Online Consulting: Where Employees Count

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Brian Reisman may be the new kid on the block (with less than a year, he’s the most recent hire), but it hasn’t taken him long to size up his employer. Online Consulting is a Microsoft Technical Education Center (CTEC) based in Wilmington, Delaware. As Reisman notes, “The company is focused on making Online Consulting a wonderful place to work, from the casual dress code when not teaching, to the pool table purchased for the breakroom. Employee meetings are held in a room [called the Dialog room] with nothing but La-Z Boy-type chairs set up in a circle. This is absolutely the best place I’ve ever worked.”

This Year’s Best Companies!
Online Consulting Microsoft CTEC; about 50 employees
Nominated: Wilmington, Delaware
800-288-8221, 302-658-3018

Online Consulting, which also has a classroom in Philadelphia, has approximately 50 employees, 10 of whom are MCTs. Mike Ward, VP of technology services, agrees with Reisman that the cultural climate is a particularly motivating factor for MCPs to want to work there. “We’re more of an academic organization than a strictly corporate type of [firm]. [We have] a very flat structure(essentially, people don’t really have managers,” says Ward. “If you’re looking for opportunity, variety, and hoping to have an impact on the direction and success of the company, then this is the place. I think we try to interject on a daily basis that we’re going to have fun doing [the work] because if you don’t enjoy your job, you probably won’t want to come every day.”

In hiring, the foremost criteria Ward looks for is a level of integrity. “We like to see people who have a long-term perspective, not just those who come in to get certified and then move on.” Evidently, Ward is a good judge of that (in the three to four years that he’s been doing the hiring, only one person has left. In addition to integrity, Ward looks for presentation skills and an ability to learn. “If they’re willing to learn, we can give them the time to get certified,” says Ward. The company gives bonuses to people for teaching classes and doing consultant work related to their certifications, and profit sharing at the end of the year provides additional incentives.

The physical environment at Online Consulting mirrors the company’s horizontal, non-competitive approach to work, and is based on the concept of “Caves and Commons.” The Caves refer to small offices, which provide quiet, personal space; the Commons provide areas for collaboration and impromptu meetings. To further the teamwork approach, Ward and the training coordinator meet with each training instructor a couple of times a year to map out his or her personal goals to create a fit with the organization’s direction.

The cultural climate doesn’t end with Online Consulting’s four walls—it extends to the community as well. For four years, Online has awarded IT scholarships to local high school students and teachers. This year’s awards went to 22 recipients, totaling $73,000. “We recognize that these are the people looking to get into the IT industry and just want to show them a way to get started,” says Ward.

About the Author

Sandy Burd is a contributing writer for Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine.

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