We continue to introduce Readdle team members to you! Today, our spotlight is on Julia Nikolaenko — Executive Director at Fluix. Julia's path at Readdle began more than nine years ago. Since then, her diverse education and experience have led Fluix into a bright future, helping hundreds of companies to go paperless and easily manage documentation, freeing time for important things.
Julia, tell us about your educational background?
I can honestly say I have a well-rounded higher education in three different areas: a Master's in Economics (Accounting, Auditing and Corporate Analysis), Bachelor's in Philology and Languages and a Master's in International Education Policy from Vanderbilt University (USA). I promise it all made lots of sense when I was studying, but now when I mention all the specialities and education I have, it sounds a bit random. However, such diverse education helps me see the world of business from different angles and approach it from various angles.
I'll add one more highlight to my education here. While in the U.S. I was lucky enough to be the only non-American intern at the government organization "World Learning." We invited peer professionals from all around the globe to the United States. So they could meet with professionals and experts (as well as government officials in D.C.) from their respective industries. Also, our team organized events, meetings, and receptions to make guests from other countries feel comfortable, at ease, and most productive during such one-week stays. This experience rounded out my perception of the world, various mentalities and cultural diversities and served as a fantastic basis for my understanding of different business industries.
How did you join Readdle?
I'm a FLEX scholarship recipient (American Councils funded by the U.S. Department of State scholarship). The FLEX community is a lot more than just a group of the program alumni — many of us have become close friends. After returning from the U.S. after another US-funded scholarship (Muskie), I started looking for a job. And one of my FLEX friends was working at Readdle at the time and suggested I meet with the company CEO and other founders, as she thought I could be a great company culture fit. Especially for the new B2B initiative that has just launched at Readdle. And that's how it all began back in 2012. I can't believe it was nine+ years ago!
What are the peculiarities of developing B2B vs B2C products?
Working at a product company is an honour, great luck, and a tremendous challenge. You're responsible for your product roadmap, for becoming and staying a market fit, for continuously bringing value to your customers. My current area of expertise is working in the B2B space, and I can notice the significant difference between developing a B2B and a B2C product.
Working with companies in the productivity space, the cost of error is enormous, and you feel the pressure and receive immediate feedback if something goes wrong with your product. If it doesn't work and people cannot launch it or work with their paperwork, it becomes as simple as that:
- Planes won't fly.
- Wind turbines won't get installed.
- Construction projects won't proceed as planned.
I'm not exaggerating here. These are the words of some of the Fluix customers who shared their experiences and stories with us back in the days when they could travel and visit the Fluix Team at our office. For over nine years, Readdle's B2B product has been devoting all efforts towards making teams across various industries all around the globe more efficient in their daily business processes, especially when it comes to working with documents. As a result, we made it possible for many of these teams to go completely paperless, save time and dedicate it to doing their job. Not spend it mostly on filling out paperwork, printing it out and then scanning it back to send to customers, suppliers, the office.
Tell us more about building long-term /successful relationships with international clients like Siemens Gameza, Zurich Insurance/RWE and others?
The Fluix team and I have always prioritized relationships with our customers — a small group of nurses in a far-away Seattle hospital or a Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy 6,000-people team in over 30 countries. So if I ask our customers what they like most about Fluix, I'm sure they will mention our service and the team. One of the core Readdle values is putting customer needs first, and we at Fluix take this value to heart. Over the years, we've had occasions when the team had to drop everything and start troubleshooting all together. Or work at nights and weekends when our Australian customer (BMW) launched a project. Another example could be that despite exhausting contract negotiations with the customer's Procurement, we have not given up and launched a highly successful project for 1,000 people overnight at Zurich Insurance. It's always been a fantastic team effort, and I'm so proud of it.
How do you plan to develop Fluix?
The productivity solutions market is evolving more and more, and the big players like SAP, Microsoft, etc., have caught up with their mobile offerings. But at Fluix, we don't feel threatened and don't plan to give up. On the contrary, we're constantly looking for new ideas and directions to promote and improve our product. We have gained vast expertise in workflow automation, business process and document management, particularly in some of our flagship industries (the ever-growing Renewable Energy, Construction & Remodelling, HVAC). We're looking into making Fluix an even more well-rounded no-code productivity platform. The team is adding the ability to work with tasks and web forms and our historical stronghold PDF forms (based on the Readdle team's engine developed in house from scratch). And I can only say it's the beginning, and there's a lot more to come in terms of where we'd like to take Fluix.
How do you manage the most diverse team at Readdle?
The Fluix Team is the most diverse Team at Readdle. There are 50 of us now, from various backgrounds and cultures. We work from 7 different countries and continue looking for new talent globally. I am pretty proud to say that we were ready for 2020 when everyone went remote. Fluix had put so many procedures to be fully functional as a remote team by the time this happened that our productivity barely suffered. Of course, we miss seeing each other and chatting and exchanging ideas more frequently in person, but there is certainly no lack of inclusivity in Fluix. I travelled on business a lot over the years. In 2018, I started going from Odessa headquarters to Berlin for more extended periods to see how I would manage to stay in the loop remotely, what the team reaction would be and what remained to be changed for us to be even more effective. By 2020 I was pretty happy with the outcome and made my own life-changing decision to move to Berlin permanently, despite the pandemic and the lockdown. Having lived here for almost two years now, I can still say we're doing well as a remote team.
What are you most proud of about Fluix team?
Having been with Fluix for so long, I have many reasons to feel proud. These things motivate me and make me wake up feeling excited about what's coming next for the Fluix team.
If I had to pick one thing I've most recently been proud of regarding the product itself, I'd say the fact that Fluix received the ISO27001 certification. Back in 2012, when we started PDF Expert Enterprise, it was merely an experiment; we wanted to help companies and let them jump on the digitization wave the soonest. In 2022, Fluix is an enterprise-grade solution used by world-known companies and certified by one ISO standard.
Another interesting fact is that all my Team Leads have been with the company and our product for 5+ years. They have grown internally, shifting roles and responsibilities. We've been quite successful in identifying what people on our team are good at and in which areas they'd thrive as professionals. Thankfully, at Readdle, it's possible and encouraged to drive any initiative and grow into roles that fit one best.
What inspires you outside the work?
I love the work I do, and although sometimes it may be difficult, I'm still passionate about it. However, I love all sorts of things in life, and I seek inspiration from them. For over 3-4 years now, I've been a huge fan of Audible. I've listened to hundreds and hundreds of books. However, I prefer to listen to fiction as it's still better to read business literature than listen to it.
I'm also proud to say that I am a woman working in tech, but it doesn't stop me from loving style, fashion and design. Over the years, I've taken several courses in personal styling, subscribed to the Business of Fashion online resource, and closely followed current turbulent fashion trends. In addition to all this, I moved to a new city. I won't even start naming all the new things I'm coming across here in Berlin daily. However, I like challenges and accept them all with my eyes open. Furthermore, I have my family and a close circle of friends, who always have my back, inspire me and help me take on pretty much anything, and that includes the Readdle team.
We hope that you enjoyed learning more about the Readdle people. Very soon, we'll be introducing more of them to you!