In a world where we can virtually do everything, well, virtually, learning is no different. Yet, maintaining the same quality in a digital setting as in a traditional, in-person classroom has been a give and take in the world of education for years.
Chicago-based All Campus is changing that by partnering with premier schools — Purdue University, Michigan State University and DePaul University, to name a few — to launch and maintain online programs for increased access to quality education.
We met with three department leaders to learn how they’re leveling the playing field for online education and how they’re looking to grow the team to do so.
EMPLOYEES: 91; 85 locally
WHAT THEY DO: All Campus partners with leading, traditional higher education institutions to grow online enrollment and maximize market share through their comprehensive, tailored online program management services.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago
PERKS TO MENTION: In addition to AC Cares, an internal committee that organizes group volunteer activities, All Campus offers two extra days of PTO annually specifically for volunteering. And, in the spirit of lifelong learning, All Campus offers an annual $1,000 professional development credit.
Tiffany Parker, Assistant Director of Enrollment
Tiffany helps lead recruitment efforts at All Campus, maintaining relationships with client universities and working with the enrollment team to meet their goals.
DYNAMIC DIVERSIONS: Outside of the office, Tiffany enjoys diverse activities: lakefront biking, salsa dancing, trying new restaurants, working out and traveling.
As All Campus continues to grow, how has the team worked to maintain a startup atmosphere?
An important aspect of growing an organization is to evolve with time. As the landscape and business needs change, we must as well. The most unique part of our organization is our ability to be flexible for our partners. I think that we maintain our startup atmosphere by listening to what we want internally and what our partners want, as well as adding people to our team who can align with our core values and goals. Every step is intentional and well thought out.
Strong cultures also create opportunities for people to bond. What are some activities you’ve done with your colleagues that build camaraderie?
We often find ourselves bonding over food. Food is huge here at All Campus. The company regularly hosts company lunches, happy hours, outings and potlucks. Another fun event has been our holiday outings— last year, the company took us to dinner and then to see “Hamilton.” It was an amazing night!
An important aspect of growing an organization is to evolve with time. As the landscape and business needs change, we must as well.”
Another big part of your culture is AC Cares. How does the AC Cares program fit within the All Campus culture, and how do you encourage employee participation?
AC Cares developed out of our passion for giving back. Early on, we conducted a survey to determine what employees wanted, and there was a consensus that employees wanted to be involved in charitable activities. Since this was employee-driven, employee engagement was the easy part. Something close to my heart has been participating in Ronald McDonald House’s “Meals from the Heart” program. This is our opportunity to cook meals for families with children experiencing chronic illness, and there is so much gratification in helping families facing such a challenging situation.
Michael Lenzen, VP of Engineering and Analytics
Michael heads up the engineering and analytics team at All Campus and has been with the company since its genesis. In addition to expanding and measuring performance on internal applications, he is actively working on the development and launch of the company’s first SaaS product — a CRM built specifically for higher education.
CHEF OF ALL TRADES: Michael enjoys perfecting dishes of all cuisines — two recent favorites include saffron rice for its exotic, single-ingredient showcasing, and chicken cacciatore for its myriad mundane ingredients that, when prepared carefully, create a medley of texture and flavor.
Company culture is always evolving. What process do you use to evaluate your company’s culture?
The executive team recently went through an exercise listing qualities that we thought defined our culture and values. After we had whittled down the list, we assessed ourselves according to those values. Were they actually our values or were they aspirational? We want to describe how we actually are — not who we want to be — to have our values sincerely reflect our employees.
What role has culture played in shaping the direction of your company or team?
Perseverance and audacity have played a significant role in our success thus far. We weren’t the first company to enter our emerging market seven years ago, and we certainly weren’t the most well-funded. Through ambitious launches and clients with high expectations, we continued to take on more. We learn from our mistakes, and that has contributed to our success.
We have reinvigorated challenging partnerships and grown programs beyond anyone’s expectations and become a relied-upon resource for a wide range of institutions, from local colleges to Ivy League universities. We learned to make do with less capital funding, proving that tenacity and smart decisions are the true currency of business. Though we're very well funded now, the culture of out-smarting versus out-spending the competition persists.
We want to describe how we actually are — not who we want to be — to have our values sincerely reflect our employees.”
How are employees empowered to help shape or participate in the office culture?
Our employees’ interest in volunteering drove company policy from the ground up — because of the organic growth around that part of our office culture, we created a committee to organize All Campus charitable efforts. We also encourage people to publicly recognize above-and-beyond efforts in our “shout-outs” Slack channel. All of the leaders at All Campus are open to feedback and ideas for making the culture here better.
Andrea Maconachy, EVP, Marketing
Andrea leads marketing operations for the company to optimize visibility and to set the strategy and pace for design, content production, digital media, corporate partnerships and public relations.
LOGICAL LEISURE: When she’s not wrangling her 2-year-old, Andrea enjoys spending her brief free time playing card and logic games — poker, KenKen and crosswords rank among her favorites.
Did you build this culture deliberately? Or did it happen organically?
First, it formed organically. We were a group of people that already had these values in common, but we also wanted to grow the organization and form something that we could all be proud of, so in that sense it became deliberate. This led us to really think about what makes a company a community people would want to join. We surveyed employees to determine what deficiencies we had as an organization and researched the benefits that other organizations in our industry and size were providing to employees. We wanted to be one of the best places to work in Chicago, so we set that as a goal for ourselves to achieve — and we did!
Our casual environment elicits comfort, meaning that employees can feel open to providing constructive, honest and open feedback, and have the autonomy to analyze and improve our processes.”
How are you bringing your company’s values to the forefront? What ways are you incorporating them into the employee experience?
When our CEO hired me — many years ago at this point— he said, “Andrea, we only hire nice people.” He was serious about the idea then, and we’re serious about it now — so serious, in fact, that it’s become part of our official corporate values. We also supply great benefits to our employees with regard to their professional development. This includes discounts on all of our client programs and an annual dollar amount that they can put toward an area they’d like to develop their skills. Our casual environment elicits comfort, meaning that employees can feel open to providing constructive, honest and open feedback, and have the autonomy to analyze and improve our processes. Our employees are truly heard when they give us feedback.
Describe your ideal candidate. What characteristics or skills do they possess?
Beyond meeting job qualifications, they’re going to be an independent thinker and doer. They’re going to want to understand how their role fits into the “whole” of All Campus, and want to do a great job because they understand their best work will positively impact the performance of others. When they hit a roadblock, they’re going to be driven to figure out how to get past it. When they see something interesting or peculiar, they’re going to not just note it and move on — they’re going to ask, “Why is this happening?”