Bridging cultures, building teams

Helix's global engineering journey with Andrea Clarkson and Fernando Beck

Photo of Helix's Andrea Clarkson, global head of recruitment, with quote saying, "Our global team members bring invaluable perspectives that we would not have otherwise accessed without our expansion efforts," alongside a photo of Fernando Beck, director of engineering, with quote saying, "We live by our core values and make sure our communication flows in every direction."

In 2023, Helix’s Global Head of Recruitment, Andrea Clarkson, was asked a seemingly simple question that sparked a thoughtful research journey.

“If we were to choose a location for our first office outside of the United States, where would it be and why?” Andrea recounts. The following months consisted of independent explorations, discussions with CTOs, and even exploring AI-weighted models.

“Our focus was on identifying a location that would offer the intersection of both engineering and genomic talent, coupled with the ability to seamlessly onboard and support our new employees in that region.”

Eventually, the answer became clear: Mexico City. And there was no better person to help lead the expansion of this population genomics company than Fernando Beck, Helix’s newly appointed engineering site director.

We caught up with Andrea and Fernando to hear more about how Helix is building a global engineering team — and why cultural integration is a cornerstone of their expansion.

Infusing Helix’s culture with Mexican culture

As Helix builds the bones of their Mexico City office, they’re mindful of how two existing cultures — that of Helix’s established workforce and the rich fabric of Mexico City — can seamlessly integrate.

To ensure a smooth transition, Helix temporarily relocated two of their engineering leaders to Mexico City to establish early connections and gain a deeper understanding of the local culture. They also inaugurated a new team dedicated to creating the best employee experience in a distributed workforce, and alongside Helix’s existing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) team, cultural integration is a central point of collaboration.

“Additionally, we organized a special grand opening and onboarding program for our initial hires. During this event, executives flew down to Mexico City to personally engage with new team members, sharing stories from their time at Helix and highlighting the aspects that make our company unique,” Andrea explains. “These efforts have been essential in fostering a sense of belonging and cultural alignment within our Mexico City office.”

Fernando adds how he appreciates the richness of building a cross-cultural, multi-viewpoint team while also viewing it as a sort of puzzle.

“You need to take time to get to know and understand the people, the different work habits, the drivers in place, the product we’re building, and how, together and combined, it has its own dynamic.”

The importance of communication in bridging gaps

As Helix works to find synergy across the Mexico office and the wider organization, they value communication.

“Entering a new market always presents challenges in understanding the priorities and preferences of local talent. However, Helix has navigated these hurdles by prioritizing open communication and active listening,” Andrea says.

She explains how by engaging with the local community and leveraging their internal expertise, Helix’s team can tailor their approach to align with the nuances of the Mexico office.

Fernando adds, “We live by our core values and make sure our communication flows in every direction. Even more, overcommunication is encouraged. We give feedback frequently, we’re present, and we make everything count.”

Doing so allows Fernando and his fellow leaders to hear their team members’ concerns and pain points, responding with feedback accordingly.

“Having this sense of connection, or belonging, and being an active, important, and valuable part of something bigger — that’s exactly what we’re looking and aiming for.”

Looking forward

Both Andrea and Fernando are excited about the future of the Mexico City office.

“I'm honored to have played a role in advocating for Helix's exploration of talent pools and communities beyond the borders of the U.S. Our global team members bring invaluable perspectives that we would not have otherwise accessed without our expansion efforts,” says Andrea.

As they look ahead, Andrea and Fernando have their sights set on strategic growth and deeper integration within the local market.

“Helix offers a very unique challenge — something that looks pretty much like a startup in the sense that we’re looking for people, starting new ideas, and building and creating as we go,” says Fernando. “My own experience here has been nothing but great. I enjoy being able to find people who will support and encourage us to keep moving forward.”

Excited by the idea of joining Helix’s fast-growing, global team? Find your place on the team and explore career possibilities here.
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