In February 2024, over 200 UpGuardians transcended their virtual workstations to gather on the picturesque shores of Phuket, Thailand, for the eagerly anticipated 2024 UpGuard Safari. This bi-annual event empowers UpGuard team members to strengthen relationships with colleagues and embrace the tangible benefits of face-to-face connection, all while exploring the scenery and culture of an exotic location. 

While spending the week together in Thailand, UpGuard team members participated in a number of strategic planning sessions, sat in on informative leadership presentations hosted by UpGuard’s executive team, donated their time to give back to the local community, and surveyed Phuket’s natural, cultural, and culinary highlights. The week culminated in the annual UpGuard Awards Ceremony, where the entire company celebrated several UpGuardians who have demonstrated dedication to the company’s core values. Continue reading to discover more about the 2024 UpGuard Safari and gain a glimpse into what life at UpGuard is all about.

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What is the UpGuard Safari? 

The UpGuard Safari is a transformative experience that grants UpGuardians from around the globe the opportunity to bond and collaborate outside the traditional office setting. As a remote-first employer, UpGuard established Safari as a cornerstone of its strategic planning process, using the event to supplement its remote work environment, strengthen relationships among team members, encourage teams to get to know each other in person, and foster camaraderie among colleagues. For many team members, Safari is their first opportunity to meet the global UpGuard team in person, offering a space for reflection on past achievements, dialogue about future goals, and alignment toward the company’s collective vision. 

“In a remote-first work environment, no amount of virtual games, online office hours, or UberEats gift cards can replace the energy people get from spending time in person with their teammates. Our team members work tirelessly every day to build the company, and as a leadership team, Safari is our turn to give back by creating the experience of a lifetime. It’s designed to cultivate a sense of belonging and connection by exploring a unique place in the world that we all have to fly into." - Sarah Catford, Chief of Staff

Thailand Safari kickoff

Welcome reception overlooking Merlin Bay

The 2024 UpGuard Safari began with a warm welcome reception on the Marriott Resort's lawn, offering a breathtaking view of Merlin Bay's serene waters. As UpGuardians arrived in Phuket, they joyfully reunited, indulging in a smorgasbord of delectable local dishes and savoring the thrill of real-world interactions.

The following morning, all 200+ UpGuardians gathered in the Merlin Ballroom for a company-wide Safari Kickoff, featuring presentations by UpGuard’s CEO and Co-founder, Mike Baukes, and UpGuard’s COO, Harsh Sureka, and a meet and greet tradition started at Safari Hawaii 2022. 

UpGuard's CEO, Mike Baukes, and COO, Harsh Sureka, presenting updates on the company's vision
“The beautiful thing about Safari is not only do you get to travel and experience a spectacular destination, but more importantly, you get to connect with teammates from various backgrounds and cultures worldwide. It's so rewarding to spend quality time with one another in person and celebrate our wins throughout the year. You learn so much and can connect on a much deeper level, which provides a stronger sense of community.” - Luke Willon, Talent Acquisition

Team building & strategic break-out sessions

UpGuardians fiercely competing in a tug-of-war competition on the beach

Throughout the week in Phuket, the UpGuard team participated in several team-building activities and strategic break-out sessions where they could hone their collaborative partnerships and discuss methods and opportunities to achieve success following their departure from Thailand. Safari’s team-building itinerary included a fierce tug-of-war competition and several dinners at some of the finest restaurants on the island. 

UpGuardians enjoying the evening at a restaurant in Phuket

Give-Back Activities

An UpGuardian cleaning turtles at the Marine Biological Research Centre and Maikhao Turtle Foundation

From its employment hubs in the United States, EMEA, APAC, and India to the locations it visits during its company off-sites, UpGuard is committed to supporting the communities it is a part of, so, during Safari, UpGuard employees participated in one of four give-back activities. Team members could choose between planting mangrove saplings to combat climate change, building bikes for a children’s charity, renovating a local school, or caring for turtles at the Marine Biological Research Centre and Maikhao Turtle Foundation. 

“I really enjoyed spending time giving back to the local community. While there were quite a few activities to choose from, I was very excited to help out at the local Marine Centre. We cleaned the tanks of rescued dolphins and turtles and even got to sneak a cuddle in with the baby turtles. It was a special moment in so many ways, and it was great to share it with my colleagues.” - Kaja Melleby, Marketing

Special moments from Safari 2024

The 2024 UpGuard Safari was full of several unforgettable moments (almost too many to include in this article), but here are a few that just can’t go unmentioned: 

  • Fireside with Daniel Freeman: UpGuard’s CMO, Kaushik Sen, held a fireside conversation with Daniel Freeman, ex-CMO of Cloudflare, to to discuss UpGuard's growth, transformation, and trajectory. 
  • 1,000 Customers: UpGuardians commemorated one of the most significant achievements in the company’s history: the acquisition of 1,000 customers. 
  • Culture Session: UpGuard’s VP of People, Marcus Waterreus, presented insights into the company’s awards and staff developments. 
  • AMA Panel: Several members of UpGuard’s executive team gathered on stage to field questions from team members regarding the company’s vision and future growth plans. 
“UpGuard Safari can’t be categorized as a simple vacation to Thailand. As a remote worker, It was a time to connect with a global team of coworkers with whom I had never had the chance to meet and spend face-to-face time with those I talk to daily. It was a time to get excited about the work we are all doing while celebrating the growth UpGuard has achieved and  sharing excitement and strategy for the journey ahead.” - Henry Rohmer, Sales

UpGuard Awards Ceremony

The UpGuard Awards Ceremony

The pinnacle of Safari was the highly anticipated UpGuard Awards Ceremony, a momentous occasion where the entire UpGuard team came together to honor and celebrate the exemplary achievements of several outstanding UpGuardians. From innovative problem-solving to unparalleled camaraderie, each award recipient embodied the core values that define the UpGuard community. 

Explore remote-first opportunities at UpGuard

While Safari may be the greatest demonstration of life at UpGuard, the event is far from an anomaly. Whether in virtual meetings, at occasional offsite events, or daily among localized teams and departments, UpGuard’s welcoming culture and lively team spirit are on full display 24/7. 

UpGuard offers world-class employment opportunities to professionals around the globe and is a recognized Great Place to WorkⓇ. In addition to being a part of an inclusive and purposeful workplace environment where colleagues encourage each other to excel, all full-time UpGuard employees also receive competitive benefits (some benefits may be specific to employees in a particular region):

  • Generous compensation package
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance coverage
  • Monthly wellness and grocery subsidies
  • WFH set-up allowance
  • Learning and development budget

If you’re inspired to join UpGuard’s world-class team and be part of an exciting community of motivated and passionate professionals, explore UpGuard’s current career opportunities.

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