Mozilla Whistler Work Week 2015

Once upon a time, 1,200+ Mozillians invaded a ski resort village in Canada and called it a “work week.”


Twice a year, Mozillians from across the world gather together in one location for a coincidental work week. These work weeks are a chance for Mozillians to reorganize, recoup, and collaborate. As an intern for the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to attend Mozilla’s Whistler Work Week in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. It was ridiculously awesome.

Here’s why:

THE LOCATION

Whistler, B.C. , the #1 ski resort village in the world and host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in North America. It is located ~2 hours north of Vancouver at the base of the Whistler/Blackcomb mountains. With an almost endless amount of dangerous-yet-adventurous things to do (see: bears), it is a popular destination for outdoor adrenaline junkies.

Just before Tuesday’s all-hands meeting began.

The Whistler Conference center hosted all 1,200 Mozillians on Tuesday and Thursday morning for the all-hands meetings. The conference center was also where we met up every morning for breakfast. It was within walking distance of every hotel in the village and was the perfect size to fit the crowd.

The village itself was a beautiful combination of restaurants, bars, shopping, and 5 star hotels. Everything was so pristine that it felt like we were walking through an amusement park, except instead of fake backdrops and plaster buildings, everything was actually just that nice. I stayed in a hotel room with a vaulted ceiling, two queen sized beds, and a view of the Mountains from my balcony. Pretty standard, right?

Outside of regularly scheduled events, Mozillians had a vast array of activities to choose from in Whistler. Groups went downhill biking, zip-lining, and bungee jumping. Some lucky hikers even got a glimpse of the northern lights on Monday evening. On Thursday, the Growth Team got in on the outdoor adventures with an ATV Tour of Blackcomb Mountain where we had a pretty close call with a bear. Luckily I jumped into action and no one was harmed.

THE WORK

Although we may have done a lot of non-work related things while in Whistler, a there was a good amount of tangible progress made across the organization.

A lot of teams use work weeks to calibrate their goals for the coming months. Although meta team meetings can be boring, they provide a good base for future efficiency and often re-energize groups who need to refocus. I found it extremely helpful to better understand my teams organizational structure and how our goals aligned department and company wide. Understanding where your puzzle piece fits in an organization is often a key component to your personal success, and this is something that I was better able to grasp while at Whistler.

The Growth Team’s Hacking Session boardroom.

With an extremely Geo-diverse workforce and contributor base, work weeks provide the ability for teams to do high intensity, in person collaboration which would be otherwise impossible. Many groups had hacking sessions to get something tangible done throughout the week. The Growth Team participated in a competition to see which core team member could make the largest growth-related impact over the five days in Whistler. We managed to run 12 tests in between meetings, leading to a projected incremental 300k Firefox Desktop downloads and 700k Android downloads monthly!

THE EVENTS

To be quite honest, I’m not sure where to start with this one. Event organizers did an awesome job sticking to Mozillow’s Higherarchy of Needs in planning nightly festivities. Gourmet food, live music, and open bars were a common trend for the week.

On Monday, most Mozillians began arriving to Whistler in the late afternoon. After being greeted at our hotel, we were directed to the Whistler Conference Center for the first night of fun where we would eat, drink, receive free t-shirts, and be merry.

Wednesday night we had a dinner party at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center in the lower village followed by a block party with live music, dancing, and fondue stands. There was a live band playing music, Squamish people teaching us how to make bracelets out of bark, and an endless amount of awkward dancing.

The gondola ride, post-brie.

Friday night was the grand finale on top of Whistler Mountain. Mozillians packed in line for the 20 minute gondola ride to the peak after the days activities. At the half way point, we were greeting at a Gondola station with brie, beer, and a dancing fox. What we would experience when we got to the top was something so awesome that I probably can’t do it justice. In addition to the incredible view, there were a ton of food options, snacks, drinks, gelato, a photo booth, game room, dance floor, and probably a whole lot of other things which I missed in the crowd.

After a couple hours the sun began to set and most headed back to the main building. After the daylight faded, we partied the night away in true Mozilla fashion. The best thing about Friday night is that all Mozillians at the work week were in attendance. Rumor has it that Mozilla now holds the record for the most people atop Whistler Mountain at once.

THE RESULT

One kick-ass, energized, and focused group of Mozillians ready to continue protecting the open web. All in all, Whistler was a blast, and, as an intern, I feel extremely fortunate to have been along for the ride.


Liked this? Check out my last blog post about surviving my first month as a Bay Area Intern.