@Vilhelm Skoglund Would you be able to share how much time it took to put together this report at this level of quality. Curious as to its "costs" should it be a regularly updated public good.
I felt strongly that I had to respond to this given my personal experience with Nonlinear (mostly Kat & Drew) were overall positive.
I do not have much knowledge about past Nonlinear employee experience (though we helped run a hiring search for them for an assistant as our first gig with HIRe - which they ended up not hiring for anyway in the end) - but I have a highly positive opinion with Kat and Drew. All my interactions with them have been incredibly positive personally and professionally. I have only met Emerson once so I have no opinion on him related to this post.
I’ve met Kat Woods while Nonlinear was running a search for someone to lead and incubate an EA recruiting agency. I joined and reached the final round (I recall being told there were 4 finalists) but unfortunately, I wasn’t selected as the top pick. Later on, Kat shared with me and the other 2 finalists that the incubatee changed their mind to focus on another career path. While disclosing that the original funding source might not be available, she encouraged us to try taking on this challenge as she believed we would be doing a lot of good in any case.
She also provided a small amount of seed funding for our time. Seeing as we were in a good position to explore doing work to help EA orgs, the other finalists and myself joined forces to what became High Impact Recruitment (HIRe).
While there was a lower level of infrastructure support in Nonlinear than I expected as an incubator (e.g. legal support, software, fundraising support, etc. - I have provided this feedback to Kat as well for improvement), Kat has always been a great brainstorming partner, grant application reviewer, and coach - which were instrumental in our initial work. Nonlinear also provided the initial funds enough for us co-founders to be able to work together while doing proper fundraising. As we got enough resources to run the org on our own, our interactions with Nonlinear reduced.
After several months of doing the recruiting agency work together, the HIRe founders parted ways for other opportunities just before the FTX fiasco. But during the entire time, Nonlinear has been nothing but positive, taking time to catch up with every few weeks as well as get together in EA conferences. In no way were we forced to do anything, and were independent in running the project. There were also no manipulations and confusion regarding “ownership”, etc. as we were encouraged by Kat that it was ours to run (even with some disagreements with her advice.)
[Note that before we decided to take on the recruiting agency work, Kat did not have to spend time and energy encouraging us and at any point could have moved on without much issue as there were no contracts signed (not saying this is a good thing - it would have been better if there were as these are baseline practices). While there was no paperwork and proper governance provided (we were generally quite experienced and entrepreneurial so we didn’t really need that much hand holding) - I can vouch that there was no manipulation, lying, of any kind. Discussions have been genuine and positive.]
Personally, she was able to persuade me to go all in using my time and skills to support EA orgs (which still drives me today). And while that alone isn't necessarily great moral reasoning - taken with all our interactions, results in my positive assessment of her character.
I am happy that this exists.
I think a good way to approach how to build out a good M&E culture in the community will be a guide with a checklist augmented by case studies of how other orgs/project teams implemented M&E at different stages. I have some confidence most will be happy to pick this up and reach out for specific advice. I also particularly encourage that all our EA project leads / orgs "self-require" some baseline level of an M&E system before asking donors for funds so we can be more accountable for our own requests for grants, etc.Happy to collaborate on the resource building part of this.
Yes, though we weren't able to work on initiatives to actively advocate for this. Looking back, perhaps this is partly due to my beliefs on the matter (I don't believe that those with minimal work experience can be really useful assistants) and my focus (I work mostly with students). While I encouraged EA Philippines students to take on operations-oriented roles in general during career advising in my past role as CB, I did not focus on PA.
While there is a demand for PAs/ExAs - to be a good one, you need to have excellent client management abilities ("Are you the right assistant for client X?") and enough experience with past organizational logistics work to navigate well to be three steps ahead of your client. You also need to be able to "train" your client on how to leverage your skills better to maximize their productivity (some people don't know how to use assistants). Otherwise, you won't be as helpful in your impact and may end up just being additional overhead to the EA leader you have as a client.
Those new to the workforce don't generally have these skills as they mostly get developed and honed over time. I have met some assistants (some from Athena) from our Professionals fellowship who support EAs and, while I'm not privy to their actual work performance, my initial impression is that they all have some decent past work experience.
As EA Philippines invests its energy in Professionals outreach, this could be something to put more time in exploring strategic initiatives that encourage this as a viable career path to pursue more intentionally. CC @Elmerei Cuevas @Alethea Faye Cendaña
I am grateful that this community exists - where one can take seriously trying to contribute in bringing about a better world while staying grounded. Appreciating the truth-seeking folks around me who I can call friends and trust will be honest about their critiques - always with the intent to encourage improvement instead of pulling me down (you know who you are!).