Diversifying and Developing Leaders at NextRoll

A Glimpse Into NextRoll’s Underrepresented Groups Development Program

The tech industry has come a long way regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Still, companies, especially here at NextRoll, know the value of remaining intentional and focused on continuing to move the needle in a positive direction. 

Building a DEI team and mission is just the first step in creating a diverse workforce. According to Wiley’s Diversity in Tech: 2021 U.S. Report, 68% of young tech workers have felt uncomfortable in a job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, or neurodevelopmental condition. And 50% of those tech workers surveyed said they left or wanted to leave a job because the company culture made them feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

At NextRoll, we strive to hire a diverse group of people and create a culture where people from all backgrounds and identities feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work every day. We do this by creating a sense of belonging and setting intentional diversity goals, including increasing the number of Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) at NextRoll in the U.S. to 23% and increasing the number of Rollers from Underrepresented Groups* (URGs) in U.S. based people management roles to 40%. 

We go a step further and intentionally focus on creating a culture where diverse groups of Rollers can thrive and become leaders in the industry. One way we do this is through our six-month URG Development Program, launched in 2019 with our partner, Strive. 

Leadership development does not happen in a vacuum – it takes a community effort. We want to make NextRoll one of the most diverse and inclusive companies in all of tech, and this initiative is a major step in moving us in that direction.

Our Learning & Development team gathered feedback from Rollers (NextRoll employees) and our Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders to help shape the program, aiming to help participants build leadership skills and their internal networks through an intentional application. This is achieved by creating cohorts of people who have the opportunity to learn from one another and become a resource for future groups.

“This program didn’t just give participants a lecture,” said Wilson Lau, Principal Marketing Manager, SEO for AdRoll. “It emphasized actions and applications. For example, after talking about the concept of a personal board of advisers, it asked all participants to identify a couple of people in the company and ask them to be the mentors or advisers to the participants. While feeling a little awkward in the beginning, I was glad I took such a step. Having a 1-on-1 conversation with a NextRoll executive sponsor of the program was another perk.”

In addition, the virtual program is split into four learning modules: career development, managing-up, critical conversations, and strategic thinking and prioritization. 

“It’s a fantastic framework for handling crucial and tough conversations,” said Togbor Wentum, NextRoll’s Manager I, Solutions Engineering. “Now, in my professional and personal life, I use the COIN (Common Ground, Observe, Investigate, Next Steps) framework for crucial conversation and continue seeing massive benefits from this approach.”

During the six months, Rollers also focus on navigating organizational environments, learning leadership skills, and discovering themselves. 

“This program helped me with skills like managing-up and project planning. This ultimately helped me grow and get promoted twice during my tenure here,” said David Aviles, Engineering Operations Lead. “I think with the increased confidence and new skills I gained, and I started helping with other tasks like project and program management which not only assisted in my growth but in the reach of my team.”

The success of this program is also thanks to our partner, Strive. Strive is a San Francisco-based startup that personalizes the training and leadership courses and offers live virtual sessions with a coach facilitator throughout the six-month program. 

Learn more about how we make our culture a primary focus at NextRoll.

*Underrepresented Minorities are defined as American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, or Two or More Races.

**Underrepresented Groups are defined as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or Two or More Races.