For 17 years, Fort Washington-based software development firm Chariot Solutions has operated on a people-first ethos, supporting employees in their professional and personal development.
It’s that focus on Chariot employees — “Charioteers” as they call themselves — that led the firm to recently begin offering paid maternity, paternity, and family leave to its new parents. The benefit is a natural extension of Chariot’s flexible work schedules and the newest way the company gives personal support to its growing families. “It’s not about competing against other firms,” said Tracey Welson-Rossman, Chariot’s chief marketing officer. “It’s just very true to who we are and something we really believe in.”
Staying open to learning and having a curiosity for professional development is at the heart of being a Charioteer. “We see training as an investment rather than a cost,” said Welson-Rossman of Chariot’s focus on mentoring. “The type of people we bring on are excited about the technology. They want to learn and stay ahead, and it’s helped propel us internally so that we are better servicing our clients.”
Chariot’s penchant for in-house learning culminates each year on Chariot Day, an internal series of presentations, workshops, and lessons led by Charioteers, where topics range from coding techniques to mechanical keyboards to meditation. Pete Fleming, Chariot’s head of user experience and design, has been with the company for about a year and a half and presented at two Chariot Days.
“In both instances I was trying out presentations that I later on went and gave in other places, and it was really about showing the true value and return on investment of including good design in your software development practice,” said Fleming, who recently did his second presentation at Philadelphia’s Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference. “Our Chariot Day happened to be about a month before that, so I did a practice run on them and that was really a workshop format, sketching paper prototypes to test features of a mock app we were building.”
An emphasis on staying flexible and supporting the growth of Charioteers has helped the company evolve past its Java and open source software development roots, and today Chariot continues to make moves into cloud, IoT, smart home and mobile projects. In 2019, they will continue to have a large need for new developers.
I’ve always worked at big companies before Chariot, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be part of a small organization with basically zero bureaucracy. I’m in a project out of this office, but I work from home two days a week. Based on the people you’re working with, you work something out that works for everyone. Here I am two years later and it’s by far the best job I’ve ever had.Matt Gilbride Software Developer
It’s been really great to not only come into a company that’s so revered and trusted in the Philadelphia area, but to be able to also bring something new and help our customers do things that we couldn’t offer them before, and help them with a holistic approach to software development.Pete Fleming Head of User Experience & Design
This was my top choice in terms of Philadelphia-area businesses. I was ready to settle down and we were thinking of having kids, and at Chariot I was lucky enough to get to combine paternity leave with vacation to take time with my family.James Kent Software Developer
"Chariot enables you to grow in the way you like. We have a lot of senior-level people that don't need a whole lot of management, and I think that works well here. If you’re the type of person that’s self-managing and can take on that responsibility and make good decisions, that fits in nicely with our culture."Rod Biresch
"It’s a culture of constant learning and that’s highly motivating. Being in an environment where my peers are speaking, running events, presenting their side projects, even writing books, inspires me to do even more. There’s never any pushback when we ask for time or resources to learn something new."Sujan Kapadia
“Chariot is investing a lot of time and resources into doing [ETE], and they’re not really doing it to make a buck. … We’re doing it specifically because we want to learn. … We’re expected, outside of ETE, to go to a conference once a year, which is really different from other places I’ve worked in where you often had to fight and justify to go. You just send an email to notify the client and Chariot, and that’s all the bureaucracy you deal with.”Dan Boykis
What made you decide to add paternity to your benefits?
When you’re looking at people in their late 20s and early 30s, there are often marriages and babies, and we really needed to think about that. That’s been a part of who we’ve been since the beginning because when Chariot started back in 2002, we all had kids.
This is a very family-oriented company. We have a lot of working dual couples, and we want to support these families. Supporting our working husbands to help their working wives is really one way of doing that, so giving this benefit of paternity leave is one way of supporting women who are out in the workplace.
How does Chariot give back to the community?
A lot of Charioteers give presentations and workshops in the community, and around the nation in some cases, working with local meet-ups as well as larger conferences. There’s also a good deal of folks here that work in the community in a charitable way. With an organization called Compete 360 in Philadelphia, we introduced the concepts of design thinking to underserved inner city schools, elementary all the way up through high school. We work with the students to identify and tackle challenges that they have in their community using design thinking and the practices we put into place here every day for our work.
How does Chariot’s learning environment help the company?
Chariot has an amazing focus on the people here. What Chariot does for the team members in the way of education and support is just amazing. I think Chariot truly believes that if you hire really good people and you treat them really well, then they will in the end take care of the client. I can tell you first hand that it’s a good approach and it’s worked really well.
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