EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
A lot has changed for Autumn Manning in the past six years, since she was a member of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class in 2011.
She left her job as partner and director of client solutions at Fayetteville-based SVI in mid-2012 to co-found YouEarnedIt with Rockfish Digital founder Kenny Tomlin.
YouEarnedIt is a software company that makes employee recognition and reward products, according to its website. Tomlin is executive chairman and Manning is CEO.
In 2013, Manning made the decision to move the company to Austin, Texas, in order to tap into a broader technology talent pool and grow the business in a more tech-focused city, she said.
Since its founding, YouEarnedIt has evolved from “an idea to help employees have a voice within their companies, to a robust human resources tool that helps hundreds of thousands of employees daily,” Manning said.
In January, the company announced a series A venture capital financing round.
“At YouEarnedIt, our business model and growth trajectory is very different than before, so scaling a fast-growing business and raising venture capital to invest in the future are new experiences that keep me busy,” she said.
“From my personal life, to starting a company, to living in Austin, nothing has remained constant [since 2011]. The only constant is what motivates me. That hasn’t changed. Making a difference in the lives of others through my work drives me every day.”
At SVI, which makes employee training products, Manning led the research division when she started there in 2003.
Later, she transferred to an outward-facing role, helping to lead client interaction, business development and project work.
At YouEarnedIt, Manning has continued her career in human capital. In addition to engaging and providing rewards to employees, YouEarnedIt charges that its product line and related services enhance the employee experience and as a result improve companies’ overall performance metrics.
YouEarnedIt, under Manning’s leadership, was named to Entrepreneur magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017. The startup ranked 11th in the small-sized business category.
Manning takes great pride in the culture at YouEarnedIt and “our ability to operate as a strong, connected team working together to accomplish something that hasn’t been done before,” she said.
“As far as the work we do, it feels like it’s a dream job,” she added. “YouEarnedIt’s software platform enables companies to build better cultures, drive engagement across their people, and deliver more powerful bottom-line results,” she said.
As a business leader, Manning works to instill altruism in those around her, including her staff. “At YouEarnedIt, I have incorporated #leaveitbetter days so we can serve others as a team, and we do this often.”
Leave It Better, according to the YouEarnedIt website, means: “Strive to leave people, processes and yourself better than you found them. Give time, help and compassion to those in need. Go the extra 10 miles for the customer. The phrase ‘it’s not my job’ doesn’t exist.”
Manning has a question-and-answer series, also called Leave It Better, where she discusses “hot topics in leadership, culture and women in tech as part of our ongoing effort to leave business better.”
On a personal level, Manning is a longtime supporter of CASA, or Court-Appointed Special Advocates, which helps abused or neglected children find permanent homes. While she lived in Northwest Arkansas she worked closely with the organization.
“I am still a huge supporter of CASA, but I’ve yet to pick up another case in Texas. I won’t do so until I can fully devote enough time and attention to make a true difference for the kids involved,” she said.
She also advocates for women in business and said she spends “a lot of time speaking or mentoring on the topic of females in leadership and how to change the dynamic [and the numbers] for females in executive positions.”
Profiled in The New York Times and Huffington Post, Manning’s thoughts on culture and leadership have been featured in Inc., Business Insider and Entrepreneur magazine.
She has two children, Marin, 7, and Miles, 10.