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For Jacob Mathison, Newsweek Expert Forum is an Effective Recruiting and Retention Tool

Jacob Mathison describes himself, first and foremost, as a software engineer and web application developer. While he now employs three full-time people and 24 contractors at Mathison Projects, he still writes code himself. It’s a lifelong passion — a skill that his father encouraged him to learn at an early age, and one at which he excelled. “I got my first big corporate job when I was 20 years old,” Mathison recalls. “I didn’t even bother going to college.” But after almost a decade of web application development, he discovered a common problem with all of his jobs: he was too successful. “I was constantly working myself out of a job,” Mathison says.

Typically, he detected patterns and then created automated solutions to catch errors before they ended up in his work queue. “When you’re looking at normal business process flow, eventually you see that the person who automated isn’t doing any other work,” says Mathison. “So can you justify keeping that employee?” Well, no. And so Mathison took a hard look at his own work pattern and decided that he was not particularly well-suited to be anyone’s employee.

He decided to try his hand at contract work. His first big job involved helping Marriott rebuild the administration portal for its rewards management program. “I completed all the relevant work within sprint and they didn’t know what to do with me,” Mathison says. “I finished the contract early whether I wanted to or not. And this just kept happening.”

As Mathison was approaching age 30, he decided he needed leadership experience to round out his skills and to prepare himself to start a real business. During two short stints leading developer teams at two different companies, and getting some valuable advice from a mentor, he launched Mathison Projects in October 2020. By December, he had landed a big client that kept Mathison solvent for a year. Now the company serves a wide range of clients — from startups to multi-billion dollar companies — in a variety of industries. They hire Mathison to build websites, apps, ecommerce platforms, UI/UX design, and new products. For instance, the company recently built an insurance processing portal. “If you need a web application, that is where we shine the best,” says Mathison.

“Because of this [Newsweek Expert Forum] initiative, we’ve increased the diversity in our company, not just in ethnicity, gender identity, or sexuality, but also in thought process.”

What sets the company apart from the competition is its flexibility, not only with clients but with its largely contract workforce. “We value empowering employees to do what they know is right for themselves,” says Mathison. His distributed team and 24 contractors are in the U.S., Salvador, Argentina, Paraguay, Kazakhstan, and Hungary. Even though they are contractors, they are offered the kinds of benefits most full time employees don’t enjoy: two weeks off with pay at the end of the year; paid time off for their national holidays; educational resources; and paid mental health services. “From day one, we say, ‘You should not be loyal to us,’” says Mathison. “If we chose to hire you, we want to prove that we are deserving of employee loyalty. That’s why we invest heavily in employee welfare programs.” He says his efforts have paid off: contractors are excited about being part of Mathison’s projects; only one person has left the company since its inception.

As Mathison grew his company, he knew it was important for him to continue learning from other executives and to make himself more visible online. “We’re leveraging Newseek [Expert Forum] to exhibit the kind of culture we have, not to attract new business, but to attract and retain talent,” says Mathison. “Because of this initiative, we’ve increased the diversity in our company, not just in ethnicity, gender identity, or sexuality, but also in thought process.” The successful integration of so many perspectives in an accepting and respectful workplace helps create employee evangelists and gives the company a leg up on its competitors.

Additionally, Mathison is recording fellow Newsweek Export Forum members to be guests on his new podcast, Mathison Talks. “We've been looking for people to talk to us so that we can share not only their profiles, but also to show that we are involved with constantly learning more about the technology landscape,” he says. So far, he’s booked five members for the podcast.

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