How 5 Austin Companies Keep Their Competitive Edge

The competition for talent is fierce. Here’s how five Austin companies are setting themselves apart.
Written by Cathleen Draper
June 13, 2022Updated: June 15, 2022

Workers are still resigning in record numbers. 

Bloomberg reported that 4.4 million people quit their jobs in April alone and one-third of workers are considering quitting in the next year. Though the demand for new jobs is high, the supply of jobs is even higher: A Bureau of Labor Statistics summary shows there’s nearly two open jobs for every unemployed person. 

That means companies need to work hard to attract the best in their field. But employers can look at why employees are resigning to understand what they need to do to bring top talent on board.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 63 percent of employees said they quit their job in 2021 because there were no opportunities to grow, and 45 percent said there wasn’t enough flexibility. A lack of meaningful work, collaboration and resources drove employees out the door, too. Gallup and Harvard Business Review agree that now, they’re looking for roles that offer a sense of belonging, opportunities to use their strengths  — and develop new skills — and flexibility in where and when they work, all of which lead to greater engagement and job satisfaction.

“We invest in our employees, giving them the resources they need to continually learn new approaches, techniques and skills,” said Kristy Smith, senior manager of talent acquisition at SparkCognition. “We believe in a dynamic work environment where we support our employees’ unique needs.” 

SparkCognition is one of five fast-growing Austin companies offering flexibility, career development and more. Built In Austin sat down with them to find out how they stand out from the crowd and why that matters to employees.


Patrick Chan
Regional Director, Corporate Sales


MongoDB is a general purpose database platform. 


What is one standout career development opportunity MongoDB offers employees?

Our CEO Dev often says, “I want MongoDB to be an inflection point in your career.” This has stuck with me since joining, and how it manifests in our business is dramatic. We have the chance to do life-changing work. How that comes to fruition is subjective, but I see the impacts of this mindset all around me. You can show up as your genuine self, and you’re given the tools to succeed. More importantly, you’re challenged and supported to become better each day.

In sales, we create an intentional plan for people to build a lasting career and the opportunity to grow in ways that will propel your personal and professional life.

At MongoDB, I’ve learned the skills to give me confidence in navigating complexity. I’ve been taught how to approach things with a rhythmic, operational lens that drives repeatability and teachability. These are approaches and methods that I keep for life and have impacted me immensely. What’s most unique about all of this is that what I have to share is not unique — ask each person at MongoDB and they’ll have a similar, but personal, story about how they’ve experienced life-changing work.

You can show up as your genuine self, and you’re given the tools to succeed.”


What is one way MongoDB supports open communication and transparency?

I think about the tone and energy that radiates throughout MongoDB and our sales organization.  How do people react or behave when figures of authority in our organization come into the fold? Do things hush down and result in friction? How about meetings in large forums? Do people feel psychologically safe to ask questions openly, even if the topic is controversial or could lead to friction?

For us, it’s the consistency in what we say versus what we do. It’s actually quite simple to say we’re an open and transparent environment, but much harder to live it. As an organization, we align our strategic vision, the processes we build, and the actions we take to create cohesion. If there’s dissonance between what we say we want to achieve and what we’ve rolled out in an effort to accomplish it, we openly admit it. Then we iterate to fix it. It’s been incredibly impactful to see this continuity in action and witness what it means to our organization when done well.

People feel safe to speak their mind, raise issues without fear of conflict and have confidence that feedback will be used to better our organization.


What is MongoDB’s approach to flexible work?

We can probably all admit that the pandemic has changed our perspectives on hybrid work. I joined MongoDB during the height of lockdown and have seen firsthand the focus on giving our people options to provide an environment in which they will thrive. Fully remote, hybrid, flexible, on-site — our workplace and HR teams have probably explored it, local laws and mandates permitting, of course.

What has stood out most is MongoDB’s effort to give people the autonomy to find and co-create a model that best works for them with their personal leader and organization. We’ve created hub offices to open up opportunities to collaborate across functions and create meaningful connections while simultaneously recognizing that for some, their best work is accomplished in their home office where they have a quiet, tailored space to focus. 

Our approach, best summed up, is one that meets your needs as an individual.



Lobby at the SailPoint office


Abby Payne
Chief People Officer


SailPoint uses AI and machine learning to provide identity security for hundreds of global organizations. 


What is one standout career development opportunity SailPoint offers employees?

We look at career development from multiple angles. We strive to provide all our employees, known internally as crew members, with the opportunity to expand their skill sets and enjoy long and accomplished careers with our company. It’s also important that each of our team members charts a career course that is professionally fulfilling. All too often, companies take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to developing career paths. At SailPoint, one of our core values relates to focusing on individuals. Our commitment to providing different career paths highlights how we value every person. Some of our crew members work to develop leadership skills so that they can one day take a role where they manage people. We also have plenty of employees in engineering roles, for instance, who prefer to grow their technical expertise and establish themselves as thought leaders rather than people managers. We make it a priority to offer career paths that recognize different people’s long-term career goals. Most importantly, we support them in achieving their ambitions.


What is one way SailPoint supports open communication and transparency?

Culturally, open communication and transparency are the rudders that keep SailPoint steered in the right direction. Our CEO leads by example, making it a priority to personally join every new hire orientation class and answer our new crew members’ questions. Our senior executive team hosts quarterly all-hands meetings to keep our global teams aligned on our company’s top strategic priorities. With several open communication platforms and a variety of feedback loop mechanisms, every employee can freely share information, ideas and suggestions. Our informal Coffee Talk sessions invite crew members to discuss how their first month at SailPoint went so that we can continuously enhance our onboarding program. Our Captain’s Table sessions follow a “Start, Stop, Continue” framework, offering more tenured employees the opportunity to share feedback with our senior executive team. We conduct an annual employee engagement survey at the organization level and empower team leaders to run pulse surveys throughout the year. We constantly prioritize reviewing our communications and the feedback we receive so that we can make adjustments to better serve the needs of our crew.

Work isn’t where we go. It’s what we do.”


What is SailPoint’s approach to flexible work?

When you have a culture where people are treated like adults, work flexibility is a given. At SailPoint, we care about performance and results, not how many hours someone sits at their computer. In most cases, our crew members choose how and where they work. Our goal as an organization is to support them in being effective in their roles. While we already practiced flexible work before Covid-19, the pandemic accelerated our ability to crisp up and codify our approach. Work isn’t where we go. It’s what we do. Our leaders decide when and how their teams get together to ensure our culture continues to thrive through team building, brainstorming and collaboration. Crew members are welcome to visit their local office whenever they like: whether it’s for Taco Tuesday, to connect with colleagues, or to access the workspace and technology that allow them to perform at their best.  



SparkCognition team member working on a computer in the office


Kristy Smith
Sr. Manager, Talent Acquisition


SparkCognition creates AI solutions that help organizations predict future outcomes, optimize processes and prevent cyber attacks.


What is one standout career development opportunity SparkCognition offers employees?

At SparkCognition, we are committed to advancing the science of artificial intelligence, and we put our core value, “innovate,” into practice every day. We offer an education assistance program in computer science and data science, which provides tuition assistance for employees pursuing degrees in computer or data science at the school of their choosing. The employees who take advantage of this program have an enriched professional experience and ultimately bring their new knowledge and research back to SparkCognition where they pursue patent applications, write scientific publications and put it into real-world application by building cutting-edge AI solutions for industry.


What is one way SparkCognition supports open communication and transparency?

Our employees have time and time again proven to be thoughtful, innovative leaders, regardless of seniority or job title. We strive to foster this culture of innovation and encourage our team members to share information and ideas upward, downward and laterally. This ultimately emboldens our talent to take ownership of their work and the company as a whole. We do this in a few ways. First, we host quarterly town hall meetings, in which employees can ask questions and gain further insight from executive leadership. We also support regular departmental “all hands on deck” meetings, which bring a greater level of precision and transparency to the strategies carried out by each department and allow employees to showcase their work, receive feedback from colleagues and company leaders and share recognition across the organization. At the micro-level, we encourage employees to participate in skip-level one-on-one meetings that connect them with executives in their department to discuss their work, ask questions, and gain greater visibility and mentorship across the company.

Our employees have time and time again proven to be thoughtful, innovative leaders, regardless of seniority or job title.”


What is SparkCognition’s approach to flexible work?

We provide employees the flexibility to work remotely as well as on site in a collaborative space. To us, being dynamic means trusting our employees to manage their work environment to best suit their personal needs and offering the freedom to create a strong work-life balance. We encourage them to establish their schedules in a way that fits their lives, which gives flexibility for things like picking up kids from school, living out of town and avoiding rush hour. In essence, we value our people and their time.

We are also invested in creating an exceptional office environment with amenities that employees specifically requested. With our fully-stocked kitchen, regularly catered meals, recreational areas for various games and activities and a large variety of workstation setup options, we build our office space to be a valuable resource for collaboration and a place our employees can enjoy.



Elizabeth Wong
People Operations Lead


Adia is a staffing platform that helps jobseekers find flexible work opportunities while giving employers access to great talent.


What is one standout career development opportunity Adia offers employees?

One of my favorite things about Adia is how much lateral movement is encouraged throughout the company. Working in such a collaborative environment allows people insight into other functions and roles aside from their own, and Adia really supports employees’ desires to learn new skills and take on challenges in new positions. Since we are still a small startup, this type of career development happens very organically and comes from the top as we have a leadership team that is not only growth-minded but empathetic as well.

All employees can access the KPI dashboard and see the overall health of the company.’’


What is one way Adia supports open communication and transparency?

Adia demonstrates our commitment to open communication and transparency through our real-time KPI dashboard. Certain measures of success can be unique to HR tech, so our head of Adia U.S. created a KPI dashboard with every team’s metrics and performance to ensure understanding across all functions. No matter what position someone has at Adia, all employees can access the KPI dashboard and see the overall health of the company, which is especially important to communicate regularly in a growing startup environment.


What is Adia’s approach to flexible work?

Adia has officially gone hybrid. Our focus is making sure that employees are able to work in an environment that will make them most comfortable and productive. We recognize the diversity in people’s workspace needs and conditions, so we support fully-remote work across the United States and also have a great office space in South Austin that is open for optional employee use. Some teams use the office once a week for in-person collaboration, while some individuals will come in sporadically if their home office environment isn’t suitable for them that day.



Sitting area in the ibble office


Mandie Murphree
Our Work Environment


ibble is a social media startup that brings comments to life with on-demand video and audio threads.


What is one standout career development opportunity ibble offers employees?

We allow our employees to pick courses or training that will further their knowledge and skill set. This can be opportunities they find themselves or opportunities that our executives find and offer to our staff. We offer and encourage individuals the ability to try tactics on their own, test these and then decipher if those findings help them in the long run. As part of a fast-growing startup, employees are able to learn and develop a wide breadth of expertise working alongside a cross-functional team.

We are always open to hearing feedback, both positive and negative.’’


What is one way ibble supports open communication and transparency?

We are always open to hearing feedback, both positive and negative. We have individuals who offer a listening ear, and our CEO has an open door policy to book time with him to discuss any concerns or questions that may arise. Any and all communication is valued and taken into consideration.


What is ibble’s approach to flexible work?

We offer one remote day on Fridays. During the week we want our employees in the office to create a collaborative work environment. If an employee asks to work from home on days other than Fridays, we allow this from time to time as well.



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