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StrategyJan 18, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Things About Credera

Maria Knabe

I joined Credera in July 2013 after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in business. I had some development experience with Visual Basic and SQL through classes and internships, but I was worried about not having as much technical experience as my peers. Since then, I have learned a lot and I’m currently in the Mobile Practice focusing on front-end web development.

After working at Credera for a little over two years, I haven’t regretted my choice at all. Here are my top 10 favorite things about Credera including a few things that surprised me:

  1. Working With Friends

My favorite part of working at Credera is that I get to work with friends. When I moved to Dallas, I didn’t have many friends here from college since most of my friends ended up in different cities. Thankfully, it was easy to make friends at Credera. I became close with my starting group after we went through training together, and I think that’s true of most new hire groups. We have an email group where anyone can post an event they’re interested in attending and find out if anyone wants to join. We regularly have game nights, go to movies, and take vacations together.

From the company trip to San Francisco.

From the company trip to San Francisco.

  1. Team Rooms

One of the biggest surprises for me when I started at Credera was working in a team room and actually enjoying it. Instead of working in a cubicle like I was used to, most people at Credera work in a conference room surrounded by their whole project team. We call this a “team room.” It’s a great environment for collaboration and learning because you’re sitting right next to your technical lead or project director. It’s so easy to lean over to ask a question or get feedback on something. I never spend time wondering if my question is worth walking over to someone’s desk and taking up their time. I also learn a lot of new things just by overhearing someone else in the team room. Because of this setup, I think most teams at Credera are pretty close-knit and they usually end up developing their own mini-culture.

My current team room (it’s more exciting than it looks).

My current team room (it’s more exciting than it looks).

  1. The Impact of the Work

Most of the projects I have been a part of have been huge investments for our clients and have a direct impact on their business. For one client, a regional food distributor, we replaced and consolidated several separate systems customers were using to view the catalog, pay invoices, and place orders with one custom system. Leading up to the launch, the client was really excited about the project and they had a booth at their local convention showing off the new app complete with a neon sign and T-shirts for those manning the booth. For my current project, we are completely re-platforming and redesigning the entire ecommerce website of a national clothing retailer.

It feels great having a role in these projects and knowing exactly what my contribution to the project has been. I can point to different parts of the website and say exactly what I worked on.

From a client’s convention where they had a booth promoting the launch of their new system.

From a client’s convention where they had a booth promoting the launch of their new system.

  1. The Supportive Learning Environment

Another important thing I was looking for in a company was an environment with a large support network that would guide me through all the things I needed to learn. This learning environment is especially relevant in technology and consulting where things change so rapidly. There’s constantly something new to learn. It’s common to hear Rob, our CEO, tell new hires that “you don’t know what you don’t know,” meaning even though they graduated college, they still have so much to learn. And it’s true.

Thankfully, I know there’s always a support system around me when I’m put in a new situation or expected to learn a new technology. There are so many smart people at Credera to learn from, and anyone I’ve reached out to has been open to questions. I constantly ask questions in my team room, and when I was submitting my first app to the Apple and Google app stores, I received a lot of help from others in the Mobile Practice through our chat room. Looking back, it’s amazing to think about everything I’ve learned in two years, but I still lean on my support network to ask questions.

  1. Exposure to Clients

At Credera, new hires get exposure to clients right away. I was interacting directly with clients from my first project onward. At first, I was intimidated by the thought of talking to clients after just graduating. I worried about needing to know the answer to every question and appearing like an expert, but our relationship with clients isn’t built like that. We usually don’t dictate a solution to clients; we work together with our clients to come up with the best solution.

Client exposure can vary by project. On a couple of my projects, the development team was all Credera people and the client interaction occurred when we needed clarification on requirements and during demos. On other projects, I’ve been on teams where we work directly with client developers. Either way, it’s a two-way street as we learn about their business and they learn from our experiences on other projects.

The best thing about client interaction is seeing how excited everyone gets after a new feature that didn’t exist a couple weeks ago goes live. A lot of work went into planning and implementing that feature and it’s a great feeling when it starts coming together.

From a recent work trip to Nebraska to visit our client.

From a recent work trip to Nebraska to visit our client.

  1. The variety of work

This was really important to me as I was looking for my first job out of school. I didn’t know what specific area of technology I wanted to work in, whether that be mobile apps, front-end development, APIs, etc. I wanted exposure to several different areas and tools so I could learn more (See #4).

Additionally, in consulting, things are always shifting as you change projects or clients. When people ask me questions about Credera, it’s sometimes hard to answer because it really does depend on your project. I have worked with four different clients so far and they have all been in different industries and locations, used different types of technology, and had different durations and team sizes. I’ve been exposed to a variety of things. I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses and what I like and don’t like. Constantly moving to a new project can be difficult because it feels like starting over, but the timing is usually perfect—just as I’m getting too comfortable on one project, I switch to a new one.

  1. Company Trips

This was another surprise for me: I never expected to have so much fun at the company trip. Every year, if we meet our financial goals, everyone (including spouses) goes on a company-paid trip. This is a huge event and there’s always a lot of speculation about whether we will meet our goals and what the destination will be. Last year we went to San Francisco for four days and it was awesome. There were dinners and scavenger hunts and sightseeing. I came away from the trip feeling like I had reinforced existing friendships and made new ones.

From the company trip to San Francisco.

From the company trip to San Francisco.

  1. Fireside Chats

Every month all the Credera employees get together for a “Fireside Chat”. During this 90-minute meeting, we discuss the latest news at Credera, introduce new employees, talk about recent wins, and go over the state of our financial goals. Credera can be a hotbed of rumors especially when it comes to an upcoming company trip or a cool new project, so Fireside Chats are one way to dispel incorrect rumors. There’s also a happy hour afterward and I use it as a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen recently or to meet the new employees.

From a Fireside Chat (someone was dressed up in a chicken suit).

From a Fireside Chat (someone was dressed up in a chicken suit).

Tip: Don’t be late or you might be called out and have to sit up front.

  1. Work-Life Balance

Unlike typical consulting firms, we don’t work crazy hours and we don’t travel 80% of the year. Most of the time, I work from the Credera office. If I’m working at a client site, the client is usually local, so I can still go home at night. My hours can fluctuate with deadlines and releases, but it’s typically around 40-45 hours. No matter how many hours I’m working, I never feel like I have to sacrifice personal events to be at work.

  1. Fun Events

Credera is full of people who like a little friendly competition. Every year, there are several events and tournaments that happen inside and outside of the office where you can have fun and maybe show off some unknown skills. There’s a pingpong table in the office that several people use regularly, and we recently finished our pingpong tournament. Other events include a fantasy football league, March Madness bracket, and a poker tournament.

My favorite event is the Sandblast volleyball tournament that benefits charity. Credera sponsors teams for this tournament and several people take half a day off to play beach volleyball against teams from local companies and other Credera teams. It’s a good way to have fun and let off steam.

From the Sandblast volleyball tournament.

From the Sandblast volleyball tournament.

Conclusion

Those are my top 10 favorite things about Credera. I hope it gives you a little more insight into what it’s like to be around all the friendly and smart people here. I have had an amazing time working with great clients, making friends, and learning a ton.