Zendesk VP of public policy and social impact Tiffany Apczynski is one of the speakers at VentureBeat’s inaugural Blueprint conference, taking place on March 5-7 in Reno, Nevada. At Blueprint, speakers including Apczynski will discuss how tech companies can create higher paying jobs across the U.S. and expand economic opportunity for all.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Zendesk is one of a number of companies that are turning to distributed teams to keep their business profitable as costs continue to rise. Zendesk has approximately 2,000 employees around the globe, including about 250 employees at their Madison, Wisconsin office.
Ahead of the conference, VentureBeat spoke to Apczynski about her work at Zendesk, where she’s overseen a number of corporate social responsibility initiatives. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
VentureBeat: Why did Zendesk decide to open an office in Madison?
Tiffany Apczynski: Madison was appealing because of its time zone and affordability, but most of all, because of its culture.
When we began researching cities to expand our North American presence, we knew from the get-go that the purpose of opening a second office would be to expand our customer support team and thus the coverage we could offer our customers. We needed these agents to cover an additional time zone in North America, so looking to the Midwest was critical.
Zendesk moved to San Francisco in 2010 and opened its office in Madison in 2014, after we had hired a few remote employees to provide the coverage we needed in that time zone to help us achieve around-the-clock support for our customers. We were impressed with the small group of employees we were able to hire, all recent graduates from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. And then once we visited Madison, it was clear that this was a city that had values and the rich culture that reminded us of San Francisco. We knew we’d continue to get a good pipeline of candidates from the university.
What’s more, Madison’s affordability means we can continue to grow there as a business. Even more importantly, it means our employees can thrive there. The fact that employees can afford to buy or rent homes and still have a high quality of life means that we will have better retention and less disruption in our organization.
VB: You helped draft a Community Benefits Agreement after Zendesk moved into San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Can you tell our readers what the agreement is and how it came to be?
Apczynski: In 2011, Zendesk moved its headquarters from a cushy suite located near AT&T Park, a newly developed part of San Francisco, to the Tenderloin, one of the city’s…
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