Already home to 25 of the Fortune 1000, 16 of the Fortune 500, and 15% of mLevel’s largest customers, the mLevel headquarters has packed its bags and moved from the windy city of Chicago to the empire city of Atlanta. I had the opportunity to sit down with new CEO, Jordan Fladell. Here’s what he had to say about it…
First and foremost, why the move?
Besides being able to see the new SunTrust Stadium progress from scaffolding to the Braves’ trademark scarlet brick, the new Atlanta headquarters allows the mLevel team to be closer to our customers. Our new location gives us the luxury of sitting across a breakfast table from Scott Katz of SunTrust to talk logistics of their latest pre-hire onboarding program; or meet directly with healthcare learning partner, ModusOne to evaluate their pre-training assessment capabilities. Offices of quite a few of our clients also call Atlanta home or have a significant presence in Atlanta, much like our investors BIP Capital and Slalom Consulting. As a matter of fact, Cres Ferrell of BIP Capital is a frequently seen friendly face around the office, providing valuable insight and knowledge on a daily basis. Having everyone under one roof helps us collaborate and gain a better understanding of what our customers need, and how we can ensure quick turnaround of their success.
Atlanta also has one of the richest pools of university talent to recruit from. Universities like Georgia Tech, Emory, Clark Atlanta, and Georgia State all live a stone’s throw away at the heart of downtown. With 15 new positions opening up as we approach 2017, we look forward to meeting driven talent to join our team. We also look forward to partnering with the Kennesaw State University Owls for their Global Game Jam at the turn of 2017 (more on how to participate in that event here).
Speaking of looking forward, the Pacman Arcade game and guitars aren’t the only things coming to Atlanta. What will be making the move and what will be left in Chicago, both physically and culturally?
I want our entire culture to change. Our interest level, our passion, the way we think. I want every employee to have the freedom to achieve things here that they would not normally be able to achieve at a larger company. This begins with a mindset, mLevel should be everyone’s baby, not just mine. We continually look for ways to take our product to the next level, both at the office and in our personal lives. Me personally, I enjoy being able to give my daughters an mLevel Mission that will impact the way they are performing in their classes. Our Director of Customer Operations, Josh Felix, introduced mLevel to his son’s third grade math class. Whether it’s the mLevel team member that uses our software to learn how to play the guitar, or a Sales Rep playing their way through the first day of their new role, we constantly seek out ways to truly have a positive impact on how people retain and reinforce critical information.
Luckily for us, Jordan never leaves home without a sports reference…
I watch a lot of sports videos. I find work ethic and a team mentality carry over into success in the work place. Together we have to continually work towards mastering the fundamentals: our pitch, our KPIs, and celebrating mini-wins vs. boiling the ocean. Only then can we achieve our goal of fundamentally transforming the way people learn. It’s our company, it’s our team. There’s a higher caliber of collaboration and accountability required to achieve this goal and I plan to higher everyone’s stock option plan to reflect it. Making sure that you’re not just pushing yourself to make the most of every minute of every day, but that your teammates are living up to their potential as well. In Remember the Titans, I can relate to when the team captain puts his responsibility for his team over his personal relationship with Ray and demands an elevated level of accountability before kicking him off the team for failing to do so. This is the same level of integrity that I expect from my mLevel teammates.
In captaining the mLevel team, what have you learned in the past year that will inform your decisions for the years to come?
It’s bigger than just the past year. I’ve spent the past 25 years as a second seat entrepreneur, positions that have given me glimpses into the playbooks of a handful of great leaders. I learned the value of investing in our internal customers and getting involved in people lives sitting next to Alex Qatsha at Slalom. He taught me that as a leaders, we are the tone setters of culture. Jeff Stibel, now Vice Chairman of Dunn & Bradstreet, taught me that failure is a great teacher, meant to be embraced, not feared. Seeing these leaders approach the removal of barriers in general, while remembering to stick to your strengths as a leader in understanding both client and internal customer challenges has shaped the way I approach business today. I believe the energy and passion I bring to the office will be a key strength throughout this time of change, and hope it inspires the same from both our internal and external stakeholders.
You’ve adjusted your lens, in the coming months what will this new found focus on your customers look like from their point of view?
More Stuff! We have always been customer focused from a service perspective, striving for the quickest possible turnaround times and always delivering on our promises. We’ve spent the past seven months doing research with our customers to discover what their learners and learning authors need to better serve the business. We created new activities like Learning Lab and Assessment in response to our customers’ need for more comprehensive knowledge evaluation tools. We also began running research design sprints to provide a more user-centric analytics view for our admins. Goodies like xAPI, VDI and additional out of the box integration capabilities are all on the precipice of their release. There is no finish line when it comes to innovation. It’s like the first person to run a four minute mile, we plan to accomplish one goal then raise the bar even higher.
Want to hear more Jordan Fladell? You can find his most recent radio interview with Monica Cortetti here:
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