This past February I was asked to help judge the TechPoint Mira Awards. Myself and 3 others, Chrissy Bailey (Business Relationship Manager at Aprimo), Scott Kraege (CEO & Co-founder of MOBI), and Todd Zerbe (Senior Vice President of Product Development Cloud Software at Genesys), were selected to judge Best Company Culture. We set out to help determine who was building and sustaining the best culture in our Indy tech community.

First Round

We received 30 applications. Our panel worked independently to score each of the applicants and made notes on areas that stood out to each of us. Without discussing what made a great culture with each other, we found commonality in our judging.

It was clear that there were consistent culture characteristics within all these companies – everyone has made a great place to work with many perks. Most companies offered free meals or snacks, great work environments, bonuses, time off, etc., but what we didn’t see was consistent means and resources to grow their employees. We wanted to see companies teaching and guiding their employees to grow, find the autonomy to learn on their own, and make an impact at their company – which in turn will grow their overall business. Indy has grown beyond needing companies that provide a fun place to work. We need businesses to sustain our tech culture by growing strong tech leaders and their companies.

In-person Interviews

From the list of 30, we narrowed our finalists down to 12 companies to meet our panel and conduct in-person interviews. Prior to the interviews, the judges met in person and discussed what we were looking for from a Best Company Culture. During that day, we had the opportunity to meet representatives from all 12 companies. Throughout the interviews, we experienced stories of why they were passionate about their workplace and what made their culture unique. I saw passion. I saw emotion. I heard great examples of companies organically growing ideas that turned into culture-changing moments. The creativity in the presentations made it very easy to see how their cultures are lived every day.

Decision Time

Decision time was difficult, but at the end of the day it came down to 2 companies. Both were being recognized nationally for their unique, strong cultures. It was a hard decision between the two finalists and we did need to debate on who to select. In the end, we landed on One Click.

One Click’s mission is to become the most people-focused eyewear company. Their core values are the fabric of their company and the backbone of the organization and culture. Each Team Member (they don’t use the word employee) is expected to get better by creating their own professional development plan. There are mentorship opportunities, book clubs, shark tank day, team member recognition (my personal favorite the Lame Duck Award that recognizes/encourages failure and makes it ok to do so), team perks, parties, and Indy community involvement. But what really set them apart from any other company was their Internal Culture Team that continually measures feedback from Team Members each week and then uses that feedback to drive change.

Mira Awards

Now we celebrate! At the Mira Awards, I was thrilled to see almost 1,000 of our Indy tech community members present celebrating all we’ve done to grow our community. As each award was presented, you could feel (and hear) the cross-company support they had for each other. It was an amazing night to sit back and think about how we made this together. We all helped grow this city’s tech community to what it is and we should be damn proud of it.

When Best Company Culture was showcased and all 12 companies were highlighted, I heard cheers from all over the room as each nominated company was mentioned, which made me smile. As the announcement was made that One Click was the winner, Angie Stocklin brought home the exact reason why we chose them to win. People. One Click’s culture is something each company in Indy should strive to learn from and adopt as it fits their organization.

We have an unsaid Indy Tech culture emerging and it showed evening. All of these events tell the story:

  • Our Governor, Eric Holcomb, kicked off the night by speaking about creating the Indiana Trust Fund in the latest legislative session. As Mike Langellier said, it takes us from laggard to leader in venture capital. “Indiana is gaining national attention for being a magnet for tech jobs.”
  • We saw Mike Langellier get awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash for his “consistent leadership in transforming Indiana into a tech powerhouse.”
  • Lindsay Lee Siovaila got the Rising Star Award bringing visibility to all the work she’s done to grow avenues for women in Indy.
  • TechPoint announced the new role for developing Women in Tech initiatives.
  • Josh Driver was recognized for his efforts promoting diversity and community involvement with his award for Community Champion of the Year encouraging openness and reducing bias and judgement after RFRA.
  • The list goes on and on.

It was clear that evening that culture doesn’t drive a company, it creates a community. Mike Langellier said it best, “We’re all one tech community team.” Without strong company cultures we wouldn’t be able to create jobs, retain employees, and grow employees into the tech leaders driving the success we’re seeing within our city. One Click has set an example for all of us to follow. Let’s all keep this momentum going, be inspired by their influence, and build a strong Indy Tech community culture.

Noelle Webster-Milam

Noelle Webster-Milliam is the Lead UX Designer/Architect at Software Engineering Professionals. In 2016, Noelle was recognized as part of the Tech 25 Class of 2016, which recognizes Indiana’s outstanding tech builders.