Work Magic Awards: How we recognize the employees who embody Rippling’s values


Jun 4, 2024

Most intra-company awards ceremonies follow a cookie-cutter template, honoring employees who hit sales targets or reach career milestones. At Rippling, we work hard to live up to our leadership principles—as a company and individually. Our annual Work Magic Awards are how we celebrate that commitment.

“We wanted to not only acknowledge contributions related to hitting our business objectives, but also celebrate the employees who showcase our core values and do outstanding work that can otherwise go unnoticed,” said Senior Program Manager Gin Travis, who organized the awards ceremony alongside Executive Assistant Meryl Craig. “It’s a nice opportunity to pause, look across the company, and acknowledge the tremendous things our people put forward to push Rippling toward our vision.”

Awards tailored to leadership principles

Our Work Magic Awards honor the stellar employees who embody our nine leadership principles. They also include bonus awards for Rookie of the Year, Unsung Hero, and Dream Team. 

Instead of spotlighting employees within only a few high-visibility teams, Gin designed the nomination process to acknowledge Ripplers across departments and seniority levels. She also shared suggestions with employees about how to write effective praise, like focusing the feedback on key contributors instead of groups of people, calling out specific actions employees took to demonstrate Rippling’s leadership principles, and describing the impact standout Ripplers had in the workplace.

Additionally, event organizers sent an automated note to every employee who earned a nomination and shared every piece of written feedback directly with the nominee—so that even those who didn’t win any awards could still receive their well-deserved recognition and appreciation. “Our team-based Slack channels were buzzing with peers congratulating each other,” she said. “We run hard and it’s nice to get an email with multiple people raving about what you’re doing well.”

How we determined our winners

The Work Magic Awards are peer-nominated. Event organizers used Pulse, one of Rippling’s own tools, to send out a company-wide survey for Rippling employees to nominate one colleague per award category. 

From there, Gin tallied votes, sorted them by team, and read through commentary to assemble a curated list for Rippling leadership, who then chose finalists within their individual departments. Rippling COO Matt MacInnis and CTO Albert Strasheim made the final call on the winners and runners up for each category. The 2024 awards season included: 

  • 3,709 total nominations for 1,104 Rippling employees
  • 77 finalists
  • 18 winners 

Meet the 2024 Work Magic Award winners

Rippling held its fourth annual Work Magic Awards in late May. The ceremony was broadcast live company-wide and emceed by Matt, who announced finalists for every category. The winners were announced by each individual’s supervisor or department head, who gave short speeches on the winner’s praiseworthy accomplishments. This year’s winners earned customized Rippling tote bags and wearables to showcase their achievement. 

Below are the winners for each leadership principle and bonus categories, along with praise from Rippling colleagues.  

Go and See winner: Jenny Kim

Go and See

Rippling leaders spend time in the boiler room. Instead of living in spreadsheets, they study individual successes and failures. They know that firsthand observation is the most powerful kind of data.

Jenny Kim
Department: Marketing
Role: Director, Upmarket GTM

I worked with Jenny on a new enterprise first pitch deck. She watched Gong calls, spoke to every AE, and spoke to customers about what was happening on the field. Thanks to all the work Jenny did in the background, we revamped the pitch with a better perspective.

Jin Baik

Competitive Intelligence

Push the Limits of Possible winner: Hannah Smithmier

Push the Limits of Possible

Rippling leaders set maximally ambitious goals for themselves and their teams. They challenge others’ perceived limitations and achieve more as a result.

Hannah Smithmier
: Sales
Role: Senior Manager, Solutions Consulting

Hannah led the Solutions Consulting org by helping to close over $4 million, and then moved to Europe to help found our Ireland office. It’s her amazing ability to walk into any meeting, regardless of team, country or timezone, to clearly advocate for change.

Paul Barber

VP of Product Sales

Go to Western Union winner: Theresa Morton

Go to Western Union

Rippling leaders feel accountable for doing something about the problems they see. They’re never bystanders. They do what’s needed, even if it’s outside of their lane, and even if it’s unglamorous.

Theresa Morton
: Customer Experience
Role: Customer Support Lead

When a customer was understandably upset due to an error, Theresa not only delivered clear next steps and a constant stream of communication, but also worked directly with the client to draft carefully tailored responses to ensure the resolution was communicated effectively.

Courtney Freese

Customer Support Supervisor

Build Winning Teams winner: Manish Shukla

Build Winning Teams

Rippling leaders identify exceptional talent. They attract and retain those people, and challenge them to their limits. They build teams with a fierce desire to win.

Manish Shukla
: Engineering
Role: Senior Engineering Manager

Manish owned the entire front-end of the benefits team, which meant he was juggling 30 or 40 projects every quarter. Despite that, he’s managed to retain, grow, promote, coach, and upscale his entire team.

Vivek Subramanian

Director of Engineering

Challenge Each Other Directly winner: Rebecca Hanley

Challenge Each Other Directly

Rippling leaders give and receive feedback freely. They challenge others directly and respectfully. They hold conversations in the open and voice what they think is best for the business, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Rebecca Hanley
Department: Customer Experience
Role: Executive Escalations Manager

Becky is the person who handles the toughest, messiest, gnarliest, and most urgent situations for our clients at Rippling. I’ve come to appreciate firsthand Becky’s advocacy for our clients. She won’t rest—or mince words—until the right thing is done for our customers… even in the stickiest situations.

Tomer Schwartz

Product Lead

Decide Quickly winner: Stefanie San Juan

Decide Quickly

Rippling leaders unblock the organization by making decisions quickly. They know most actions can be undone and don’t require extensive study. They exhibit a healthy impatience.

Stefanie ran a test using existing EOR HR advisors, having them cover new geos. In a matter of a few short weeks, she gained enough conviction to switch our entire operating model.

Robert Fee

Senior Director, Operations

Are Right, A Lot winner: Michelle Cheung

Are Right, A Lot

Rippling leaders have good instincts, and they exercise good judgment. They get a lot right on the first try.

Michelle Cheung
Department: Finance
Role: Eirector, Strategic Finance

Michelle drove critical initiatives central to the company's strategy around growing TAM, winning with larger customers, improving churn, and international expansion.

 Ryan Gibbs

VP of Finance

Change Their Minds winner: Justin Smith

Change Their Minds

Rippling leaders are willing to be wrong. They let their ideas rise and fall on the merits, and they don’t pull rank.

Justin Smith
Department: Product
Role: Product Lead

Justin has an uncanny ability to come into complex product discussions with a well-formed opinion, keep an open mind throughout the conversation, and adapt his position when he feels that a better idea or new information has been introduced.

Tomer Schwartz

Product Lead

Are Frugal winner: Sareen Vadlamani

Are Frugal

Rippling leaders count the nickels. They’re resourceful in finding paths to the goal, and they avoid waste. They spend the company’s money as though it were their own.

Sareen Vadlamani
Department: Product
Role: Product Lead

Sareen has basically single-handedly held down Rippling’s entire compensation department, reconciling competitive market pressures with making sure our budgets balance. He also worked with the product and engineering teams to launch Rippling’s first compensation app.

Darcy Mackay

SVP, HR and Client Services

Rookie of the Year: Brian Mazzaferri

Brian Mazzaferri
: Product
Role: Senior Compensation Program Manager

To manage a team of experts, you need to know some stuff. Through his inquisitive nature and dedication, Brian has become a Rippling expert in record time. He’s also earned the respect of his team and the people around him.

 Paul Barber

VP of Product Sales

Unsung Hero: Edwin Lai

Edwin Lai
Department: People and Places
Role: Senior Recruiting Programming Manager

Even though Edwin was running into errors at four times the rate of anyone else at the company, I have never heard him complain once. Instead, he works with the engineering and product teams to solve issues both for Rippling internally and our customers. Then he goes about his business and puts out quality work for others across the company.

Eric Greenwood

Senior Director, People and Places

Dream Team winners: Performance Management Engineering

This team builds and designs Rippling’s Performance Management suite of products and faces enormous pressure every review cycle from managers, employees, and HR teams to make sure everything works all at once. According to Rippling CTO Albert Strasheim, this Dream Team admirably surmounts this pressure and continues to churn out high-quality products and features such as Review Cycles, Surveys, and Goals.

The Performance Management Engineering team members:

Vahid Fazel-Rezai, Senior Engineering Manager

Nitish Garg, Staff Engineer

Annie Liu, Software Engineer

James Ballantine,  Staff Engineer

Paras Bheda,  Software Engineer

Jingkang Zhang,  Software Engineer

Leo Antonoff, Designer

Matt Viane, Designer

Brendan Muha, Designer

Dan Green, Product Lead

last edited: June 4, 2024

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