I know I’ve done a lot of slobbering lately over the Institute for Systems Biology as a quintessentially “cool” place to work. But cool comes in many forms – just like snowflakes!
Certainly, FlowPlay can lay solid claim to a certain kind of tech-sector cool. They’re in a really cool part of a really cool city (Seattle, the coolest!). They make video games (cool) and develop virtual worlds (cooler than an icicle on an ice sculpture of Rihanna in the middle of January – in Norway).
The company describes its own culture as one that “takes work/play/life balance seriously,” and where “play is prized, and creativity is king.” There are only two office-mandated days each week, and the whole outfit is organized into project teams rather than fixed top-down hierarchies. (All of it cool, so cool. I now promise to retire this adjective for at least six months. A cooling-off period if you will.)
We recently announced that FlowPlay was seeking a Director Data Science. As we mentioned then, one of the core functions of this position is the management of a new internal analytics product that lets game designers continually tweak the campaigns in multi-platform games such as Vegas World. It called for a primo data scientist with a serious track record in designing and running A/B tests and other diagnostics.
And that seems to be exactly what FlowPlay found in Tony Williams, most recently a senior data scientist at Sony PlayStation in Silicon Valley. A bit earlier in his career, he was a senior manager for consumer behavior at PokerStars, the game’s biggest online site.
It’s impossible not to be a bit blown away by Tony’s credentials and intellectual curiosity. He describes himself as a “lifelong learner” who’s “always looking to develop new skills” – and wow, is he ever.
Before he anted up at PokerStars, he was cashing in his chips on a pretty amazing academic career: Not one but two bachelor’s degrees at Florida State, followed by master’s degrees at Johns Hopkins and the London School of Economics; a PhD at the University of Zurich; an assistant professorship at Maastricht University in the Netherlands; and a post-doc research hitch back at Zurich.
And you know someone’s serious about this stuff when the “selected interests” section of his resume – the place where most people list things like snorkeling or garden-gnome collecting – includes such diversions as “choice architecture,” “causal inference,” “neuroeconomics,” and “optimal pricing.”
We were glad to connect Tony and FlowPlay – and we would like to call attention to the fact that while many of our placements historically have been in the sales and marketing realms, this one was obviously for a full-on, hard-core data scientist. PSP places professionals from across a wide range of tech-sector fields and disciplines, so let us know if you’re looking for a specialist extraordinaire – no matter what that specialty might be.
PS From PSP
When we were last talking about FlowPlay, we pivoted off the company’s famously informal vibe to talk about the pandemic-accelerated shift toward a more casual tone in the workplace – an ethos that perhaps not every organization was pulling off as successfully or constructively as FlowPlay does.
This time around, I wanted to pose a separate but somewhat related issue. An executive friend of mine recently pointed out that among many Millennial and Gen-Z workers, the traditional ideal of “fitting your personal life into your work life” has gotten flipped, and the current standard among many of these employees and job seekers is the exact reverse – they see a work life that fits their personal life.
In other words, the prior assumption was that career came first; to have a work environment that gave you a bit of room along the margins for your personal life was considered a relatively rare blessing, and not one to be expected.
Increasingly, however, it seems that for many younger workers (and for a growing number of older ones as well), considerations like family, self-care, and personal interests have become more central to one’s self-definition, with work life in more of a supporting role.
My friend’s overarching point was this: If you are an employer who wants to attract and retain talent from these age cohorts, you’d best get wise to this potential reversal of priorities.
Readers, what say you? Is this a development you’ve been noticing? If so, how are you adjusting to it? A big part of me sees such a development as a useful correction to many bad old habits, but I could certainly understand if some managers might have a different take. Tell me your thoughts! ###