Anthony’s career has taken him through various areas of expertise. From the automotive industry to the banking sector, Domino’s Pizza, and, more recently, Criteo, it is safe to say Anthony has many stories to tell. Together, we discussed the company culture, onboarding process, and workplace philosophy. Have you ever wondered how Criteo compares to other companies? Here is your chance to find out.
It is so nice to meet you, Anthony! Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
Likewise, I am very excited to be a part of this. I grew up in Dearborn, in South-Eastern Michigan (US). I started as a software engineer, doing embedded software for the automotive and trucking industry. My first job was at Navistar, where I wrote software for their trucks and school buses. After a year working there, I moved to Ann Arbor where I live now. I then joined Visteon Corporation, where I spent most of my automotive career. There, I did innovation for cockpit electronics – stereos, clusters, etc. - working on interface and product technology innovations. We were basically inventing things working in R&D, which was kind of cool. I started out various projects there myself, which helped me to soon transition to more of a Project Manager position. It was my first step toward EPM. I then transitioned out of the automotive industry, moving to the Banking Sector for a while, before joining the e-commerce field as an EPM for Domino’s Pizza.
What is your recruitment story with Criteo?
I had been working for a year at Domino’s as a contractor, and they were about to convert my contract to full-time. The negotiations were ongoing when Criteo reached out to me through Linkedin; they were interested in my profile for an EPM position. After doing a little research, I thought it would be interesting to talk with them. The funny thing is I was already familiar with our offices here as it used to be a brewery I went to when I first moved to Ann Arbor. I did not know anything about retail media or online technology but what drew me to Criteo was their approach throughout the recruitment process. Their way of doing things showed me they were serious, professional and well-organized. When Amy first contacted me, I did not have any HR-related questions as she had already answered them all in her pitch. The process was quite standard but very fast. After three weeks only, they gave me an offer; very impressive!
What helped you make up your mind?
At this stage of my career, I want to join a company that is organized and treats its people well. I had the feeling I would find that with Criteo. I felt Derek Zell and the EPMs I had met during the interview process showed a lot of passion for their job and truly seemed to love working for the company. This was a big tipping point for me in the recruitment process. I left the interviews with a very good impression of the team and workplace environment. Nonetheless, I wanted to take the time to review the offer properly. I am a very meticulous person, you know?! What struck me the most and helped me decide is that I was about to have major surgery by the time they made the offer. So, when they called, I was happy but told them I could not think about it as I was having surgery in a few days. They were very understanding and gave me some time to think it over. It touched me that they cared and did not pressure me. Plus, they made me a very competitive offer. Altogether, there is no way I could have said no. I was happy at Domino’s, and would have stayed there; it takes a lot to leave a job you like, you know? But Criteo just blew me away.
What struck you the most when starting at Criteo?
First, the fact that Criteo maintains an office entirely for R&D tells me they are serious about investing in innovation. I have experience in R&D and innovation, so I understand the importance of spending money on it, being serious about it, and not just for show, which is not always the case. I had a lot of questions during the interview, and Derek, my manager, was phenomenal. He could answer them all, and I could feel his passion for the company. For me, this was the biggest selling point; seeing that every person I met really loved working here. I told myself; “Okay, this seems like a really great place to work!” I felt welcomed right away. The people here are amazing! Every day, I wake up and feel good about going to work. I feel comfortable with who I am and how I deal with problems. I think, more than skills, Criteo hires personalities, and it shows in the way we interact with each other. My relationships with others are fantastic, whether I am talking with managers, colleagues, or product teams. People get along and everybody adds up. Joining Criteo has been very good for me and for my career.
In terms of learning opportunities, how does Criteo compare to other companies you have come across in your career?
The mindset is different. In many sectors, people are very protective of their job and knowledge. And when there is a lot of defensiveness, the collaboration cannot be as fluid as it should. At Criteo, I have felt part of a very open environment since day one. Everything I needed; I could ask. We do something very cool and useful called the Buddy System; we assign you a Buddy who kind of mentors and tutors you when you arrive. It is the person you go to when you have questions. Plus, the onboarding process and team organization are not stressful at all. I had time to adjust; managers understand that people ramp up. I have many questions as you cannot be an expert directly with such products and a fast-paced industry. They give you an appropriate workload so you can learn as you move along. Criteo ensures you build a strong foundation instead of throwing you overboard on your first day; this sets you up for success.
What do you think of the tools we use? Did you find them useful?
Onboarding people in these times when everything is changing is a big challenge. I think Criteo did a very good job and uses the right tools. We do most of our work on Slack, we have Jira; a standard toolset, but it never goes down. There is always help you can get. I think it has more to do with the processes than the toolset itself. Our processes are very refined, and because it is something we pay attention to, we do not need to have a lot of meetings. For my part, I have fewer meetings than in my previous experiences and this is something I really appreciate. I really appreciate it. It gives I feel I have more time to brainstorm and work on my projects. For me, this means trust underpins our work philosophy. I don’t have to micro-manage my teams or projects because people do what they say on time. Derek is an experienced manager, and he is big on trust. He checks in on us, of course, but he trusts us because he knows we will get the job done.
Could you share your feedback on remote onboarding?
I did a bunch of online onboardings in my career, and I think what differentiates Criteo is that you feel they have put some thoughts on how to onboard people virtually. I felt a special care you would not see in an in-person onboarding. There were a few more questions, talking, touch points, and phone calls. I think they understood what can go right and what can go wrong, and they worked considering the virtual aspect. The Buddy System helps also. And, above all, the people are always willing to give you a hand. I lean on my Buddy, but the teams I took over are helpful too. I had a great support system all along. I found the initial training to learn about our core business and competitive landscape very useful as I did not know anything about retail media. Every instruction is clear, and if I have other questions, I can always ask. The onboarding was easy, and it helped because when I met the teams, I felt I could start building up from a solid base. Honestly, the onboarding is still ongoing for me. It takes time to become an expert in this realm, but I feel, on August 1st, I am better equipped than I was on July 1st. I am continuously growing and feeling empowered to succeed.
Would you add or change something?
It is more of a general remark than something about Criteo. I feel the first three months of onboarding were great. But when the official onboarding stops, there is still a learning gap of approximately six months before you are good to go. If we were on-site, this gap would be filling itself quite naturally; perhaps you would hear someone talking openly about that thing you were wondering about without even having to ask. Or maybe you would casually get more info during a coffee or lunch break. Being face-to-face allows a more indirect and informal learning process that remote work does not. If you want to understand something when working alone at home, you need to be more assertive and ask; there is no way around it. It is not specific to Criteo, but in the end, I would say it is just about making people aware that you may need to lean on your Buddy and teammates a little longer if you are doing remote onboarding. It is not better or worse. There are some gives and takes in both situations.
Would you say you were set up for success?
Absolutely! It is not just the structure but, more importantly, the people who work here. Since I joined, with any person I encounter, I get the feeling that they want to be successful but also want the company to succeed. There are some challenges, but I think we reduce most stress because of how we work together.
Would you recommend Criteo as a place to work?
I have been recommending Criteo to people I think would be a good cultural fit. It is a very positive environment and a great culture, so, of course, I would recommend it to a friend. Humanly speaking, it is everything I was looking for. At this stage of my career, when people ask me what I want to do, I say I just want to join a company that cares and to work with good people. It may not seem a good answer, but it is the truth. I really enjoy retail media; our products are good, and the business is interesting. But I did not know much about it at first, and I didn't need to. I just had this feeling this was a great place to work. That was enough for me. The rest, as they say, is the cherry on the cake. I once told Derek; “I love it so much, I got to figure out how I can be here for ten years.”