Podcast 2: Sheetal Aiyer – Sixpoint Brewery’s Chief Operating Officer
Sixpoint Brewery’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheetal Aiyer discusses workplace culture in an output-focused environment. Founded in 2004, Sixpoint is a young and growing craft beer company currently employing 40 people. Aiyer outlines what he looks for in prospective employees, how Sixpoint helps them achieve their career goals while experiencing job satisfaction, and what kind of workplace culture helps to make this happen.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:17] Ryan Kellogg introduces Sheetal Aiyer, Chief Operating Officer of Sixpoint Brewery
[01:14] Aiyer outlines the professional work history that took him from being a litigator to performing as Chief Operating Officer of Sixpoint.
[04:22] The kind of workplace culture that attracts and fosters career satisfaction for the right people.
[06:15] Definition of workplace culture and how it will determine what kind of employees you will attract.
[08:15] How the Sixpoint Brewery model works by fostering a team environment and embracing community involvement.
[8:45] Aiyer discusses prospective employees’ backgrounds, and how what they have done in the past may be an indication of how well they will function and thrive in the new workplace model.
[12:01] Factors that help to retain good team members.
[14:30] The avenues used to find top candidates for positions with Sixpoint Brewery.
[18:40] Cultivating community within the workplace.
[20:40] Why Sixpoint is a great place to work for those striving for a work/life balance.
[21:53] Aiyer’s career advice for someone trying to find a dynamic and supportive work environment. Questions they should ask themselves, tools they can use.
Workplace Culture to Attract and Retain Talent
Increasingly, young job hunters are attracted not to just a particular type of industry, but they also want to experience ongoing workplace satisfaction. To that end, they seek out companies whose attitudes and behaviors mirror their own. With a relatively young company like Sixpoint Brewery, often they can grow together. Working for a company like Sixpoint requires people who are not averse to pushing their own boundaries, or working outside their comfort zone. Because a growing company is constantly changing and morphing, an ideal employee would be able to tolerate a degree of uncertainty. In return, they may experience levels of growth and career development not normally seen in a larger, longer established company.
Finding the Right Employees
In their search for employees who are a good match, Sixpoint management employs a variety of methods. By far, the most successful results have come from management and staff sourcing candidates from their own networks. Their experience reinforces the importance of networking with one’s peers, making and maintaining contacts. You never know when or where they might lead. As well, they have hired through traditional sources such as LinkedIn or using head hunting firms.
If You’re Not Having Fun You’re Doing It Wrong
Working in the craft brew community can be a lot of fun, says Aiyer. “If you can’t have fun in the craft beer business, you should probably get out of it real fast.”
The 40 employees at Sixpoint are a close-knit community, fostering camaraderie through shared activities, such as eating their workday meals together, attending sporting events, and teaming up to do good for their Red Hook community in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. They make a point of attending the annual Great American Beer Festival and the annual Craft Brewers Conference. When staff requested managerial training, Sixpoint arranged for LifeLabs Learning to come in and train them as a group. A company doesn’t experience success and growth without hard work and focused goals, but when you throw fun into the mix, you have happy employees and a positive work environment.
When asked what advice Aiyer would give if he could go back and talk to his college self, he recommends reading books written by successful business people or mentors, giving the example of well-known businessman and author, Jack Welch. Beyond that, he advocates for a proactive approach to professional life.
“Think about what type of company you want to work for,” says Aiyer. “I don’t mean the industry. I mean what sort of company, what kind of leadership structure, what type of environment. Where do you see yourself fitting into the whole dynamic? The other thing is to seek people out, be proactive in reaching out to those who, for whatever reason, have inspired you.”