Learning and development opportunities are one of the top reasons that individuals join a company—and a big reason why they stay.
While growth is often an incentive for working at a startup, Navan believes that expansion is the result of intentional effort. As a result, we’re committed to providing team members with a variety of opportunities and experiences designed to help them grow as people and professionals within our organization, as well as future organizations.
Allison Slater led the creation of the company’s first formal People Development team in 2020 and has since grown that team into an entire department committed to supporting employees in their career journies.
“In the midst of the pandemic, there became a clear need to create more opportunities to spur employee growth and success during what felt like a tumultuous time in the world. From there, the team began building out foundational programming,” said Allison, Director of People Development.
The People Development team helps employees maximize performance and impact in their current role while also giving them opportunities to develop themselves as professionals so they are ready to take on their next career step. The team oversees new hire onboarding, talent management, individual contributor development, manager and leader enablement, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.
One of the most popular initiatives offered by the People Development team at Navan is the Mentorship Program run by Chasmin Moses, which matches team members based on skill, interest, or career trajectory. With more than 200 participants annually, mentors and mentees gain new skills, form new bonds, and gain clarity around their work and working styles.
Leo Alves joined Navan in October 2021 on the Customer Service Technical Support team and was promoted to Global Team Lead in just eight months, thanks in part to the growth opportunity presented by the Mentorship Program.
“When I joined Navan, I thought about moving to HR and was matched with a mentee,” said Leo. “I asked her about navigating career growth and how I could become more productive. Through the mentorship, we built a strong relationship where we could talk about our goals in our professional and personal lives. She helped me understand how I could succeed in my role and opened my mind to new ways of thinking outside the box and coming up with solutions. I specifically learned how to make decisions and escalate fewer issues to my manager.”
“No change comes without action, and mentorship is a great way to be proactive about how to make that change. The mentee doesn’t tell you what to do but helps you find the answer within yourself. I was promoted to Team Lead, which is a direct result of the mentorship program!” said Leo.
Ayodeji Akintilo, Design Director at Navan, became a mentor in the marketing organization, which helped him strengthen cross-functional relationships and learn about new ways of working.
“The Mentorship Program helped me move beyond my own bubble at work. I started building relationships outside of my team and learned how to better understand different people and how to integrate more empathy into my leadership style. It allowed me to open up and broaden the scope of topics that I learn about,” said Ayo.
“You are selling yourself short by not participating in this program—it’s a great opportunity. It is rare to build connections, but we are built for connection and communication—the mentorship program makes this accessible and fun on a personal and professional level.”
Other popular series focus on fundamental skills, including effective and confident communication, giving feedback, and setting and executing on growth goals for individual contributors.
Navan Staff Product Designer Abeer Margolis participated in the Feedback Workshop, where she learned a framework for giving and receiving feedback.
“It was great to connect with teammates from all different walks of life and at different points in their careers. I loved the framework because it helped clarify what I’m trying to deliver as well as how to communicate it to peers. I’d love to go deeper now that I’ve started learning,” said Abeer.
Another favorite is the Manager Essential Program, designed and facilitated by Katie Landrum, a unique, quarter-long, cohort style program designed to help new managers sharpen fundamental management skills alongside peers and tenured leaders.
“The workshops helped build upon the skills I need to succeed as a manager. I felt pretty confident in my ability to provide feedback and coach team members; however, I learned additional tips and tricks through these particular workshops that have strengthened my role as a leader,” said Jax Sassine, Senior Manager of the Travel Experience team, who moved from Amsterdam to Lisbon in his role.
“Even if I felt confident with a certain topic, I learned something new during each session,” said Jessica Johnson, Manager of Travel Experience Leads, who is based in the Dallas office.
The People Development team also recently introduced a Leadership Accelerator course for individuals and managers who want to grow into leadership roles. The course focuses on building leadership identity, making tough decisions, and creating inclusive spaces. It’s designed to support employees' journeys as they progress toward more responsibility and stewardship.
In addition to these elective programs, Navan recently introduced Inclusive Spaces as company-wide workshops that help develop, foster, and embrace the inclusive behaviors essential to creating an organizational culture of belonging at Navan.
Navan believes in empowering employees to do the best work of their careers. In order to help employees continuously “Raise the Bar”—one of the organization’s six core values—the company provides an annual allowance for employees to put toward learning and development opportunities. Employees can choose what they want to spend the money on: a conference, book, certifications, or a learning course. Every employee also has access to LinkedIn Learning so they can drive their own development at their own pace.
The People Development team is here to support team members as they grow as employees and experts in their field, but this dedication goes far beyond the team. Everyone from the company’s founders to managers encourage a culture of growth, innovation, and challenging the status quo—both in our industries and in our individual journeys.
Navan is continuously recognized for its progressive culture and was specifically named a 2022 Best Company for Career Growth by Comparably. In 2022 alone, Navan has also been named among the Top Places to Work by the San Francisco Chronicle, Best Tech Startups in Palo Alto by The Tech Tribune, and Best Places to Work in Austin by Built In Austin.
Looking to join a company that values your development? Learn more about what it is like to work at Navan on our Culture blog and check out our open roles today.
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