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Why I joined Vannevar Labs || Danielle Smith

See original post on Medium


When I was a kid, I dreamt of having my own talk show. There was something about interviewing and learning about people that intrigued me. Although I haven’t (yet) realized my childhood dream, I found my way into recruiting, which is not so different. As a recruiter, I identify and match great people to the right role by understanding them and their motivators and strengths.

Over time, I’ve found myself leading teams at multiple growth-stage startups and hit a turning point about a decade into recruiting. I wanted more out of work. I wanted to feel inspired by how I was spending my time in my job. I wanted my work to matter.

In 2022, I met Brett Granberg, the CEO of Vannevar Labs. We talked about the purpose of the company — getting better technology to the people that keep our country safe, and who are often the most underserved from a tech perspective. The team composition was also intriguing. There was a mix of veterans and former public servants teamed with startup engineers and product people. During the last five years working in the defense technology space, I’ve been galvanized by the people I’m surrounded by from these backgrounds and the energy and experience they bring to the team. I felt instantly invested in the mission and it was a match for me.

I joined Vannevar in November 2022 as the Head of People. The culture stood out to me the most. The kindness, respect and get shit done mentality is held by every person here, which means I look forward to work and the people I interact with. I think this is driven by the Operating Principles, which guides how the team works together. A few stood out to me.

  • “Own the Outcome” and “low ego”– everyone on the team is truly excellent at their craft. At the same time, roles change quickly as we grow, and each of us runs into new challenges had has to learn new things. This requires humility. Know what you know, and excel at your role, but also ask for help, guidance or support when you need it. That’s all okay here.

  • “Put Your Wellbeing First”. This is a first time I’ve had a company tell me it was okay to put my wellbeing over the job. I am so proud to be part of the team that offers employees flexibility in their working hours and ownership of their calendars, benefits that greatly expand outside of the normal medical insurance to incorporate mental health, family planning and pets. We truly care about the individual people here. By supporting people to be their best selves, we’re investing in the people who are building our company and products.

I’m incredibly energized for this year. With our recent Series B we’re growing the team. My team is working on the foundation for Recruiting and People Operations to support our team as we scale. Building training programs to continue to advance and motivate our team, and maintain the core components in our culture. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll look at joining us!

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