Fall 2019

Orbital Studios are communities of practice for product, design and engineering managers, leaders and practitioners. Since 2016, we've gathered 250+ people from 100 companies to learn from and with their peers across the industry.

Adobe
Artsy
Axios
Automattic
Betterment
Blink Health
Blue Apron
Blurb
Bonobos
Buzzfeed
Casper
Cedar
Chartbeat
Classpass
Code Climate
Codecademy
Conde Nast
Crisis Text Line
Digital Ocean
DoSomething
DuckDuckGo
Enigma
Etsy
Facebook
Farmigo
Flatiron Health
Foursquare
Fundera
Ghostery
Github
Glossier
Greenhouse
Harrys
Harvest
HyperScience
Intersection
Justworks
Kickstarter
Kinnek
Livestream
Major League Hacking
Managed by Q
Mapzen
Medium
Meetup
Merrill Corporation
MongoDB
Mozilla Foundation
Namely
Newsela
Peloton
The New York Times
Nike, Inc.
Shutterstock
Simulmedia
Skillshare
SoundCloud
Spotify
Spring
Spruce
SquareFoot
Squarespace
Stash
StreetEasy
Teachers Pay Teachers
The Farmer's Dog
Trello
Tumblr
Twitter
Two Sigma
Venmo
Vox Media
VSCO
VTS
Warby Parker
WeWork
Wirecutter
Workmarket
Yieldmo
Zocdoc

Some overall insights from past participants:

Talking through your challenges with others is valuable, and doesn’t need to be about finding a solution. Sometimes just fresh perspectives can help, especially when you are so close to the issue yourself.

―Engineering Director

Being a manager is both a unique and yet incredibly shared experience. We all have different team members and different situations that we tackled on our own, often with little guidance, but have very similar lessons.

―Engineering Manager

There’s a lot to learn from other people and industries that’s applicable to the problems we’re trying to solve. It’s so important to make time to meet new people, hear their stories and get inspired vs. getting tunnel vision.

―Product Manager

Post-program, we gather the alumni on a bi-monthly basis to help them stay in touch. Above, our most recent Alumni Happy Hour was hosted by Etsy.

Details

What

Orbital convenes, builds and facilitates communities of practice.

We identify and gather relevant groups of peers (who don't all work at your company), and then create an environment conducive to thoughtful dialogue on substantive issues pertaining to your work.

We’re not an instructional course, a coaching service or a training program (all of which are important).

Rather, our focus is on creating a judgment-free zone where you can be open and honest about the challenges you face in your day-to-day and access stories and perspectives outside of your bubble.

How

Led by Gary Chou, all of our programs follow a consistent framework that we’ve developed over the past 8 cycles. However, they’re highly customized based on the real-time needs of the cohort, which allows us to ensure relevance for the group.

We primarily focus on enabling the group to learn from each other. However, we often bring in senior experts from our 250+ Engineering Management, Product Management and Design Alumni—people who have been through it before—to provide expertise and insight beyond that of the cohort.

Overall, you can expect:

Who

You should be currently employed with the level of experience indicated on the application form.

Our programs are designed to complement your current day-to-day experience—they won’t teach you how to do the job you want to do next.

We highly encourage people whose perspectives and backgrounds are underrepresented in tech to apply.

Expectations

You will be expected to abide by our Code of Conduct and adhere to Chatham House Rule.

There will be some prep work prior to the start of the program and minimal ongoing work (in the case of our 4-week Studios), as we know people are busy.

Cost

The cost is $1,500 for individual contributors, and $1,750 for managers.

Participants must be sponsored by their respective company. We believe professional development should happen on company time and we want our participants to be free from distraction from work obligations while we’re in session.

If your company doesn’t reimburse you for professional development or if you need assistance talking to your manager about the program, please email us and we’d be happy to help you make the case. Upon completion of the program, we can provide a certificate of completion upon request for reimbursement purposes.

Selection

The goal of the selection process isn't to judge an individual candidate's worth, but to ensure that the cohort as a whole consists of people who can both contribute to and benefit from the group.

Primarily we look at a candidate’s level of responsibility. However, we also consider the context in which they work, which can include a company’s stage of growth, organizational structure, or business model.

We ask whether we have a group that “fits”, which is a challenge because sometimes you have a sufficient number of applicants, but an insufficiently-sized cluster to move forward with a cohort. If we don’t think we can provide a good outcome for a given individual, we won’t invite them to participate.

Each studio is limited to 2 people per company, and we’ll prioritize applications by submission date—apply early!

Background

Alumni

Here's what some of our Alumni have publicly shared about their experience: