Fostering the Culture of Openness at AppNexus

Companies talk a lot about their unique culture, and sometimes from the outside it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what that means. It is true that the elements that encompass what it means to be an AppNexian are numerous, but there is one key concept that has been clear to me from the outset: the value of openness. Not only does openness underpin AppNexus’ stance in the industry, but also for the global AppNexus community, as this value is paramount and internal initiatives are centred around maintaining this culture of openness.

In my time at AppNexus, I’ve played an active role in supporting many initiatives to ensure we keep an openness in our office culture across our European community. Over the course of two years, AppNexus has grown from a 600-person strong workforce to over 1000 AppNexians across 5 continents. As we’ve expanded and changed, the following three initiatives continue to help foster a culture of openness at the heart of how we work.

Informal catch up sessions to increase openness across the European Community
As a European AppNexian, it is important for me and for all AppNexians scattered across Europe, that we feel close to one another and are open to sharing thoughts, challenges, and experiences. The “Europe Catch Up” sessions, started by the People team, are just one way that the offices of AppNexus can gather together. The sessions enable different teams across our European offices to share what they are working on, offer observations on the markets they are working on, and also ask for insights in an informal setting. It is great to hear from colleagues you wouldn’t normally interact with on a daily basis. Being involved in these sessions helps the openness to flourish across our European community, uniting the overall AppNexus values with the nuances of culture that each office brings. They have made it easier to reach out to colleagues in other offices who are tackling similar problems.

Facilitating open conversations through Affinity Groups
When reflecting on the culture of openness, one particular standout moment for me in helping to foster this was an optional lunch held for the London Office, run by the AppNexus Women’s Network, of which I am a Committee Lead for Europe. Our aim was to host a lively discussion on the theme of unconscious bias, particularly focusing on the likeability versus competence trade-off, highlighted in the Heidi-Howard study, which showed that success and likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. It was easy to find volunteers of both genders to help prepare the content and I was extremely proud that the whole office attended and engaged with the presentation, participating in a healthy discussion where different thoughts and experiences were voiced on the topic. Following this session, participation from both genders at other AppNexus Women’s Network events has increased and we have received positive comments from colleagues on how they are more aware of unconscious bias.

Extending our open culture with the broader industry
The AppNexus Women’s Network committee realised that ensuring that openness flourishes within AppNexus also enables us to be outward looking and share this value with the wider tech community. In Europe, we have started the AppNexus Women’s Speaker Series, which aims to foster a community of female leaders driving innovation and transformation in the ever-changing digital landscape. Each event in the series is a different format – to date we have hosted a fireside chat, a presentation with Q&A, and a panel. We have also partnered with other companies, sharing a platform to discuss important topics about women in technology. This has not only strengthened our business relationships with other companies, but also helped to provide a united front while tackling issues faced by women in technology.

The AppNexus company culture is aligned with what we want to achieve as part of the AppNexus Women’s Network, and we all recognise the importance of maintaining the general culture of openness. Affinity Groups at AppNexus make it easy to spearhead internal initiatives and then extend these to championing worthwhile causes. The culture of openness fostered by AppNexus continues to promote remains one of my favorite aspects of life here: a community of genuine and motivated people who constantly inspire.


About the author: Anne Coghlan is an Implementation Consultant. Based in London, she is part of the AppNexus Women’s Network, one of the first of many Affinity Groups active at AppNexus.

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