Paladin: Where Certification Counts

Like your job? Here's your chance to compare your company with eight of the best—at least in how they treat their Microsoft Certified Professionals.

When asked why he chose to go to work for Paladin Data Systems Corp. earlier this year, R. Ward Ralston admitted, “Well, actually they chose me. When they find somebody they like, they pretty much find a spot for the person. I was working for the U.S. Navy in the computer repair lab, and had come to Paladin to take a class—Paladin was impressed with my performance and immediately hired me.”

This Year’s Best Companies!
Paladin Data Systems Professional services firm specializing in Microsoft and Oracle-based solutions, and training; about 75 people
Nominated: Poulsbo, Washington
800-532-8448, 360-779-2400

Poulsbo, Washington-based Paladin Data is a professional services firm specializing in implementing Oracle and Microsoft-based solutions, Oracle database development, consulting, and remote administration, enterprise network services, and education and training. For three years in a row, Paladin has been recognized as “One of the 10 Best Small Companies to Work For” by Washington CEO Magazine.

Aside from great benefits and pay, Ralston found the size of the company—about 75 people—incredibly appealing. In the relaxed atmosphere of a small company, everyone knows everyone’s name. As Ralston notes, “You see [the company’s founders and CEOs] Gary, Jim, and Bob going around in jeans and T-shirts, and as a company, we do a lot of fun stuff. For example, we’re having a picnic in a couple of weeks... just because.” Ralston thinks of the company as an extended family. For instance, monthly newsletters commend employees’ sons and daughters for making the honor role or placing in gymnastics competitions.

Other benefits include all-expenses-paid training two weeks a year for every employee in whatever he or she wants to certify in. Bonuses are also paid for certification. Ward will add to his MCSE and MCT credentials this year by having Cisco come out to train a few of Paladin’s employees as Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA). Certification is considered during compensation reviews and for promotions.

Paladin gives to the community in a number of ways as well. As Ralston says, Paladin gives “a scillion dollars” for a Christmas tree in the community’s yearly Festival of Trees; all the money goes to local Harrison Hospital. The company recently gave away three scholarships to high school seniors, including an MCSE and two A+ scholarships totaling more than $18,000, and computers for college. Earlier in the year, the company partnered with local AATPs at area high schools, donating time and resources to train the staff that in turn trains students. When school districts received a $100,000 grant from Washington state and came to Paladin for training, the company matched half the training in-kind, boosting the grant to $150,000. Actions such as these have led the state to honor Paladin Data Systems with the Innovation in Education Award for its commitment to education.

About the Author

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

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