‘The culture I joined really still exists’

It was 2005 when Christy McIntire became the 13th employee at eVestment, a Marietta-based firm that serves the institutional investment community.

Ten years, three position changes, two moves to more spacious facilities, a 14-fold increase in staff size and one dress code switch from business-casual to casual later, McIntire believes the fundamental components of the collaborative work culture are intact.

“There have been growing pains, said McIntire, now in the legal department. “That’s the challenge of being with a growing company … not only keeping up with changes in the market but changes in in the company itself. The culture I joined really still exists.”

Job candidates might no longer be presented with the firm’s half-dozen core values and asked directly, as McIntire was. “Do you buy into these?” But employees cannot wander around the building without constant reminder of the values, which are posted on glass walls of conference rooms.

Creativity regularly spills out of those rooms, as evidenced by the ideas scribbled onto those walls amid the brainstorming. McIntire can set her watch by the ebb and flow, with the peak energy periods occurring in mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Another setting for suggestion-making is the Big Board, on which workers can post their thoughts for office-wide consumption. For a technology-oriented firm, it’s an unexpectedly old-fashioned bulletin board where proposals can be floated for consideration.

McIntire is struck by how the “founders,” as the executives who birthed eVestment are called, expect the staff to fix a mistake or improve the way something is done rather than maintain a status quo that is not producing optimum results. No need for seeking permission from on high, or for time-consuming studies to justify the decision.

That the M.O. persists with a payroll at 197 is little short of amazing to her.

Q. Did you ever think the company would grow this much?

A. When I joined the firm, we thought we’d top out at 40 employees.

That’s one of the coolest things about working here. Every time we hit a goal, the next one is right there. We just go on to the next one.

Q. Do those core values still guide you on the job?

A. Oh, yes. The two I remind myself of most often when completing a work task is integrity and focus. Integrity, as in, “Is this decision fair and the best for the company?” Focus, as in, “Is this the best use of our time management and does the task at hand move towards our common company goal?”

Q. Have you received one of the Founders Awards, which are based on the core values?

A. Yes, I have a core value award for teamwork. The awards are fantastic — peers nominate peers. Hearing your peers’ feedback on your daily effort is touching.

Q. Are the founders pretty approachable?

A. I am surprised when I hear somebody who comes into the company say they are intimidated to approach management. I don’t have that at all. [At another job], I remember being in an elevator with our CEO. I felt like I was two feet from a celebrity. I don’t feel that way here at all.

Q. Do they keep the employees informed about the company?

A. Absolutely. That’s gotten better and better over time. My very first year-end meeting was at the five-year mark. They had blown through all of their business plans in five years. They said, “Here’s our next five years. Here’s what we are going to do.” We spent the day going through the next-five-years business plan. It was phenomenal.

Now the year-end meeting is, “Here’s what we’ve done the last 12 months and here’s where we are going the next 12 months…Did we make it? Did we do this?” It takes a pulse on how the company is doing, where we are.

Q. Were you surprised when you started here over the business casual dress code? Did you have to go shopping for casual clothes after getting the job?

A. For each interview, I wore a suit. Even in a casual workplace, I personally think it is disrespectful to dress down for an interview. Absolutely, I went shopping the day after I accepted the job. I was leaving a business attire environment. I needed to relax my wardrobe.

I was concerned about it [because] during the interview process with three of the four founders, I was thinking I would have to step up my game some because they were all more “hipper casual” than I was.

Q. The tempo of the workplace has been described as fast-paced. Do you like it, and are there some folks who might not fit in?

A. It’s not for everyone. Some people cannot work in the environment of, “We made our goal. What’s the next one?” Some people want to make a goal, then relax. It’s an intensity that doesn’t work for everybody. Through our interview process, you can determine if that person is a good fit. Will they be able to help us sustain the growth we are doing? The intensity and fast pace is OK.

Q. Of the many benefits and perks at eVestment, which do you most appreciate?

A. Flexibility. If you need to come in after a child conference at school, it’s no problem at all.

Q. You like that folks here are given the responsibility to make decisions on their own. Where does that come from?

A. We have a pretty flat management structure, and a lot of decision-making is pushed down to people at all levels of the company. So there’s rarely an instance when you have a question … and it has to go up through some long chain of command.

The founders and management have a lot of trust in employees. You build that trust, when you come across something that needs to be fixed or standardized, management says, “Run with it.” I never came across that early in my career.

Q. Have you ever posted a suggestion on the Big Board?

A. My suggestion was totally outside of my wheelhouse. I thought it was something we needed. It was taking our analytics tools to area universities and approaching their finance departments to run projects with students. We could use that not only as a recruiting tool but as a name recognition tool. HR loved it, and so did marketing.