CEA’s headcount nearly doubled in 2021 (and other updates)

by MaxDalton5 min read4th Nov 20212 comments

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Centre for Effective AltruismOrg update
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For CEA's Q3 update, we're sharing multiple posts on different aspects of our work.

People

At this time one year ago, we had 16 people on our core team. Accounting for confirmed arrivals and departures, we now have 29 people on our core team.

Overall, we think we’ve managed to grow the team rapidly while also raising our bar for new hires.

Role Changes

Nicole Ross is transitioning to the role of manager of the Community Health team. Katie Glass, who was previously the team’s interim manager, is now focused on developing hiring systems and helping to build systems for tracking metrics.

Hires

In Q3, we made the following hires:

We had been planning to hire about five people in Q3. We surpassed this target, but some of our new joiners had already been working with us in a contracting capacity, and are simply increasing their hours or becoming more integrated with the team.

For at least one hiring round, I think we should have communicated more promptly with applicants and given them more detailed feedback. We’ve increased tracking of applicant communications, and email support for hiring managers, to try to ensure prompt responses and substantive feedback for applicants that make it far in our process.

Hiring plans

We’re currently hiring for an Executive Assistant and a Finance Associate. We’re also welcoming general expressions of interest, as well as expressions of interest for a Full Stack Engineer.

Departures

Barry Grimes, Harri Besceli, and Aaron Gertler will transition out of CEA during Q4. Sky Mayhew is transitioning from being a member of the Community Health team to contracting with CEA. Louis Dixon also departed CEA at the end of Q3, replaced in his role as our finance lead by Litawn Gan (as mentioned in a previous update).

Morale

The average morale reported for Q3 was 7.17/10, compared with 7.03/10 in Q2.

Org chart

Team retreat

We ran our first team retreat since the pandemic in late August/September. 16 people came together in a venue near Oxford. The average likelihood to recommend the event was 9.07/10, and attendees thought the event was 7x more valuable than the counterfactual use of their time (geometric mean). Broadly, we think that this helped a lot with onboarding new hires, and that people left the event feeling excited about the impact we can have together.

Operations

The Operations team aims to provide the financial, legal, administrative, grantmaking, logistical, and fundraising support that enables CEA, 80,000 Hours, the Forethought Foundation, EA Funds, the Centre for the Governance of AI and Giving What We Can to run efficiently.

  • Operations Associate hiring: We hired Jonathan Michel to run operations in our Oxford office. Jonathan will start in December.
  • Office refurbishment: The office is now fully up and running. We’re still making small improvements to lighting and catering, but users are happy.
  • Improvements to financial systems:
    • We adjusted our financial year in the USA so that it aligns with the UK entity, which will allow us to present consolidated accounts going forward.
    • Audits were completed for both the UK and the US.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software: We have completed the discovery phase with our Salesforce developer partner, and they have begun to build the CRM.
    • In Q4, our primary focus will be working with the groups team and group organisers to make sure that the CRM meets their needs; achieving this is fundamentally important for the success of the project.
  • Feedback: We set up a form for continuously gathering feedback on our work (which is shared e.g. in our email signatures).
  • Cybersecurity: We stood up well to penetration testing performed by our consultants, and are making some further improvements based on their feedback.
  • Wiki/staff handbook:
    • We began to build onboarding wikis for the Forethought Foundation and Giving What We Can.
    • We added additional guides to the staff handbook to cover private medical insurance, pensions, and visas.

The Ops team met for their first annual team retreat. The team left feeling more cohesive and well-coordinated on future plans.

Community Health

The Community Health team aims to address key issues related to the EA community that are not the focus of other projects and organizations. This includes scanning for issues that other groups aren’t working on and developing plans for us, or partner organizations, to address them. In the past, this has caused us to work on fostering a healthy culture, improving demographic diversity, mitigating harm from conflict or interpersonal problems in the community, advising community members who are doing media interviews about EA, and supporting and reducing risks in early field-building.

Given the low capacity on the team this quarter, we’ve mostly prioritized hiring and EA brand work.

Staffing

Nicole Ross has taken over management of the Community Health team from Katie Glass, who is transitioning to work on some of CEA’s internal systems.

Julia Wise returned from parental leave in August. Sky Mayhew left CEA, after having handed off her previous responsibilities. We plan for her to act as a consultant for us in the future.

We are open to hiring an excellent generalist who could work across a range of areas. So we plan to replace our current expressions of interest with a single general form.

Catherine Low of the groups team is also providing part-time capacity on community health, supporting group organizers on difficult situations they encounter in their groups.

We gave Isaac Dunn a career development contract to allow them to further develop their skills, while doing some projects for the Community Health team and helping other people within the community building sphere.

Reactive work

We handled:

  • 16+ inquiries or cases regarding media stories about EA
  • 7 concerns around interpersonal problems such as sexual harassment
  • 9 cases where we advised on situations in early field-building (geographical areas or academic/professional fields where EA is just getting established)
  • 6 “organizational health” cases where we advised organizations or projects on conflicts of interest, conflicts between staff, best practices in HR, etc.
  • 9 situations where we advised individuals on situations involving personal or mental health problems
  • 11 other situations where we advised groups, organizations, and individuals on situations like conflicts between staff or group members, online conflicts, and improving diversity, equity, and inclusion

Examples of different types of cases from this quarter:

  • We coordinated and coached spokespeople for a press article about EA and careers.
  • We provided support and advice to two group organizers who were concerned about members struggling with personal/mental health problems.

Proactive projects

We’ve been working with some key stakeholders and advisors to develop a plan for more accurately sharing information about EA and longtermism with the general public.

We have written a research brief outlining key questions within DE&I that we are interested in. Eventually, we would like to find someone to conduct projects in these areas. This project is currently on pause due to a lack of capacity.

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2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:07 PM
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Is CEA planning for further growth or is there likely to be a period of consolidation?

We're planning for slower growth in most areas, to consolidate a bit. But I think there's generally enough important + urgent opportunities that we should continue to try to make strong hires in important areas. This feels like a risk, but overall the highest EV thing to do.

 

Maybe we'll hire about 50-75% as many people in 2022 (so a significantly slower growth rate)? We're still figuring this out though.