Profile: Aimee Styler of Spotify, CLxNY
US TECH & PRODUCT OPERATIONS SPECIALIST
BARUCH COLLEGE, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
TEACHERS COLLEGE OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
MA, ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Aimee Styler, US Tech & Product Operations Specialist at Spotify, recently joined Culture Lab New York, formerly known as The People Side. The People Side is a group for discussing the people side of startups – for founders, leaders, engineers, and organization development professionals to think about culture, scaling, communication, conflict, feedback, and stress. As The People Side unites with Culture Lab, Aimee will focus on expanding Culture Lab’s mission of redefining company culture by bringing together culture leaders and experimenters at events and meet-ups. Culture Lab chatted with Aimee about her take on company culture, and how her history in networking within the New York tech scene gives her a unique perspective.
Welcome Aimee to Culture Lab! Can you give us a rundown on your new role here at Culture Lab?
This is a chance for me to head up the New York side of Culture Lab, and help drive the same goals and initiatives and experiences over here in New York that you guys are doing in San Francisco. We want to create the community for folks to have the dialogue and discussion around culture. I used to organize networking events around entrepreneurship in the past, and I’ve stayed very active in the networking space in New York.
At Culture Lab I’m looking forward to getting back into the community. I’ve been going to events for the last few years, and we have a really thriving scene and community here. We have a lot of companies here already that are doing really great, and are driving change, which is really cool. I think there are many things we can learn from those that are getting “the people side” right.
What is your definition of company culture?
It’s “the way we do things around here.” It’s not something that’s tangible in an organization, but it’s really how people operate, how they communicate, how decisions are made and what drives interactions, what people value, what things are celebrated, and what behaviors are rewarded. All those things drive and factor into what company culture is.
Because it’s so amorphous, it is so challenging to get it right. When someone is starting a company, that’s the chance to be deliberate about what culture they want to build.
Trust is a really big component for a company. Companies can ask themselves, how do we ensure that our employees trust us as a leadership team and an organization? That is tied to being transparent, and being clear about what expectations are. Perceived fairness goes a long way.
What isn’t culture in a workplace?
What interested you in company culture?
I studied psychology in undergrad, and got a masters in organizational psychology. The program was broadly focused on people in the organizations, on HR management, change management, things that are culture-related. Culture was inherent in a program like that, because it is all about how to motivate and inspire and engage people within the organizations.
I always gravitated toward psychology, and within an organization I can have an effect on people’s journeys. I want to look at how we can motivate people and see how an organization can be successful. I’ve since experienced it firsthand in the workplace.
How has your career path led you to where you are today?
I started in HR, in the healthcare space in New York. I was in the corporate world and I was seeking to be in a space where I would get to be around innovation and people who were hustling to change the world and the way that we do things. I wanted to be in a company that was disrupting its industry. I left my job and backpacked through South America, and when I returned I started networking to learn and build my relationships. I went to a lot of events with speakers, and talked to founders and leaders, and then eventually began organizing my own networking events. Getting out there and talking to others who are thinking and living these complex scenarios every day is hugely important and it’s gotten me where I am today.
I spent some time working at Voxy, in special projects. Voxy is disrupting the language learning industry so it was a great experience to be a part of. While there, I was thinking a lot about engagement of employees, and initiatives in onboarding, performance management, and events. I realized I’m very interested in the hybrid of people and operations at an organization. My new role at Spotify will allow me to leverage that.
What do you think will make a good Culture Lab event?
My favorite events are when the attendees leave with something more than they came in with. That can be a relationship that will be useful to them, or a new piece of knowledge because of the speaker, or because of a conversation they had there beforehand or afterward. I’ve been to a lot of events where I left no different than when I came in – so I want to make sure the events are a good use of people’s time. I want to bring in organizations that seem to be getting it right with their people. This also requires asking the right questions, and making sure we are really getting insights. It’s not something I could have read in a magazine yesterday – it’s getting to their expertise. And, at the same time, having meaningful conversations around it. Our goal is to create a community of people who are talking about these relevant topics, and creating a forum for people to have a dialogue. Getting to be a part of this and help drive it is really exciting to me.