May 14 2020
Culture, Transformation Series

The Transformation Series: Kaleho Naki

Have you ever worked for a company that allowed you to work on multiple facets of your profession while also providing new opportunities to learn totally new skills? Has a company cultivated you to find new passions? It’s been almost 6 years at VideoAmp and for me, this still rings true. Of course, this doesn’t come without some sacrifices and flexibility, but it all pays off.

The importance that VideoAmp puts on Design has opened floodgates of opportunity, leading to a bunch of other cute, smaller doors for me to walk through as well. There are always new things to learn.

Growing up, I always loved design, art, and aesthetics. During high school, I started going through basic Photoshop tutorials, creating ugly website mockups and Dragon Ball Z fan sites, posting in design forums, entering design contests — even winning some. From high school, I went straight into freelancing where I’ve always worked remotely through Skype, AIM or Google Chat for projects and companies.

I first met Ross while working as a Graphic Designer at another company in 2013. After this, we started working on freelance projects together. He briefed me on many projects, jumping between them, iterating, taking them back to the drawing board or shipping them out. During this period, the idea of VideoAmp came up and I had the opportunity to work on the logo, branding and pitch decks before the company started. The opportunity to physically meet the rest of the VideoAmp team came in 2014 when I flew from Seattle to Los Angeles and then to Vegas for team bonding. It was around that time when Ross convinced me to relocate for more exciting opportunities in Design within the company.

“Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Willing is not enough; We must do.” — Bruce Lee

When you start as a team of one, you wear a lot of hats and find out how to do more with less. This is crucial when you’re starting out your career or company. You don’t always do it well from the beginning, but that’s where you learn and improve.

One of the first opportunities that I had at VideoAmp was working with product managers to figure out how our first platform would work and look. In the beginning, we worked fast with new ideas, taking in feedback before building a different iteration or scrapping it altogether and trying a new one. 

I love learning new skills for the benefit of efficiency and creative exploration. I think that’s why I turned to Webflow. It made it possible for us to create websites without using up the bandwidth of our engineers, who were busy focusing on building our platform. The service isn’t for everyone but it made building websites fun for me and was an easy way to see how code works behind the scenes but in a visual way.

With the growing influence of Google’s Material Design along with tools and services like Invision, Sketch, and Abstract rising in popularity, I started growing a passion for design systems and standards. Through this new passion, we worked early on with David Ung, Director of Engineering, and team to create the first iteration of PreAmp Design System which created standards and consistency across the VideoAmp platform.

Speaking of Google’s Material Design, some of us got a chance to expand our design knowledge and inspiration at some events like Google’s SPAN in Los Angeles or Adobe Max. We even got the user interface of our platform of the time critiqued by one of the heads of Material Design.

2017 was a memorable year since it was the first time I managed to go to CES on behalf of the Marketing team. Despite lugging around camera equipment and rushing to find a filming spot in the convention center while juggling a ton of other tasks on a tight schedule, I was so excited to be part of an event that had such a huge impact on tech. Post-filming, we worked on editing the videos into a series for YouTube where I first used Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects professionally to create video intros, lower thirds, and transitions. It was certainly a  high-pressure situation but it was such a growing experience and showed me how much I was really capable of. 

As the company grew, another door opened. We had the chance to build out a design team. I discussed candidates with recruiters, used our hiring platform to look through resumes, and phone screen qualified candidates. If the candidate was a good fit, we’d come up with a design challenge and set up an interview schedule for them. Through that process, we hired 3 more designers until we were 6 strong. I’ve been immensely grateful as I have even more opportunities to keep growing and learn from these talented designers.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

These days I find myself working on new skills and projects while elevating old skills to another level. Now, with a team of six, I have the time, thankfully. I’m now getting the chance  to work on swag and elevate the experiences above and beyond the usual branded items companies typically give out internally and externally. We’ve looked to fashion brands, streetwear, pop-ups and drops/capsules for inspiration. Working on this has sparked a bigger “passion for fashion” and has made me more aware of it to the point of looking at VOGUE’s Runway app for ideas.

Whether it be new, potential or current Vampers, I’m working with our People and Operations teams to find and design solutions for better experiences. We’re figuring out a smoother experience for the Talent team to rollout to potential recruits. We’re figuring out a brand new onboarding experience for our new Vampers in their first 90 days. We’re even finding new ways to communicate key company information through multiple initiatives like The Edition, a weekly email, and The Intranet. Internally, we’re educating all Vampers about the different programs and benefits we provide as well as teaching them about our brand tenants and what makes us…us.

VideoAmp’s priority on health and wellness has also given me the opportunity to be mindful to build better habits and plan for a successful financial future through events, talks, and experiences. Even as I’m writing this, VideoAmp has allowed me to flex a new skill by writing this blog. There is always more to learn and advance my career further at VideoAmp.

Not only was VideoAmp a catalyst for my career transformation, after 5+ years, I can’t picture myself anywhere else because I know there will always be more to learn and I know VideoAmp will always be there to provide a new challenge.