The Download: Jessica Mitsch, CEO, Momentum

Jessica Mitsch is the Co-Founder and CEO of Momentum, a leading provider of in-person and virtual talent transformation services nationwide. A recognized leader in tech talent recruitment, transformation and retention and an advocate of economic empowerment through careers in tech, Jessica shapes the company’s software engineering program and varied coursework to supply companies with ready and lasting talent, with a particular focus on individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

Prior to leading Momentum, Jessica was the Executive Director of Growth & Strategic Partnerships at The Iron Yard, a nationally recognized code school. She began her career on the People team at Red Hat.

She has received numerous awards for her contributions to the changing landscape of tech, including the Triangle Business Journal Women in Business (2021), Durham Magazine Influencer (2019), Cary Magazine Mover & Shaker Award (2019), Startup Grind Top Female Newcomer (2018) and Triangle Business Journal 40 under 40 (2017).

Jessica graduated from College of Charleston and is a North Carolina native.

  1. What is in your pockets?

I always just have my iPhone.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

Momentum is a training company and we’re focused on building talent for the future of work, for both today and tomorrow. What that means is we’ve focused our core on technology training, particularly software and web development, but we’re also training around those skill sets now, too.

For example, we’re doing technical manager training with a lot of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts that we’ve been a part of. We are now not only training people for those junior associate-level software engineering roles, but we’re also training their managers on how to be better managers and how to recognize talent on their teams and provide them with more advancement opportunities. We provide a holistic approach for technology organizations and tech teams to level-up their business entirely through training efforts around technology and manager training.

Momentum is getting into the space of helping provide organizations with an amazing pipeline of existing talent in the workforce. Not new talent coming out of undergrad, but existing talent in the workforce that is diverse and that can be tailored to an employer’s needs. Momentum has now developed an entire program of services to go inside an organization and help them train their existing employees. We’ll also do the recruiting for them upfront for the type of people that they’re looking to bring on to their teams. Then we will provide them with the training upfront going in.

Providing people with upward mobility within the organization and particularly people who really understand the customer and the business case. Often software developers are hired within organizations who are great at building software, but they don’t know the business and they don’t know the customer. If you can look at people who are working on the front lines with the customer, maybe their job is getting automated or going away, and you need fewer people on the front lines, but give those people a chance at getting up-skilled.

We work with a lot of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging teams. What they’re telling us—especially in these large organizations—is, hey, we’re less concerned about diversity. We have the numbers of staff. We exist around the country or around the world. Therefore, we look like the communities that we serve in those places. But as soon as you start going up the ladder and the pyramid in the organization, that’s when we’re starting to see there’s a real equity gap.

And so, how do we make sure that we’re being proactive about that and making sure we’re taking those people from the front lines who really understand our business and that want to move into a different part of the organization, and we’re giving them those career pathways and we’re doing it through a way that’s really intentional, very high-touch, really setting them up for success. And we’re not just rolling out an online course that they can go in and take a multiple-choice test. We are actually doing the apprenticeship training, hands-on practicum, 12-plus-week training.

We talk to D&I leaders almost daily at organizations big and small, and we’re talking to a lot of Fortune 500 people. It’s very challenging to be able to demonstrate measurable change quickly. And through training, that’s a way that you can seriously do that and be able to show, we’ve taken this many people from a timestamp job to a family-earning salary.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

Videri Chocolate Factory is my favorite. You can get hot sipping chocolate there and it’s amazing.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

One of the things that keeps me up at night is making sure I get enough sleep because I really do make sure to take care of my body. I see my career and my life as a marathon, not a sprint, so I’m pretty diligent about my health. The entrepreneur world is very much a rollercoaster.

I’m very focused on the sustainability of the business and getting Momentum into a place where we have steady recurring revenue. One of the things we’ve done is to pivot from a tuition-based model to companies paying and investing to build talent.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

My all-time favorite restaurant in town is Irregardless.  It’s been almost 50 years now since Arthur (Gordon) opened.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

Well, me personally, I’m getting married Oct. 2, so very excited about that.

But as far as Momentum goes, we have several impressive organizations that we’re meeting with and another potential university partnership that we’re hoping to announce down the road as well. So, we’ve got some really exciting partnerships going into 2022.

We also have several employee sponsorship seats open for this fall. And those are filling really fast. We brought incredible candidates for those positions. So if there are any organizations in town that want to sponsor a really impressive career-changing student that they can hire, tell them to give us a ring.

About Brooks Malone 70 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.