How automation changed my career: Mike Flynn, Senior Director of Integrations & Analytics at Persefoni

Humans of Automation - Mike Flynn

Time and again, we’ve seen how automation makes our customers’ lives easier. But in many cases, it does much more than that—our champions have earned promotions, company-wide recognition, and newfound influence over strategic decision-making all because of their role in automation strategy. Of its many benefits, automation is undoubtedly a springboard for career success.

In this post, we sat down with Mike Flynn, Senior Director of Integrations & Analytics at Persefoni, to learn how automation has transformed his career. 

Creating innovative alternatives to mundane work   

“If I can summarize my career as a whole, it’s getting people to stop using spreadsheets for important stuff,” says Flynn. 

Flynn’s career began at NetCentrics Corporation, where he helped develop “productivity solutions” that reduced corporate busywork, such as applications that helped guide meetings. 

As NetCentrics grew from 50 people to over 2000, Flynn took on a new challenge: solving the growing inefficiencies for a company of this size. Instead of developing products, he worked within NetCentrics to smooth out business processes and create workarounds for manual tasks. 

The career move was a natural progression for Flynn. 

“I’m a technologist, I like solving problems with technology. I also like making someone’s day better,” Flynn says. “And so, if you can do both—you know that’s how I got really into business process automation.”

Opting for an automation platform to implement integrations quickly

At his next company, Rapid7, Flynn was hired to tackle similar challenges. Except this time, the company’s portfolio of technologies was completely different. 

Rapid7 was an entirely SaaS-based company; in total the company’s number of applications reached nearly 300. A SaaS-based approach had helped Rapid7 scale fast by buying (as opposed to building) technologies that were top of the line in their category, such as Salesforce for sales or NetSuite for finance. 

However, they then had to decide how to integrate those technologies. 

When Rapid7 first entertained the idea of an automation platform to solve its integration problem, Flynn didn’t see the need. Why rely on a WYSIWYG editor to create integrations, he thought, when he understood APIs and could write great code? But that perspective shifted once he got his hands on Workato. 

“I realized that I could do [these integrations] myself and it could take weeks to build something, or I could use Workato to build something real quickly and start learning from it—and that’s where the value comes in,” says Flynn. 

No longer would Flynn have to spend up to three months designing integration solutions, which, as Rapid7 converted its hyper-growth to profitability, was time that the company didn’t have. Instead, he could test fast, iterate, and focus on the creativity and strategy required for the solutions to be successful. 

“You can go fast alone, but you can go far together”

After solving one of the company’s most critical integrations between Salesforce and NetSuite, Workato usage picked up across Rapid7. 

“We started developing some best practices,” says Flynn. “We realized we could build a model around not just data integration, but a whole operations model—how integrations work between our apps.” 

To support that model, Flynn and his team built out an automation center of excellence that consolidated automation strategy and efforts within one team, instead of scattering it across the company. The impact was enormous. Flynn and his team were able to expedite automation implementations across use cases, and save hundreds of hours of yearly manual work in the process. 

Data intelligence company Collibra took note of Flynn’s success, and hired him on to replicate the integrated data architecture he had built at Rapid7. 

Previously, each team within Collibra had been responsible for its own technology; professional services brought in FinancialForce, customer service brought in Gainsight, and so on. It was a more efficient way to onboard technology. But as Flynn notes, “you can go fast alone, but you can go far together.” 

Once more, he onboarded Workato, centralized integrations, and spearheaded a new automation culture across the company. 

Winning the climate accounting market race 

In February 2022, Flynn joined climate accounting company Persefoni. Not only did Flynn deeply align with Persefoni’s mission, but also its automation culture; before Flynn joined, Persefoni had already implemented Workato and put its weight behind scaling the company through technology. 

But that hasn’t meant that Flynn has had it easy. At Persefoni, the stakes of delivering value are perhaps the highest they’ve ever been. 

“We’re in a race to win our market, the climate accounting market,” Flynn noted. “It’s new, and we know there’s a very short window to getting all of our customers.”

Flynn’s tried-and-true strategy of using Workato to sandbox ideas and gather information fast is in full swing at Persefoni.  As a new startup, company strategy can change month by month—or even week by week—which throws long-term planning out the window. 

“If I tried to say, ‘I need two months to do a project,’” says Flynn, “Like, we don’t even know what our company is gonna look like in two months.”

As a people manager, the strategy is also helping Flynn carefully select the right hires for his team. He can test out ideas first with Workato to decide which projects require further investment, and then bring on the right people. 

Leveraging automation for years to come 

Though Flynn had initially balked at the idea of an automation platform, he now can’t envision his career without it. 

“Automation is like a drug,” Flynn says. “Once you taste it, if you go back into the world without it, all you can think about is like, ‘Man, this could be automated.’”

But as much as Flynn credits Workato for accelerating his ability to help people, he cautions any company from thinking that the answer to their integration or automation woes can be bought out of a box. 

Anyone can buy SaaS applications and an automation platform, Flynn says, but “​​what makes them different is how you utilize them, how you connect them together.” 

In other words, strategy is just as important as technology. While Workato may be the vehicle by which Flynn drives his automation strategy, it’s up to him to map out the destination by considering the entirety of the project in accordance with the company’s goals. 

So far, Flynn’s track record proves that he knows where he’s going.