Heading up learning at a company of 3,500 that supports a social network of nearly 1 billion isn’t the typical 9 to 5. Yet Stuart Crabb, Facebook Inc.’s head of learning, manages to keep his cool.
In May, as Facebook went public, Crabb was in India. He had already spent time in Australia and Singapore, and has planned trips to London, Dublin, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago and Austin, Texas.
When he’s not globe-trotting, Crabb sets up shop in Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., campus, where he’s involved in everything from new product development, leadership development, diversity and creating global sales training programs for the firm’s advertising products.
His most challenging undertaking, however, might be working to maintain Facebook’s original “Hackathon” culture as the company evolves into a global, public operation. It’s an endeavor Crabb said is driven through Facebook’s leadership philosophy. There aren’t too many people managers at Facebook; every employee, top on down, has deliverables he or she is responsible for, Crabb said.
Amidst all this Crabb also teaches a course — the only course he personally delivers — titled the “Energy Project,” which aims to help Facebook employees manage stress and maintain peak performance.
“My typical week is full of a lot of variety,” Crabb said. “I’m pulled into a lot of different meetings. I could be talking about how we build out teachable, scalable content for our brand-new advertising product, and then I could go straight into talking about leadership development.”
Crabb’s position is unique to the profession: he leads the organizational development of a less than 10-year-old technology start-up as it rapidly transforms into a global business, one that just delivered one of the most anticipated initial public offerings in 2012.
Now that Facebook has to face shareholder demands to act like a conventional public corporation — an identity vastly different from its original mentality as a “hacker” start-up — learning will continue to play a critical role, Crabb said.
Recently this meant focusing on learning content design for Facebook’s global sales team, which faces major challenges as the firm expands and compounds its advertising product offerings. Each ad product needs to be customized and scalable for different client audiences in different markets, which means Facebook’s learning content is continually in flux. This also means its on-boarding content is constantly changing.
Every Tuesday, Crabb has a 90-minute meeting with Facebook’s product and sales training team. “It’s not common for sales development [and] sales enrichment to report up to learning,” Crabb said. “I made a strong case to our global head of sales last summer that, as his organization was becoming much larger and sophisticated and more international, we needed a learning component to the sales operation process.”
Crabb jumps from that meeting right into his weekly learning and development team meeting. This is where his team tweaks its blended learning delivery models — from its trimmed-down classroom offerings to a medley of e-learning, manager-led roundtable and communities of practice. That meeting is followed by a 30-minute “stand-up,” held around noon every day, where Crabb and the sales training team review all key projects.
Crabb said everyone is extremely busy at Facebook, which means most of its learning content is fashioned into bite-sized bits and delivered as seamlessly as possible through technology and over the firm’s internal version of the Facebook product.
In between meetings, Crabb said he purposefully finds time to meet with external visitors — the journalists and other practitioners who visit Facebook’s campus. Then, taking from the “Energy Project,” Crabb takes around 90 minutes at lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays to visit the Facebook gym.
Three nights a week Crabb manages to get out of the office by 6 p.m. to spend time with his children. The other two nights he tends to stick around until 8 or 9 p.m., grinding through the mammoth flood of email or working on learning projects.
Yet time, as scarce a commodity as it is at a fast-growing global business like Facebook, might be one of the last things on Crabb’s mind.
“One of the things that’s important to know about Facebook is we don’t watch the clock,” he said. “No one is going to judge you on when you come in or go home — it’s all about if you’re killing it on your goals. Honestly, if you’re killing it, who cares?”
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