October 10, 2017

Sponsor stories: How Lateral is building a better place to learn for its employees

The story behind Lateral Talks, a new initiative by Lateral meant to engage their employees in an ongoing learning process, but also to inspire the broader public.

On a Tuesday afternoon in September, about a dozen Lateral employees left the computers behind which they spend most of their time, building innovative digital products, and gathered in the open-space of their office in Tîrgu-Mureș, for a different kind of meeting.

For close to two hours they listened to dr. Alexandru Lupșa, an important Romanian neurosurgeon and founder of Alpha Transilvană Foundation; Dr. Lupșa gave a talk on how to organize a team for an effective operating room, how to be a good leader, how to cultivate empathy, and how to have a holistic view of life.

“It was an interesting and broadening meeting,” said Mircea Drăgoi, Creative Partner at Lateral, a design and development studio based in San Francisco, New York and Romania. “We are all patients at some point, so it’s useful to know what to expect when you interact with doctors. One of our colleagues came to attend the event even though she was on maternity leave.”

The discussion was the first in a series of events within the company, introduced this fall by CEO Ciprian Morar, in which guests from various fields share their knowledge and experiences – from starting a company or a product, to describing certain work processes, to explaining how they overcame challenges and the lessons they learned along the way. Lateral Talks are meant to engage the employees in an ongoing learning process that would help them become better people and professionals, but also to inspire the broader public, as the sessions are recorded and will shared online on a dedicated website.

“We firmly believe that personal experiences and knowledge should be shared, discussed and distributed in society, in order to inspire new generations and help them better navigate a world that is more and more complex and unstable. By understanding the mechanics behind our failures, successes and what lies in between, the public will have the chance to learn, reflect and make connections,” Mircea believes.

He was probably the one who experienced the learning process the most so far, as he is in charge of organizing and moderating the talks. He works close with Ciprian to develop the list of guests (the second speaker was Traian Brumă, Learning Architect at Universitatea Alternativă), he organizes the set-up and leads the discussion. “At first, when I found out I would be the moderator, I felt pretty stressed. I’m used to being behind the screen, not in front of the camera. It has been a challenging experience, but I’m starting to relax a bit more, as I’ve learned to analyze my reactions and do more research on our guests, so that I’m well prepared.” However, without the help of another colleague, Claudiu Pergel, who takes care of all the technical aspects – video and audio recording, lights, editing -, the process would have gone a lot slower, says Mircea.

In line with this knowledge-sharing philosophy and the desire to create a better place to work and learn, the company recently inaugurated a new office space in Tîrgu-Mureș, designed to offer a cozy and relaxed working experience: a bright open space separated by multifunctional minimalist furniture blocks, a coffee shop for creative breaks, an informal lunch space, and an area that can be organized to welcome lectures and talks. They also offer regular trainings to their employees, and they’re planning to build a new office space, a creative hub where people could interact even more, so they could work, learn and grow together.


Part of a series dedicated to the sponsors who help make the conference possible. We thank them for their contribution.