Expert Insights

Linda Mann
US Co-founder & Chief Product Officer,

Linda is our industry’s superhero in building freelance programs at scale. She built PWC’s Talent Exchange, she was MBO’s Chief Experience Officer, and now is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at FlexC, a somewhat new yet prominently established marketplace. 
A couple of themes to listen for:
  • WHY there are so many layers in the freelance economy. Hint…it stems from the meshing of Procurement, HR, Finance, and various working teams.
  • HOW to balance the client-marketplace dynamic. 
  • WHERE the industry is heading, hint…from reactive & non-risky to sophisticated, strategic, and core. 
  • WHAT org’s need to do over the next 30/60/90 days to set themselves up for success.

Our Favorite Quotes

Why are there so many layers just to hire someone? (TLDR; FlexC is helping eliminate or digitize these layers)

  • “I think it’s this weird meshing of HR and procurement right and finance. Traditionally HR has not been expected to provide contract talent, right? So they had to outsource it. Procurement has historically been all about managing costs, so you get these, these steps inserted into the process. In terms of how do you find the right provider of the talent, which I think creates more layers, because right now you have agencies who have talent, and procurement has brought in layers of people to manage the agencies to make sure that those agencies are competitive. And then you have finance and layers within the company in terms of approving a role or approving a budget. So when you start smashing all that together, it gets really messy. It’s ironic, because when you hire a full time employee, you would never put them through that process. But for some reason, when it’s contract talent, we treat them almost more like buying a pencil than hiring a person. We send them through this sort of purchasing process instead of a hiring process.”
  • “I don’t think it’s any one person’s fault. There’s a lot of different functions that have been smashed together. And we haven’t really looked at how to make it efficient. So that’s a lot of what our platform is trying to do is to remove those layers and or digitize them so that it’s a much smoother process”


Why is this so hard especially at the enterprise level?

  • “When you become a really big company, you have to have really strict rules in place to manage that many people. And so that’s why the enterprise has all these hoops, you have to jump through.”
  • I don’t totally fault the enterprise, because they have a lot to protect. I think what we probably have to do is be smarter around, where are those key points where their needs to be a check or a balance. And who is actually adding value in the process versus just checking boxes just to include everybody”


Simple tactical things that hiring managers should consider.

  •  “Just because someone is a contractor versus an employee, that that shouldn’t change the type of relationship you have. So anything you would do with building a relationship with an employee, I think you should do with a with an independent talent. And quite honestly, that independent talent may be with you longer than an employee because nowadays, we are all bouncing from job to job, and it’s much easier and much more appropriate to take an independent contractor with you than to pull from the employees from that previous employer.”


Three legged stool = Supply, Demand, Platform.

  • I say this often to people, which is I always approach this like a three legged stool. If you think about three legged stool, no one leg can make the stool. But one bad leg breaks the whole stool, so all three legs have to be in alignment. And the legs are supply, demand and platform.”


Shift in the Freelance Industry.

  • “There’s so many additional risk points and you need a platform that can manage all that, when you’re dealing with it. I think, on Upwork, the average priced project is around $5,000. And on our platform, it’s closer to $50,000. So it’s like when you’re buying a condo versus a luxury house, the buying and vetting process is different. So you have to account for all those differences in terms of the purchasing processes. And, and you’re dealing with talent who are very sophisticated, experienced, and professional who have several choices in terms of work. So I think the whole evolution from using marketplaces for a lower price, I don’t want to say lower end, but you know, more commodity type talent, and then shifting to these more sophisticated demands has totally changed what the platform needs to be able to do for both sides of buyer and talent.”

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