Investing in people: Why 4 Austin tech companies value professional development

by Kelly O'Halloran
December 18, 2018

It doesn’t take long to realize that although you might be finished with school, you will always remain a student. In the professional world, and in life, the learning never stops. Thankfully, many companies provide plenty of opportunities to be a better you both inside and outside of the workplace. We caught up with four in town to learn the specifics.

 

logicmonitor austin
photo provided by logicmonitor

David Medina started with LogicMonitor more than four years ago as a technical support engineer. He now leads that team as director partly due to the professional development opportunities the company provides. Medina said LogicMonitor aims to see entry-level associate technical support engineers achieve career growth within six to 12 months of starting.  

Our senior leadership has empowered me to lead and expand our team, try new approaches ... and have provided valuable feedback.”

 

What is a recent example of someone on your team benefitting from your professional development opportunities?

At the very start of a technical support engineer’s career with LogicMonitor, they receive resources to advance. That includes their own LogicMonitor instance, access to our lab environments (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud), apps for development, and an annual professional development stipend.

One of our team members utilized these resources to build up their skillset in PowerShell scripting and API utilization, using their professional development stipend to enroll in courses. Once they mastered the fundamentals of the language, we encouraged them to take on more challenging customer requests, primarily focused on scripting and API usage. As the requests became more challenging, this employee used our lab resources to build and test their own scripts that they were creating to assist customers, which allowed them to deepen their skillset even further.

That team member became our subject matter expert, taking ownership of support’s most complex cases for our largest customers. Additionally, they were entrusted with building out our internal code repository in Stash, which allowed our team to share code with each other more efficiently.

 

How does your company ensure leaders keep learning?

Our managers are encouraged to try new initiatives. Our senior leadership has empowered me to lead and expand our team, try new approaches to improve our department, and have provided valuable feedback and guidance along the way. The opportunity to try new things, along with continued guidance, ensures that I keep growing as a leader.

Also, our people operations team has done a great job in providing management training to help us bring out the best in our team members. These training sessions, which include industry-leading guest speakers, have helped us build the necessary skill sets to be effective leaders. Our professional development stipend extends to management as well. You are able to enroll in seminars, earn certifications or take classes that will further your career.  

 

a cloud guru austin
photo provided by a cloud guru

A Cloud Guru believes education and training can transform people’s lives — including those of their own employees. Hanh Nguyen, director of customer experience, said the company has made it one of its core values to offer their team members learning opportunities that sync with the company’s mission.

Our leaders maintain a pulse of what’s developing within their fields and are equipped with insights to lead our growing teams.”

 

What is a recent example of someone on your team benefitting from your professional development opportunities?

One of our customer support gurus recently transitioned into our new IT operations team. What makes this growth so awesome is that his entire career was spent supporting the needs of our customers and understanding the intricate details of how our business operates. With this opportunity, he’s being challenged to use his expertise in a new environment that supports the growing needs of our teams.


How does your company ensure leaders keep learning?

We provide opportunities for our leaders to attend leading conferences within our industry but also within their professional space. It’s how our leaders maintain a pulse of what’s developing within their fields and are equipped with insights to lead our growing teams. We have a “work hard, stay humble” motto at ACG. It means that leaders across our teams work collaboratively, and proactively listen and learn with other team members.

 

cleardata austin
photo provided by cleardata

When ClearDATA hosts its own professional development and training opportunities, the events often have a theme. Most recently, the theme was Celebrate Texas. Philip Lawrence, ClearDATA’s director of development and training, highlighted how the company looks to their employee base for upward advancement.

It is vital that we develop a second layer of leaders who carry our vision, mission and message forward.”

 

What is a recent example of someone on your team benefitting from your professional development opportunities?

Development in the job is critical with the pace of a startup and developing technologies. The resources we need are in high demand and we have had to, in many cases, “grow our own.” We have many instances of individuals who have taken advantage of the opportunities to grow their technical skills and gain from the real-life experiences of working with our customer set in a very dynamic environment. It is good for them, it is good for us, it is good for our customers.


How does your company ensure leaders keep learning?

As our company is growing rapidly, it is vital that we develop a second layer of leaders who carry our vision, mission and message forward to the organization. We have recently developed a program to help this group of people gain knowledge from the feedback of peers and executives and receive coaching and support in developing the skills they need to be successful. The program will kick into full gear in the new year.

 

mvf us
photo provided by mvf

Charlie Parkin, sales manager at MVF, said the company provides an annual professional development budget of $1,500 per person. Here’s how three employees recently used those funds to better their careers.

They learned how to increase their effectiveness in connecting with and communicating to C-levels.”

 

What is a recent example of someone on your team benefitting from your professional development opportunities?

Two of our sales team members recently flew to Boston for a prospecting workshop led by an expert sales trainer. In addition to networking with a strong group of enterprise sales reps and managers, they learned how to increase their effectiveness in connecting with and communicating to C-levels. We also recently sent one of our teammates to a negotiation workshop to navigate better deals in a similar arena with C-levels, notably in sales or marketing.

The correlation isn’t 100 percent down to these opportunities, but these three lead our office in sales figures and have all scheduled further training sessions to build on what they learned.

 

How does your company ensure leaders keep learning?

During my time with MVF, I’ve been fortunate to attend many internal and external learning opportunities. Most recently, I completed the Management Development Academy, which is a course co-built by the MVF people team, senior management and an externally accredited management training board. I was flown to the U.K. three times over six months, and attended 10 day-long group sessions with other managers. Some highlights included: managing exceptional, or poor, performers; hiring top talent, collaborating within and between departments, and developing future leaders.

An external example has been a Google-developed course on emotional intelligence leadership. I flew to L.A. for this and worked intensely on active and empathic listening skills among others for two days.

 

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