7 NYC Companies Seriously Investing in Their Employees

Looking to grow your career? These companies recognize the value of investing in upskilling and professional development opportunities.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Mar. 07, 2022
7 NYC Companies Seriously Investing in Their Employees
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It’s can be good for companies to say the quiet part out loud. 

When asked why Haven Technologies is so invested in the growth of its team, Founder Yaron Ben-Zvi called the professional development opportunities his company offers “essential for recruitment and retention.” Haven Technologies is not alone in recognizing the power strong upskilling and professional development programs play in recruiting top talent.

Everyone knows diversity is good for business, but income inequality can make it hard for a company with specific professional requirements to diversify its workforce. This led financial wellness company Northstar to develop a program that supports employees as they work toward earning the certifications needed to become a certified financial planner. 

Haven Technologies and Northstar are two of a handful of New York tech companies that recognize the value of investing in the growth of their employees. We spoke with both of these companies, along with five others that share the same mindset, about their approach and the upskilling and professional development opportunities available to their teams.

 

Joe Henriques
President, US - quantilope • quantilope

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

We are proud of how committed we are to our people’s success. It’s about finding multi-talented people and empowering them to identify their path and own it; the trick for us is to align this to our long-term strategy. Ingrained into our leaders and culture is a priority to drive away from comfort zones and toward challenges. Two examples of that stand out. 

The first is how we take junior consultants through a process of mentorship and pod-based learning to help them become high-performing market researchers. It is every individual’s responsibility to mentor and drive the speed of upskilling. The second is our large learning and development budget dedicated to external learning solutions. We mandate the use of these funds, which leads to individual learning and development paths. We want people who want to challenge the speed of their career path, because their growth is our growth.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

It’s amazing what happens when you listen to your people and allow them to drive change. We heard from so many employees that money is of course motivating, but that the ability to grow a career and to accelerate that journey is also exciting. Also, we found that our most successful people started at entry-level roles and grew within the organization, sometimes ending up in much different places from where they started. 

We were seeing a higher success rate across the board growing people through our L&D programs and plans than just hiring net new. Lastly, at high-growth companies like quantilope, speed to productivity is crucial. Having continuous skill enablement and professional development drives a massive reduction in ramp and increase in efficiency. People want to grow fast and we want them to act fast.

We’ve completely transformed our business by empowering amazing people to forge new career paths.”

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole? 

We have had several cases of top research consultants with an amazing ability to deliver projects to clients who began seeking new, impactful career paths. A great example of this is the creation of our solution consultant team. We empowered one of our superstars to develop a plan to build trust and increase our wins with new prospects and buyers. We challenged her to create a new way of evaluating technology in a market where technology wasn’t purchased. We are now at a place where all customers engage our solutions consulting team, which has doubled our win rates. We’ve completely transformed our business by empowering amazing people to forge new career paths. 

 

 

Haven Technologies CEO, Yaron Ben-Zvi, leading a team meeting
Haven Technologies

 

Yaron Ben-Zvi
Founder • Haven Technologies

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development? 

At our core, we believe all employees should have the opportunity to grow and stretch themselves professionally through their day-to-day work. There is no “typical day” at Haven Technologies. Building, maintaining and deploying an end-to-end insurtech platform requires nimbleness, adaptability and constant innovation. 

Those who are energized by challenges and problem-solving thrive here, but we recognize that we need to invest in our colleagues and give them the resources to problem solve. One way we’ve done so is through our “Grow with Haven” program, which offers one-on-one customized coaching between employees and relevant. Employees can decide what they want to work on, whether it’s honing a specific skill or behavior or focusing on long-term career planning. Of course, this is in addition to more standard feedback sessions, including bi-annual reviews where employees receive feedback from their colleagues, managers and chapter leads.

Our Grow with Haven program offers one-on-one customized coaching between employees and experts.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

Our mission is to make life better, together. We don’t take that commitment lightly and it carries implications for the investments we make in colleagues and clients. We believe that when employees have the resources to stretch professionally — whether through Grow with Haven or other investments like an education stipend — they are empowered to bring their full selves to work. This is essential for recruitment and retention. 

We also believe our talent investments impact the work we do for clients. We need the best and brightest talent and know that our most successful client engagements will be those rooted in a true partnership, not transactional exchanges. We can’t expect to attract or retain the best of the best or have them build these relationships without the proper resources. That means we have to prioritize investments in employees’ ongoing growth and development. 

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

While we’re a flat organization, we do have a leadership team that helps set the direction of the business and guides big decisions. Most recently, that involved forming our 2022 business goals, which intersected with the Grow with Haven program. Specifically, one of the program’s participants wanted to work on improving his group facilitation skills with a dedicated focus on how to have more influence in group settings. 

Particularly passionate about how to improve elements of our internal processes, this colleague went on to draw from his coaching sessions to engage and inspire others on this topic. Ultimately, these conversations ended up influencing the leadership team to add a metric around internal processes to our annual goals. I should mention that our annual goals and our ability to achieve them are directly tied to our compensation. So, the impact of this goal inclusion can’t be overstated. 

 

 

iCapital Office
iCapital

 

Deborah Wheelock
Head of Global Talent Management • iCapital

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development? 

iCapital’s mission of education is core to our DNA. As a leader in the alternative investment industry, we provide online education and resources to financial advisors. Our partnership with the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association provides a custom suite of online learning modules, which are also available to our employees. As part of our continuous learning approach, we offer bimonthly “iLearn” education sessions covering a wide range of iCapital learning and a full LinkedIn Learning license to all employees.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

iCapital’s growth is fueled by the innovation and expertise of our team, and we expect continuous learning. We are invested in driving a culture of continuous learning because fostering a growth mindset, lifelong learning and career development are integral parts of our culture. iLearn, our internal corporate university, boosts learning engagement and empowers employees throughout their careers. These investments are an effective way to retain top talent by helping them grow their skill set and ultimately their careers.

A growth mindset, lifelong learning and career development are integral parts of our culture.

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

We are fortunate that our company is growing so quickly because this provides ample opportunities for employees to take on more responsibilities to hone their skills. In addition to formal learning opportunities, everyone had the opportunity to participate in our first companywide hackathon. Employees formed small, cross-functional teams and identified a product or process that could be improved on our platform. All ideas were evaluated and a limited number of teams were chosen to work on theirs over two months. 

Teams presented to a panel of judges and all employees before progressing to the final round. The ideas were so innovative they are being showcased to our board of directors, providing visibility and recognition to these employees and demonstrating our companywide commitment to innovation and lifelong learning. While there will be an official winning team, we intend to implement most — if not all — of the ideas these creative teams designed to provide better client solutions and streamlined and improved internal processes. 

 

 

adMarketplace team photo outside by a swimming pool
adMarketplace

 

Adam J. Epstein
President & Chief Operating Officer • adMarketplace

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

Upskilling and professional development are difficult to achieve over zoom. Our values are fueled by social interactions like sharing the excitement of launching a campaign or pursuing an idea that was created during a whiteboarding session. You miss those moments and the learnings that go into them when you’re separated by a screen.

Our approach to professional growth is, if they go all-in, we’re all-in with them. We offer a flexible continuous education program for people to strengthen their skills for upward mobility. We’ve scaled up our operations to have the freedom to think big and we are testing “no meeting Thursdays” to focus on deep work or participate in collaborative game days. Teams are encouraged to step away from the screen and collaborate through offsite meetings, market trips, and lunch-and-learns.

Our approach to professional growth is, if they go all-in, we’re all-in with them.”

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

We build forever partnerships with the biggest brands and compete against the largest companies in the world. That’s why we’re focused on recruiting and retaining high-caliber talent. Once you’re part of this team, we want you to thrive and attain your ambitions. Our culture of opportunity empowers people to take risks and have the freedom to fail. When someone has a great idea that shows potential, we ride the momentum and help scale their idea. If it doesn’t work, we collectively learn from it. The standard is not perfection. The standard is to deliver results and get better. 

We’ve made our office a safe and engaging environment by adding required vaccinations for all employees, in-office Covid-19 testing and even bonuses for booster shots. We know the more time we spend together as a team, the better we are. We had triple-digit growth last year and that would not have been possible without the prioritization we built around in-person collaboration and our team that brings their very best to the table.

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

My own experience is an example of how someone here can grow over time. I responded to a Craigslist ad for a part-time general counsel 18 years ago and within three years became the president and COO. I’m excited to come into the office every day, work with really talented people and help the business grow.

Norbert Tamas, our chief technology officer, started as a junior engineer. He was a technical manager, director of engineering and VP of engineering before becoming CTO. He invested his time and energy into the company, and adMarketplace doubled down with both internal support and external resources like executive coaching to help him grow into the leader he is today. We want people to come to adMarketplace, see opportunities to grow, move across teams and even identify gaps within the company to create their own path. 

 

 

Staci Perkins
Head of Operations • Northstar

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

It’s really important to me that we instill a culture of learning and growth early on so employees can develop both within and outside of their roles. We are investing in the whole person when we hire someone. As a fully remote Series A company, it’s easy for career development opportunities to fall to the wayside if they are not prioritized. Knowing this, we partnered with Foreword, which offers unlimited online access to live group workshops on different career growth topics. We have employees in different countries and time zones, and this program supports their diverse schedules and gives them the opportunity to drive their development path. 

As a financial wellness benefit, Northstar employs a team of full-time financial planners. Becoming a financial planner typically involves a lot of coursework to attain certifications, which can be a significant investment. We developed a policy that enables us to hire a financial planner at any level and support them through their coursework to help them earn different certifications.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

Northstar was founded with the mission to make financial guidance more accessible. We have a saying, “We believe you shouldn’t need money to make money.” Our team recognizes the impact that someone’s background, upbringing and education can have on their finances and therefore their ability to access or afford continued education and professional development.

We provide upskilling opportunities for everyone on our team to help prevent further inequality and ensure our team sees how we carry out our mission internally as well as externally. This initiative, combined with others, can help make progress toward leveling the economic playing field.

We provide upskilling opportunities for everyone on our team to help prevent further inequality.”

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

One of our financial planners, who joined Northstar with his certified financial planner (CFP) certification, expressed interest in becoming a certified financial therapist by becoming CFT-I certified. We were able to support him through the process, and now he can better serve our members by discussing how they approach their finances so they can learn different ways to communicate or behave to help improve their overall well-being.

Another financial planner applied after a recent career change but was not yet a CFP. Many organizations would not have hired her because she wouldn’t be able to work independently with clients immediately. Over the course of seven months at Northstar she received her CFP certification and is now working with members. While we could have hired another planner, it is important that we hire planners from diverse backgrounds so employees can work with planners with shared experiences.

 

 

Heather Fegan
Director of People Ops • Shapeways

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development? 

We begin our upskilling, reskilling and professional development by empowering our employees to advocate for themselves. We do this in two specific ways. First, managers hold frequent and thoughtful one-on-ones with their direct reports. These meetings are critical to ensuring positive employee-manager relationships and are a dedicated time for employees to speak openly about their interests and goals and get their manager’s buy-in and support.

Second, we request that employees answer a series of questions during the quarterly check-in process. The focus is self-reflection on their current skills and knowledge and identifying skills gaps and areas of interest for further development. The people team then analyzes the responses and gets managers’ input and alignment before creating individual development plans.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

We prioritize and invest in these opportunities to create a sense of value and connection for employees that reflects how they are an integral part of our organization’s success. Currently, we are hyper-focused on assessing and improving the employee experience. Our culture of continuous improvement drives productivity, innovation, engagement and retention. It also sets up both the employee and the company for success — in the short and long term.

Our culture of continuous improvement drives productivity, innovation, engagement and retention.”

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

We are committed to retaining our employees through opportunities for career development, growth and advancement. Therefore, we encourage employees to be aware of and apply for open positions. Recently, we transferred an employee from a manufacturing role to a corporate position. Since the employee was familiar with the business, they were able to onboard and increase the department’s effectiveness much faster than an external hire could’ve.

Organizational success is a direct result of employee performance, and all professional growth — whether small or large — has a positive impact companywide as well as at an individual level.

 

 

Jerry Tang
COO • Dandy

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

Hyper growth creates opportunities through necessity, which is why hyper-growth startups attract talent who want to stretch in breadth and depth. We spend a lot of time upskilling on the job. For example, we have team members who, before joining Dandy, were one of many in a mature organization managing supplier relationships. At Dandy, they have to learn on the job how to be the single manager of strategic partnerships and relationships.

We also have many first-time team managers, which itself is a professional development opportunity. We are starting to offer manager training and will continue to invest in professional learning and development resources to help us improve.

We also have many first-time team managers, which itself is a professional development opportunity.”

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

These opportunities were created from necessity as a result of hyper growth and the technical complexity of our industry. As a tech-enabled service offering in the dental industry, we need team members who have deep and broad functional, technical, clinical and professional competencies. We hire the best experienced or raw talent and then give them experiences to fill out their competencies so that their scope can widen and impact can grow over time.

 

What’s an example of a time when an employee’s professional growth had a positive impact on a project or the business as a whole?

This happens every day, but one example is a team member who joined us with no prior experience in the dental industry but had general business development skills. He started as a supplier-sourcing project manager and over time built so much industry and market expertise it became obvious that he should step into a supply strategy/M&A role. He is now part of a small but mighty team that creates and drives the supply strategy companywide.

 

 

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

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