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Episode 16: Be Bold But Humble: Articulating Dimagi’s Culture and Values with Lucina Tse, Gillian Javetski, Avni Singhal and Simon Kelly (Part 1) - Dimagi


Be bold but humble: Articulating Dimagi’s culture and values with Lucina Tse, Gillian Javetski, Avni Singhal and Simon Kelly (Part 1)

Episode 16 | 17 Minutes

“At Dimagi we’re not afraid of making mistakes. We’re not afraid of failing. We actually like to fail and learn through each other.” – Avni Singhal

“We try to partner to a much larger extent than I think would be reasonable for a software company under normal market conditions. But we’re not under normal market conditions, and what we’re trying to do and accomplish…requires a huge amount of boldness…At the same time, we don’t know if we’re right, and we have failed a lot over the last 20 years, ad we expect to fail a whole lot going forward as well. And that’s where that humility is so critical.” – Jonathan Jackson

Co-hosts, Jonathan Jackson and Amie Vaccaro are joined by four Dimagi team members – Lucina Tse, Chief Operating Officer, Gillian Javetski, Chief of Staff, Avni Singhal, Senior Customer Success Manager, and Simon Kelly, Director of Server Engineering – to discuss the first in Dimagi’s newly articulated values: Be Bold but Humble. At Dimagi, we care deeply not only about what we do and the impact we have, but also about HOW we do it. Articulating our values has become incredibly important as we are growing quickly all over the world. Hear candid reflections on what it looks like to be bold but humble at Dimagi and why it matters.

Full description of the newly articulated value:

Be Bold But Humble

Achieving High-Impact Growth requires that we act boldly, knowing time and resources are limited and the need is great. We take bold risks even though we may be wrong. We act boldly but don’t allow our ego to cloud our judgment. We take our work seriously, never ourselves.


  • We own our outcomes. We take ownership of our commitments to each other and our stakeholders. We hold ourselves accountable for both good and bad results.
  • We are not paralyzed by perfection. We prioritize creating over theorizing and shape ideas through collaborative iteration. Everything starts with an early draft, not a final pass. When in doubt, write it out!
  • We make space to make choices. We can only be creative if we have the space to make decisions. We empower each other with autonomy to choose the way to achieve the best outcomes. We create space to try things that may fail, so long as we are clear on what we hope to learn.
  • We don’t walk by problems. We leave things better than we found them. We look for ways to improve systems, and when we find them, we roll up our own sleeves or inform and support the rightful owner in making it better. If needed, we create structures where there are none.


This transcript was generated by AI and may contain typos and inaccuracies.

Welcome to high impact growth. A podcast from Dimagi about the role of technology and creating a world where everyone has access to the services they need to thrive. I’m Amie Vaccaro, senior director of marketing at Dimagi and your cohost. Today we have the first in a really special mini series of episodes about company culture.

Dimagi has just completed a process of articulating our company values. Which are intended to define how we get great work done together. We’ve talked a lot on this podcast about what we’re up to. Profiling our five-year strategies and milestone moments. And Dimagi is history. But we want to be as proud of how we get our work done as we are of what we actually do.

And as we grow, we need to be clear about that. How often expectations can be unspoken. So we’re hopeful that this articulation helps attract the right people to Dimagi . Helps motivate and retain our team. Helps our team understand how to be successful at Dimagi and helps us articulate our ways of working. Both internally and externally. Rolling out. These values is the first step in a longterm investment in company culture at Dimagi and what I’m really passionate about. In the spirit of learning and sharing, we’re sharing our journey with you.

So Dimagi has four new values and today we’re going to talk about the first one, be bold, but humble. We’ll do an episode each on each of the new values. Enjoy.

Amie Vaccaro: All right. Welcome to High Impact Growth. I am so excited to be joined today by my co-host, Jonathan Jackson, well as four Dimagi team members, uh, Gillian Javetski, our chief of staff, who you heard from on a previous episode, a few new voices to the podcast.

We’ve got Lucina Tse who’s our chief operating officer. Avni Singhal, Senior customer success manager. And Simon Kelly director of server engineering.

Let’s hear introductions from everyone to get us started.

Gillian Javetski: Hi. , I am Gillian. , I’m the chief of staff at Damagi. I, have been at Damagi total of eight years, but joined 10 years ago and had years where I walked a little bit away and, and came back. , so I’m especially excited to. Talk about values today, because that was a big reason why I was excited to come back to Dimagi and really seeing the value in and values we had in defined.

Lucina Tse: I’m Lucina Tse. I’m the Chief Operating Officer Dimagi. Um, I’ve been with Dimagi for eight to nine years. Uh, a lot of my time with Dimagi has actually been working with the tech team, and now I’m working together with the operations team. So, a lot of different areas I’ve seen across Dimagi. I’m really excited to join this session about values because excited to really get how explicitly we can work together and like, uh, lay that out for people new to us and also all of us at Dimagi.

Avni Singhal: Hi. So I’m Avni I’ve been at Dimagi for five years now. Um, and I’ve, I’ve worked on sales and currently I’m working on customer success. And this episode is especially important to me and exciting for me because I’ve actually been part of the team that was crafting out the values. it’s really exciting to finally be able to share them out with.

Simon Kelly: My name is Simon Kelly. I am based out of Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been at Dimagi for, uh, nearly 10 years now. I was also part of that drafted these values. I believe a lot in Dimagi and what we are doing and the team involved in doing that. And so I’m excited about rolling these out to the, broader company.

Amie Vaccaro: Jon, I wanna hear from you, you know, enrolling out these values. What are, what are your reflections on kind of this process and, and where we landed with the values?

Jonathan Jackson: Yeah, so this process has taken quite some time, and I’m immensely thankful for the work that Simon o and the rest of the values team did to create these at Dimagi. But as you, uh, know, and Jolene knows, we started this process over a year ago, and as, uh, the CEO. Extremely skeptical, um, in our ability to find values that really embodied who we were and weren’t just kind of corporate speak that should apply to every organization.

Um, you know, we look at a lot of other values when we were kicking this off, and we found lots of examples of values we didn’t like because, you know, who can argue with boldness or who can argue with, um, you know, bring your best self to work in these things. And I, that wasn’t to me gonna be helpful. What I really wanted to see.

Unique values that apply to us that you could actually disagree with. You know, that you could say, that’s actually not how I think we should run our company, are not something I agree with. And I think the values team just did an amazing job, you know, really encapsulating and articulating what’s specially unique about us.

And I, I saw these, I was incredibly proud of ’em. Like, this is exactly, you know, what I was hoping for and, and looking at. So when I got this initial draft, I was like, this is perfect, you know? And so just a huge shout out to Simon Albany and the team who, who put these.

Amie Vaccaro: Thanks, Jon. And I totally agree. , Gillian. I’m curious to hear from you. If you have any reflections on this process, as I know you’ve been thinking about this for a long time as well.

Gillian Javetski: when we were starting this values process, , Amie, you and I spoke to a lot of different values, experts to sort of understand what are the best practices around implementing values.

We knew going into this that Jon was really skeptical. We wanted to prove him wrong, Jon, I think we successfully did , and pulling together some really wonderful values. All due to the values Council that put these together. , one of the best pieces of advice I think we received from, , Shane Baaf, who’s a values expert, was that when you put together values, you haven’t done a good job unless they’re controversial.

There should be something about them that speaks to people that are looking to join your company and say, that’s not the place for me. , and so I think that has been one of my favorite things in rolling out these values is not just the things that we’re proud of and are part of our culture, but also in being able to more concretely point to things and say, this is how style, , but we just

Amie Vaccaro: Totally Dimagi is not necessarily the best place to work for for everyone. Right. And it doesn’t need to be in doesn’t aim to be, and these values really help articulate. Who Dimagi is four and helps you understand who we are before, before you joined.

so let’s jump into this. we’ve just rolled out newly articulated values. one value that we’ve had that remains steady throughout our company’s history is impact team profit in that order. I think of that as kind of an overarching value. We’re not gonna address that one today, but, that is also one of our core values.

But I wanna get into our four new values. So the first one is bold, but. And I’m gonna first read through it, um, just to give a little bit of context and then open it up for discussion. Achieving high impact growth requires that we act boldly time and resources are limited, and the need is great.

bold risks, even though we may be wrong, boldly, but don’t allow our ego to cloud our judgment. We take our work seriously, never ourselves. And then under that, we’ve got four bullets. We own our outcomes. We are not paralyzed by perfection. We make space to make choices, and we don’t walk by problems.

So I wanna hear from this group and I wanna hear from each of you, what does this value mean to you, and why is this so important to dimagi? ,

Avni Singhal: I like this value because it, it takes me back to when I, in fact, my initial months of joining Dimagi where it, it was a new role entirely. The sales team was also just growing. I remember my then manager told me that, Don’t, don’t be of making mistakes, and don’t be afraid that people will notice those mistakes, because that’s how you will grow. So I think that’s something that stayed with me, um, that at Dimagi we’re not, we’re not afraid of making mistakes. We’re not afraid of failing. We actually like to fail, and learn through each other. So that’s something that, I really like about this value and a lot of the discussions that we had when we were coming up with this value were around similar experiences.

Jonathan Jackson: Simon over to you.

Simon Kelly: Yeah. Thanks Jon. Yeah, I think, one of the defining things about my time at De Marge is been tackling difficult problems, uh, together with the teams. And, uh, it’s so refreshing to be with people who, are, bold enough to bring ideas, knowing that those might not be the ideas that get selected or, you know, to brainstorm in an environment where, uh, all ideas are on the table.

And, and. you know, fighting for the idea to get our idea to get chosen, but genuinely wanting the best ideas to get selected and come to the surface. I think it’s so refreshing to, to work in that kind of environment where, the humility is the team, and allows every individual to, to be part of it, not just the ones with the largest voice or the ones who, most, uh, want to get their, their ideas heard.

Lucina Tse: Yeah, a lot of the things I’ve really been excited about, like we wouldn’t have been able to do if we just maintained the same way we were doing things. uh, Simon and I were on a team together working on a project in India that was scale. We did that for five years, when we started that project, we, we hadn’t done any other things that we had tried before.

So we had to, like Simon and the team rewrote the databases. We had to scale to like 10,000, a hundred thousand users. And, and none of that we would’ve done if we thought we should just do everything in the same, we were doing it. And the other aspect of that is the humility on the team. So if the team hadn’t approached this in a way in which we were partners, um, to, to the government we were working with and whatnot, like it would’ve been impossible for us to be able to push things through and support things that actually like deliver impact.

So I, I think that’s like a really important aspect of what we’re.

Jonathan Jackson: And Gill.

Gillian Javetski: I think value really brings me back to, like Avni said, , when I first joined DMA and seeing that from the beginning. We have a real culture of continuous improvement in everything that we do. And so, it’s funny, Jon, I think his nickname for this value that we have is, , we fix the printer.

And, and what that means is, , if you are working and try to go print something and the printer’s not working, we don’t walk by the printer like we, we either. Figure it out ourselves, or if someone’s accountable for it, we, we flag it. And that’s just one small example. Again, like printers are maybe the worst, worst thing in the IT world that no one ever wants to deal with.

But it applies to around how we do knowledge management. Like if something isn’t clear, make sure to encourage new people that join that they like, take a moment and are flagging it, or, on working to make it better for the

Jonathan Jackson: That’s awesome. It makes me, really proud and excited of the, the values team. And, um, when I first saw these, it was, uh, this one really resonated, um, you know, based on Simon,  Lu of those stories that you shared. And as Gillian mentioned, we joke about this, um, I used to say something a lot, which was, if you don’t know whose problem it is, it’s yours.

Um, if you really need it solved, and this, this kind of embodies that, um, as well.

Amie Vaccaro: Jon, what’s, what’s your take on bold, but humble and, how do you anticipate this changing and evolving going forward?

Jonathan Jackson: Yeah, this one I felt a lot of pride in when I saw it because we are an extremely bold company. You know, we try to partner to a much larger extent than I think would be reasonable for a software company, um, under, under normal market conditions. But we’re not under normal market conditions and what we’re trying to do and accomplish any impact we’re trying to have, requires a huge amount of boldness to think that we’re cap.

Of achieving these great outcomes that our teams capable of. Um, doing these things with all of our government partners and I n g own for-profit partners and Simon and Avni highlighted ways that this affects us as individuals within the organization and how we want our, each individual to act bold, but also as an organization, you know, we have extremely high aspirations for what we’re gonna be doing going forward.

In our five year strategy and in our high impact growth framework, and that requires a lot of boldness. At the same time, we don’t know if we’re right and we failed a lot over the last 20 years, and we expect to fail a whole lot going forward as well. And that’s where that humility is so critical because while we want to be extremely bold and aspirational, we also recognize how difficult this work is and how difficult our partner’s jobs are.

And we need to bring that humility to not think that we’re right, but that we stay bold.

So, um, Lu and Simon, you both alluded to some of the big technical, um, achievements we’ve had, which were stuff changes in the platform. And I remember a distinct moment when we had to move from thousands of users to target hundreds of thousands of users.

And Simon, I think you were tasked with, uh, completely rewriting the, the backend architecture so that we could increase. Through, put in the system. I’m curious, when you first got that task assigned to you and, and you know, in a matter of months we need to be able to scale to different orders of magnitude.

Um, how did the kind of sense of being bold but humble play into your confidence in your ability to take on this monumental task and, um, I happen to know that it got delivered extremely successfully. So what was the secret to achieving.

Simon Kelly: uh, We had a really excellent team of people on, on the problem, um, who were committed to, to making it work. , so I felt. Like, I wasn’t alone, I was supported. , I was working with great people. And, we didn’t, none of us knew what the right solution was, what the right idea was.

So there was a lot of brainstorming, a lot of testing, and a lot of prototyping that went in at the beginning. Um, and together we kind of figured out what the, what right path forward was. And, but working the, on the team and with those other people was , really, um, really fantastic.

Lucina Tse: great And I think one of the big, um, reflections, you

Jonathan Jackson: hearing. Uh, your comments there, Simon, is bold. Doesn’t mean don’t learn as we go. You know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean like, you know, do six months of dev and then hope that you’re, you got it right, or lay out a plan that requires a big leap of faith. In fact, one of the things that we’re really good at, at Dimagi, I think is testing the right.

Units, um, as we grow and, and move along, whether that’s an internal process, internal technical documentation, or with a partner externally. And I do remember at that time there was a lot of options on the table and they were all kind of big, bold choices to make. And, um, we had the, the humility to test all of them first and, and see which one was going to work and then, you know, put that one in.

And I think that’s really part of what’s made our successful, not just at the software level, but as a, as an overall company.

Lucina Tse: There was one aspect of it that really stood out to me is that when we went into planning for all of that, there wasn’t a sense of we can’t do this, but like the team really jumped in on how can we do this together? And that aspect I think really helped pull us through in so many different situations in what we were doing and talking about, because like you said, there’s like a hundred different choices, but um, it’s thinking about what’s the best choice for us and doing it together.

That really worked out well.

Amie Vaccaro: I love that Lu, and I like just this, this sense of possibility and that like, together we can make, we can make this happen. I personally love this value and I think it, , to me it, it speaks to. Something that really drew me to DMA and that we are, we’re doing big things, you know, like we’re, we’re not playing it safe in any way.

Um, and even I think if you think about this podcast, like this is fairly bold of us to just start sharing, you know, very transparently and honestly, like things that we’re learning, things that we’ve made mistakes on, how we’re thinking about things, right? I think that in essence is, is a bold but humble move.

Thanks so much to Lucina, Gillian, Simon and Avni for joining Jonathan Jackson and I today to unpack. The first in our new values. Which is be bold, but humble.

I also want to give a shout out to Dimagi values council, who you heard about multiple times today, who crafted these values. Devalues council includes of Nian Simon who spoke on the podcast today. As well as Clara Kim, Candice Kodu, Kai Zabe, Juan and Olivia.

A few other notables on this journey are Michelle Melendez who was instrumental in kicking off this journey. Shane Metcalf who consulted us on the way.

Katherine Turner, our diversity equity and inclusion consultant who helped us get started. Dimagi is DEI council who consulted and many other demographers who give input along the way.

That’s all for today on the next episode, we’ll continue with Dimagi second value lead with empathy and respect. And unpack what that means.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please like rate, review, subscribe, and share this episode. It really helps us grow our audience and our impact. And write to with any ideas or questions. Thanks so much.

Meet The Hosts

Amie Vaccaro

Senior Director, Global Marketing, Dimagi

Amie leads the team responsible for defining Dimagi’s brand strategy and driving awareness and demand for its offerings. She is passionate about bringing together creativity, empathy and technology to help people thrive. Amie joins Dimagi with over 15 years of experience including 10 years in B2B technology product marketing bringing innovative, impactful products to market.

Jonathan Jackson

Co-Founder & CEO, Dimagi

Jonathan Jackson is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dimagi. As the CEO of Dimagi, Jonathan oversees a team of global employees who are supporting digital solutions in the vast majority of countries with globally-recognized partners. He has led Dimagi to become a leading, scaling social enterprise and creator of the world’s most widely used and powerful data collection platform, CommCare.



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