3 Chicago Companies Hiring Now That Offer Organic Growth Opportunities

These companies are helping their employees develop by challenging them to use their skills in new and exciting ways.
Written by Michael Hines
March 3, 2023Updated: March 6, 2023

Professional development isn’t limited to pursuing job-specific certifications or obtaining an advanced degree. That’s not to say that stipends for continuing education and access to online training courses aren’t important. They are, but skill sets can also grow in a more organic fashion, like when employees step out of their comfort zones and use their skills in new ways. This is how Laura Bohacz was able to add “livestream host” to her resume. 

Bohacz is the director of field communications at Pampered Chef, a role she said includes coaching colleagues on the finer points of public speaking. Pampered Chef recognized that Bohacz could do as well as teach and tapped her for companywide announcement videos before asking her to co-host a livestream at a company conference last year.

“We didn’t have a script and I was able to craft and deliver the messages and flow of each segment,” Bohacz told Built In Chicago. “We engaged with passersby and kept more than 7,000 viewers up to date on the biggest news from the event. It was a great opportunity to broaden my skills and gain experience in something very few have the opportunity to do.”

Along with Pampered Chef, Chicago companies Purchasing Platform and The Options Clearing Corporation also provide opportunities for team members to grow their skills by taking on new projects and challenges. Continue reading to learn more from employees at each company about what those opportunities look like.

 

Chris Nichols
Associate Principal, Business Analysis

Founded in 1973, The Options Clearing Corporation clears and settles every listed-options trade in the United States. 

 

Think back to your early days on the job. What surprised you or stood out to you most about OCCs culture?

One of my earliest memories is of the collaborative approach to work, which was clear from the beginning of my time at OCC. My background is content, and I spent much of my career as a writer and editor and joined the company as a senior content strategist. However, I was a member of the internet services team, a group that supports a number of technologies, including our public websites. 

I had worked at other companies with a large number of developers, but I had never been so close to technical experts. This created certain challenges for me since I don’t have a specific technical background, but being around those who do was a tremendous learning experience and remains so today. I have consistently found OCC’s technical subject matter experts to be outstanding colleagues who are always patient and willing to help me better understand our processes.

OCC has enabled me to take my career in new directions that might not have been possible at another organization.”


How long have you been with OCC, and what professional growth or development have you seen in that time?

I joined the company in 2017, fully expecting that I would focus on editorial tasks such as creating marketing material or editing web pages. That was a considerable part of my role for a time, but eventually that began to change. I needed to learn new tools, and along the way I had the opportunity to lead Agile meetings. I also got to take part in planning and review sessions with in-house developers and an outside software vendor. Later I was transferred to a new team, and today I have something of a hybrid role. 

I work with the investor education team to create content on options and serve as the product owner for two websites. Because of this change, I need to have a continuous learning mindset. I completed a product owner certification course in 2022, and next I hope to improve my business analysis skills through internal and external training. OCC has enabled me to take my career in new directions that might not have been possible at another organization.

 

Laura Bohacz
Director of Field Communications

Pampered Chef sells cooking products — from appliances to spices — via its online store and network of consultants.

 

Think back to your early days on the job. What surprised you or stood out to you most about Pampered Chef’s culture?

One thing that stood out is how passionate everyone is. People here really love what they do, and it shows. We are a high-performing, fast-paced place and hire great, talented people and work hard. But it is really the reason behind it — the true love of individual areas of expertise combined with a deep belief in supporting our consultants and making mealtimes better — that sets Pampered Chef apart for me. 

In my first year, I had the chance to go to our consultant conference. Working it was a volunteer opportunity, and yet everywhere I looked I saw my coworkers. People from the technology and solution center team to human resources and marketing were all having fun together, helping consultants, manning booths and passing out giveaways. They volunteered to be there and supported areas of the business that were not theirs simply because they love what they do and didn’t want to miss out.

I was asked to be a virtual host for our hybrid conference. It was a great opportunity to broaden my skills and gain experience in something very few have the opportunity to do.”


How long have you been with Pampered Chef, and what professional growth or development have you seen in that time?

I have been with Pampered Chef since 2016 and my role has always encompassed speaker and spokesperson coaching, but in the past year, I’ve had the chance to develop as a speaker myself. I’ve been given opportunities to move from scripting and producing videos to delivering some of our most important monthly messages in videos to tens of thousands of consultants. This past summer I had one of the coolest honors yet: I was asked to be a virtual host for our hybrid conference. 

In true “SportsCenter” fashion, I got to sit behind a desk with my co-host and stream from the conference floor before and after every session. We didn’t have a script, and I was able to craft and deliver the messages and flow of each segment. We engaged with passersby and kept more than 7,000 consultants up to date on the biggest news from the event. We even interviewed the CEO live! It was a great opportunity to broaden my skills and gain experience in something very few have the opportunity to do.

 

Joe Dzikiewicz
Principal Engineer

Property management companies use Purchasing Platform to simplify the procurement process and track transactions.

 

Think back to your early days on the job. What surprised you or stood out to you most about Purchasing Platform’s culture?

I was surprised about how strongly Purchasing Platform feels that empathy is a core company advantage. Not just a value, but a true advantage. Empathy for our customers, who have had a lot of challenges with the supply chain and are facing other challenges as the economy slows down, and empathy for each other as we work hard to create a more integrated company.

As part of this, there is a strong culture of appreciation and recognition. When there is a problem, we work together in a blame-free environment to fix it. When there is a success, we share credit and acknowledge the contributions of everyone who helped get the win. The amount of positivity that results from this is one of the best things about working for Purchasing Platform. I’ve been at a lot of companies that talked the “teamwork, blame-free and positivity” talk. I’ve never been anywhere that so thoroughly walks the walk.

When there is a problem, we work together in a blame-free environment to fix it.”


What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on recently, and what skills did it help you develop?

We recently had a hackathon, and my team built a prototype for the first piece of a new system to support a business area that we’ve recently pivoted to. This is an area that is not adequately supported by our current systems, and a new system for it is badly needed. The hackathon gave me a chance to work closely with people from different parts of the company.

On our team we also had representatives from two business units that are affected daily by the shortcomings of our systems. Working on this project and with them gave me a broader understanding of the needs of our business and helped me think about these problems as others do. It also let me use my own special talents to help push this project further. We produced a terrific prototype that we hope to develop into the beginnings of a new system. We also strengthened relationships that will help make that new system a reality.

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