Greetings, readers! I’m Shafiya Heena, from Hyderabad, India, who now finds herself immersed in the vibrant city of Toronto, Canada. After spending six fruitful years as a DevOps Engineer, I recently embarked on a new professional journey with Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization. Today, I want to share my experiences and thoughts on the stark differences in culture between these two organizations and shed light on my recent encounter with an event called InTown Week (ITW).
Before joining Creative Commons, I had limited exposure to open source initiatives and nonprofit organizations. However, upon stepping foot into Creative Commons, I found myself captivated by its unique culture. The emphasis on collaboration, transparency, and fostering a sense of responsibility among staff members left me awestruck. The organization's commitment to open source and its associated ethos ignited a newfound passion within me.
Prior to ITW, I had heard positive whispers of this event, but had little knowledge about its significance. Little did I know that this week-long gathering would prove to be an enlightening and transformative experience. Over the course of five days, I delved deep into self-discovery, learning more about my team members, and gaining profound insights into Creative Commons as an organization.
One aspect that particularly struck me during ITW was the knowledgeable, sense of equality among staff members. Everyone was encouraged to share their opinions, even if they contradicted the prevailing decisions. This environment fostered a culture of inclusivity and collective growth. Additionally, I had the opportunity to take an insightful discovery test that provided valuable insights into my personality traits and how I could enhance my contributions within the team.
During all the conversations and activities, I found myself occasionally getting lost in the whirlwind of information. Thankfully, I was fortunate to have a dedicated mentor who skillfully guided me back on track, ensuring that I comprehended the nuances of the happenings around me. Through this mentorship, I discovered how to boost my energy levels and become an even better fit within the team.
While the experience of ITW was enriching, it was not without its challenges. Due to visa issues, I was not able to attend in person. Engaging in extended virtual calls throughout the week was demanding, but the active participation from every individual in all activities made it all worthwhile. One particularly heartwarming moment was bidding farewell, as everyone stood in a row to say goodbye to me personally on the screen. This gesture made me feel truly present, transcending the virtual realm, and I express my heartfelt gratitude to my mentor for facilitating such connections.
A notable contrast I observed during my time at Creative Commons was the vivaciousness and approachability of the CEO. In stark contrast to my previous organization, where CEO communication was primarily limited to formal emails announcing changes or decisions, I was pleasantly surprised by the CEO's warmth and genuine interest in engaging with employees in a personable manner. This refreshing leadership style evoked a sense of enthusiasm and bolstered my commitment to the organization's goals.
To encapsulate my thoughts on the open source culture at Creative Commons in a single word, I would choose "likable." My mentor, in particular, played a crucial role in establishing transparency by designing a comprehensive three-month onboarding document, which laid out expectations and goals. Here, although the infrastructure may be smaller, the workflow is streamlined, and there is an absence of restrictive IT teams that hinder access to websites or prioritize hardware security over staff responsibility. Instead, Creative Commons embraces a culture where employees take ownership of their hardware, fostering an environment of trust and empowerment.