Inside Unleash: Mark’s first week as an Unleash implementation architect

Hi! I’m Mark Fulton, a recently hired implementation architect on the Customer Experience and Insights team here at Unleash. I’m also the first member of the Unleash CX team based in the US.

I’ve been at Unleash now for one month and already I feel like I’ve been making an impact.. Here are some of my thoughts on the overall experience of being a new hire at this unique and exciting company.

Meeting Unleash

I came across Unleash through a former colleague being based at the company, Mike Vittiglio. You can find one of his great blog contributions here

I was intrigued by the value of feature flags. I felt I was just scratching the surface on how they can help developers decouple build from release processes. So I reached out to Mike to find out more.

With my background in customer success and customer education, I took a closer look at Unleash’s documentation and training materials. 

My first findings were how mature and well put together they were for a new user. I loved how quickly I could start a Docker instance of open source Unleash on my local machine and understand the architecture from a high level.

The fact that Unleash is open source at heart was also a key factor that resonated with me.

With that said, I wanted to learn more about the company and the roles it had open. I  reached out and began conversations with the wider Unleash team.

Interviews with Unleash

My interviews with Unleash were transparent, timely and well-structured. There was great communication throughout the process. 

The interview process is a great opportunity to learn about a company’s culture, day-to-day activities, and whether the role is even a good fit. In earlier interview experiences I’ve had to dig to get answers to these questions. 

With Unleash, I felt the process itself gave a preview of the company culture. 

Roles at Unleash are creative and diverse, and often include multiple hats. Contributions/suggestions are not only welcomed, but embraced. 

It seemed to me that this is a company that truly values the unique talents and backgrounds of its employees 

It also struck me how centric the customer is to the Unleash experience, and how deeply Unleash values both its customers and open source community.   Case in point was how early Unleash has chosen to invest in its customer experience and insights team. 

During the interview process, I was tasked with a practical exercise. In it, I was to prepare and present training as if I were in front of a customer.

This was a unique opportunity to put my research in Unleash’s open source into practice. This gave both the interview panel and myself insights into the most important parts of my daily work: making customers happy and driving adoption of Unleash’s platform. 

It turns out the exercise was a great help with my onboarding. I got a head start in knowing the product better. I also got a preview into the scope of what I needed to learn, and where I had the largest gaps in my own knowledge. 

On the way, I got to meet my peers for the first time.

I felt very positive after the whole interview process, and I was ready to dive headfirst into my first week.

My first week

Overall, I found that Unleash offers one of the most positive onboarding experiences I’ve had at any company. 

During the first week, we focused on four primary tracks:

  • Getting to know the rest of Unleash
  • Customer Success strategy
  • Product knowledge
  • Customer shadowing

Everything was well structured and thoughtfully put together. It was clear that my mentors invested a lot into making my onboarding an outstanding experience. 

I felt quite humbled. At every moment I was encouraged to ask questions and engage in dialogue.

A highlight for me was seeing the full org chart fit on a single slide. I was able to meet the vast majority of Unleash remotely over just a few days. I quickly got a handle on who does what and how we could best support each other. 

I also received a curriculum on Unleash’s product, with everything neatly broken down by topic. This is important for being able to talk to our users from an informed place.

Next came customer call shadowing. I really enjoyed getting to know our customers at all levels. I learned how and why they use Unleash. I got insight into the processes that take place at each stage of the customer journey. 

The sum experience helped me understand Unleash’s value in the real world a lot better. A point that came into focus again and again is how user-focused Unleash is as an organization. 

Everyone deeply cares about the customer journey and experience. This isn’t exclusive to customer-facing roles. When an issue or bug is raised with the product team, our developers are quick to respond to each customer pain point.

My first pull request

Each new employee at Unleash is encouraged to contribute at least once during their first week on the job.

For my part, I was eager to contribute to help a key gap in my understanding. I wanted to address what I considered a part of the Unleash new user experience that was missing.

Here’s what I mean: Our Quickstart tutorial was instrumental in helping me deploy a running local dockerized instance of Unleash during the interview process. 

However, I found myself scouring the web looking for example application code that showed the frontend and server-side Unleash SDKs in practice. I wanted to see more of the code hooked into working feature flags and hosted by Unleash.

During technical onboarding I found that a number of the Sales Engineers had working dockerized demo environments. So I proposed writing a tutorial.

The idea was  to give the wider community of open source users, customers and employees a working recipe for a demo application. The demo would highlight several key use cases for feature flag management through Unleash.

A huge bonus was that the exercise improved my own knowledge of client vs server-side SDKs.

I set to work, and within a few days I had a draft ready. With support from the Unleash team, I had everything I needed to understand the process behind doc authoring, tooling, and repo structure.

And with that, I conducted my first Unleash pull request.  

Looking ahead at Unleash

Overall I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a new hire. Everything I have encountered so far confirms my decision to join the company.

Often it can be intimidating coming into a new company, but I genuinely feel like the team has my back and is rooting for my success.

I’m in a space where I feel I can put my skills and talents to great use. Our culture of trust and integrity–with a customer-first approach–makes me very excited for the future.

I can’t wait to contribute more towards Unleash’s growth and successes. I think I’m most looking forward to working with Unleash customers, and letting them know about my own positive experiences with what Unleash can do. 

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