Reimagine Everything

Retaining The Startup Culture To Retain Talent


Retaining The Startup Culture To Retain Talent

BDD’s team sat with Jean Bou Rjeily (JBR), Co-Founder and COO of CME, to discuss corporate cultures, best practices for talent management, and the company’s secret behind its low turnover rates.

BDD: What differentiates the corporate culture of CME to other tech firms?

JBR: Despite being an established company with 300 talented Lebanese engineers out of more than 450 engineers in 8 locations, we have maintained our startup culture and mindset. This has allowed us to reap the benefits of both a strong foundation, enterprise-level practices, and startups flexibility, ownership, and agility. We consider this the best of both worlds.

Our people-centered culture and flat communication structure naturally make it easy for us to collaborate, create long-term connections, and remain agile in the face of change. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also important parts of who we are. These factors help us look at a problem from different perspectives and interact with the world.

We believe innovation is about people, and we reinvent ourselves and our solutions to stay relevant in the face of disruption.

BDD: Given the challenging environment that we are all operating in, has this prompted you to shift your practices?

JBR: The world changed, and we had to adapt. We realized early on that we needed to stay agile and adopt a forward-thinking approach in the way we get things done.

To start off, we adopted a hybrid work model with our teams’ well-being and success in mind. Despite the challenges, we were able to put in motion new habits and procedures that boosted our adaptability and productivity levels. In turn, we redefined our hybrid workspace into a community space where CMErs can not only work but also engage with people and get to know the team.

BDD: Did this shift start with the leadership of CME? If so, how?

JBR: One consistent and effective practice is for CME leaders to be open and transparent and continually connect with the team. To keep CMErs in the loop (especially in this ever-changing environment), we hold monthly meetings where we discuss updates, lay out expectations, answer all questions, and tackle different topics of concern brought to our attention. We cannot emphasize how important this is to instill and nurture a healthy corporate culture.

Since our communication channels are open, anyone can talk to anyone depending on their needs, be it the CEO, project manager or team lead…

Management also conducts surveys every few months to assess CMErs’ well-being and perceptions of the organization.
A good leader can inspire everyone to achieve their very best, and we trust that every CMEr is a leader in their own way.

BDD: What policies do you have in place to ensure employee retention and engagement?

JBR: Many tools and policies have been very effective:

  • We provide the best packages and benefits so that CMErs and their families can thrive. This aspect is critical, but not sufficient.
  • CMErs also benefit from our bonus points reward system based on their contributions, and they go through ongoing reviews to assess their progress and provide them with feedback.
  • Additionally, we go to great lengths to make our employees feel fulfilled and happy in their workplace and are aware of the importance of a work-life balance.  We ensure they have access to all the resources they need to succeed.
  • Employee well-being is our top priority, and we use every opportunity to unite them by hosting internal events and celebrating important dates.
  • Finally, CME gives its team unmatched exposure, experience, and capabilities that provide a competitive edge. Everyone is encouraged to keep learning new skills, attend workshops, and earn certifications to help them grow and advance in their careers. CME reimburses its team members upon acquiring new certificates. The knowledge acquired can be shared and exchanged between units and communities, fostering synergy and a cohesive whole.

BDD: Based on your successful track record, what best practices can you share with other companies?

JBR: It is critical to align the company’s objectives with each employee’s goals by informing them about future plans and how they can contribute to them. Continuously equipping them with information and tools to help them navigate the situation as smoothly as possible is also integral.

We would also advise companies to diversify their portfolio in terms of technologies, industries, and geographies. Be on the lookout for opportunities and reinvent yourself and how you see and do things every couple of years!

And of course, to nurture your workplace culture and sense of belonging by keeping the office alive and being on the ground.

BDD: Have you recorded any tangible benefits of your internal practices?

JBR: We have been able to attract more than 100 talents this year alone and our revenue increased by 30% in 2022.

CME’s average tenure is 3.36 years, with 12.65% of turnover in 2021, which is relatively low compared to the industry.

In addition, we created and launched two of our products, our Student Information System and INGO Health, and expanded in France and the UAE in the same year.

The numbers, as well as the thriving internal culture, prove to us that we are heading in the right direction.

BDD: What motivational insights or messages do you have for professionals enduring challenging times?

JBR: Embrace hybrid work and the flexibility it brings, especially in this industry. As long as the team is focused on quality, productivity, and success, you can make a difference wherever you are.

CME believes it is its duty to help the community, so it is important to continue giving opportunities to talents in Lebanon, no matter how challenging the times are.

We find that having a strong sense of purpose for your goals is also important. CME’s commitment is to improve people’s lives through technology.

And of course, always look for opportunities and analyze your environment. Do not be afraid to Reimagine Everything!

This article was published in Beirut Digital District’s Blog on November 16, 2022.

Expert Opinion

Jean Bou Rjeily
Jean Bou Rjeily


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