How These 6 Dynamic Chicago Companies Power Their Teams

Discover, YCharts and more have what it takes to stand out from the crowd and attract the best local talent.

Written by Zach Baliva
Published on Aug. 07, 2023
How These 6 Dynamic Chicago Companies Power Their Teams
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It’s officially summertime in Chicago. The ivy is in full bloom at Wrigley Field, Millennium Park is buzzing and outdoor enthusiasts crisscross Lakefront Trail’s 18.5-mile path. 

The Windy City, which is the nation’s fifth-largest economy, has a lot to offer employers and job seekers alike. Chicago hosts a diverse population, great universities, top medical schools, dozens of Fortune 500 companies and a skilled workforce. Still, no single industry has captured more than 12 percent of that workforce. 

That means opportunities are abundant. In fact, almost 200,000 new businesses formed in Chicago in 2021. Built In Chicago has profiled six standouts. Read on to discover more about their cultures, benefits, teams and plans. 



What Discover Financial Services Does: Discover is an iconic banking and payment service company. The Discover Card has about 50 million cardholders nationwide.

A Culture of Innovation: was born in 1995, and tech and transformation remain at the heart of Discover Financial Services today. That’s no accident. “When a company displays that ability to continuously improve, it has a solid culture of innovation,” VP of Technology Capabilities and Innovation Angel Diaz told Built In Chicago last year. The company’s patent program encourages engineers to create disclosures and watch as their work is supported and celebrated. Global hackathons unite creative minds from across the company as they institutionalize the idea of continuous learning. The company is now in the midst of a full digital transformation to simplify its development process and make teams “product-focused instead of project-focused.” The transformation includes five areas of focus: a highly-skilled engineering workforce; extreme automation; one agile way of working; reliability and technology optimization; and discipline and employee experience. 





What YCharts Does: The online financial platform known as YCharts provides data, visualization and analytics to customers who rely on it for idea generation, alerts, real-time updates and more. 

Community-Centered: Many tech companies went above and beyond during the pandemic and its aftermath. YCharts is no exception. Sean Brown’s investment research platform launched virtual food drives during COVID-19 to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository and The Food Bank for New York City. Brown also supported his own employees with a stipend designed to stimulate local businesses. This led YCharts to enact a new strategy, as Brown told Built in Chicago at the height of the pandemic. “We’ve devised a strategy to provide access to our platform to financial professionals who need investment research and client communications tools while working from home,” he says. This support effort unlocked the tools hundreds of industry professionals needed to inform and advise the clients who rely on them. 





What OppFi Does: OppFi is a financial technology platform built to power banks so they can give everyday consumers access to credit.  

Well-being Matters: Companies that prioritize a healthy balance between employees’ home and work lives show they’re serious by getting managers involved. That’s the case at OppFi, a Chicago tech company that offers unlimited PTO, paid parental leave, and flexible summer Fridays. But here’s the kicker — team leaders have a mandate to ensure their colleagues use their time off and avoid burnout. Charelle Hammond, director of people business partner and workplace experience, says the approach is generating results. “Measuring the pulse of our employees is a critical aspect of our listening strategy, and recent surveys indicate that our employees feel less burnt-out and are more productive,” she told us. 




What Oak Street Health Does: Founded in 2012, Oak Street Health helps aging Americans stay healthy with a network of primary care centers embedded in various communities.

Offering Fulfillment: Challenging work and rapid growth have kept Director of Product Dina Grossman at Oak Street Health for more than five years. “We are never complacent and are always looking for new ways to innovate, whether that be new services to offer our patients or new opportunities for improvement. As a result, the things I’m working on today are totally different from the things I was working on a year ago and from when I first started,” she said to Built In Chicago. The chance to learn new things at Oak Street Health keeps Grossman and her team energized, connected and motivated. 




What SDI Presence Does: SDI Presence is an IT consultancy and managed services provider (MSP) that leverages its strong team presence to advance clients to a secure digital enterprise. 

Elevating an Inclusive Culture for Women: Chicago’s tech scene is booming, and some local companies are taking extra steps to make sure women and other minorities have equal access to jobs, promotions, mentors and other opportunities. Galaxia Martin, solutions director for cloud and cybersecurity, sang SDI’s praises to Built in Chicago in August. “The company provides learning opportunities through SDI University, which is an employee professional development program designed to promote career evolution through work experiences, formal education and relationship-building,” she said. SDIU is one way the company provides an environment where all employees can develop their talents and affect their own career paths. 





What Upwork Does: Started in 2013, Upwork is a freelancing platform that helps writers, designers, developers and other professionals find projects and clients. 

Investing in AI: Upwork is one of many companies going all-in with artificial intelligence capabilities. The career-matching marketplace made a major expansion to its related products and services in July. The move, made in partnership with Open AI and Jasper, will bring new beta products like a job post generator, an enhanced chat assistant, guides and proposal tips. "Disruptive technology and platform shifts create new opportunities. We recognize generative AI will be a force-multiplier for both talent and businesses of all sizes that rely on our platform, enabling anyone who comes to Upwork to get work done to achieve their true business objectives,” said Dave Bottoms, VP of product and general manager of Upwork Marketplace, in a press release. Upwork’s leaders say these AI offerings and resources will also help businesses find the best AI talent, while that talent can find the best AI work opportunities.


Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and featured companies.

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