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Meet Michael from the People Team

Michael smiling next to the Avant logo on a bright blue background
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Every unique and talented Avantee is a co-creator of the Avant culture we love. We hope the @Avant series helps you get to know who we are, how we do what we do, and what it looks like to build your career at Avant.

Michael Thorp

Talent Associate on the People Team

Joined Avant in 2019

What’s it like to work @Avant? We asked Michael for his take on our culture, and here’s what he said:

1. How would you describe Avant’s culture?

Michael, smiling in a suit and glasses

Avant is the kind of company that really emphasizes the importance of each individual’s contribution to our greater goal. We value transparency, top to bottom, and are good at getting rid of silos. We’re also very entrepreneurial in nature—it’s about outputs rather than inputs. And we see the “realness” of our people. Bringing our full selves to work is one of our values, and it’s really true here.

Altogether, this kind of culture enables us to be honest with one another, to bring new ideas to the table, and to have an open, flat structure where we can all make changes and see our impact. That’s what Avant does consistently and very well. I feel completely validated to express my ideas, my concerns, and to say what is really going on without needing to be political in the way that I communicate. That’s what lets us move the needle as a business.

2. Why are you happy/successful here?

I can tell you exactly what it is, because it’s the reason I came to Avant years ago. This company trusts you, as the professional you are, to do the work they hired you to do. I can set my own goals and take ownership in my role. I get to decide what to do within my power to be successful in my job. And Avant provides the resources to get the work done and be effective—it doesn’t take a big ask and lots of convincing to get what you need.

I tell people that this is the most productive I’ve been in my professional career, but with the lowest amount of stress I’ve ever had in a job. That’s cool to think about: putting out that much work, but also feeling really happy and healthy doing it. That’s what makes me happy more than anything else.

3. What’s a superpower that you get to apply at your job?

I’m good at making people feel comfortable and relaxed, like they can be real with me. In interviews, if somebody seems really nervous and starts reciting something they clearly planned out ahead of time, that’s not going to help either of us gather real information. My superpower is that I can figure out how to make the energy relax, so the conversation can become more meaningful. My superpower is really about reading people and listening for what is important to them, and then connecting with them so we can both be more real.

4. If you had to describe who you are and not mention your work at all, what would you say?

I’m creative and curious, and I’m good at seeing something through, beginning to end. My favorite thing is going from concept to reality and then seeing what the differences were between the two. I’m also very visual—I could go on a 4-hour backroads drive and remember it in my head 3 years later. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener, and I try to be a fair and objective decision maker. And my new thing is trying to live in the moment, taking a second to erase everything in my brain and just exist for a minute. It’s powerful.

5. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to design theme park attractions. I was huge into Roller Coaster Tycoon, doing internet competitions and everything. I wanted to storytell in a very tangible, real, all-encompassing sense, not just as an author, not just as an illustrator—the theme park rides felt like a cool way to package it all up. I still would love to do it! It’s a huge passion for me.

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