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Executive Insights

Cultivating a SPARK

By Gilma Saravia | Chief People Officer | March 15, 2024

My goal as Altair’s chief people officer is simple – put people first. I know that this refrain is cliché within the world of HR, and it’s easy to be cynical when we so often see headlines of significant layoffs in the tech industry. But anyone who examines our culture and our company knows that with Altair, people always come first – and it shows. 

This attitude shines throughout our company. We know that when people come first – specifically, when people know they come first – they do their best work and achieve extraordinary things. When people feel valued, respected, validated, and supported, they feel more engaged and more energetic both in and out of the workplace. 

This people-first approach has paid dividends. For starters, our amazing culture and unique approach has been recognized externally. We’ve earned a spot on Newsweek’s prestigious “Global Most Loved Workplaces” list for the third year in a row; we’ve also earned inclusion on their “Most Loved Workplaces” lists for both the U.S. and the U.K. And we’ve earned recognition from Fortune, Best and Brightest, Great Place to Work, and Kununu on top of that. But more importantly, we’ve fostered a culture no company can match.

It would be easy to rest on our laurels, sit back and admire our hardware, and pat ourselves on the back. But that’s not who we are – we’re innovators always looking to improve. It’s the attitude that’s propelled us here, and it will be the attitude that continues our forward momentum throughout 2024 and beyond. 

On that note, I’d like to discuss what the global HR team and I look forward to continuing and improving upon in the coming year. In true Most Loved Workplaces style, I’ll break down our initiatives using a few of the key tenets of the “SPARK” model:

  • Systemic Collaboration: Systemic collaboration goes beyond the surface-level concept of collaboration and integrates it into the core of an organization’s culture and decision-making processes. 
  • Positive Future: Future-thinking organizations foster employee innovation and passion. Positivity catalyzes emotional connectedness, creating a unified and forward-focused culture. 
  • Alignment of Values: Characterized by a strong emphasis on aligning values, integrity, and personal beliefs. Leaders and peers embrace common values, and everyone holds each other equally accountable. 
  • Respect: These companies treat respect as a reciprocal social currency. It becomes integral to the organization’s ethos and talent management processes.
  • Killer Achievement: Organizations empower employees to achieve meaningful outcomes that benefit individuals and the organization. These workplaces eliminate competing interests and provide clear objectives, allowing employees to focus on critical goals. 

 

Systemic Collaboration

Collaboration is one of Altair’s hallmarks. Look no further than our four core values, where “communicate honestly and broadly” is enshrined. Per that value, “we share information transparently to ensure broad awareness, engagement, and collaboration. We believe sharing knowledge is crucial for solving problems and fostering innovation.” Within Altair, everyone is heard. No matter if you’re the CEO or our newest intern, you have a voice that resonates, that can make change. There’s no systemic collaboration without great communication.

Within this year’s HR initiatives, we plan to continue honing our approach in all our offices. I think it’s telling that every Altair office around the world has a dedicated HR representative or team. Fostering broad, open communication through local town-halls, skip-level meetings, and allyship programs globally reinforces our shared values, helps us find premier talent, keeps us strategically aligned, and so much more. I look forward to strengthening our efforts throughout the year.

 

Positive Future

As CEO Jim Scapa put it in a recent article, “We are in a great position, full of opportunities, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.” Altair continues to grow, and it’s all thanks to our team’s amazing ability to recruit and retain spectacular talent. The numbers bear this out: Altair’s turnover rate in 2023, encompassing both voluntary and involuntary turnover, was a mere 8%. This is an unheard-of statistic in the notoriously turbulent technology sector. In addition, our head count remains strong with more than 3,000 employees equally distributed throughout our three global regions. And unlike other technology companies, we’re looking to hire, not cut. 

In 2024, we have a few exciting HR-led projects that demonstrate our positive future. Most notably, we’re getting ready to launch offices in two new locations: Dubai and Switzerland. Moreover, we’re looking to grow our existing offices, launch our EMEA Internship development program, and make a greater impact in our communities. 

Additionally, we’re making a significant commitment and investment in FIRST Robotics to support STEM education and promote our products to the next generation of innovators. As part of our commitment, we’re sponsoring regional FIRST Robotics competitions in the U.S., APAC, and EMEA. In addition, more and more FIRST® Robotics teams around the world will be leveraging Altair software to do what professional engineers and data scientists are doing for their products. Our employees’ time and dedication to coaching the next generation of innovators – along with free access to our products for FIRST students – will inspire the scientists and creative thinkers of tomorrow. 

 

Respect

Respect is invaluable both in the workplace and beyond, the bedrock of all positive relationships. Within Altair, I can’t stop giving credit to our exemplary employee resource groups (ERGs): Women in Technology (WiT) and the Altair Black Employee Resource Network (ABERN). These groups promote diversity, inclusion, learning, and equity throughout Altair, our community, and beyond. Within HR, we’re able to support them to help their members achieve their personal and professional development goals and host impactful events, speakers, workshops, and more. 

WiT, for example, is focusing this year on allyship; specifically diving into what it is, what it means, how people can become allies, and how the spirit of allyship betters all of us. They have already hosted webinars and events this year promoting this topic and others, such as how teams and organizations can understand and overcome generation gaps and differences between people of all age groups within the workplace. 

And, among other things it has planned for 2024, ABERN is cosponsoring global bias training programs. The purpose of these trainings is to educate Altair’s global leaders and peers about methods for recognizing and addressing bias in our day-to-day interactions, collaborations, and talent recruitment and development efforts. 

In addition to these employee-led efforts, we also have major HR-led initiatives coming this year. One area we’re particularly focused on is employee wellness. Though this may not seem like “respect” in the traditional sense, this is something we’re passionate about. Just as you constantly check in on and care for the people you’re close to – uplifting their well-being in the process – we believe everyone within Altair should feel this level of support, too. This year we’re committed to ensuring all our employees have access to resources like mental health workshops and trainings (such as how to recognize and care for people enduring panic attacks), mindfulness classes, nutrition support, and our unique on-site medical facilities. 

 

Final Thoughts

My role is about a lot of things – but I’ve always believed that, above all, it’s about being a great listener and always being in touch with the pulse of our culture. As chief people officer, I need to always be dialed in to the needs of our people and market trends, regardless of if these needs are expressed directly or indirectly. Without the ability to listen and empathize, it’s impossible to be a good steward of people, especially in a global organization of more than 3,000 strong. 

As we continue turning the pages of 2024’s calendar, I can’t wait to see what further strides we make and what our efforts will bring. I look forward to another fantastic year full of innovation, achievement, and growth.

To learn more about our people, our culture, and our values, visit https://altair.com/sustainability.