At the following Chicago tech companies, a collaborative culture isn’t just some corporate catchphrase — it’s something employees live and operate by each day they come to work.
“Everyone on the engineering team at Vivid Seats recognizes that we have different skill sets that we can leverage and we are dedicated to helping people grow their knowledge further,” Phil Madden, a principal engineer at the ticket marketplace, said.
Product Consulting and Training Manager Laura Hendricks experiences a similar sense of collaboration at Club Automation. “I’ve been able to develop relationships across our sales, product and tech teams, and I always look forward to being able to work across these teams to create new solutions and strengthen our existing ones,” Hendricks said.
Madden and Hendricks are just a few of the Chicago tech professionals that boast a collaborative culture at each of their companies. We connected with them and leaders from 10 other companies to get a sense of their respective cultures, what they enjoy about their roles and what they’re excited to accomplish in the future.
GoHealth helps consumers and small businesses shop for an insurance plan that best fits their respective needs. During his job search, Operational Analytics Manager Khalid Merchant had three specific requirements he needed met before accepting a position. Once he interviewed at GoHealth, Merchant said that “every box was checked with flying colors” and he knew it was the right opportunity for him.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at GoHealth?
Throughout my career, anytime I have searched for a new role or company, there’s a checklist in my head that needs to be met. First, does the organization have a mission of improving people’s quality of life? Second, does the organization hire and develop smart and talented people? And third, is the organization data-driven, willing to adopt new technologies and methodologies for problem-solving, and do they move quickly once the right answer has been identified? GoHealth checked every box with flying colors and was a place where I felt I could truly develop myself and take the next step in my career.
GoHealth was a place where I felt I could truly develop myself and take the next step in my career.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where GoHealth is headed?
GoHealth has grown a ton over the last few years, but I believe that most of our growth is still ahead of us. As an organization, we have built a very solid foundation for ourselves to ideate on ways to improve the business, build and drive experiments to test our assumptions, and quickly implement our findings to add value to the company. Being able to work with brilliant people, while learning new technologies and continuously testing our assumptions in order to drive better access to healthcare for folks who need it most, is what gets me hyped to get to work every morning.
Food and beverage company The Kraft Heinz Company is on a mission to create AI-powered solutions that solve tangible problems for its consumers, customers and the enterprise as a whole. The company recently launched its enterprise strategy, which, according to VP of Digital Transformation Mani Gopalakrishnan, is the company’s plan to create a new, digital-forward company.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at Kraft Heinz for so long?
There is no dearth of action and opportunity. I joined Kraft Heinz as the chief learning officer and moved on to rebuild our consumer-facing platforms, develop underpinnings of our consumer 360, launch our in-house new business incubator and lead our digital transformation. Working here has accelerated and elevated my skills by converging my background in digital, business and people — all helping me lead significant transformations. I am constantly challenged and motivated to do better every day! I simply love it.
Working here has accelerated and elevated my skills by converging my background in digital, business and people — all helping me lead significant transformations.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Kraft Heinz is headed?
We recently launched our enterprise strategy, which provides a new focus and purpose for all of us. A key element of that is digital acceleration, which we internally call the digital revolution. Our ambition is to kindle and accelerate the company’s transformation into a digitally-powered, agile enterprise. This is not about more technology or one specific way of working but creating a new company best suited to win in the future. Having the opportunity to lead this effort for a company with such a rich legacy is a humbling experience and energizes me every day!
Home Chef is a meal solution provider through online meal-kit delivery services and in store. For Senior Software Engineer Lauren Scott, the decision to join the team at Home Chef was an easy one once she learned of their culture and gender representation goals. She said that having more female leaders to look up to has really allowed her to be comfortable and grow in her role.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at Home Chef?
When I was interviewing, I was struck by a comment made by an engineer at Home Chef who said they loved how supportive the people on the tech team are of each other. In all of my interviews at different companies, I had never heard someone frame it that way — not just that the people were nice or that the environment was collaborative, but that people genuinely wanted to support one another. And over the last two years, I have been joyously overwhelmed by the warmth, empathy and genuine goodheartedness of the Home Chef tech team. It’s a culture where we are all treated not just as employees, but as fully realized human beings whose mental health and work-life balance are respected and prioritized.
It's also been heartening to work with such a marvelously large number of women, not just as engineers but also in tech leadership — it’s my first time having both a female manager and CTO! It’s remarkable what a difference it makes in terms of making me feel comfortable and like I belong on the team. That Home Chef has been able to achieve what other companies may consider an impossible goal of gender representation is a testament to the healthy culture it has cultivated since day one.
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Home Chef is headed?
We’re constantly branching out in new product directions, which I have been enjoying both as an engineer and as a Home Chef customer. The past year has been a huge reminder of how vital food delivery services can be, not just because they help us stay home safely but also because they take the stress of meal planning and shopping off our plates. And the joy of cooking can be a welcome respite from the world!
I have been joyously overwhelmed by the warmth, empathy and genuine goodheartedness of the tech team.”
My team is focused on supporting our culinary and customer support employees, so I’m personally excited for our ongoing work making their daily workflow as seamless as can be. We’re creating a lot of custom tooling for them, which has given me a great opportunity to learn new technologies. Last year I learned React and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
And lastly, I am thrilled to see more from the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council that Home Chef formed last year. It has brought together employees from all over the company to focus on how we can create an inclusive environment for our team, communities, customers and industry. I love that we’re not willing to settle for “good enough” on this front and that our company continues to hold itself accountable.
VelocityEHS is a software company that helps businesses reach their environmental, health and sustainability goals. Between the virtual monthly breakfasts, employee-led concerts and comedy shows, Software Development Manager Jason Pelcyznski said that the company’s leadership team has done a great job of fostering a tight-knit community even while working remotely.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at VelocityEHS so long?
The culture and social events the company sponsors have created a tight-knit community, which I feel very much a part of. From our monthly team breakfasts to all company parties, there is always an occasion to see people you haven’t in a while and catch up. I also love how employee-driven it is — we’ve had employee-led concerts, comedy shows and more. This has been true for us even while being remote, and in fact, our different locations have grown closer as a result. I have held a few positions during my time at VelocityEHS, which have allowed me the opportunity to work with many different people and areas of the company. I thrive on the challenge each new role brings and, during difficult times, it’s been the people and the culture that has given me purpose and meaning.
During difficult times, it's been the people and the culture that has given me purpose and meaning.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where VelocityEHS is headed?
I’m excited to see how successful our new senior leadership will make this company. I really like our new mission, “Picking up the Pace,” and all the new initiatives and objectives that come with it. We already have plenty of new targets that we need to beat! My focus will be encouraging the team to work more efficiently and increase the amount of work we can accomplish, all while maintaining high quality. Having these goals will help drive my focus while giving us a clear path to success. I look forward to leading a team of talented professional developers into VelocityEHS’s next phase of growth.
ActiveCampaign is a marketing technology company that helps growing businesses meaningfully engage with their customers. North America Agency Sales Manager Jay Quiles attributes his tenure at the company to its culture. He said that even as they grew from 15 employees to 750, he’s always felt like he was part of one big family.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at ActiveCampaign so long?
When I started at ActiveCampaign in 2015, I was the 15th employee. The company had been around since 2003 but it was a small group and they welcomed me with open arms into their team. Soon after, we started hiring more and reached 40 employees. The company took on a very real familial vibe, which made it so easy to come to work every day.
It’s a great feeling to know you’re selling something that brings real, meaningful value to your clients.”
Today, we have more than 750 employees working across the globe and we’re still growing rapidly. As we grew, we were always concerned if our culture would grow along with us. Fortunately, we’ve always maintained our familial vibe even though parts of our culture have evolved as we’ve scaled. Six years later, 12 of the 14 people that were here when I started are still here, and it’s all because of that culture we built so long ago. I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. This is my family.
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where ActiveCampaign is headed?
As far as the future goes, I’m looking forward to being able to sell our new, innovative products to customers. For example, last year, ActiveCampaign released several new features to support our e-commerce customers ahead of the holiday season to help them compete. It worked! We found that our customers averaged a three-week marathon of holiday sales versus a spike during Black Friday weekend like some of our competitors. It’s just a great feeling to love the product that you sell and feel like you’re selling something that brings real, meaningful value to your clients.
Vivid Seats is an independent online ticket marketplace. Aside from the culture and growth opportunities, Principal Engineer Phil Madden attributes his tenure at Vivid Seats to the engineering work he’s been able to accomplish. Over the last six years, Madden has worked on personalized app experiences, advanced filters, streaming content and a loyalty program.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at Vivid Seats?
Culture and personal growth are and have been at the forefront of Vivid Seats. The company cares about me as an employee and an individual and has demonstrated that continually over the years. My goals and ideas are heard and concrete steps are made to help achieve them.
Additionally, we have an amazing engineering team. We recognize that we have different skill sets that we can leverage and we are dedicated to helping people grow their knowledge further by providing cross-training, tech talks, communities, conferences and much more. One of our strongest attributes as an engineering department is that we are constantly learning, innovating and expanding on the use of technology to deliver change confidently, quickly and accurately. Change is encouraged and the company has provided many avenues to surface ideas or to try them out (developer Wednesdays and hack days, to name a few). I have personally had opportunities to influence and drive change across all of engineering, which is both empowering and rewarding.
We recognize that we have different skill sets that we can leverage and we’re dedicated to helping people grow their knowledge further.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Vivid Seats is headed?
From a technical standpoint, we’re investing in our platform now more than ever. We’re aiming to unlock flexibility, reduce bottlenecks and improve the experience across engineering as a whole. Automation, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and self-service are all current goals. There is not one part of our stack that isn’t currently being improved upon to unlock these features and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in delivering them. It’s a challenging yet exciting time and one I’m proud to be part of.
We are also investing more in our brand to help our customers learn more about the broad range of products and features we offer. Over the last six years, I’ve been at the company, we have launched personalized app experiences, more advanced filters, streaming content and the only loyalty program in the industry — and we have even bigger plans this year! I’m looking forward to the Vivid Seats brand becoming synonymous with the number one destination for content, tickets and experiences.
OppLoans provides consumers access to credit via a personalized program that involves quick approvals, fast funding and low-interest rates. Information Security Engineer Sana Abrar said that aside from the opportunity to strengthen her knowledge on cloud security, her decision to accept a job at the company was because of its focus on its people. She felt that the company’s culture was centered around making people feel respected and trusted to do their jobs on a daily basis.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at OppLoans?
The main factors were the opportunity for growth and the positive employee experiences highlighting the human element. It was the growth that I saw in this opportunity that really pulled me in and made me compelled to give it a shot. I actually had zero experience with most of the tools and technologies that are used at OppLoans. So on a personal level, it was a great opportunity to build my tech skill set, learn about cloud security and learn how to do security engineering in a very different context than I had ever done before.
OppLoans does an incredible job of focusing on the human element.”
I like to look at companies on Glassdoor because I like to get a pulse on what people have to say from the company. And when I looked up OppLoans, I saw some really positive feedback. A lot of employees were talking about how it’s an environment where the human is critical. It’s not just “do your work, do your tasks, go out the door.” It’s more about building an environment where people are happy to work and people are feeling respected as human beings. I have to say I haven’t been disappointed since joining. OppLoans does an incredible job of focusing on the human element. I love all the DE&I series, conversations and weekly video messages our CEO Jared Kaplan sends — it keeps things human and personal.
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where OppLoans is headed?
What really excites me about OppLoans is that this is a cloud-based environment — very forward-thinking, progressive and futuristic. For example, OppLoans is a mobile-optimized platform that integrates with Salesforce in a highly tailored way. I knew on a personal and professional level the experience would really push my career forward.
Being involved in the process of joining an organization and creating something that hasn’t formally existed prior to that is really exciting to me. When I joined, the security engineering team was brand new. It’s an opportunity to really build out modern security tooling and practices. I’m looking forward to ways I can contribute by bringing with and actively applying my skill set as we build a security team.
Root Insurance utilizes data and analytics from customers’ smartphones to measure driver behavior and reward those who stay safe. Looking to the future, Senior Product Manager Won Tchoi is excited to continue developing new and innovative solutions to help solve the difficult problems the company is tackling.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at Root?
I interviewed with several other companies prior to joining Root. The key deciding factor in my decision was the people I met during the interview process. From the recruiter to everyone else I talked to during the interviews, I got such a positive impression of the people and the company culture. Everyone was so open and friendly throughout the process. I left with a feeling that these were people that I could see myself working well with. There was a clear sense of passion for the company and the impact they were personally having in their roles.
Every employee has the opportunity to have an impact on how we’ll push the insurance industry forward.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Root is headed?
I’m excited to be part of a company that is disrupting a long-established industry like insurance. Because Root is still relatively early in the growth cycle, I feel that every employee has the opportunity to have an outsized impact on how the company will push the industry forward in providing a fairer insurance product for our customers. As someone who is passionate about building great products, I am excited by the challenge of solving the difficult and ambitious problems that Root is tackling. I think the company is just getting started and there is so much potential for the future.
Affinitiv is a marketing technology and social media company that focuses solely on the automotive customer lifecycle. As an employee of the company for the last seven years, Program Manager Meagan Keck attributes her tenure to two main factors: the mentorship she’s received from other employees and the autonomy she’s been given to do her job on a daily basis.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at Affinitiv for so long?
Something that I’ve found here in my seven years, regardless of the role I’m in, is mentorship. I’ve learned from some of the most incredible people in the industry simply because they were willing to teach me. In my current role, I have the best boss in the universe — she’s encouraged my curiosity and authenticity, helped me harness my passion into the programs I manage and my day-to-day and most importantly, trusted me. As a woman in tech, especially in the automotive realm, seeing strong women in leadership roles is important to me.
I think there comes a point where career and workplace fulfillment extend beyond normal employment benefits, and I feel like I’ve stayed so long because I’ve always felt trusted to do the job, challenged (in the very best way) and valued — even on the hard days.
The reason I’ve stayed so long at Affinitiv is because I’ve always felt trusted, challenged and valued.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where your company is headed?
I’m most excited about growth and opportunity at Affinitiv. I feel empowered and encouraged by our executive team, which I understand can be rare. I also feel as though the organization has been intentional about digging deep to learn of the talent that we have to utilize to the fullest. I appreciate this because I think it further encourages that growth and opportunity, and it makes me feel seen in my role and what I bring to the table. All of this excites me because, for a career destination, I know I have room to grow and the wingspan to do so.
Club Automation is a club management software for health and fitness centers as well as medical wellness centers. Looking to the future, Laura Hendricks, a product consulting and training manager, is excited to continue leading her teams and helping them understand what the company’s clients need in order to thrive.
As a tenured employee, what has been the biggest reason you’ve stayed at Club Automation for so long?
My main motivation for staying at Club Automation is the reason I joined the team in the first place, the people. Loving the people I work with reaches far beyond my own team. From day one, I have been able to develop relationships across our sales, product and tech teams. I always look forward to working across our teams to create new solutions and strengthen our existing products. Our services team is never left to “just figure it out” because the solution is shared across departments.
Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit and a “take the stairs” mentality is second nature to our group here at CA. This means we are often faced with challenges that could easily leave one feeling overwhelmed. When surrounded by a team that embraces hard work and integrity, I can’t help but welcome these challenges with the confidence that comes from knowing the team has my back.
I love being able to work across our teams to create new solutions and strengthen our existing ones.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Club Automation is headed?
When I first started at Club Automation, I was immediately drawn to the undeniable potential of the young company. It was easy to see how CA could become the platform of the future for the health and wellness industry. We had so much to learn, new products to build and an endless number of clients to help.
Growth, innovation and staying at the top of our game are all deeply ingrained in our work. Our industry is constantly advancing and adapting, with 2020 and 2021 hardly being an exception. Leading our consulting and training teams allows me to remain right in the thick of things. Helping manage implementations means our team is always working to understand what our clients need to thrive.
The fact that our desire to be the best while remaining humble continues to dominate our mindset and makes me excited about what’s to come. I know that when our entire team comes together, we will respond with creative ideas to meet the needs of our clients. I am excited to see the role that Club Automation plays in helping fitness and wellness clubs reach and exceed their goals.
Returnly is a software company that helps online retailers and brands bring frictionless returns to shoppers. Because e-commerce experienced such rapid growth in 2020, Onboarding Manager Shannon Foster is excited to expand the company’s processes in order to ensure clients are set up for continued success this year and beyond.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at Returnly?
Returnly has so much to offer. I love the work, positive company culture and dynamic environment that encourages career growth. However, my number one reason is our people! I work with a team of amazingly talented coworkers.
I love the work, positive company culture and dynamic environment that encourages career growth.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Returnly is headed?
In 2020, e-commerce growth was up 40.6 percent. Returnly is ready to meet the return needs this growth brings. I’m excited to expand the onboarding processes and add new team members to ensure our clients are set-up for continued success.
Inspire11 is a digital and analytics consulting company. Engineering Manager Gregg Walrod said that one of his favorite aspects of being an engineering manager at Inspire11 is that he’s able to act as a true partner to clients, helping them figure out how to disrupt their industries and solve business problems.
What was the deciding factor for you when you accepted your job at Inspire11?
When I was in my job search, I wanted to land at an organization where I can make an impact on the company, employees and clients by helping to solve big problems. It was a big ask. As I talked to my potential team members and leadership team, it was clear Inspire11 would hit all three of those for me.
We have a culture where everyone has a voice and can help shape where our company is going. It’s super exciting to be planning for where we will be in 2025 and beyond. Our employees are some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. They wowed me in the interview process and have since blown me away as I’ve had the opportunity to work with them. Working with so many people that really live our values and turn it up to 11 every single day has been nothing short of incredible. And our clients are great to work with. I’ve really enjoyed acting as a true partner to help them figure out how to disrupt their industries and really dive deep to solve their business problems.
By joining Inspire11, you can help us continue to shape our company, our practice and our clients’ businesses.”
Looking to the future, what excites you most about where Inspire11 is headed?
There’s a lot that excites me. If I had to pick just one thing, I would share something we commonly say and that’s, “Normally we’d say everyone has a seat at the table, but right now we are building the table and everyone has a chance to help us build it.” To me this is everything. By joining Inspire11, you can help us continue to shape our company, our practice and our clients’ businesses. You would be hard-pressed to find an opportunity with this much upside potential.
At Inspire11, you have the opportunity to work with bleeding-edge technologies, amazing people and a leadership team that empowers you to go above and beyond. Not only is this driving the company forward, but it’s also driving our clients forward. There’s nothing more fulfilling than working with an exceptional team to identify figurative “walls” and breakthrough them to create meaningful change.
Our company was founded on the knowledge that change and disruption are guaranteed and we can use that opportunity for good. That mantra is evident in the work we do every day.