Culture

Zscaler + Coursera: The Journey to Leading at Z

People holding up gears

Since its inception, Zscaler has always prioritized its people, searching diligently for the best talent and making employee retention a key focus. However, every company has its challenges with hiring and retention, and Zscaler is no exception.

When I joined Zscaler in August 2020, I was the first member of a new team called talent development. My first goal was to assess the health of our people and culture strategies to figure out what was working well and where we could make improvements. Over several weeks, I spoke with leaders and team members across the company. There were a number of things that were going exceptionally well—we had a strong cultural compass in T.O.P.I.C. (Teamwork, Open Communication, Passion, Innovation and Customer Obsession), we had a high-performing recruiting engine that was scaling to enable our growth, and we had a team of people and culture professionals who were seen as true business partners. 

That said, we also had opportunities to be more intentional with our investments in the development of our people, especially our managers. For that reason, we set out to build programming that would enable all Zscaler leaders, aspiring through senior-level, to live and lead by our Leadership Principles. 

Based on what we learned through our discovery process, we set four design principles to guide our work:

Leadership is a journey
The best leaders are always looking to learn, grow, and improve.

Everyone is great at something, but no one is great at everything
Each of us has strengths. The magic happens when you can help people and companies leverage them.

Development can be really simple
Clear expectations + an understanding of how you’re doing against those expectations + focused opportunities to improve = Development.

No one likes being told what to do, but most people appreciate a bit of direction
Mandating training can undermine impact. Approaching development too “laissez-faire” can lead to it being deprioritized. Giving people “freedom within a framework” will leverage the benefits of both with the challenges of neither.

In February 2021, we launched Leading at Z—clear expectations, a measurement tool we call the Manager Effectiveness Survey, and focused development opportunities aimed at enabling our leaders to live and lead by our Leadership Principles.  

To help us drive adoption, one of the greatest measures of success, we’ve built a microsite where all Zscaler employees can access each element of the program including development content from partners including Coursera, ExecOnline, and Rapid Learning, to name a few. This site is also where our people access crowd-sourced TED Talks, books, and other materials that align with our Leadership Principles. 

In a recent webinar with Coursera’s Deborah Mussomeli, I described how Zscaler is elevating training with the Coursera platform as we build a workforce for the cloud.

Register here for the webinar.

 

Leadership is a journey

Leadership is a journey, one without a well-defined destination. With Leading at Z, we set out to enable Zscaler leaders’ success by helping them to enhance their skills and develop new ones. We do this by helping them understand where they are in their journey, and by offering the focused development that enables them to unlock their potential.  

We’ve only just got Leading at Z off the ground, but we’re thrilled with the engagement. We’re now focused on creating the virtual communities that enable our leaders to learn and grow together. Further, we’re leveraging our Leading at Z learnings to build the program we call Succeeding at Z, which will enable all Zscalers to identify their professional ambitions and progress towards them. 

Since its founding, Zscaler has focused on building a lasting company that enables its customers to succeed in the digital world. It is incumbent on the company’s leadership to create an environment that attracts great employees and allows them to thrive. Leading at Z is just the beginning, and I’m excited about its early indicators of success and the launch of what’s next. Stay tuned.

To learn about career opportunities at Zscaler, please visit: zscaler.com/careers

 

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