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Balancing Work, Life, and Roller Derby at Automox

What does a high-growth tech company have in common with roller derby? A lot, if you ask Automox Recruiting Coordinator, Jess Keller.

“Both require good communication, agility and flexibility. Literally and figuratively,” she said. “In roller derby, you can plan as much as you want on the bench, but once the start whistle blows you have to be open to going in a different direction. Same with coordinating recruitment efforts. When I’m scheduling a whole day of interviews it’s often necessary for me to think outside the box and get creative.”

Strategy: On The Job and On The Track

While Automox’s recruiters search for talented candidates to add to the company roster, Keller keeps the entire team on track, so to speak. As a recruiting coordinator, Keller schedules hundreds of interviews a week. Just like in gameplay, navigating the high pace and volume of the recruiting team’s efforts calls for strategic coordination and laser focus.

Keller, known as Speedlejuice on the track, enjoys roller derby because it is fast and aggressive, but there’s more to it than that. “People definitely think you’re hardcore after they come to one of your bouts,” she said. “But it’s also strategic and mental as much as it is physical – which might not be obvious at first.”

A Little Background: Derby 101

Roller derby is a full contact sport played on quad roller skates. While the sport dates back to the banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930s, contemporary derby pits two teams against each other on a flat, oval-shaped track. Gameplay is broken up into 30 second intervals, called jams, during which each team fields one Jammer and four Blockers.

While much of her work takes place behind the scenes at Automox, Keller finds balance by spending her time on skates in the spotlight. “Being a Jammer pretty much means being the center of attention and being the one who gets the glory for scoring the points. Or being the one who takes the fall when the team fails.”

You can identify a Jammer by looking for the star on their helmet. Jammers score a point for every player of the opposing team they pass legally while sprinting around the track. Their counterparts, Blockers, play simultaneous defense and offense. That means they are focused on stopping the opposing Jammer from lapping them while helping their Jammer pass the opponent’s Blockers.

Jess Kelly playing roller derby in Denver, CO
Jess Keller wearing the Jammer star during a bout.

“People refer to it as chess meets football on roller skates,” she said. “It takes mental toughness and courage. You have to stay calm in really chaotic situations.”

The Game-Changer: A Flexible Work Culture

Keller’s current league, Denver Roller Derby, is ranked fourth internationally and is dedicated to putting in the practice time and tournament travel required to stay on top. Keller credits Automox’s flexible remote culture for some of her success on the track.

Denver Roller Derby League
Automox's Jess Keller with teammates from Denver Roller Derby.

“Practices are three hours long, not including extra hours of scrimmage, off-skates workouts and team Crossfit,” she said. “But having control over my own schedule lets me balance life on skates with life at work.”

When playoffs and championship tournaments can take you as far as Spain or Sweden, counting PTO days is the last thing you should worry about. Automox allows employees to take the time they need when they need it.

As a remote-first company, Automox is committed to asynchronous collaboration and work-life harmony. Flexible schedules and a flexible vacation policy allow employees to grow their careers while living vibrant lives outside of work.

“It’s so important to me that work doesn’t interfere with derby and that derby doesn’t interfere with work, but at Automox I don’t have to worry,” Keller said. “I’m thriving in both areas.”

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