4 Chicago tech companies making professional development a priority

Andreas Rekdal

Employees are a company’s most important asset, and investing in them is the best way to foster continued growth. But what does investing in your employees actually look like in practice? We spoke with four fast-growing Chicago tech companies to find out.


To make sure its team members hit the ground running, Adage Technologies pairs every new employee with a mentor charged with showing them the ropes for the first six months. The learning process continues throughout the employee’s tenure, through weekly coaching, lunch-and-learns, off-site learning opportunities, book clubs and company support for any resources, materials, training and certifications the employee might need. Adage also puts a strong focus on providing opportunities to try out new roles and responsibilities.

What employees say: “Adage has done a great job of supporting my professional development — from my first day as a doe-eyed developer fresh out of school, all the way to my current role of managing a team of developers,” said development manager Glenn Lalas. “There are always new occasions to pick up a new technical concept or work on a soft skill outside of my comfort zone, and my peers and managers have been open to allowing me the bandwidth to explore these opportunities.”

Why it’s a priority: “One of our core values is to adapt and evolve,” said President Roy Chomko. “Continuous learning is a priority for everyone at Adage. By providing our employees with the support, training and resources to grow professionally, we’re giving them the tools to better serve our customers.”


To help team members ensure that their careers are moving in the right direction, kCura has developed a career map that serves as a guide on available opportunities within the organization as well as the skills an employee will need to make it there. The company also gives its teams training budgets of roughly $3,000 per employee, career coaching and opportunities to participate in discussion groups, attend thought leadership presentations and take advantage of self-directed learning opportunities.

What employees say: “It was great to have an opportunity to talk to an external career coach and receive a quite insightful personality assessment,” said technical business analyst Melanie Youstra. “After exploring how to align my interests and career expectations, I was able to identify a roadmap for my professional development and gain more confidence when pursuing a new position within kCura. As a result, I was able to move from business analyst to a technical business analyst position within a reasonable period of time.”

Why it’s a priority: “Driven by our principle of growing our people to grow our business, we’re building a learning ecosystem that ensures everyone feels valued, developed and part of our employee community,” said Director of Talent Engagement Debbie Plager. “Continuous learning also perfectly aligns with two of our core values: ‘Embrace the talents of your colleagues and our customers,’ and ‘Be humble and stay hungry.’”


Uptake’s professional development initiatives are designed to reward and nurture intellectual curiosity. This year, the company launched Uptake University to bring learning opportunities from internal and external experts on topics like leadership, technology and well-being. Uptake also has partnerships with organizations like Second City, and helps cover the cost of additional educational opportunities through its ULearn program.

What employees say: “With the company in a rapid state of growth, employees are encouraged to identify needs and tackle them as we continue to evolve,” said brand director Valerie Craig. “Uptake has supported my growth as an employee, and as a person, through conscious leadership training and Uptake U courses. We value curiosity and it really drives the company and employees to advance.”

Why it’s a priority: “We want to create developmental scaffolding upon which our people can build,” said Director of Organization Development Gentzy Franz. “We want them to build community, knowledge and skills in all the experiences we design. With this in mind, we're constantly looking to create experiences that pique curiosity and encourage relationship building. Highly creative and deeply connected people will naturally do some pretty amazing things. And when that magic happens, the company and the people benefit."


Outcome Health offers continued role-specific education opportunities, lunch-and-learns and panel discussions to help every employee stay on top of new developments in their field. Moreover, the company invests heavily in managers so they can pass their expertise along to the rest of the team. But one of Outcome Health’s biggest employee development initiatives is its career toolkit, which aims to guide employees toward the right opportunities to move up within the organization or hone skills that will help them do so in the future.

What employees say: “The manager effectiveness resources help me gain high-quality mental repetitions and insight from experienced people leaders and colleagues,” said franchise sales manager Andy O’Hare. “Having a team at Outcome Health that is so dedicated to my professional and personal growth has been both humbling and empowering, and I'm excited to continue to learn from the many colleagues and friends that have already impacted my development so positively.”

Why it’s a priority: “We recognize that our employees are our best investment and it’s critical that we provide them with opportunities to grow,” said Director of People Programs Varsha Vig. “We want every employee to feel like they own their career journey; thus, we provide them with resources to expand their knowledge, grow through experiences and build relationships to expand their networks. Each of these provides them with personal and professional development. We strongly believe that if Outcome Activators are growing and progressing, then so are we as a company.”


Images via featured companies.

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