Do you believe the work you’re doing is important? Timothy Wenhold wants to know.
In the Innovators room at Dev Conference during Philly Tech Week 2019 presented by Comcast, the partner and chief innovation officer at Power Home Remodeling spoke about his own career trajectory, the benefits of focusing on purpose and mission when considering your next job jump, and the pitfalls of just following the cash.
The goal, Wenhold said: Build a meaningful career; don’t just get a job.
He sees two paths: mercenary and missionary. Mercenaries prioritize money at the expense of ethics, but missionaries are eager about supporting cause or doing a job related to a mission — “me vs. we.” (When Allen Iverson declared himself above practicing with the Sixers, he was being a mercenary.)
Wenhold himself was once a mercenary. His third business, Sintaks, of which he was sole proprietor, caught the eye of the Canon corporation in 1998.
“I was looking for investment money to grow it,” he said. “Our mission was clear: We were building a company that allowed people to become the best version of themselves” via technology for other technologists. Instead, Canon said it wanted to acquire the company. So Wenhold sold it — a decision made for the money.
“It no longer was a missionary business,” he said. “It was a mercenary business about making profit. And profit wasn’t the problem — it was the way we had to do it,” which included laying people off and a sense of abandoned values. In other words, Wenhold took the easy road, and it didn’t pay off for him personally.
Tech businesses around the world are solving problems while offering employees high pay and interesting perks. But tech has a high turnover rate. Wenhold’s strategy for keeping good employees in place? Mission-driven workplace culture.
Power has been named one of Forbes‘ best places to work partially because of its own mission-driven culture, the CIO said. Its tech staffers can go on two-year “tours of duty” that allow them to focus on one part of the business, mastering new skills and intimately (and collaboratively) learning how the company operates. The Chester-based company also recently launched an internal project called Power Code Academy, a six-month bootcamp that looks to transition non-tech employees to entry-level development jobs.
Wenhold’s tips for identifying mission-driven tech organizations:
- What’s the average tenure of employees?
- How many contractors do they have vs. full-timers? (And do they treat contractors well?)
- Do departments work in teams?
- Will employees get to build things?
- Are there opportunities to get feedback from end users? (Do they think the companies have a mission-based culture?)
- Can employees articulate their direct impact?
Hey, thanks to our #DevConf19 sponsors who spent the day exhibiting on our showroom floor:
- Power Home Remodeling
- TD Bank
- Pinnacle 21
- Drexel LeBow College of Business (our host sponsor!)
- TURN5 (our swag bag sponsor!)
- Chariot Solutions