The trend in the IT market has remained the same over the past few years: the talents have the upper hand in the negotiation. Since there are more open positions than available talent, companies are implementing academies, growth & development plans, and developing internal talent to eventually fill senior positions. Oxylabs, a tech company providing web-scraping infrastructure, has faced these challenges first-hand.
Over the past three years, Oxylabs launched several new products, attracted the attention of Fortune 500 companies, and managed to double its headcount. In the interview, Monika Gerybaite, Web Product Owner, explains how their company tackled the industry-wide challenges and worked to maintain rapid growth.
🔵 How would you describe Oxylabs as a company? What is so unique about it?
Well, what surprised me the most was how much freedom Oxylabs offered. There is a lot of encouragement to create new products or try new technologies, not to mention professional growth opportunities. As you might imagine, not many companies that work directly with Fortune 500 companies can allow themselves to depart from their successful products.
But I would consider our willingness to experiment and openness to failure to be our main reason for success. We have a relatively open market to experiment with, and public data isn’t being used to its full potential yet. It’s a big motivator to have an entire market we can conquer with enough innovation.
🔵 So you consider the freedom to experiment the main strength of the company? What are some other features about the organization that makes you proud?
Besides freedom, it has to be the people. Competitive salaries are a must these days, but having a team you can completely trust and share the same passion for new ideas and their implementation is exceptional. We are all different in our personalities but united in a desire to experiment and try something new together. Being this diverse yet tightly connected allows us to learn from each other, find inspiration, and keep exceeding ourselves.
Oxylabs, as an organization, has a culture that supports growth. Individuals are empowered to do what they can while striving to do better. A big kudos goes to our HR department, who have supported us every step and helped us grow continuously.
🔵 What’s Oxylabs’ position when it comes to people? How do you invest in people & company culture more broadly?
We love our people here, and it’s not an overstatement. Even the executives support individuals and teams, as they understand that it’s our most valuable resource. We are an industry-leading and rapidly-growing company based in Lithuania, where the pool of talents is relatively limited. Therefore, we must treat and nurture each individual as best as we can.
This reflects the overall work environment, as everyone brings their best to the table. We have a strong foundation of what Oxylabs is about and build upon it by learning from our talents, giving them all the resources they need, and keeping processes fluid.
By prioritizing the employees, we as an organization can identify areas for improvement and grow simultaneously. Because of that, we have a high retention rate, and our colleagues have a lot of growth opportunities, like being promoted or pivoting to other positions.
🔵 What about personal & team growth? You mentioned people grow, but what are the means to achieve it?
I consider feedback culture as a key factor for growth. We allow people to fail and share feedback in a safe setting, and through this, we nurture growth. Other tools for personal development are relatively common, like training budget and library for various topics.
On top of that, we seek to grow employees to managerial or senior positions. For example, seeing a motivated employee with a potential for such a role, we aim to provide them with the necessary training to develop their skills as team leaders and help prepare them as best as we can.
Overall, we, as direct managers, also create a strong sense of ownership in our teams. When faced with a market with lots of untapped potential, we tend to trust each other’s decision-making, thus making the ideal environment for trying, failing, and getting up again. Growth comes naturally when you combine a challenging environment, colleague support, and the ability to learn from your mistakes.
🔵 How do you keep the team aligned and moving in the right direction? How much autonomy do the employees have when setting goals?
We use an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework. It lets us combine company-level strategic direction with team-level initiatives, and everyone is welcome to propose their ideas for the next quarter. This is yet another thing that makes me love Oxylabs – there is no micromanagement, and teams themselves get to decide what will make the most impact.
As we live in a fast-paced tech world, we have no choice but to believe that our employees know best. Setting a direction based on data and trends and then putting the “how” in their hands lets us stay on course and achieve more.
🔵 What risks come with the power of decision-making and personal ownership over tasks?
In my experience, ownership can easily be overdone. Some people want to do everything exactly right and try doing it by themselves. Others start neglecting feedback or overthinking the solutions. Caring too much can be just as harmful as not caring enough, and in such cases, any bump often leads to fear of mistakes, losing confidence, and taking the failure personally.
To minimize these risks we form cross-functional squads with dedicated CEOs and CTOs in the form of Product Owners and Tech Leads. They keep our processes smooth, overlook the whole picture and are accountable for critical decisions. So far, it has been working out well, and we believe it maximizes the potential of our teams.
🔵 Oxylabs being a tech company, how do you keep up with the changing trends in technology?
First and foremost, I would say that not every new trend needs to be followed immediately. Compromises drive technological advancement, so it’s important to realize when it is worth chasing the latest trends. Otherwise, tech companies would spend most of their time adapting to new systems instead of developing new products.
We tend to choose technology by its maintainability, efficiency, ease of adoption, community & support, and the situation in the hiring market. Although new solutions are incorporated all the time, the core needs to be more stable to keep our products fast, reliable, and secure. For us, something like Golang is a perfect choice.
🔵 What’s your process for hiring new talent?
Again, we have to thank our HR department for this one. We have a strong team of recruiters who somehow always manage to find people who are not only talented but also an excellent cultural fit for our team.
Simply put, the hiring process is similar to many other companies. When we see a need for a specific professional, we start looking into it. We might look into internal talents, seek referrals, or search in the hiring market.
Usually, we adjust the process for each position, but we always try to ensure the candidates can show their skills and meet the team.
In my case, I mostly hire developers. We incorporate live coding, coffee meetings with someone from the team, and office tours into our flow. However, what makes the process extraordinary is my team. They give great feedback on candidates’ technical skills and can offer real-life examples of what challenges they face and how our growth culture reflects in their daily work.
Typically, exciting projects, a culture with a deep focus on growth, and learning are the key priorities people look for, so I’m glad we can offer exactly that.
Check out Oxylabs’ career page and open positions:
- Senior PHP Developer
- Backend Developer
- Frontend Developer
- Python Developer
- SEO Manager
- Event Marketing Manager
🔵 Thank you so much for the interview. Last question: your message to all the people out there who want to join Oxylabs?
Join us if you want to develop tools for the largest companies around the world. We’re always waiting for new additions to our team. Check out the careers page!