May 5, 2019
From Freelance to Netflix: My First Time at a Company
One year ago, when Netflix called and asked if I would accept their offer to work for them, I almost said no. I had never worked in a company in-house and had no desire to. My life as a freelance executive producer was ideal - I was fortunate enough to be called more than I could work, which allowed me the precious luxury to choose my projects. I also had a company for production services and I was making good money.
I was curious to learn more about the opportunity at Netflix, so I decided to interview. The more I interviewed with different people and learned about the opportunity, the more I was excited. First, the idea of managing several shows from low to high budgets was refreshing and exciting, as my career was limited more and more on high budgets for French and International shows and feature films. Second, I met passionate and open people. This was my first time experiencing interviews like this. I quit high school early , at 17, before graduating and I do not have any diplomas, nor the necessary corporate language expected. During the course of my interviews, however, no one ever asked for my diplomas or age - they only cared about my 30+ years of experience.
They were only interested in what we could do together for Netflix. What a challenge! This was of course a risk not only for them, but for me as well - not being sure that I would be able to adapt to an in-house role at a company. For me, it was a triple culture shock - working in-house at a company for the first time, working at a global company, and in particular - working for a global company that has an incredibly unique culture.
Netflix has a very unique culture with very little hierarchy and a lot of cross-functional communication. It is all about freedom and responsibility - building things your own way, sharing those learnings and experiences, and doing what is best for Netflix. To be honest, it has not been an easy path these last 9 months and there have been plenty of ups and downs. There were times when I wanted to go back to my previous and comfortable world and then one hour later, I would be excited and want to stay at Netflix for a very long time.
Even with tough times, there has been so much learning. At my age, 30 years into my career, you might pretentiously think you have nothing more to learn, but that was not the case! I am evolving and growing into a very different person than I was before. It’s challenging to feel like you don’t know anything anymore - I used to manage a large group of people and was in charge of making quick decisions. I thought I did not have an ego, but we all have one to some degree. It took time for me to understand how I needed to reorganize my work to fit the needs of this very lively, ever growing ecosystem at Netflix. It meant work more, share more, be less self-conscious, and rely more on the teams.
I pushed myself to listen to others more, make agendas for meetings, share information proactively, and come up with a well-thought out collegial decision. I’ve learned so much and if I were to ever go back to my previous world, I would surely take that with me. What helped to bear the cultural gaps are my great colleagues. After being overwhelmed with all the new information, I decided to take my time and go step by step. I organized my on-boarding in circles from the most useful to the core of my job, to projects, to what would be helpful more long-term. And I am grateful that at Netflix, there is space to fail and time to learn from those failures.
Then, came the joy and rewards. Being a part of great projects that I felt I could bring my share to it. I found a company and people with a profound respect for other human beings. In my opinion, Netflix cares and fights for equality and inclusion to improve work conditions. We are not perfect, but we want to be better and be great partners to the people we work with in the business.
I want to be a part of that. As an individual freelancer, I could do very little for the entertainment community. At Netflix, we have the support of a great company and we can elaborate in the long term. Together we can raise the bar and share great projects; it feels like we have no limit and it will always evolve. The truth of today is not the one of tomorrow, which is hugely exciting. It is often intense, but it keeps everything alive. My biggest win this first year at Netflix is the feeling that I can still work for many years to come. That I am different, not only how I work, but who I am as a person. I am more mindful of others, more candid, and I’ve become more open-minded.
I am a part of something bigger than myself.
What I’ve realized is that, together we are better.