10 Chicago Companies Where Adventure Awaits for Top Talent

by Alton Zenon III
November 7, 2019

Engineering custom digital solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Building platforms that gamify getting healthy. Leveraging machine learning to help underserved Americans build credit. 

The Windy City is a techie's playground.

We spoke to 10 Chicago companies doing innovative work across industries spanning healthtech, supply chain management and media to learn surprising details about their products, cultures and missions. What may not be so shocking is that all of these companies are growing like crazy and looking for great talent, like you.

 

Solstice team members working at white board
solstice

When you make digital solutions for Fortune 500 companies like Solstice does, it might be easy to let that go to your head. But Director of User Experience Research Angelique Rickhoff said egos are absent at the company; instead, team members would rather learn and ask questions. 

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

Our quest to leave our clients better-off than when we met them is what typically surprises people about Solstice. We don’t have an ego about the capabilities we deliver. We want to equip our clients to deliver in the areas they want to grow in. This gives us the ability to not just be practitioners but teachers as well.

All members of our team are curious about today and what tomorrow could look like.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

All members of our team are curious about today and what tomorrow could look like. The lines between research, data collection and analysis blur here because we are all striving to understand the impacts of our work. Individuals who ask great questions excel here.

 

Tempus team members posing
tempus

Data Scientists Adrian Lange and Arun Nemani said everyone at Tempus wants to fundamentally change healthcare and that attitude is reflected in their dogged work ethic. Surprisingly, this does not mean that employees need a history working in healthcare; rather, Tempus employees come from a variety of backgrounds, creating a diverse set of perspectives.

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company? 

Lange: The Tempus AI team is composed of individuals from a wide variety of academic disciplines and industry experiences, often not directly related to cancer biology. That collective diversity makes us stronger as we tackle some of the most challenging and impactful problems in healthcare by utilizing machine learning models built on Tempus’s data sets. The team is highly collaborative, and the culture makes it easy to ask for assistance and learn from others.

Everyone brings something unique to the table to achieve goals with a resilient mindset.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

Nemani: The trait common in all of our team members is focus. We have many new challenges to solve in any given week, and everyone brings something unique to the table to achieve goals with a resilient mindset. We are always making progress — incremental steps or giant leaps forward — on the big-picture problems facing healthcare. We are all here to make a difference and that’s what we strive to do every day.

 

Paylocity team members chatting
Paylocity

Paylocity, which provides organizations with human capital management software, works internally to ensure its large remote workforce feel included. Senior Director of Product and Tech Christine Pellini said initiatives like encouraging virtual staff to visit the office and hosting digital-first meetings help ensure all teammates feel apart of the Paylocity family. 

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

As a growing company that’s hiring, I get to hear a lot of feedback from folks that join. One of the things that surprises them most is the extent to which we have ingrained remote work into our culture. With more than 60 percent of our product and tech folks working from home, it’s critical that we have an inclusive environment that supports those that work from home full-time, as well as those that are home a couple days a week. Having the right tech plays a part in that. However, it is more about feeling like one team by valuing face-time, bringing folks physically together a few times a year, virtual happy hours and making meetings fully virtual — even for those in the office — that make sure everyone in the meeting is on a level playing field.

Curiosity is a key trait to being successful at Paylocity.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

Curiosity is a key trait to being successful at Paylocity. It comes in many forms. It’s the desire to ask the customer questions to solve their business needs and give them the right experience. It shows up in a person’s ability to learn new skills. 

Perhaps most importantly, curiosity manifests itself in the way we collaborate. Curious individuals seek to understand their teammates’ points of view and help shape them with different perspectives. 

 

Affirm team in group photo
Affirm

Affirm partners with retailers to let consumers purchase goods, then pay for them in affordable installments. Senior Manager of Technical Recruiting Morgan Molvig said the forward-thinking company ensures its employees are as satisfied as their customers through  perks like generous professional development stipends and free books.

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

Affirm has a strong culture of learning. We host quarterly “lightning talks” where Affirmers teach the company about a hobby or something they’re passionate about. We also have a quarterly perk where employees can order one book of their choice and we offer a generous learning and development stipend that can be used toward conferences and bootcamps. 

Affirm has a strong culture of learning.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

A shared love of dessert. The “talent team” is known as the group that always has desserts around. Earlier this year, we hosted an official cookie bake-off with the whole works — over 10 entries, judges and a scoring system.

 

Edovo team working in conference room
edovo

Augie Torres, family and community engagement coordinator at Edovo, said there’s an organic cycle of growth at the edtech company: leaders instill confidence in staff, which leads to their personal growth, then ultimately, the company’s expansion. 

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

From leadership to new team members, everyone’s opinion and input are valued. We’ve created a culture of respect and appreciation for feedback that is felt in every corner of our company. I think this starts with leadership, who have always been conscious of the effort that goes into each project and acknowledge the dedication the rest of our team shows. This quality fosters confidence in our team members, which has translated into advancements in team member’s professional development. This, in turn, has led to our growth as a company.

We stay knowledgeable about the space we work in...”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

Edovo team members have a dedication to social justice. We understand our impact on the lives of those connected to incarceration. We are a group of compassionate individuals committed to learning more about the space we work in. We often share articles that keep us apprised of changes in the criminal justice field that pertain to our end-users and customers. As we continue to grow, we stay knowledgeable about the space we work in, which helps us stay true to our company values and mission.

 

Rocketmiles team in group photo
rocketmiles

Rocketmiles’ team emphasizes camaraderie in work and in play. Head Quality Assurance Engineer Sasha Korobko said the rewards-based hotel booking platform fortifies teammates inside the office with a culture that encourages helpfulness, and outside of the office with heart-pumping adventures (think spelunking!) across the country.

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company? 

That we travel as a company. We’ve taken an annual trip as a company since our founding: we’ve skied in Lake Tahoe, spelunked in Puerto Rico, jammed at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and hiked in Zion National Park. It’s a great bonding experience and an adventure that we’re always excited for. We actually reserved an entire Amtrak car for our trip from Chicago to New Orleans, and we spent the night playing games, singing songs and getting to know each other better than ever. We’re an adventurous group, filled with wanderlust, and that’s what makes us the “Rocket Travel Team”.

If we fail, we fail together and we fix it together.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

Humility. We don’t hire based only on talent, we also hire based on personal qualities. We believe that the skills and tools are teachable, while positive personal qualities are inherent to individual people. 

We like coming to work every day because we like spending time together, fixing issues, finding solutions to difficult questions and supporting each other. Walk through our office and you’ll hear people asking “How can I help?” or “What can I take off your plate?” We don’t blame or point fingers, and there’s no bragging or arrogance. If we fail, we fail together and we fix it together. When we succeed, it’s a mutual victory.

 

Shipwell team in group photo
shipwell

Shipwell may excel in supply chain logistics, but Director of People Monica Matison and Global Account Executive Kevin Sherwood said Shipwell’s people are what really keep the company moving forward. The duo said a winning combination of diversity of thought and rich industry experience are what prospective candidates can expect from their teammates.

 

What's one thing that would surprise people about your company?

Matison: Shipwell has a diverse group of motivated, unique and talented people from a wide range of backgrounds. While many team members have decades of experience in supply chain logistics, you’ll also find talented individuals from all corners of the workforce. Diversity of background and thought is at the core of our business and is essential to our growth. We believe diversity guards against groupthink and helps scale new ideas and tackle problems in new ways. For us, it's about keeping an eye on the future and building cutting-edge solutions while also delivering tools that help our customers win. The marriage between ingenuity and industry know-how is a must-have to build the future of freight.

Diversity of background and thought is at the core of our business...”

 

What's one trait all the members of your team share?

Sherwood: One common thread that's evident across the entire company is drive. We're driven to execute for our customers. We look for team members who can dive in, drive impact and elevate their team and organization in tangible and meaningful ways. Success at Shipwell is all about having a passion and drive to make a difference in an industry that's ripe for disruption.

 

The Trade Desk team in group photo
The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk’s teams work diligently to be their clients’ best friends, and that determination unites staff, said VP of Client Development Pat Isom. Employees at the demand-side media buying platform work closely with clients to help them get the most from their experience, offering weekly product updates so that customers know every feature is operating at peak efficiency. 

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

We have a customer retention rate of over 95 percent, which is a result of our long-term focus on partnering with agencies and their clients. It begins with understanding our client’s marketing objectives and then closely collaborating with them on strategies that will drive strong results.

We also take client feedback and input seriously. In fact, our product team releases updates every week to address agency and client needs, and to continue our innovation.

Our product team releases updates every week to address agency and client needs.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

Our teams have grit. Our aim is to have trusted, strategic relationships with our clients. To do that, our teams work smart and hard to build upon our industry experience. While we take our work seriously, fun is never too far away either.

 

Braviant Holdings team in conference
Braviant Holdings

Chief Risk and Analytics Officer Neo Ellison said the smaller size of Braviant Holdings gives its team member opportunities to move the needle for themselves and the company. Their shared mission of giving underserved consumers access to online credit and personal loan solutions is a major source of pride for teammates.

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

The level of humility that exists throughout our teams; it’s something that gets glossed over at a lot of companies. At its core, Braviant is a group of smart people who are engaged in what they do and who eagerly collaborate to get things done. I am always amazed how much you achieve when everyone isn’t busy keeping score.

The sense of ownership and pride people take in their work is what ties everything together.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

A sense of ownership. With less than 60 people, we are more nimble than other established companies. This presents our team members with the opportunity to gain a lot of exposure and wear many hats. While that level of responsibility is a big positive for people looking to grow their careers and make an impact, it is important to balance that with results that move the company forward. The sense of ownership and pride people take in their work is what ties everything together and is a big part of why Braviant is successful. 

 

Wishbone Club team members chatting
Wishbone Club

When you’re healthy, you tend to feel happier. Wishbone Club, which incentivizes members to make better health decisions via their rewards-based wellness platform, knows this well. CEO Shervin Ebrahimi-Asil said making health insurance a positive experience for users is at the crux of their mission. 

 

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your company?

I think the thing people find most surprising about our company is our mission. We intend to bring fun and happy experiences to the health insurance industry because historically, those things don’t go together. We are striving to make being health-conscious rewarding and to help payers deliver value to their members beyond the moments of care. There is so much potential to unlock in this space that can fundamentally redefine the relationship between members and payers.

We are united by a mission to make everyone a bit more health conscious.”

 

What’s one trait all the members of your team share?

A desire to bring a little more joy and happiness to the lives of others. Our company and solution are centered around this trait. We try to create happiness through surprise and delight. But most importantly, since we all experience life through our bodies and minds, we are united by a mission to make everyone a bit more health-conscious. 

 

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