Job title: Head of Teamline
Interesting fact about you: My band once supported Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris on the main stage at St. John’s College May Ball, Cambridge University
Other interests outside of work: Music (Bass guitarist in function band), home improvements, running, cycling, and spending time with my family
Having joined us in 2009 after graduating from Cambridge University with a Masters in Engineering, Steve Raffe is celebrating his 10th year with StarLeaf.
Here, he takes us back to life after graduation and his journey with StarLeaf so far.
How did your journey start at StarLeaf?
With my engineering course at Cambridge coming to an end and graduation fast approaching, I knew it was time to start searching for jobs. I also knew that I had a passion for engineering and so set about finding a job that allowed me to explore this.
Then one day, I mysteriously received a £20 note and a branded mug from a company called StarLeaf. With my interest well and truly piqued, I turned to Google, which helpfully told me StarLeaf was a startup company seeking engineers to help develop a next-generation enterprise communications solution. I sent an email to the contact address asking to find out more and received a speedy response saying ‘Sure, come in for a chat’.
A few days later I found myself at the StarLeaf offices in Great Shelford for a job interview. There were a handful of employees in the office at that time and I met with two of them, before our CEO, Mark Richer ran me through the company vision. On my cycle home, I received a phone call from Mark telling me that he would like to offer me the job and so shortly afterward, I turned up to work, fresh out of university, to start my role as an Electronic Engineer.
So you started as an Electronic Engineer. What other roles have you worked in over your ten years?
Electronic Engineer – For my first three years at StarLeaf, I went on a journey together with amazing colleagues, working out everything we needed to design and manufacture the first generation of StarLeaf hardware, including product architectures to support our vision and the needs of our software team; electronics fit for enterprise-level reliability; mechanical designs that were both elegant and easy to assemble; and much more.
Software Engineer - After three years as an Electronic Engineer, the hardware team was creating hardware faster than our software team could write the accompanying software. I’m extremely grateful that StarLeaf invested in me by offering me a role as a Software Engineer, with no prior experience. I learned to write software under the guidance of the world-class talent and arguably, more importantly, world-class patience of the StarLeaf software engineering team.
Sales Engineer – I spent a further three years writing software at StarLeaf until, after a total of six years in engineering, I finally worked out that I don’t like sitting behind a desk. I wanted to work in the field, spending time interacting with our customers and partners. StarLeaf took a big risk by allowing me to join the sales team as a Sales Engineer. Big culture shock. Turned out, being in front of customers required an extreme level of interpersonal skills that I did not have at the time. With some amazing guidance and support, I worked my way up to looking after some of our largest global accounts.
Product Manager - I loved my two years in the sales team but, in the back of my mind, I knew that I could generate the most value for StarLeaf working back in our product teams, using my experience in both sales and engineering. The opportunity arose to join our Teamline product group as a Product Manager, working with a multitude of internal teams to drive the success of Teamline. Working alongside an exceptional sales team, we’ve worked hard to create and deliver our value proposition which has helped us to achieve runaway success.
Head of Teamline - I am honored to serve StarLeaf Group as Head of Teamline, leading the team responsible for ongoing growth. Our strategy targets the largest enterprises in the world, empowering human connection in the workplace by operating as an independent, platform-agnostic meeting room provider, allowing us to deliver customer-focused solutions that drive productivity and minimize the total cost of ownership. In other words, the biggest bits of shared success you can imagine - an awesome group of people provided with the freedom to innovate to create kick-ass meeting rooms valued by the largest companies in the world!
What are your most memorable and enjoyable experiences of working at StarLeaf?
Among the array of projects I worked on as an engineer, I distinctly remember the moment when a customer first bought our solution. After months collaborating behind closed doors to create our first generation of products, it suddenly became real. We were solving a real-life challenge. We have come a long way from those first products and I still get a buzz each time we help one of our customers achieve their goals.
What aspects of your role are you passionate about and why?
Shared success – There is something special about working with people towards a common goal, particularly when there are lots of personalities and skills involved. Achieving success together is incredible.
The growth of StarLeaf over the past ten years…
It has been incredible starting at StarLeaf when there were fewer than 10 employees and watching the organization grow to where it is now. As we have expanded, I’m pleased that we’ve retained key parts of our company culture that have been present since the beginning. For me, celebrating our shared successes is one of those. Long may it continue!