Human connection in a digital landscape
Living in a digital world has its drawbacks. While technology has allowed for remote work, it has also left some longing for in-person human interaction. Mirai Security, a remote-first company in its 5th year of existence, is an example of this.
Efforts have previously been made for members of the Mirai team to do regional meet-and-greets, but from September 26th to September 30th of this year, the company converged for the 5UMMIT in Whistler, bringing together employees from all across Canada to meet for the first time. While not every team member could make it, the 5UMMIT proved to be a great bonding experience—a time for in-person collaboration, team building, learning, and fun.
Seeing the sights
Whistler is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and for Mirai team members not from the region, the 5UMMIT was an opportunity to witness this nature firsthand. The sightseeing began before the team even reached Whistler. The drive-up from the Vancouver airport on Monday was accompanied by running commentary from our VP of marketing and Sales, Blake Mitchell. During the drive, Blake pointed out landmarks in the city limits of Vancouver, giving highly opinionated commentary with a wit dry enough to start a forest fire.
Once in Whistler, our team got to participate in ATVing, ziplining, and hikes that showed us the very best of the region. Beyond these activities, the Mirai team enjoyed the less rigorous benefits of Whistler, including bars, karaoke, and first-class dining experiences at restaurants such as Alta Bistro, Table Nineteen, and the Bearfoot Bistro.
Work hard, play hard
Of course, discussing the comforts Whistler had to offer needs to include mention of the Delta Suites. This first-rate hotel and its courteous, attentive staff hosted our 5UMMIT and offered incredible amenities, including lush suites, a large gym/pool room combo, and breathtaking views of the area. However, as this was a work event first and foremost, our team spent much of our time in their multipurpose conference rooms, attending workshops and talks that strengthened our company culture.
Our executive team set the tone for the first day of talks by detailing the history of Mirai and what the company hopes to achieve in the next two years. Afterward, each team lead summarized who they were, what they did, and their plans for helping Mirai achieve its short and long-term goals. With these presentations, we were able to see the personalities and passions of our team leaders as they discussed their areas of expertise. Every speaker - from newly minted CTO Nick Maltchev (who gave an insightful definition of Mirai’s meaning as “undetermined future” in Japanese) to AppSec lead Roger Trevisan (who managed to RickRoll us during his presentation) - exuded passion and pride in their teams, many of which have grown tremendously in the past year and are on track to doing incredible things.
What followed over the remaining days were teambuilding workshops and motivational talks that helped the Mirai team learn how we can best position ourselves for success. These included talks from Business Writing expert Sharon Habib, Leadership Development coordinator Laura Villacrusis, and motivational powerhouse Chad Gibson.
All these experiences would culminate with the risk assessment game our team participated in on Wednesday night. While not our final activity, this game - spearheaded by our CIO and co-founder Alex Dow - showcased aspects of teamwork, fun, and our varied cybersecurity expertise that made the 5UMMIT (and working at Mirai) such an enjoyable endeavour.
As a fictitious, obnoxious CEO - played by our Marketing Copywriter Imran Virani - introduced his company FLeet (a drone delivery service for hot chocolate), teams of 5 to 6 Mirai employees were tasked with completing a risk assessment in the allotted time period. What followed was nearly 5 hours of frenetic gameplay, where cybersecurity curveballs were thrown, members were made to switch teams, and the CEO and his clueless board members offered little help in answering important questions posed by game participants. Despite these roadblocks, every team was able to come together, utilize each team member’s differing skill set, and deliver excellent 10-minute presentations on their risk assessments. As a team-building cybersecurity exercise, it went off as smoothly as can be, although we at Mirai hope the CEO of FLeet takes his job more seriously.
Lessons learned, friendships made
On Friday, as the Mirai team packed into a bus and traveled back to YVR, we were treated again to the sights we had experienced on Monday’s drive up. This time, however, there was no silence for Blake to fill with his running commentary. Instead, members of different teams, who had met only days before, were conversing as if they were old friends, bonding over the week they had shared and rejoicing in the new friendships they had made. Through every activity, presentation, dinner, and conversation, bonds were made that will withstand the thousands of miles that separate us in our everyday lives. Mirai Security prides itself in maintaining a remote-friendly work environment, but events like the 5UMMIT serve as a reminder of the importance of human connection in the digital world.