Company news

Turning Jobs into Journeys

Post by Nick Ionita, Co-founder & CEO
Turning Jobs into Journeys

Today I am thrilled to announce the public reveal of the Flux platform. We have been live and heads down for some time working with a group of incredible companies to build something that we wish had existed when we were operators scaling our previous company, FreeWheel, from an early-stage startup to a global division of over 1,000 employees within Comcast post-acquisition.

Which employees can do this work?

It all started with this simple question - one that I and my co-founders Max and Wei, asked ourselves repeatedly as business leaders of our respective functions. At the beginning of our 7+ year journey together, FreeWheel was small and it was easy to navigate the organization, understand what each person was capable of, and readily allocate headcount to what the business needed. As our business grew people stayed and referred others and, through that, we fostered a culture of developing employees and promoting from within to fill critical needs.

In large organizations the question of “which employees can do this work?” is a much harder one to answer. I recall the day that Wei took over Data Engineering and flew to Sunnyvale to walk around an office he had never been to in order to try and assess the new team he had just inherited. Line of sight to people outside your team is challenging and that compounds as business units, geographies, and offices are added.  Most HR tools are used for record keeping and were inaccessible to employees and managers in any meaningful way, so we had to resort to using LinkedIn to learn anything about our colleagues within the 100,000+ employee base.

Which employees could do this work?

When Comcast acquired FreeWheel we were roughly 250 people and in two and a half years we more than tripled in size.  We had to remain resourceful to fulfill the hiring plans required to deliver the business.  Our initial question evolved from “who can do this” to “who could do this”. As I hired countless product managers I realized that the sales engineers on Max’s team exemplified much of what was expected from my team: 

  • They knew the product inside and out. 
  • They understood how our clients were using the platform and could clearly articulate business needs. 
  • They had to use indirect influence to get things done. 
  • Many of them had engineering degrees. 

Sounds like product managers to me! Teaching someone to write a spec or business plan is an easy training exercise if they are motivated and have the right building blocks. We began moving these sales engineers into PM roles and aimed recruiting resources at back-filling customer support. With thoughtful internal mobility, every product role we filled generated a chain of succession resulting in the retention of 2-3 employees and sourcing of a more junior support role that was faster and lower cost to fill. Max’s team became a critical feeder into the business -- rather than employees churning when that coveted manager role wasn’t available, they moved into teams like Product, Sales & Advisory Services, and Business Operations.

Our first time trying this was with someone on Max’s team who was a classically trained architect (buildings, not software). She wanted a job in tech and entered through Customer Support, as many people do. She was personable and a systems-based thinker which had her very quickly rising through the ranks within Solutions Engineering, the team that owned implementations at our largest enterprise clients. I recognized her raw skills and thought she would be an asset as an Associate Product Manager on my team, and offered her the role. Now, six years later, she is a Senior Director of Product at a public company helping lead a team four times larger than the one I left. Job title is just a proxy for what someone is capable of. Had I only hired proven PMs I would have missed this rising star. She proved firsthand that more creative pathways can generate more impactful outcomes.  

Why Now?

2020 has certainly presented its challenges, but that also brings opportunities. Companies are having to do more with less and while employees are distributed their line of sight to project opportunities and career paths is almost non-existent. Rather than organically finding ways to collaborate across the business, employees are finding themselves in video conference silos with limited links to the broader organization.  Virtual team meetings, corporate communication emails and internal job boards are simply not enough to support employees who want to learn, help and grow.

Compound all of this with the fact that the existing hiring patterns repeat themselves. People typically hire others who look like them and underrepresented groups raise their hands for opportunities far less often. I’ve helped hire hundreds of people in my career and it takes time and care to really understand what “good in the seat” looks like. Many of my best hires would not have made it through most recruiting teams’ first sourcing steps. They didn’t attend top universities or hold the Product Manager title before stepping into the role, but they had all the ingredients necessary for success. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to create the change we all want to see in the world if the right candidates don’t know opportunities exist, don’t believe they’re a fit, and if recruiters and hiring managers can’t think beyond title and what “looks good on paper”.

Enter Flux 🚀

Flux is an internal mobility platform that uses work within the organization as a tool for employee development.  Employees close skill gaps through part-time projects, apply their strengths in new contexts through rotations, and help others grow through mentorship. With Flux, employees can explore career paths within the organization and connect directly with the work that can get them there. Meanwhile, management better understands their talent base and who could take on new roles the moment they are opened, from full-time positions to critical tasks only requiring a few hours to complete. Employees are represented in the platform by the skills and experiences they have acquired as well as interests and work preferences, allowing hiring managers to find that high potential Product Manager who just so happens to be sitting in Customer Support right now. 

Our mission at Flux is achieving tangible employee development and helping businesses get what they need done as quickly, effectively, and fairly as possible. Everyone grows.

Let’s get Started 💪

Flux is live in over 45 countries, serving teams from early-stage start-ups to the Fortune 500.  Getting going is as easy as sharing an employee roster and some work the company needs to get done.  Small steps lead to big outcomes.  Let’s empower your employees, elevate your talent brand in the market and build a culture that not only will weather this storm but will deliver a business you’re proud to be a part of years from now.

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