When Sarah Nicholaev’s husband first sent her a Built In Chicago listing for an opening at ActiveCampaign, she thought, “Why not?” Nearly seven years after applying, she continues to find opportunities to grow professionally while embracing the benefits of a company with great work-life balance.

This summer, Nicholaev got to enjoy the fruits of that balance on a one-month paid sabbatical. “It was kind of like that sweet spot when you’re a kid during summer, and you’re too old for a babysitter but too young to work,” she said.

Yehuda Grossman at Beyond Finance shares Nicholaev’s gratitude for recent time away from the office while he welcomed a new member to the family. 

“The average length of paternity leave in the U.S. is one week, so having almost a month to spend with my newborn child and spouse was an absolute gift,” Grossman said. “The paid parental leave is pretty symbolic of the emphasis that Beyond places on work-life balance.”

Nicholaev and Grossman aren’t the only professionals who value the work-life balance and flexibility offered by their employers. Job seekers nationwide are looking for companies with people-first culture, whether that means extended leave opportunities or flexible schedules and hybrid work environments. The best part? Many of these Chicago companies are hiring now. 

“Today’s workplace environment is centered around flexibility,” said Brian Elliott, executive leader of research consortium Future Forum. “Companies looking to build productive, successful teams need to think about how they provide flexibility where and when people work.”

Built In Chicago sat down with Nicholaev, Grossman and leaders at six other local companies that are hiring right now. We learned why they joined their teams and why they are excited to continue onward.

 

Sarah Nicholaev

Senior Education Specialist

 

What they do: ActiveCampaign powers effective email, marketing and customer relationship management for businesses of all sizes. With over 870 integrations available for customers to use, the customizable platform integrates with existing business processes and fits a wide variety of needs. 

 

Why I joined: “Before joining ActiveCampaign, I used a few different SaaS solutions for email marketing and customer surveys. I was fascinated by how these solutions worked, and the support agents I talked to at these companies seemed to enjoy what they did. I was mainly curious about what it would be like to work at a similar place. 

“Then one day, my husband was browsing BuiltIn Chicago and forwarded me a product specialist opportunity with ActiveCampaign. I thought, why not? And I applied for it. I got the role a few weeks later. It was a complete career shift, a little bit scary and ultimately the right move. 

“Since joining the company, I’ve worked alongside several amazing, intelligent and passionate people and made lifelong friends. I’ve grown so much, both personally and professionally. And I finally found a place where I can grow my career and am encouraged to do so. I’ve always wanted to be a professional writer, and that’s what I get to do for ActiveCampaign today. I still can’t believe it.”

I finally found a place where I can grow my career and am encouraged to do so.”

 

Best perk: “There are many perks and benefits that I love. Since my family is on the east coast and I love to travel, my favorite perks are unlimited PTO and the one-month paid sabbatical, which I just got back from a few weeks ago. During this time, I was able to live in and explore a different city I’ve only briefly visited and loved. And I got to reconnect with old friends and family, too. It was a beautiful experience that allowed me many sun-filled, unstructured days where I could rest and just do whatever I wanted. 

“I also love working remotely because of the flexibility, and my days are far more productive. It also allows me to spend more time with my family because I can work from anywhere.”

 

 

Emma Smith

Marketing Program Coordinator

 

What they do: Logiwa empowers high-volume direct to consumer brands to scale and provide excellent customer service through their warehouse management and fulfillment systems. Their cloud-based system is fully integrated and easy to use.

 

Why I joined: I joined Logiwa, first and foremost, for the company culture. Each and every person I met throughout the interview process was extraordinarily talented, as well as genuine and kind. I knew that having a good team was the most important thing to me in my next position. At Logiwa, I found a family. Everyone goes above and beyond as individuals, which makes our teamwork unstoppable. The unity of this organization, even as an international company, is like nothing I have ever seen before. 

“When I started at Logiwa, I was involved in projects within the first week. But it felt as though I had been working with my colleagues much longer than that. I will never forget how many Logiwans went out of their way to welcome and guide me as I settled into my role. Every time I needed help, my entire team rushed in to support me without a second thought. As our team has grown, that trust and dependability has not changed.”

The unity of this organization, even as an international company, is like nothing I have ever seen before.”

 

Coolest project: “I’ve been collaborating with one of Logiwa’s robotics partners to put on a joint webinar focused on competitive automation for high-efficiency warehousing. It’s been a great experience generating content and coordinating with one of the best robotics companies in the world. This opportunity, like many I’ve had with Logiwa, has helped shape my approach to content marketing, project management and leadership.”

 

Best perk: “Logiwa goes out of their way to help each of their employees with career development. From HR workshops and training to discussions with supervisors about our aspirations, Logiwa is dedicated to supporting their employees’ personal and professional futures. These deliberate efforts by our HR and leadership teams have helped facilitate my growth and hone my skills for long-term success in this industry. The personal mentorship I have received while working for Logiwa has also been invaluable to me. With a company like this backing you, it really feels like the sky’s the limit.”

 

 

Maria Githens

People & Culture Manager

 

What they do: NowSecure is on a mission to protect phones from dangerous mobile apps. The company sponsors a variety of open-source security tools and remains an exclusively mobile-first and mobile-only security testing automation company.

 

Why I joined: “During my interview with our CEO Alan Snyder said, ‘People are our greatest asset, so it is not about managing humans as resources, it is about hiring and developing great people and providing a culture where they can excel.’ I knew after that conversation I had found the workplace I had been looking for, and NowSecure was it.”

The coolest project I have worked on recently is our partnership with Black Girls Hack.”

 

Coolest project: “The coolest project I have worked on recently is our partnership with Black Girls Hack. We initially had the founder, Tennisha Martin, join one of our internal empowerment group meetings and speak about the organization. Afterwards, we had so much interest from our employees who wanted to find ways to help. The meeting spawned us giving NowSecure Academy access to all the BGH members, partnering on the Girls Hack Village at DefCon, employees volunteering at BGH workshops and building a pipeline for our future internship program. Honestly, this partnership is so meaningful to me. It nearly brought me to tears in an all-hands meeting because I am incredibly grateful to work alongside brilliant folks who care as much as I do about making the world a better place.”

 

 

Yehuda Grossman

Director of Product Management

 

What they do: Beyond Finance offers fintech solutions to help clients overcome debt. Their financial products are transparent, easy to use and customizable to individual circumstances in order to solve big problems in simple ways.

 

Why I joined: “I’ve been with Beyond for over two years now, and it’s exceeded my expectations. I joined during the early stages of the company because I knew that getting in at the ground floor would allow me to make a real impact from the start, and that’s exactly what happened. I’ve watched the company grow like absolute gangbusters since I joined the team.

“The reason I’ve stayed here is twofold. First, the genuine transparency within the company is something really unique. There’s a concerted effort to keep everyone informed of changes and internal moves, and it just feels like there’s a through-line of trust throughout the organization. Second, across the board, leadership continues to encourage everyone to contribute their ideas and actually listens when those ideas come. One of the Beyond Finance company values is ‘best answer wins,’ and that’s a real thing. I remember at one point our contact rates had dropped, so our CEO Tim put out a bounty to gather ideas across the entire organization. No matter what level you’re at, your input will be given the same degree of consideration as the very top execs.”

No matter what level you’re at, your input will be given the same degree of consideration as the very top execs.”

 

Best perk: “My favorite benefit that Beyond offers is the paid parental leave. This perk is fresh in my mind because I’ve actually just returned from parental leave, and I can say that without a doubt, having that time to spend with family without the interruptions of work was such a pleasure. It really made dealing with everything that comes with having a baby all the more simple.

“There’s real care put into ensuring that we have enough non-work downtime, and we aren’t bothered during time off — and we have unlimited vacation. We’re also allowed the flexibility to work where we want. These things make a huge difference in overall quality of life.”

 

 

Jonny Levin

Head of Creative Operations at Live Bash

 

What they do: Live Bash builds high tech, artist-centric stages for livestream performances. Artists are able to book fully staffed, turnkey venues, starting with a newly renovated warehouse stage in Ravenswood. Live Bash then converts those performances into digital collectibles and non-fungible tokens for trade on their internal marketplace.

 

Why I joined: “I’ve had the pleasure to work across the entertainment landscape in pretty much every medium imaginable — television, movies, podcasts, theater and more. Observing the way media and technology have been increasingly converging, the promise of joining a brand-new, entertainment-tech venture was incredibly compelling. I was excited for the opportunity to combine skills that I’ve cobbled together from previous experiences and channel them into helping build a cutting-edge product that will enrich both performers and fans alike.”

Taking creative risks and doing things differently are assets at Live Bash and not liabilities.”

 

Coolest project: “I’ve enjoyed being heavily involved in developing Live Bash’s voice. Our formal introduction to the world came in April when we debuted our marketing website. In the lead-up to launch I championed an idea to satirize corporate tech speak on our landing page. At the risk of spoiling the joke, check out LiveBash.com to see for yourself. As our first public facing work, I was proud that we were willing to take a chance and do something to stand out from the crowd. It signaled to me that taking creative risks and doing things differently are assets at Live Bash and not liabilities.”

 

 

Christi Liongson

Applied Software Engineer II

 

What they do: Civis Analytics helps businesses, nonprofits and government agencies make smarter decisions using data and analytics. With proprietary data, technology and advisory services, Civis takes the guesswork out of connecting with customers and constituents.

 

Why I joined: “One of my favorite things about Civis Analytics is the collaborative learning environment. In my first year at Civis, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in multiple book clubs, experiment and learn new technologies in a Hackweek and complete a job shadowing rotation on our applied data engineering team. 

“This culture of learning and growing is not only demonstrated through Civis’s structured programs but is also reflected as a core value among my fellow Civizens. Everyone that I’ve met at Civis is smart, curious and more than willing to share their knowledge. On multiple occasions, my colleagues have been gracious and patient in explaining new concepts and answering any questions I may have, which is invaluable in a remote-first environment.”

Civis’s focus on work-life balance allows me to spend more time with my family and return to work feeling refreshed.”

 

Best perk: “One of my favorite benefits offered by Civis Analytics is the unlimited vacation policy and flexible work schedule. Civis’s focus on work-life balance allows me to spend more time with my family and return to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenge.”

 

 

Ray Chan

Product Manager

 

What they do: Workforce.com helps businesses that employ hourly employees run more smoothly. Their workforce management platform helps businesses run more efficiently and profitably — which in turn allows them to create new jobs.

 

Why I joined: “One of the most fun parts of working at Workforce.com is being able to collaborate with all departments in the company. From better promoting a new feature with marketing to building something new with development, being able to guide a new feature from conception to market is a rewarding experience.”

From better promoting a new feature with marketing to building something new with development, being able to guide a new feature from conception to market is a rewarding experience.”

 

Best perk: “Company happy hours every Friday are a great way to start the weekend, and as a Chicago transplant, they helped me become friends with my coworkers.”

 

 

Zack Wilson

Senior Product Manager

 

What they do: Pangea Money Transfer helps people move money around the world, allowing users to more simply transfer money internationally to support friends and family. Since its foundation, Pangea has expanded to provide services that allow underbanked immigrants to build financial freedom.

 

Why I joined: “I came to Pangea from a small development agency, very junior, but with a strong passion to learn and grow. I also needed to keep the ‘startup vibe,’ but wanted more structure. Even from the interview process, I could tell that Pangea had a lot to offer me in terms of professional development and a team with leaders who could facilitate that. Four years later, and I’m still doing new things all the time, which I love. The mission is also great. When you’re working hard, knowing that the result is making life better for someone who may not have it so easy makes a big difference. And all these things I love about Pangea really come back to an amazing culture — we’re a diverse group that work hard for our customers and for growth.”

 

 

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