And leadership isn’t defined only by your role; it might not necessarily mean moving into “people management." Leadership is a particular type of action, not a title or individual person. That’s why creating programs that allow HubSpotters to develop their leadership skills at HubSpot (and beyond) is a core part of our philosophy on career growth.
A key part of this philosophy is the Fellows Program, HubSpot’s premier growth program designed to accelerate the impact of our most talented HubSpotters from around the globe. This multi-day program is built to bring strong-performing HubSpotters, from Individual Contributors to Senior Managers, together for intensive case-based learning and leadership development.
Throughout the program, Fellows participants learn directly from Harvard Business School Professors and HubSpot’s C-Suite & Executive teams on leadership topics including a deep dive into the economics of HubSpot, making strategic decisions, managing through challenges, corporate finance basics, innovation management, and competitive strategy. The curriculum is modeled after case-based MBA programs - the closest you can come to learning from experience without actually having lived through these highly-complex leadership scenarios.
This month, a new Cohort of 27 HubSpotters begins. To celebrate this new Cohort, we spoke to a few Alumni of the HubSpot Fellows Program to learn more about their experience and the program’s impact.
Let’s hear what they had to say…
👉 Why did you want to join the Fellows Program at HubSpot?
Derek Pun: I wanted to carve out time to learn and grow, which I hadn’t allowed myself to do before.
Bryana Duval: I wanted an opportunity to develop my skills in a new environment surrounded by HubSpotters who I could learn from in other teams and regions. In ANZ, we're in a time zone of our own so it seemed like a really great opportunity to get involved and connect with others in a more meaningful and intimate environment.
Allison Ziehr: It was a great opportunity to learn from amazing sessions leaders and network with fellow HubSpotters
Edgar Bogotá: I was seeking out leadership opportunities and Fellows was a great way to foster and contribute to a growth mindset in an innovative environment. My goal was to create a global network and gain knowledge and learnings from other participants as I'm interested in people management in the near future.
👉 Tell us about your experience. What was a typical day like during your Cohort?
DP: I went from surviving to thriving in the Fellows Program at HubSpot. A typical day would start with reflections on the learning on the previous day (except Day 1), followed by intensive case-based learning. One could not get away with not reading the reading materials, which helped me to print all of them out. Pen and paper had proven to be the most effective way to help me analyze the various case studies and organize my thoughts. There were also many networking sessions for the Cohort to mingle and learn from each other.
BD: In the JAPAC region, we often had really small sessions, as there were only a handful of us, so everyone was very engaged and had the opportunity to contribute. There were a few sessions from other regions that I had to stay up late for, and some recorded, so my mornings were typically spent catching up on recordings if I needed to, or prepping for that day.
AZ: It was a really amazing experience getting to learn from our session leaders and fellow HubSpotters. The sessions were a mixed bag in terms of content, which kept them interesting and interactive. I really enjoyed the reading and other pre-work we had to complete as it was extremely relevant to our discussion, and it was fascinating to dissect. It was really amazing how everyone had different takeaways depending on how we would interpret what we read/saw and given our backgrounds and experiences. Typically, there would be two sessions per day plus one session to mingle with other HubSpotters in the Cohort.
EB: I attended all the scheduled sessions and challenged myself to actively participate in the sessions I liked the most. We also had networking activities to get to know each other and connected during breaks. As I was 100% focused on the program, I helped my team during escalations and emergencies, but I was able to distribute my time to get the most out of the experience.
👉 How did you balance Fellows with your “day job” and/or life outside of work? What kind of support did you receive that enabled you to stay focused?
DP: I prioritized Fellows over my "day job" during my Cohort. That meant I had to reschedule most of my meetings during the day to focus on getting the most out of Fellows. During the welcome session, one of the program leaders said, "How much you get out of HubSpot Fellows is proportional to how much you put into it". My manager, peers, and team supported me fully by giving me the space to learn and grow. I, in return, shared some of my key learnings and takeaways from Fellows daily. Outside of work, I had to thank my wife who took care of our daughter (nearly 3 years old at that time) with the evening routines. Without her immense support, I wouldn't be able to graduate from Fellows.
BD: Recruiting was slower in the second half of last year so it was great that this wasn't during a super busy time. My team was super supportive and helped by taking on my core responsibilities so that I could focus on Fellows for the two weeks.
AZ: The workload was manageable regarding preparing for the sessions. I could sit down on the Sunday before and do some pre-work as well as in the evenings. During Fellows, I was able to check Slack and emails, so I wasn't completely disconnected from my day job. My manager was extremely supportive and ensured that I wouldn't focus too much on my "day job" but really take away as much as possible from the experience.
EB: I was 100% focused on the Fellows experience. I worked with my manager two days prior to the beginning of Fellows to make sure we were prepared for my time away, as I wanted to prepare my readings, take notes and be ready to go.
👉 What was the most impactful part of the program for you?
DP: The opportunity to learn from HubSpot’s most senior executives, distinguished Harvard Business School Professors and some of the most talented HubSpotters from around the globe.
BD: The connections made with Hubspotters I never would have otherwise met.
AZ: Networking with HubSpotters across the world and learning from Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.
EB: The structure of the program. I think all the lessons were well thought out and I've really enjoyed the quality of the professors and advisors. I love that Fellows challenges you to gain learnings and apply them in your career.
👉 What was the most challenging part of the program for you, and how did you overcome it?
DP: Imposter syndrome is a real challenge for me, given that everyone else within the Cohort is so talented, capable and a top performer on the respective team. To overcome it, I took one day/task/case study/networking session at a time and observed how others did it.
BD: Because this is a global program, the time zones were a challenge sometimes because you can’t attend every single session live. But, even when I wasn’t able to attend live, I watched the recordings and made sure to connect with other people in my Cohort to discuss.
AZ: I think it was somewhat hard to focus as it was remote only and sometimes it felt like everyone around me was smarter and more experienced. When the session leaders would ask us to give our opinion, it took me some time to feel comfortable going off mute and voicing my opinion in front of 30 really really smart people. However, what I learned to understand is that my perspective is unique and everyone can learn from everyone, regardless of tenure or skill set.
EB: It was challenging to follow the rhythm of a couple of peers that demonstrate a full understanding of the numbers and cases. I think this is good as Fellows show we have talented people that are open to share this knowledge.
👉 What are a few of your key learnings from your time in the Fellows Program, and how have you applied them at HubSpot and beyond?
DP: 1) The price of excellence is discomfort. 2) Do fewer things, better. Since Fellows, I've been applying these key learnings in my day-to-day as people manager at work and husband/father outside of work. Want to hear more about Derek’s learnings? Check out his LinkedIn post here.
BD: Just understanding the metrics the business uses and how they are formulated. It was a huge increase to my business acumen which allows me to understand earnings calls with investors and better engage in conversations.
AZ: I think it's really important to see a situation from all sides and perspectives rather than limiting yourself to one specific aspect. Given that I had the chance to interact with so many different HubSpotters from different teams, it was really interesting to learn about their perspectives on how to handle a situation, given what their team aims to do.
EB: I learned to listen to different perspectives. I loved how we organically debated between different points of view and how we collaborated to make each of the sessions more interesting. I learned to approach case based studies by focusing on what's really important that can contribute to the conversation. I learned to build my own network and I still have some catch up’s with people from my Cohort. I learned that effective communication is the key for everything and how you can organize your ideas for better learning. I learned from the expertise and knowledge of my peers, and how to approach situations that take you out of your comfort zone.