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All Hands on Deck, All the Time

March 21, 2023

That’s a picture of Tara Benwell, our VP of Publishing at Ellii. She’s been working at Ellii for 16 years and is employee number 3. You would think after so many years working here and attending 11 TESOL conferences, she wouldn’t have to be on booth setup duty anymore. But nope, that’s her, working with Lei Kayanuma (Director of Accounts), spending an entire laborious day framing the stands, building the podium, unpacking boxes, tightening screws, and lifting super heavy stuff. 

Tara in the Exhibition Hall, setting up for TESOL 2023 in Portland, Oregon.

We’ve always been "all hands on deck" at Ellii, and we like it that way. Everyone at the company wears a ton of hats. Working this way has allowed us to just be us, and has enabled us to always stay closely connected to our product and our customers.

For two years, we tried to give everyone very specific tasks and keep everyone in their own lane. But that idea failed, and the fewer hats that people wore, the less connected we all seemed to be, so we’ve gone back to a haberdashery of labor, and we love it. 

Tara and Lei using a new set of skills today as they build the frames for the booth.

If you write an email to us and your question is about content, it’s likely the people who respond will be from the Publishing team. The people who wrote the content are the same ones who answer customer support emails when it makes the most sense for them to answer. Why? Because they know the most about it and have the most to gain from hearing from any customer who has concerns, questions, or ideas about the materials.

Our customer service staff are also all hands on deck. They don’t just answer emails or phone calls. They create help docs, produce video tutorials, and work directly in tandem with our engineers and design staff to communicate the conversations from customers who have written in about issues and requests. 

Lei, Tara, and Tanya pose for a pic at the Ellii booth after putting the final touches on this year's display.

When you run an all-hands-on-deck company, everyone gets a lot closer to the product and even closer to the customer. The reason this booth looks so amazing is because it was designed by people on the Product team, the Publishing team, and the Accounts team. It was set up today by Tara Benwell (VP of Publishing), Lei Kayanuma (Director of Accounts), and Tanya Trusler (Head of Video Production). And doesn't it look fantastic, by the way?

A special shout-out to Sarah at Ellii for designing this year's beautiful booth banner!

Embracing all hands on deck has allowed us to stay small, lean, agile, and innovative. Give it a try.

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