by Courtney Ryan
November 12, 2018

With fewer than 100 employees, it’s no small feat that a company as slim as
10th Magnitude was named the Microsoft Azure Partner of the Year in 2018. The company, which helps organizations transition into and comprehend cloud-based software solutions via the Microsoft Azure platform, relied on its flat organizational culture and fast-paced environment to achieve such a distinction.

Oh, and the rooftop barbecues also helped. Indeed, when the sun is hot, the team often retreats to its rooftop to grill, socialize and share scraps with the CFO’s dog, Gilligan. And it’s this camaraderie mixed with a shared desire to excel that employees say makes 10th Magnitude what it is today.    

We spoke with three team members to learn more about how they foster a social environment while hitting production targets and encouraging individual goals.

 

10th Magnitude Kitchen
photography by Chris Murphy
10th Magnitude Conference Room
photography by Chris Murphy
10th Magnitude logo
photography by Chris Murphy

 

FOUNDED: 2010

EMPLOYEES: 80 nationally, 43 locally

WHAT THEY DO: 10th Magnitude helps businesses become more agile, customer-focused and operationally-efficient with cloud-based solutions that harness the resources of Microsoft Azure.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

NOTABLE PERKS: Monthly rooftop barbecues and a $4,000 annual budget for training and conferences for each employee.

 

 

Ryan Lee with coworkers

 

Ryan Lee portrait

 

Ryan Lee, Senior Automation Engineer and Site Reliability Engineering Community Lead

Ryan works with everyone from project sponsors to individual engineers to grow their understanding of cloud technology and build the solutions that enable their business goals. He also works with other community leads to develop technical cloud maturity and adoption strategies used with clients.

BEYOND WORK: Ryan is currently gut rehabbing his townhouse.


What about your company is special?

As we say, technology is the easy part — finding the right people is harder. Luckily from day one, the people who work here have impressed me with the community, cohesiveness and support they uphold. Being stuck with a difficult problem and being able to ask the entire company for help – and not only get quick responses but actual excitement to share something they know and love – will never get old for me. I’ve never felt more empowered to do the best work I can do.


If you look at your to-do list, what’s one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Working towards a standardization of the industry, learning from our experiments and constantly working to refine and balance the strategies and solutions we build against the problems we’re trying to solve and the goals we’re trying to accomplish. It really comes down to empowerment and enablement – I want to make someone else’s life easier with the things I create. None of us are building things for our own sake. We’re building for each other, which really humanizes the industry for me and reminds me of how I want to impact the lives of the people around me.

We’re building for each other, which really humanizes the industry for me and reminds me of how I want to impact the lives of the people around me."


Does your office design support your culture?

We value a job well done and taking care of our people. We prefer a cozy office feel with plenty of places to break off with a colleague or two and chat about a particularly tantalizing or difficult problem. We also value a real separation of work and life. We definitely love our post-work activities, but there’s no pressure to join and we don’t fill our office with things that encourage people to stay late. So, while we don’t have arcade games or foosball, we do appreciate a good brew from the rotating local kegs in our kitchen for those conversations that are too interesting to stop at five.

 

 

Nate Burleson at work

 

Nate Burleson portrait

 

Nate Burleson, Cloud Application Architect and Career Sponsor

Nate helps customers understand and choose the best option for their organizations, whether it be building a greenfield or cloud-native application or moving legacy applications into the cloud.

He also counsels and advocates for his team in regards to long-term personal and career goals.

BEYOND WORK: Nate is a drummer in a rock band, The Logan Squares.


How has your company’s culture evolved since you joined?

10th Magnitude has always been a great place to work since it’s in its DNA to put employees first. As a smaller startup, revenue demands sometimes made putting employees first challenging, and culturally this meant individuals took ownership of their career development. But, as we’ve grown, it has become easier for the company to meet its fundamental goal of putting employee growth first. This allows the company to focus on individual development through formalized training curriculum, conference attendance, mentorship and career development plans.


What’s something that made you proud to work at 10th Magnitude?

Winning the 2018 Microsoft Open Source Applications & Infrastructure on Azure Partner of the Year Award and the 2018 Microsoft US Apps and Infrastructure – Datacenter Transformation Partner Award were very proud moments. Awards are intrinsically valuable, but there are two additional factors that make these awards especially meaningful. First, every member of the company made these awards possible in one way or another. It was a real, solid team effort. Second, our company is much smaller than many of the other companies that compete in these verticals. The fact that a team our size can compete and win against much larger companies is indicative of our team’s strength and devotion to excellence.

 

The fact that a team our size can compete and win against much larger companies is indicative of our team’s strength and devotion to excellence."


How has this job surprised you?

When I joined in 2012, 10th Magnitude was a six-person company operating in a basement inside shared office space with just a few clients. I joined because I wanted to do something different, something new and something that would help shape the future. While I got the latter, I never imagined how quickly we would grow into a Microsoft-preferred partner with offices around the country while also being one of the best places to work.

 

 

Jennifer Morris sits with a coworker in a bear costume

Portrait of Jennifer Morris

 

Jennifer Morris, Senior Engineer

As a member of the infrastructure team, Jennifer works with clients to plan and implement their entire application portfolio migration to Azure.

BEYOND WORK: An avid reader, Jennifer hates putting down a good book or article.


Has this role turn out to be what you expected?

When I first joined 10th Magnitude, we were maybe half the size we are now and we needed to get processes in place to operate more efficiently and scale. Our leadership team is geared toward that and it’s been a challenging but positive experience being a part of a rapidly-growing company. It has made me rise to the occasion in ways I would not have thought of or been exposed to in a much larger organization. I have been allowed the growth space to succeed and fail, and it has all become a part of who I am as a consultant today.

I have been allowed the growth space to succeed and fail, and it has all become a part of who I am as a consultant today."


What does your team do to build culture?

We talk about it. Seriously. Since we are continually growing and improving our company culture as our company grows, we have regular meetings about what we can do locally in our office and across the organization to improve. Our interviewees go through an interview process with developers and engineers, as well as the recruitment team, to assess more than just technical ability, but a cultural fit as well.


Tell us about a moment when your team solved a problem in a way that reflected you culture.

We are constantly solving problems in a growing market, but my most recent personal experience was troubleshooting an Azure Container Service cluster. A couple of our developers were quick to jump on the case with me and provide guidance on how to proceed and troubleshoot the issues we were having with a client. It was really helpful and typical of how we solve problems together.

 

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