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Curators of Culture

  • 2019-12-18
  • Author: Heather Ramsay

*Article written by Cultura CEO, Anne Benge, for Biocom's LifeLines Fall 2019 Publication

In September 2019, Cultura was named the #1 Best Place to Work in the small employer category (15–49 employees) by the San Diego Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, beating over 79,000 small companies in San Diego. We were also listed as the 5th largest Women-Owned Small Business in San Diego by the same publication. Our overall employee engagement went from 89% to 99% from 2018–2019.

There are so many contributing factors to these accomplishments, but I honestly think the blueprint is very simple: I believe everyone wants to feel that what they do, matters. To feel connected, part of a community, part of a movement, impactful and inspired. I believe anyone can make this happen in any arena or industry. In my case, I chose to make my mark in workplace design and furniture.

When I bought my company in 2016, one of the things scrolling through my mind, other than “Am I crazy?” was my age. Buying a company in your fifties seemed simultaneously awesome and nuts! Without the support and prodding of my Vistage CEO Peer Group, I can say for sure—I would never have stepped up to the plate. While I support, promote, coach, mentor and employ mostly women, the men in my life have also been inspiring me to be the best me, take risks and invest in my beliefs.

I found comfort and inspiration in the lessons learned from failures in the industry to which I’ve committed myself here in San Diego. I find all of the failures in life science to be as inspiring and informative as the successes. I know it seems backwards, but without failure, there is no innovation.

I read an article awhile back about why innovation thrives in Ireland. The main contributing factor was their ability as a culture to accept failure. I love that! And I love that it is built into their culture! Even the failed Roman Empire left behind the aqueduct, which we use in our corporate logo. The aqueduct is a symbol of connecting places and communities by transporting water and culture. It is also a long-standing architectural feat using simple gravity and simple construction. We relate to those attributes on so many levels, and wanted to build a company that gives culture a place.

The number one conversation at Cultura when a Biocom member comes in is about culture. “How do I build it? How do I feed it? What is it? How do I deal with it? How do I change it? Just please help me. I am a scientist and need data, metrics and proof that it works.”

Finding your why, or your reason, is seemingly easy for our innovators within the life science community, but the more I work with people, the more I find that it gets lost in the day to day.

At Cultura, we dig deep to understand an organization and what makes it tick. We ask the questions that get you thinking about your culture, people and space. We research thousands of options that exist to design and develop ideas that make sense for your business. We refine and sharpen, and then refine and sharpen again until we’ve got it right. Then we deliver. No two projects are the same, but the measured process we employ is, and that’s what yields success.

There are several attributes unique to our life science clients. Innovation and collaboration usually happen in the lab, rather than in the cubicle or office setting. Many companies are driven by a mission or science that binds them together. And in the last 5 years, the change in the office design of biotech has been extraordinary.

We were honored to win the bid in 2014 to become Biocom Purchasing Group’s endorsed supplier of workplace design. Biocom recognized that their members needed more than tables, desks, file cabinets and chairs, and they demanded a partner to help navigate the new world of office culture, office space and workplace amenities. Biocom could see the shift in California life science culture, and built a support structure for members ranging in size from post-incubator all the way up to big pharma. This thriving Biocom community is supportive, inspiring and a place to belong.

Our California community is incredibly small and I absolutely love that—working with the same brilliance from company to company is magical. I get up every day because I love where I work, and I do work I love. Even better, I get to design, furnish and create places where people love to work, too.