Take on Big Challenges and Grow Your Skill Set at These 14 Companies

What’s more exciting than imagining yourself solving big problems, helping shift the course of an industry and growing professionally?

Written by Michael Hines
Published on May. 03, 2022
Take on Big Challenges and Grow Your Skill Set at These 14 Companies
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“Exciting!” 

“Congrats!”

Such exclamations are typically people’s go-to responses to milestone professional transitions. But landing a new job doesn’t have to be the only exciting or congratulatory part of the job search process. In fact, the search itself can be pretty exciting, especially if it leads you to ambitious companies reshaping their industries and offering real opportunities for professional development.

Where to start that search often remains in question, though. According to internal Built In data, 624 tech companies are currently hiring in Chicago. We recently spoke with 14 employees at each organization about what makes their work energizing and how it has helped them grow in their careers. 

Continue reading to get an in-depth understanding of the exciting work these companies do, how they facilitate professional development and what they look for in top talent.

 

CyberCube team members celebrating a birthday
CyberCube

 

John Anderson
Senior Product Manager • CyberCube Analytics

 

What they do: The insurance industry uses CyberCube’s data and analytics platform to better understand and quantify cybersecurity risks.

Their workforce in one word: Excited. 

The company has built a unique culture of excitement where everyone — regardless of their tenure — is motivated and stimulated by their work and contribution to the broader mission. Collaborative, intellectual and action-oriented individuals best embody CyberCube’s values. I am looking for diverse individuals from cross-disciplinary backgrounds who will take initiative and work collaboratively on our next innovations.

What professional development looks like at CyberCube: CyberCube has given me the opportunity to spread my wings and truly demonstrate what I am capable of. My role has transformed a few times already, enabling me to grow, refine my skill set and truly feel like I’m doing the best work of my career. I started in professional services on the client success team and have grown into the product lead and product manager for “Account Manager,” one of our core products. 

On the client success team, I worked hand in hand with clients, from initial onboarding through adoption, meeting face to face at times to tailor our product solutions to their workflow. Given my domain expertise, I was also able to involve myself in product development. Opportunities to specialize arose, and I started to work with our single-risk product set and discovered a passion for product management. I am proud of what I have accomplished and look forward to the continued role I get to play.

 

 

PHMG team members on a boat
PHMG

 

Chris Porter
Sales Director • PHMG

 

What they do: PHMG is an audio branding agency whose services include professional voice-overs for websites, telephone hold music and custom sound effects for apps.

Their workforce in one word: Relentless.

My colleagues go to amazing lengths to ensure they’re getting the job done. It’s a dynamic environment where people shift focus at a moment’s notice and can strive for their individual goals as well as lead their team from the front. In terms of traits we look for, “passion” fits the bill. We look for people who can stand behind the product 100 percent and communicate that effectively to our potential clients. Passion drives excitement on our sales teams and prospects can hear and feel that excitement.

What professional development looks like at PHMG: Since joining PHMG, my selling ability has grown enormously. I’ve been supported by a large, experienced team who are happy to share their knowledge and experience. My confidence and success in managing others has evolved immensely, too. The training and development we receive is impressive and always a target of investment. It’s clear the business really values training and has a growth mindset.

 

 

Darion Smalls
Change Management Specialist • Litera

 

What they do: Litera offers a suite of digital products designed to make it easier for law firms to draft documents, manage workflows and gather insights from their data.

Their workforce in one word: Talented. 

Since we’re in the legal field, my teammates and I understand that finding and solving for the right issue is critical to achieving success. We dig under multiple layers of information to diagnose the real issue(s), recommend a solution, take initiative and accountability, and do our best to provide support to the other teams we work with. That takes an innate talent for collaboration that I find unique to my colleagues at Litera.

I look for grit in colleagues more often than not. Working in a consultative capacity, you get told “no” and “not now” a lot. When I started in change management, I was constantly told “no” from sponsors and management. You have to press on through that frustration. If you don’t have the grit to keep going, you might give up halfway through a change effort. Perseverance and grit are key in the partnerships my team and I develop.

What professional development looks like at Litera: Working at Litera has grown my skill set exponentially. The company values creative thinking and persistence more than anywhere else I have worked. In change management, a lot of the work I’d previously done was limited to training and communication. Since the formalized practice of change management is so new in legal and the legal tech space, I’ve had the opportunity to focus not only on those things but also on identifying meaningful data and finding and proving tactics that work. That has allowed me to work with extraordinary individuals at our member firms and navigate a new space in legal.

 

 

Bernadette Troy
Principal Consultant, Digital • Inspire11

 

What they do: Inspire11 provides digital and analytics consulting to help companies navigate digital transformations and do more with their data.

Their workforce in one word: Dynamic.

The people at Inspire11 are highly talented, passionate and driven, as well as very kind and compassionate. Often, you can experience one or the other when working in teams, and it’s far rarer to find a blend of these traits. It’s something I deeply value about working at Inspire11.

What professional development looks like at Inspire11: By working at Inspire11, I have become even more adaptable and flexible in building relationships and how I approach work and our client’s work. The diversity in people and the organizations I work with enables me to create unique relationships that require different elements to succeed. It’s not one size fits all. I need to understand the big picture from a business and technology lens, both of which are evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Our team is empowered to creatively think outside the box to maximize the potential of people and the world.

 

 

Nidhi Sachan
Principal Consultant - Application Development • Eviden, an Atos Business

 

What they do: Maven Wave is a digital transformation consultancy that focuses on delivering solutions that are mobile, driven by analytics and cloud-native.

Their workforce in one word: Integrity.

We are committed to integrity founded upon accountability, honesty and delivery. This helps us win the trust of clients, create better partnerships and keep employees happy. When I am looking to bring on a new team member, I look for passion. You can train for skills but not for passion.

What sets Maven Wave apart: It’s really exciting to be a part of such a great company that has a culture of care, trust, innovation and celebrating success. At Maven Wave, everyone makes sure you know that you count and are an important piece to the puzzle. Maven Wave provides me all the support, training and guidance I need to continue inventing and building cutting-edge technologies. 

 

 

Ben Odisho
Software Engineer • Screencastify

 

What they do: Screencastify is a browser-based screen recorder that lets users record, edit and share videos.

Their workforce in one word: Ultra-passionate. 

I love my colleagues because they all care intensely about making sure teachers get the best support we can provide. The engineering team is full of brilliant and driven people ready to dive headfirst into new ideas. Management ensures we have what we need to solve problems while remaining surprisingly vigilant about making sure we make time to take care of ourselves. Product and design are always excited to talk through their decisions and collaborate on new ideas. Our sales and success teams are endlessly passionate about our product and love interacting with teachers.

I appreciate our engineering team’s pairing culture and focus on nurturing an excellent developer experience. Our team heavily values creating an emotionally safe environment, emphasizing sharing ideas and learning from each other. Anyone who wants to help maintain that environment and is equally passionate about improving the lives of teachers would be the ideal colleague.

What professional development looks like at Screencastify: Screencastify has made me a much better engineer overall. The problems we face allow us the opportunity to implement many novel solutions, many of which aren’t immediately obvious. It’s not uncommon for engineers to stretch their understanding of the web or do a deep dive into video engineering to put together a feature. Usually this would be pretty daunting, but there’s always someone eager to share their knowledge and understanding of the problem space because of our strong pairing culture. 

In addition to that, we’re at a unique spot in the company’s lifecycle where we want to make sure our product prioritizes quality over quantity of work. We get heavy support from management to do our due diligence around the codebase and invest in ourselves as developers. Finally, navigating growing pains has given us many opportunities to build our standards and processes. There’s a lot of room to take ownership of the developer experience here, which has given me a new appreciation for the non-coding side of development.

 

 

Allison Cuca
VP of Product • Crafty

 

What they do: Crafty offers companies a single place to manage their food, beverage and office supply orders as well as a way to provide remote employees snacks and home office equipment.

Their workforce in one word: Collaborative!

My co-workers truly embody a “here to help” mentality and bring our core value of “we are a team” to life every day. We are not an ego-driven crew. Instead, we aim to help each other be the best we can be. My colleagues are always willing to lend a hand and their expertise to help make our clients happier, our tech more user-friendly and improve how we work. We intentionally hire people with a track record of collaborating with colleagues and customers to source diverse perspectives in service of building something greater than they could accomplish on their own. 

Why their industry is so exciting right now: Our goal is to help companies craft a better workplace. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how we work, and more than ever people expect their employers to provide excellent benefits and perks, whether they are working in-person or remotely. This led us to build a new offering called “Crafty in a Box” for companies to show team members that they are valued regardless of their location and find new ways to surprise and delight them. 

This can be in the form of Crafty credit for employees to build their own box from our large catalog of snacks and supplies or curated boxes around themes like “onboarding” and “celebrations” of work anniversaries or birthdays. There’s even a “WFH box” with equipment for home offices. Our vision is to be the leading software and service for companies to operate food, beverage and supplies programs across the globe.

 

 

RedShelf office building and a colorful sitting srea outside
RedShelf

 

 

Thomas Gappmayer
Senior Product Manager • RedShelf

 

What they do: RedShelf helps colleges, businesses and book publishers make the leap from printed to digital textbooks.

Their workforce in one word: Innovative. 

My co-workers never cease to amaze me with their creativity, collaborative attitudes and ability to solve complex problems. I feel very grateful to work on a team of high-performing, passionate individuals who work hard every day to improve education through technology.

What professional development looks like at RedShelf: My skill set has grown immensely since starting at RedShelf. Working with a high-caliber team has helped me improve my own skill set and accelerate my personal career growth as well. Working at RedShelf has provided me with exposure to industry leaders, helped me learn best practices and allowed me to collaborate with other contributors who are all passionate about education.

 

 

Sanket Dave
Director, Technology • West Monroe

 

What they do: West Monroe is a business and technology consulting firm that helps clients navigate digital transformation, design and develop products, manage cyber threats and more.

Their workforce in one word: Collaborative.

Throughout my time at West Monroe, I’ve worked with very talented individuals who always collaborate with their colleagues and clients. As I look for potential colleagues to join me on the West Monroe journey, I always seek out individuals who enjoy working as a team, approach challenges with an open and collaborative mindset, and display empathy toward each other. Being collaborative at West Monroe allows us to bring a diverse and skilled mindset to solve our clients’ toughest problems.

Why their industry is so exciting right now: The pandemic has changed how companies operate as more organizations embark on their digital journeys. From making consumer experiences more seamless to developing better and more innovative products and embracing technology, our clients need help achieving their goals. West Monroe helps our clients “think digital” with a focus on the end user to create thoughtfully crafted products and experiences that rely on data-driven insights and are designed with driving speed-to-value, loyalty and connection in mind.

An exciting project I recently worked on was a customer data strategy for a health and wellness company. We helped our client redefine the online customer experience with the help of our sales effectiveness, product experience and technology teams. This project truly showcased our business mindset and tactical technology recommendations.

 

 

Nicole White
Senior Technical Product Owner • BenchPrep

 

What they do: BenchPrep works with professional associations, credentialing organizations and training companies to create digital test prep solutions and study materials.

Their workforce in one word: Collaborative.

Everyone is very passionate about others succeeding and are so helpful when you come to them with a question, whether it’s about functionality, process, how something works or anything in between. I have never felt like I have asked a silly question, and everyone always makes time for others. I work with many different people on many different teams, and everyone loves to share all of their knowledge to ensure the success of everyone at the company.

Why their industry is so exciting right now: Edtech has blossomed in the past couple of years. With the shift to online everything, schools, training institutions and certification companies have had to find a way to make all of their testing and test prep tools virtual, and BenchPrep was right there to help them achieve those goals. Even as life continues to get back to normal, many things continue to remain virtual, and BenchPrep is there to help with that transition. It’s also an excellent industry because you get to help learners better themselves and achieve new skills and certifications.

 

 

TravelPerk team members out at a restaurant together
TravelPerk

 

 

Sean Kelly
Enterprise Senior Sales Executive • TravelPerk

 

What they do: Wise, Revolut and Grammarly are a few companies that use TravelPerk’s corporate travel management platform for booking flights, cars and accommodations and managing employee spend.

Their workforce in one word: Dedicated. 

Being a part of a disrupter in a highly-competitive market requires a certain level of commitment and dedication, which is what immediately stands out to me about my colleagues. It is a privilege to work with such a like-minded group who go above and beyond, not only for our customers but also for those alongside them in the office. This is the culture here at TravelPerk and it starts with our leadership team. 

If you are looking to join this amazing team, ask yourself, “Am I willing to raise the bar?” That’s what it takes to be successful in a market such as this and is the expectation among your colleagues, a “one team, one dream” state of mind with a shared goal of success as a unit and not just an individual.

What professional development looks like at TravelPerk: Development and growth has always been truly important to me, and at TravelPerk you are presented the opportunity to learn from an amazing group of leaders and colleagues. You never know who you are going to meet throughout the day, but if you are not naturally curious to learn about and from the people working alongside you, the chance to take away something meaningful and impactful is lost. Since I first walked through the door at TravelPerk, the knowledge I have gained from my peers has been instrumental to my career growth, and without it I certainly would not be in the position I am in today.

 

 

Jessica Medina
Senior Client Relationship Manager • Renovo Financial

 

What they do: Renovo is a fintech company providing loans to investors for acquiring and rehabbing single-family and multi-family residential properties.

Their workforce in one word: Integrity. 

Everyone is honest to a fault and we all work with a common goal in mind: giving our clients the best service we can provide. From marketing to originations and all the way to closing and servicing, each of us touches some part of the client experience. I know that if I do my part, I can trust my teammates to do theirs, too. Integrity is something I look for in all my potential colleagues because it’s not a skill that can be taught. It’s a core value that’s ingrained in our company culture and it makes working here feel like more than a job. It feels like I’m part of a team.

What professional development looks like at Renovo: When I first started working here a little under three years ago, I was a production assistant to one of our VPs of lending, which allowed me to connect with different departments, sit in on meetings and build relationships throughout the organization. With this exposure, I saw an opportunity to join sales and marketing and become a client relationship manager leading the new inside sales department. 

Today, I am our senior client relationship manager, a role that has opened even more opportunities for me, including closing a loan for one of our clients! That’s what’s so awesome about working here. You can come in and get the job done, but if you have the drive to grow and are willing to jump on opportunities as you see them, you can blaze your own trail and see amazing development in yourself and your career.

 

 

Sitting area in the Key2Act office with the company logo on the wall
Key2Act

 

Eric Okunevich
Head of Product Management • Key2Act

 

What they do: Key2Act sits at the intersection of smart buildings and field service management with a platform that monitors and analyzes energy performance and equips technicians with relevant data to streamline service calls.

Their workforce in one word: Dedicated.

Key2Act’s people are not only dedicated to our vision but to the customer, whether that’s an internal employee, a partner, an existing customer or a potential customer. We are dedicated to solving problems by listening and going the extra mile, even if it’s outside of the formal job description, which requires a selflessness to learn and a passion to be part of a team striving for the same goal. I look for potential colleagues who are smart, have a passion for discovery and learning, and like to take on new and challenging problems.

Why their industry is so exciting right now: Key2Act is in an exciting place because we are straddling two industries and producing one holistic solution for both of them. Generating insights from IoT data is at the cutting-edge of technology, and we are seeing the importance of field service management with the shortage of qualified technicians. 

We connect the two by proactively identifying problems before they become crises, taking the critical next step to get the identified urgent issue promptly into the technician’s hand. The tech should never have to go on a service call with a vague problem diagnosis and have to figure out what’s wrong. Most of our competitors do one or the other, but no one does both. What we are doing will be a game-changer for our customers and the industry at large.

 

 

Dano Casas
Manager, Technical Consulting • Strata Decision Technology

 

What they do: Strata is a healthtech company offering hospitals and health systems a single platform for financial planning, analytics and performance management.

Their workforce in one word: Self-motivated. 

This is the trait that stood out to me when I started my career at Strata six years ago and still remains the most important thing I look for in my team and teammates. A team full of self-motivated learners is like watching an NBA super team on the floor. They make each other better. When the team is hungry to learn, there is a momentum that naturally occurs, allowing the team to transcend to the next level of performance. They win together as a team and winning begets more winning. It’s a powerful thing.

What professional development looks like at Strata: When I joined the team, I was presented with a number of career growth possibilities. I first set my eyes on the technical consultant role but knew that I would need to become proficient in SQL before being given the opportunity. Every technical consultant at Strata, from my manager to the team members, was more than happy to spend time with me as I learned the concepts and details of SQL. After putting in the work, I was considered for the role and got it!  

It was an amazing feeling to see my hard work acknowledged and rewarded by the company and team. The team continues to grow and provide opportunities and I haven’t stopped learning. I’ve picked up everything from advanced SQL to client and people management skills. Today I manage the very same technical consultant team that first helped me when I joined Strata.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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