How did we get here?
The end of January 2023 was probably my worst few days, but how did I even get to this point anyways? During 2021, I had the opportunity to interview for the Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) role in the Global Discovery tribe for Delivery Hero SE. During the process, I met with two senior managers and the senior director for the tribe. My experience interviewing with everyone was such a pleasure due to everyone was knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely nice. I thought how could I get so lucky to find this new team they are creating to join.
In 2022, my wife had our first son, and I received my National D Visa for Germany. Everything seemed to be on track. Unfortunately, it was a struggle to find housing in Berlin. Berlin was experiencing a tough housing market and now the war in Ukraine was putting pressure on an already tricky market. I spent a few months trying to find something which resulted in my start date being pushed back. Eventually, I capitulated. It was just too risky to get anyone to accept me or find a reasonable priced accommodation, and I couldn’t accept this having a newborn baby. I had to admit defeat and let HR know I couldn’t accept the offer. I was greeted by a call from the senior director who was able to get some additional support from the talent acquisition lead. He knew of a company that had accommodation and everything was rosy again. I was very much appreciative of this from the company and it led me to believe my first impression was entirely correct. I finally made it. I arrived to start 1 July 2022.
Layoffs January 2023
Let’s fast forward now to January 2023. As a manager, I knew part of the plan that underperformers were going to be let go and the push to be stricter on evaluations. Additionally, I had some other insight we won’t go into here. Let’s just say it seemed questionable to say the least. On Monday, 30 January 2023, the senior vice president for tech hosted a town hall meeting to announce layoffs. All impacted employees will be getting an email after this meeting with the people partner and their respective leadership if they were impacted by the layoffs. To my surprise, I received the email. How could anyone be surprised right? You should have known or had some clue. Well, I actually was unaware. In Germany, the probation period is six months. That is, my probation period was from July to the end of December 2022; however, in October, I received a Slack message from my senior manager congratulating me that he marked my probation as being passed. I was a little caught off guard and pleasantly surprised. Of course, I thanked him and even said wow this early. I was told to keep up the work. For Q4, I worked with the agile coach, my senior manager coming up with the OKRs for the team, and there was no issue. That is, I didn’t receive any feedback about issues and the team did well completing around 80% of our OKRs.
What happened in January? This is a good question. The standard stuff one would imagine. I was refining Q1 OKR and adding a practical use case demo which was requested. The senior director even asked me to work with the SRE manager on the next project week. I said sure that wouldn’t be an issue as my team took part in the SRE’s project week last year. This request came in around the 26th or 27th of January. Strange right? Plan for someone to work on a future event to fire on Monday the 30th.
This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. That is, if they would have done this mid December, I would have been much better off. However, I just recently was able to get a contract for a long term apartment needing to put down a deposit of 4300 Euros plus buying furniture. As we are talking about living in Germany and the market the way it was, I had to rent this apartment for two months while I had my short term, resulting in paying two rents for two months. I didn’t mind spending all this cash as hey I passed probation and this company really seems to be great. I can trust in these people. I guess I was wrong. The ironic part is one the Delivery Hero values is “We are Heroes because we care”. I guess Delivery Hero should rethink this one.
It is now February and I have to find a new job to start by 1 May 2023 in an oversaturated market due to the many layoffs. If not, I will be in a new country with an infant, no income, have to sell everything I bought at a loss, lose my deposit, and leave the country without a job. Don’t worry though during my meeting with the people partner and my senior director, I was told they will round my severance pay up to one month. You hear that? 1 month. I should be so grateful.
I would like to add that I know many people are in a similar boat. We had 156 people laid off and the ones I know have children with a good chunk also just passing probation and relocating abroad to come work at Delivery Hero. It isn’t just me that they did this too but others as well. Additionally, there were people on vacation in foreign countries laid off. In Germany, we have a few days to notify many agencies of our loss of employment so firing people enjoying their time off is just cruel and can adversely impact their ability to get any social benefits. Who does that? Well, we know the answer to this one don’t we? It didn’t end there either. People who recently transferred from an entity we dropped as well as a good chunk of people dedicating 4, 5 years to this company. This may not seem like a long time but it is for a company that has a medium tenure of 1.5 years and was founded back in 2011.
I know many people expect the standard layoff post thanking the employer for the opportunity to come and work for them, the amazing people they met (and I did meet some great people), and the learning they were able to take away during their time. Unfortunately, I won’t be giving that to you here. Instead, I wanted to outline the real world impact of a company planning carelessly and how it affects real people. Being honest doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad employee, it makes me real. Too often, we accept some poor excuse from the employers and give them a pass for their poor behavior and planning. It shouldn’t be this way. If you are looking for staff in tech, product, agile coaching, … and everything from individual contributors up to directors, please checkout the alumni sheet. I am sure you will be able to find the right person you are looking for and you may even be a life saver to them.