Whirly Ball, Smoothies And Zumba: Working For SWC Technology Partners
What do a fun, fast-paced environment, genuinely great people and whirly ball tournaments have in common?
These are all things you are likely to encounter if you visit SWC Technology Partners in Chicago, an award-winning provider of IT solutions to midsize organizations for over 30 years.
I chatted with Patrick O’Rourke, the HR Coordinator at SWC Technology Partners. Working with SWC for nearly four years, O’Rourke was originally hired on as an event sales representative until the opportunity arose for him in the human resources department, which he said was better aligned to his career aspirations.
“It was a great opportunity with a great company and I worked really hard and was able to take on a new role and new challenges in the organization.”
Like many other employees at SWC, O’Rourke was easily able to grow and move within SWC. We talked about this and other great aspects of the company.
It seems like there are a lot of neat opportunities to grow and move within SWC. Would you agree?
“Yeah, absolutely. You know it’s a lot of fun because we’ve really developed somewhat of a learning culture here at SWC where it’s not only a challenge for all the IT professionals from a perspective of learning new technologies and taking on challenges but it’s kind of a mission of the entire organization, kind of that self-improvement concept.”
Speaking of culture, can you tell me a little bit about the culture/atmosphere behind working at SWC?
“It is fast-paced. A lot of people that we bring on board, we definitely try to help prepare them to the motion of our organization; they work at a different speed than what we do and we do everything in our power to give everyone the right tools and the right training ahead of time to get them used to that pace. They don’t really understand it until they experience it but I would say it is fast-paced and a lot of fun.
Nobody is on an island. Everybody is working as part of a team in some capacity and if you’re working on one project on your own, chances are you might be working on another project with two or three other people or even if you’re working on a project on your own, you’ll be collaborating with others and bouncing ideas off of each other, so really that collaborative team-based approach to providing IT solutions is something I think that really spans the entire organization.”
In your own words, what is the goal of the company?
“Really to provide our clients with the best service possible. That sounds really cliché but I think that’s really on par with the mission of the presidents, the vice presidents, the entire organization. We really take pride in the quality of work that we’re doing, but again, maintaining and establishing strong relationships with our clients and then they see us as a trusted partner is a really big part of who we are as a business.”
Who are the ideal SWC job candidates?
“We look for people that are really passionate about whatever they do. From an IT standpoint, obviously we hire a lot of technical professionals and being strong in whatever they specialize in is important, but we’re also a solutions provider, so in that capacity we’re looking for people that are strong communicators.
They can work effectively in groups or on their own and above all others they can see the value in providing great customer service because with a solutions-oriented organization like we are we aren’t selling a product, we’re selling services, and when you’re selling services, you’re making sure that the client experience and overall value you’re adding to an organization is obvious from day one, so really having that type of mentality and mindset goes a long way.”
What is your thing about working for SWC?
“It’s the people. In my professional career I learned very quickly that the work that I do is completely impacted by the people I surround myself with and I’m very proud and happy to be surrounded by SWC Technology employees.
At the end of the day, we’re definitely very passionate about the things that we do and that’s a big part of why we’re successful but the people that you surround yourself with are at the end of the day what is going to make you go home smiling or maybe wake up smiling.”
Can you give me some examples of SWC’s team-building events/outings?
“Every year we have a short summer outing and a holiday party. A couple of months ago we had a whirly ball outing. Whirly ball is essentially if you imagine bumper cars and you break up into two teams (there are five people on each team) and you’re on essentially a basketball court, and you’re in bumper cars throwing a wiffle ball with a scoop and you’re throwing the wiffle ball at the backboards and into the hoop. It’s a riot to see. We had costume contests on the side so each team got to come up with their own team name and they came up with their own theme. It was a ball to say the least.”
When the winners came down to two teams, O’Rourke said a dance-off was used to decide the winner!
“We do goofy outings like that almost quarterly, in addition to department level outings where you go out with your team. I mean sometimes we get so focused on all the hard work that we are doing and we forget to appreciate or think about each other, so having different outings outside of work really gives people an outlet to collaborate and be in that team-building atmosphere. When you have a lot of great people—genuinely great people—it’s a lot of fun to get them all in one room, which is difficult to do.”
Other outings O’Rourke mentioned included an event at Chicago-based establishment, Pinstripes, where the company employees got together for bowling, bocce ball, food and other fun activities.
Wellness kick-off events, such as a recent event where employees learned to make smoothies and had a Zumba class, are also common occurrences at SWC.
Do you have some general advice for jobseekers wanting to work for a company like SWC?
“We look for people that are really motivated and really dedicated to the work that they do, but another key point, we look for people that are really genuine and honest. We take a lot of pride in if we do something wrong we’re very comfortable in owning up and taking responsibility for our actions so we expect that of everyone in our organization and that means people that we are interviewing as well.
So being like ‘I haven’t worked with technology but this is what I have done,’ then that goes a long way as opposed to saying, ‘oh yeah I can do that’, and in reality we learn that you can’t do that. From that standpoint honesty is something we see as a valuable trait in addition to communication skills, people being very good at the work that they do.”
What else should readers know about SWC?
“We’re growing. When I joined in 2010, we were at about 60-70 team members at that point and now at 2014 we’re at 150 plus … so if people are looking for a fun, challenging work environment and an environment that will challenge them to be better, then I honestly encourage them to apply. [Also] take a look at our website and have a lot of fun with that because we put a lot of resources in to making sure that we answer a lot of people’s questions about our organization and our website so they can be as knowledgeable about SWC as possible. We don’t try to hide anything.”
To learn more, watch this video featuring adorable children explaining SWC’s services.
This article, “Whirly Ball, Smoothies and Zumba: Working for SWC Technology Partners” originally appeared online at JobBrander.com.