When I prepare for an interview for BizVoice®, I try not to formulate my interview questions with specific expectations in mind.
That doesn’t always work, of course. I’m human and sometimes my research leads me to expect people to react a certain way to a story topic or interview question.
When I started researching Kronos, Inc. for a story about the company’s Indianapolis Technology Center being a newcomer to the Best Places to Work in Indiana list, I saw the company has garnered a lot of accolades over the years (including making it on the Forbes Best 100 Companies to Work For a few years running).
My expectations were that my story might be sort of low-hanging fruit for the worldwide company with 5,000 employees and headquartered in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Well, I’m woman enough to admit that I was very wrong in my assumptions. In fact, I don’t remember another interview I’ve conducted for the Best Places to Work in Indiana program where the people have been more excited than they were at Kronos.
The four people I interviewed included two practice directors that manage the Indianapolis office, the senior manager of human resources and another manager. And ohmygosh, they could not have been happier about the recognition, a first for the Indianapolis location.
Christopher Hicks, practice manager of enterprise professional services, and Margaret Mitchell, senior vice president of human resources, relate the feeling of the Indianapolis office’s first award to being validated on social media.
“The validation; it’s receiving the little blue check (mark). We are verified here in Indianapolis as a company that provides opportunity for growth, we work on professional development, we have a great leadership team. We’re just excited,” Hicks told me at the time.
It’s the first year the company applied for Indiana’s Best Places to Work program and was championed by Mitchell, who found out about the recognition when she was on vacation. She recalls jumping up and down in excitement next to a swimming pool with her son nearby as she received the news on the phone.
“We’re really excited. It validates for us, the things we work on. It’s again nice to celebrate the success and remember that we do have something special here,” she said.
The Kronites, as they refer to themselves throughout the company, also invited me to attend a celebratory dessert bar. Company CEO Aron Ain was flying in for the occasion and addressed the crowd.
As I listened to Ain congratulate his Indianapolis employees and urge them to continue working on behalf of the clients to provide the best service possible, it was something else Ain said that stuck with me: take care of your family first.
For a CEO of a 5,000-person company to fly in and recognize employees for their efforts is impressive enough, but for his underlying message to be “you are important, and your family and your health are the most important things to me” – wow.
No wonder this company is garnering external awards and internal recognition left and right.
One other tidbit from my interviews with the Kronites (aside from the fact that we operate in the same building in downtown Indianapolis and I bump into them every so often, usually receiving a smile or a hug) is the one part I couldn’t fit into my story: how do they handle the Colts versus the Patriots rivalry, since the company is headquartered near Boston?
Matt Baker, one of the Indianapolis Technology Center practice directors, acknowledges the rivalry.
“The culture in Lowell is very passionate about the Patriots,” he admits. “The last couple of years have been challenging. We had a good run.”
The Indianapolis Technology Center’s focus is more on college sports, offers practice director Doug Ding. (He and Baker attended Purdue University together.) Conference rooms in the center are named after college team mascots, for example.
Hicks, originally from Chicago, doesn’t have much stake in the long-standing NFL rivalry between the Colts and Patriots.
“I’m a Bears guy,” he says. “But I see it all the time. Most of our executives are based out of the Lowell office and they’re huge Patriots fans and there’s a little bit of ribbing back and forth.”
Mitchell doesn’t hesitate: “Always Colts. Always.”