usually, Automatticians gathered together. Matt also has a Company Townhall, where anyone in the company can ask any question. It always results in fascinating discussions, and I know I personally really admire the amount of time and effort our CEO dedicates to Townhalls, as they’re known to go rather late into the evening.
Getting to know 600 Coworkers
When I tell people about the Grand Meetup, I usually get asked about what it’s like being with 600 coworkers. With 600+ employees, Automattic built a program called Meetamattician, which helps you keep track of who you’ve met so far. With 3 GM’s I still haven’t met half of the company:
I view the Grand Meet Up as an extremely important time of year. I get to make connections all around the company, have fascinating discussions, and learn more about the people that I get to work with remotely every day. I always walk away having learned something.
The Closing Party
My highlight of the week was definitely the Closing Party. Which happens on the final night before everyone leaves the next morning.
Automattic as usual goes all out. It’s the one time all week (or rather, all year) that all 600+ employees have dinner in the same room together.
Then… my favorite part of the week happens. Did I mention that my coworkers are ridiculously talented? Because they totally are! Since a good portion of Automatticians play instruments and sing, they formed a band which had rotating members and played for us at the Final Party.
I legit work with rockstars!!
Yes, I pinch myself on a daily basis that I get to work with these amazing humans.
After a long night of dancing, singing, and saying Goodbye to my amazing coworkers… the next morning I boarded a plane to head back home. It’s always a bit bittersweet. I’m excited to go home, but I do genuinely miss my coworkers. I see them online every day and we work side by side through the upcoming months… but really I just can’t wait to see them at the next Grand Meetup.