In the latest from our new Life at Pinterest series, People Behind the Product, get to know Jud Hoffman, Global Head of Community Operations at Pinterest and executive sponsor of Pinwheels, our Employee Community for LGBTQ+ Pinployees and their allies.
First things first: how did you get your start in Community Operations?
In 2010, I was leading a brand new product policy team at a technology company. The organization had a decentralized set of rules and norms for content, and my job was to stand up their first global policy team. When I transitioned to Pinterest I had a very similar remit: write the first set of rules and build a policy team. Over time, we built groups of people to enforce and operationalize the policies, and I worked very closely with these new groups. Eventually, it made sense for me to lead the operations teams who were executing this work. At the time, there were 10-12 ops employees and 2 policy employees. It was all very new to me, but I learned quickly and made it work — and I’m so proud of what we’ve built.
What drew you to a career at Pinterest?
The people: A colleague of mine recently started a role at Pinterest so I came in, very informally, to connect with him. By the time I left on that first day I had spoken to 5-6 Pinployees (including co-founders Ben and Evan), and a couple of days later I returned for some interviews. There was something about Ben’s approach: smart, empathetic and humble, and it was apparent from those first few meetings that he’d created a company that embodied these attributes. I walked away thinking “I really want to work with those people.”
The product: It was immediately apparent that Pinterest had a ton of potential. Because of the unique value Pinterest brings to both our Pinners and advertisers, you could clearly see it was going to be meaningful. Both on the “inspiration side,” delivering impactful and useful content to Pinners, and the business side by promoting sponsored content that people actually wanted to see. There was something special about our opportunity, since the way we monetize is additive to the Pinner’s experience.
The opportunity: I knew joining the company at this formative time meant I could really define how we do policy, and ensure we handled things the right way from the start. Setting that direction has been so important, and carries through directly to our work today. We’ve been careful to ensure we don’t take the easiest routes, but we actually do the right thing.
What does your team focus on? What does a typical work day look like?
In its simplest form:
Our team’s mission: Make Pinterest better by solving Pinner problems.
Setting the policies: We ensure our product is used for good.
Enforcing the policies: We work with cross-functional teams to make sure the policies we’ve carefully defined are followed. At the end of the day, our teams are wholly accountable for this.
Pinner support: We’re also responsible for Pinner support and our help center, and we’re always trying to empower Pinners to solve problems on their own. We also work closely with the product teams to improve Pinterest and anticipate and solve problems before Pinners ever experience them.
So you’re the minds behind keeping Pinterest safe and inspiring for Pinners. That’s important stuff. Can you share a highlight, or discuss the work you’re most proud of?
People come to Pinterest to find inspiration, so there’s no room for harmful content. We use our mission as our north star in drafting our content policies, which prohibit content that is harmful, hateful, violent, false or misleading, explicit, and antagonistic. That type of content is antithetical to our mission of inspiration. We constantly review and update our policies and enforcement methods to better support our mission.
What excites you most about the future of Community Ops at Pinterest?
I’m very excited about our focus on Creators, which are the future of content on Pinterest, and Community Ops plays a key role in ensuring they have a safe, positive, and inspiring experience.
Also, we’re growing globally very quickly, which brings with it interesting and exciting challenges. We’ve figured out how to do a good job in the US, but we have a lot of room to grow and we are on the cusp of opening up to new regions with new languages, cultural sensitivities, etc. It feels like starting again, but in the best way.
Do you have any advice for those looking to thrive in the field of Community Ops?
Go for opportunities. Very often, people feel if their resume isn’t an exact match, they’re not qualified for a position. We’ve found really exceptional talent from very different backgrounds who approach problems from new perspectives, that do a better job than we might see from conventional wisdom and a more “experienced” mindset. This is one of the things I’ve seen over and over again, different perspectives add so much value.
At Pinterest we have smart, hard working people who know how to do their jobs well. It’s not about hiring people with the perfect resume, it’s about the understanding that people from many different backgrounds help us execute better.
We have to ask — what are you currently saving to your Pinterest boards?
I’m currently obsessed with 1970s Ford Broncos. I’m not a car guy, but I’m obsessed with these things right now!