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M5 Networks (NY) - “Band”-ing together to build teamwork
M5 Networks (NY)
Embrace Diversity & Team Building

“Band”-ing together to build teamwork

Smart companies know the importance of building teamwork among their employees. But so often the opportunities to bring different departments and disciplines together are few and far between. Sure, there are team building exercises, retreats and corporate get-togethers. But the telecommunications firm M5 Networks found a different approach: A company-wide battle of the bands that takes the stage during their annual meeting.


Called the M5 Rocks program, employees are thrust into different musical acts, with employees they typically don’t interact with. And since learning new things is a core principle at M5, employees who have musical background are not allowed to play an instrument they’re already proficient at.


To help them get their act together (excuse the pun,) M5 turned to Ivan Trevino, an educator from the Hochstein School of Music and School of Rock in New York City. This year there were about two dozen employees broken up into 5 or 6 M5 bands. Every week they’d get together (on company time) to learn and practice covers of rock songs. 


Trevino says his involvement with M5 Rocks culminated after a meeting with Phelim White, the founder of M5’s Rochester office, who approached the music school about teaming up. 


According to White “Most people don’t want to learn something that they’re really insecure about.” White is a drummer himself, who even toured the U.S and Ireland. And he knows first-hand that there’s no better way to build a team than to start a band. “That’s the accounting person getting together with an engineer and a sales guy, all these different departments coming together as a band as a unit and learning how to be great together," he explained. 


This year, the company’s expecting an audience of about 2,000 — a pretty big gig for a bunch of fledgling rock stars. Last year a band from the Rochester office came in second to New York City. But this year the Rochester team say they’re taking home the title.


Pitting one office against the other? In this case, that’s music to M5’s ears.

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