Path to Success: 3 Chicago Tech Pros Share Their Professional Development Journeys

by Alton Zenon III
August 5, 2019

When you land a role you’re passionate about, it's natural to feel driven to perform better. And when your employer supports your desire to evolve, that can be transformative for your career. 

Team members at three Chicago companies shared their own professional development journeys with us, and how their organizations helped them grow along the way. 

 

Morningstar team in group photo

Morningstar’s Director of North American Manager Research Practice Laura Lutton is a long-time employee of the financial services company. She shared details on how her employer has helped her carve out her ideal career during her tenure. 

 

What are some of the most exciting professional development opportunities at your company?

Morningstar is a growing, global company, so there are many opportunities for employees to develop their careers within the firm, across departments and around the world. One of our latest initiatives is a returnship program for those who have been out of the traditional workforce for two years or more. Our goal with this internship-like program is to introduce — or reintroduce — smart, motivated employees to our technology and research teams in the hopes that we find a good long-term fit for both the returner and Morningstar.

The company’s investors-first, entrepreneurial culture has played the biggest role in shaping my career path.”

 

Walk us through your professional development journey. What resources or individuals played a role in shaping your career path?

I started my career as a reporter for daily newspapers and joined Morningstar as an equity analyst in 1999’s bull market. I’ve primarily been in the company’s research group since then — taking on new projects and responsibilities along the way. Today I lead its U.S. research team that rates mutual funds, target-date retirement investments, 529 college-savings plans and other managed investments. 

The company’s investors-first, entrepreneurial culture has played the biggest role in shaping my career path. If you have an idea that will drive investor success, Morningstar is great about giving employees the latitude to develop those ideas into products. It’s been rewarding to work on new research initiatives and help investors do more with their hard-earned savings — it’s still exciting and motivating to me after 20 years at the firm.

 

bswift team members working and chatting

Director of Implementations Cortnie Mayfield has worked for benefits administration platform bswift for a decade and her titles and responsibilities have changed often during her time there. She shared how bswift has helped her advance her skills and knowledge at various points during her professional journey. 

 

What are some of the most exciting professional development opportunities at your company?

Early on at bswift, we started Gracious Hospitality Training, which taught me a lot of fantastic client services skills — including how to anticipate client needs and how to be proactive instead of reactive in managing day-to-day client relationships. Ever since, this is something I strive to do each day as I not only service clients, but also work alongside other bswifters in a management role. 

I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in sales training, where I learned how to determine and make sense of a client’s needs and provide responses to their questions that answer their inquiries, and address the concerns behind them.

Because of all the interaction with different departments across the company, I’ve been able to learn more technical skills.”

 

Walk us through your professional development journey. How has your company played a role in shaping your career path?

I started as an analyst back in 2009, right out of college. At that point, an analyst worked on ongoing clients, new implementations and also worked as a service center representative. Since then, I’ve seen the company expand exponentially into four dedicated service centers, an entire team that now focuses on implementations, and a constantly growing client services team that delivers to clients of all sizes.

Through all this growth, there have been many new opportunities to move into different positions, including my current position as a director. I’ve had the opportunity to work with our product team to create new functionality for both new and existing clients. Because of all the interaction with different departments across the company, I’ve been able to learn more technical skills, client management skills and project management skills that I use in my everyday work.

 

Codifyd Senior Solutions Architect Vickram Subramanian

Codifyd helps manufacturers across all kinds of industries optimize their user experiences. For Senior Solutions Architect Vickram Subramanian, his employee experience has been one marked by leaders eager to help him propel and diversify his skills.

 

What are some of the most exciting professional development opportunities at your company?

I’ve had the opportunity to work in just about every part of the business — from software development to implementations, and even internal IT for a while. I’m not exactly sure what the next step will be, but the company is constantly evolving and I know that the next step will be exciting.

I’ve been exposed to a lot and have had the support of my managers to try new things.”

 

Walk us through your professional development journey. How has your company played a role in shaping your career path?

I started as an intern doing technical reporting, then moved on to help build our product information management implementation practice in various roles. With each different role I had on the team, I took on more responsibility within technical leadership, as well as training and developing people teams. I’ve been exposed to a lot and have had the support of my managers to try new things. If I’d joined a Fortune 500 company, I don’t think I would have had the chance to develop such a well-rounded skill set.

 

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