When Descartes Labs brand marketer Peter Barile moved to Santa Fe in May 2016, MIX was one of the first events he attended. “I loved the buzz of all kinds of people from all over just getting together and talking about new ideas and how we can make this a better place for all of us,” he says.
So when MIX approached Barile to ask if Descartes would host the final MIX of 2018, “I was extremely honored and really excited to show off all the work I’ve done on this place in the last year.” That event, Cogito Ergo MIX, takes place 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15.
The location to which Barile refers is the old Firestone building at 100 North Guadalupe Ave. Descartes, whose work involves processing and analyzing satellite data for a variety of sectors, broke ground on its remodel last spring and moved in mid-September after a “massive” renovation. “It was fun to come in and give it new life,” Barile says. “No one here really envisioned that a high-tech startup was going to do this much to a building just for a nice office space, but it’s important because it has been empty for so long.” Moreover, he says, Descartes Labs considers itself part of the newly energized Guadalupe district “and to be able to be part of that is really exciting because of our location, because of how many people we have here and because we are breathing new life into this space that has been unoccupied… it’s exciting for us to show it off to the community.”
Barile and his husband Jon Wolles, head of recruiting at Descartes, moved to Santa Fe from San Francisco. While that city has a thriving tech scene, Barile says the opportunity to engage and make a difference in Santa Fe makes it a great home for Descartes. “Part of us wanting to open up to events like MIX is so we are more seen as a community player instead of this big scary tech company…we have more of an opportunity to make a change, to make it a better community for everyone, not just for people who work here.”
Already, Barile says, the company has taken an active interest in housing and education issues, with several getting involved with organizations “that focus on youth and education. Everyone who moves here has fallen in love with it, and it’s our home now too.”
As for Barile, he says he’s “never lived anywhere where it’s been so community oriented—I find it extremely easy to meet people here, it’s easy to engage.” He’s specifically loved the access to the outdoors, the “smells” (think piñon smoke and roasting green chile) and how “much people appreciate life here; it’s really special.” Barile and Wolles’ 31/2 year-old English bulldog Frannie also has taken to life in Santa Fe—and at the office: she’s the Vice President of Corporate Greetings. “She loves it here,” Barile says.
While many of Descartes’ employees are new to Santa Fe, Barile says the company “does try to tap the local talent as much as we can, especially for positions that aren’t technical.”
Recruiter Jamie Durfee is one such employee. A native Santa Fean, Durfee is coming up on her one-year anniversary with the company. She came to Descartes from the hospitality industry. “I found a lot of my skills from being in hospitality translated to recruiting,” she says, “because a lot of is communications and really making people feel welcome.” Her time with Descartes has been a “whirlwind” she notes, due to the company’s rapid growth. Her work requires researching candidates for open positions and facilitating all aspects of the hiring process. “A lot of it is selling the company and selling Santa Fe, which is really special for me being from Santa Fe.”
While Descartes has remote offices in San Francisco, New York, Denver and Minneapolis, 75 percent of its employees are in Santa Fe, and the focus of its recruiting is to fill positions here. The company recently hired its 90th employee, Durfee says; she was its 47th. And while the company is committed to sourcing and hiring locally when possible, Durfee confirms that can be challenging for the many technical positions. “It’s tough when you have an educational system like we do in New Mexico where just now people are having the conversation about integrating computer science at grade school…” she says. “It’s a pretty significant conversation we have frequently. We really want to source and hire locally and we do as much as possible.”
Durfee says she and the recruiting team also make themselves very available to people who want to learn about potential opportunities, or connect with the company. Jobs at Descartes are regularly advertised on both its website and LinkedIn, and Durfee also welcomes folks interested in learning more about Descartes and working there to email her at Jamie@descartes.com. “We’re open books as far as communicating what the company is doing,” she says, and “we’re happy to talk about any available opportunities…we’re great at giving advice.”
As for her new career with Descartes, Durfee says the shift has been “intellectually inspiring…a lot of people I get to work with are pioneers in this technological space and it’s very exciting to be a part of those conversations.” In addition to the robust benefits at the company, though, Durfee says it’s also important to her that she’s working for a company striving to help through its work. “We’ve got a cool vision and a positive impact on the world,” she says. “…In this environment we live in, it’s important people understand that that’s a significant part of our mission.”