Six months after arriving at Credit Acceptance Corp. as a contract tech support analyst, Chris Thomas was hired on as a full-time employee. He hasn't looked back.
"I started at the very bottom," says the 31-year-old, who joined the auto financing company from the automotive industry itself, where, he says, "building mini empires" was the norm in IT.
"Everyone had their own territory and fought tooth and nail to get ahead," he recalls. What Thomas wanted was a friendlier, more collaborative working environment, and he found it at Computerworld's No. 1 midsize place to work in IT.
That was four years, several pay increases and at least three promotions ago. Today, Thomas has a supervisory role managing a help desk team of two. He also has recruited friends and colleagues to the company -- so many that "it has pretty much become an extended family," he says.
Credit Acceptance's 100-person IT department has a budget of $26.2 million and supports some 1,300 colleagues throughout the company, most of whom work in the five-story headquarters facility in Southfield, Mich. Competitive starting salaries, a quarterly profit-sharing plan, generously subsidized healthcare benefits, college tuition reimbursement, flexible working hours and 19 days of paid time off after a year of service are table stakes for IT staffers, as is unlimited training.
Yet ask IT employees what they like about Credit Acceptance, and virtually all of them first and foremost mention the culture, which Credit Acceptance sums up with the acronym PRIDE, for positive, respectful, insightful, direct and earnest.
Take Shweta Raizada, for example. She had at least a half-dozen job offers after earning a graduate degree in statistics from the University of Michigan, but she says Credit Acceptance stood out from the get-go.
"When I came here to interview, they had a great positive vibe going, and that's important to me because you spend one-third of your life at work," says the 26-year-old business intelligence analyst, who joined the company two years ago.
These days, Raizada says the continual opportunities to broaden her skills and experience are just as important as that positive vibe. She has been able to work on a wide variety of projects, most notably the design and implementation of a massive phone system. That was "as challenging as it was good for me career-wise, because after that, I was recognized and promoted," she says.
"If you're ambitious and ready to get challenged, this place will give you the opportunity," Raizada adds.
Investing in people and technology
IT staffers get whatever training and education they want or need in order to take on, and succeed in, new challenges, says Karl Wyatt, 31, a network supervisor who joined Credit Acceptance as a network admin and was promoted to his current role a year ago.
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