“All right, now turn up that resistance!”
This is a phrase you’ve heard if you own or have ridden a Peloton Bike. Peloton makes sure all of its Members can be the best versions of themselves. By building a team of Instructors and partnering with artists and celebrities, the fitness brand is bringing new levels of innovation to its industry.
The creativity that Peloton brings to Members is something the company cares about deeply. And it applies the same innovation and careful consideration to its own employees.
Tara Benjamin is one of the leaders helping to make employees as happy and engaged as Peloton Members. As the Senior Manager of EPIC (Employee Platform Identity and Collaboration) Engineering, Tara is behind the scenes ensuring some of Peloton’s most innovative and adaptable hardware and software use cases are brought to life.
A major part of Peloton’s work is removing any potential barrier that may hinder a Member’s experience when using the Bike, Tread or the app. Translating that perspective internally is where Tara’s team enters the chat. The team works to remove barriers to help employees thrive in their roles and be efficient with the tools necessary to their work.
Recently, Tara sat down with AfroTech to discuss her interestingly complex role that is rewarding and filled with purpose.
The Road Less Traveled: Tara’s Interesting Journey To Peloton
Entering the tech industry was not the career path Tara had in mind when graduating with a double major in English and Spanish literature. Though she entered the workforce by joining Apple, her position was a non-technical role. She helped customers navigate the store, which eventually transitioned to leading the Core training for new employees. Her work in this area would foretell her future in tech as a problem solver. While at Apple, she caught the eye of senior leadership, who recognized Tara had a knack for translating and dissecting technical concepts for non-technical people in such a way that it becomes actionable for them.
Tara leveraged that advice and moved into various IT roles. She used her experience as a linguist and gift for interpretation to demystify systems and translate their uses to people no matter their comfort level with technology. “The fact that IT then has the focus of ‘and then you help people’ was really attractive to me,” says Tara. She leveraged her skills and passion for helping people to pursue leadership opportunities where she could make a bigger impact.
To The Future And Beyond
Tara and the three teams she leads play a major part in building software and implementing practices that further support Peloton Members. At the core of that work is determining how the organization can scale. That means identifying inefficient processes and potential improvements. Tara describes the work as asking “How do we find ways to help Peloton be immediately productive to then turn around and deliver all the amazing products and software features that the larger business is working on for our Members?”
Her team’s focus on collaboration and success for the larger programmatic pieces of Peloton was thrown into the spotlight as the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced. Because Peloton’s engineering work is “cloud first,” transitioning to fully remote and hybrid work was relatively seamless. Though the organization was well prepared for what was on the horizon at the onset of the pandemic, Tara knew there were opportunities to continuously enhance the team member experience in this new environment.
“My team is working on a way to standardize the experience across all operating systems. And making it that, no matter what kind of computer or tablet or mobile device you get on your first day at Peloton, you have this beautiful, branded, productive working environment,” she explains. This is just one of the many engineering efforts her team is currently working on releasing.
Diversity, Leadership And Legacy
Peloton works hard to ensure its employees have the necessary tools for success and continued growth and development. Tara experienced this culture standard firsthand through the company’s culture of support. “All of my facility as a manager, I got on the job at Peloton. I had a previous role as a People Manager but in name only,” she points out.
She personifies Peloton’s values by providing coaching and opportunities for development. She also uses her position as an IT leader to influence major decisions at the company that can positively impact the work experience for team members.
Being a part of building the culture at Peloton has been a two-fold endeavor for Tara. On one hand, she’s truly dedicated to investing in and building up other technologists. She coaches other engineers and provides clear paths for growth. To those looking to be leaders in the tech world — at Peloton or any other space in tech — Tara says, “Understanding the business of the organization is key. IT leaders should spend time and effort to find out what your business North Star is. And make sure that when you say ‘this is a problem’, you have a solution that all leads up to the North Star.”
The other way Tara is furthering the culture of Peloton is through the work the company is doing to support Black and Brown team members with Employee Resource Groups like Black@Peloton.
“As one of the cofounders and leads of our Black Employee Resource Group, I think there is a focus on making sure there isn’t just representation but networking opportunities and exposure to senior leaders. I think, overall, there is a focus on upward mobility and a focus that we don’t have a concentration in certain areas. [It’s] part of what Peloton does really well.”
As a Black woman leader in tech, Tara isn’t satisfied with simply greater amounts of representation. “I think the demographics of decision-making is an area of opportunity in the tech industry. If you don’t have the kind of [diverse] decision-making at all levels, you might end up with products that don’t serve [certain] demographics.”
Lastly, she encourages people, particularly leaders, to understand the work they’re doing but also remain open to new ways of solving problems. “Sometimes, I look at a project that’s in front of my team and say, ‘I would solve it this way.’ But I cannot be married to that idea because I’ve hired a team that has diverse ways of thinking,” she shares.
Peloton will always be known for its innovative products, impactful collaborations and avid Member community. In the unseen mix of it all are the teams who work to ensure Peloton Members and team members have the tools that empower them to unlock their greatness.
Interested in learning more about careers at Peloton? Click here.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Peloton.