A few weeks ago, I hit a milestone not yet reached by any of the non-co-founders at InfoTrust—my 10-year workiversary. In this day and age, staying with a company for more than 10 years—particularly one that moved from startup to scale up—is rare. Joining InfoTrust as one of the very first employees and being at InfoTrust for so long has allowed me to accomplish amazing things—but also has allowed me to meet and bring on many new team members. I often get asked in interviews and when folks first join the team, what has kept you at InfoTrust this long? In this article, I will share just three reasons (among many) why InfoTrust has become a second home and second family to me.
In summary, the top three reasons why I’ve continued to be so passionate about InfoTrust and proud to have reached this milestone are:
- Growth, development, and learning opportunities in the past, now, and in the future. I’ve had five or so roles, while wearing many many more hats, in the last 10 years including several management and leadership positions.
- Stability and people-first culture – compensation, benefits, and perks are all great and goes without saying. However, actually having confidence and trust in the future of the organization, the leadership, and seeing first-hand how caring for each team member, and their families, can improve the bottom line has been remarkable.
- Core values and purpose – no one can really do anything for 10 years if they didn’t enjoy it and have a sense of fulfillment. InfoTrust’s core values have been key in our decision-making, from who to hire to what to do in new unknown territory, and always remembering our purpose brings more meaning to the work beyond just being the best Digital Analytics Technology company in the world. Be the Best Place to Work because Our Success is Someone Else’s Miracle reminds me every day of the bigger purpose we serve.
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Growth, Development and Learning Opportunities
We have a little inside joke at InfoTrust that we really shouldn’t have plants in the office, at least not one where it’s only Alex, Michael (our co-founders), and a few others who were part of the original crew. When first interviewing, I remember entering the two-unit office as part of a business complex in Blue Ash, Ohio to see a few dying plants that were in desperate need of water and attention. To be clear, this was not intentional—InfoTrust loves all forms of nature. It was simply the startup grind that the amazing and energized team lost track of plant-upkeep. Aside from the plants, the office definitely reminded me a bit of a college dorm room with candy and food everywhere (packaged, not garbage) and lots of whiteboards with plans and scribbles all over them. This was a true digital marketing agency start-up, and though with any start-up, it felt risky, I was jazzed up. I joined InfoTrust on the marketing team (of 1, me) to lead internal social media marketing to help build the InfoTrust brand.
However, as I’ve shared the story several times, through both the focus from our co-founders Alex and Michael on having data be the center of any digital marketing strategy and the team’s technical expertise with Google Analytics, over the first few years InfoTrust’s business evolved. Google Analytics Premium (now Google Analytics 360) was launched with a partner-reseller program and between InfoTrust achieving this partner status, landing some major client partnerships to develop and deploy enterprise analytics globally, and building our own technology, TagInspector.com, growth of the company began to accelerate.
I share this quick history as the context for my journey and the amazing growth, development, and learning opportunities that became the norm for InfoTrust. These critical events and changes allowed me to jump through my career, going from:
- Internal Social Media Marketing Coordinator
- Digital Analytics Consultant ← about the time we became Google Analytics Premium/360 resellers and landed some large partnerships focusing on analytics
- Analytics Manager ← at this point InfoTrust pivoted to focus on solely analytics consulting and internal product development (TagInspector.com), dropping any non-analytics services such as web development. Major turning point.
- Regional Managing Director – MENA ← more on this below, we expanded in Dubai!
- Head of Growth ← more on this below, we expanded in Chicago!
- VP of Client Services (today)
The company’s evolution in focus from general digital marketing to solely digital analytics, and particularly partnering with Google for their Google Analytics Premium/360 enterprise platform, is what allowed immense growth, development, and learning opportunities for me. We wanted to be the top GA experts in the world, but with a small and mighty team that was growing, had to learn all the intricacies of the platform. Beyond just being GAIQ certified, we had to be the teacher’s teacher, educating experts how they can drive even more value from their analytics programs. This is the main nexus point for me to go from general marketing (social media marketing coordinator) into being an analytics expert (digital analytics consultant and analytics manager).
Then came the next big opportunity for me to jump in my growth and development journey—expansion. A little aside: I was born in Baghdad, Iraq but moved to Cincinnati when I was only two years old and have lived there the majority of my life—both going to undergrad and getting my MBA at the University of Cincinnati. In my mid-20s, I suddenly had a desire to expand my experiences outside of Ohio. I was an analytics manager at the time with InfoTrust and openly shared my desires with Alex and Michael that it was time for a change for me. Fully expecting them to wish me all the best as headquarters was and would remain in Blue Ash (outside Cincinnati), I began thinking about what was next in my journey. To my surprise, both came back with a simple question: “well, what are you thinking?”. Turns out my desires to expand my own experiences aligned with their desires to consider expansion of InfoTrust. Through several months of discussions and planning, considering various locations (including Barcelona which ironically later became an official office of InfoTrust as well), Dubai was selected as the next location for an InfoTrust office and global expansion. I was given the opportunity to lead this expansion. It was both strategic for our global footprint, growth, and the opportunities in a nascent market, as well as our partnership with global enterprises. So in August of 2015, I moved myself (not married at the time, but dating my then-girlfriend now wife) to Dubai and started InfoTrust DMCC officially.
There is too much to say about my journey in Dubai and growth from opening and leading our first international office alone for the first six months that could be its own article. The short summary is it was an incredible journey and we were able to grow the office and footprint so much that it is now a team of more than 5+ and a critical piece of our international strategy. In the time I was in Dubai, I got married and had my wife, Caroline, move to Dubai for the final year-ish of my time there before we decided to move back to the United States in Chicago. This again was a point in my life where my priorities were shifting to thinking long-term about a family and settling down. I once again approached Alex and Michael with the proposition to relocate to a new city and set up new office operations and several months later, InfoTrust Chicago was established. I’ve been in Chicago now the last three years or so, and since then have gotten a French bulldog and had my first child, Charlie, with one on the way. The office now has 5+ team members and is growing rapidly as well, located in the heart of the city at the Merchandise Mart.
As this section and story is getting quite long, I’ll wrap up the point of sharing: all along my personal journey and transformation, InfoTrust was also evolving and I was able to match my professional career growth with my personal life development, which in turn supported the business’s objectives. This is why the main reason I have remained at InfoTrust for a decade now is the growth, development, and learning I was able to achieve and will continue to achieve in years to come.
Stability and People-First Culture
One of the things that is so important to me and a major reason for my desire to have stayed and continue to stay at InfoTrust is trust itself. Trust in our co-founders and leadership making decisions not just for themselves but for the entire team and all their families—one example being not looking to sell the business to a massive marketing company just for a large payout. Trust in the team members we hire that showcase our core values and are determined to build a Best Place to Work together, while driving client excellence—example being all the contributions from the InfoTrust Foundation over the years from the entire team. Trust in our financial models to be able to offer competitive compensation, benefits, perks, and also a No Layoff Pledge during one of the most difficult times in our history with the COVID-19 pandemic.
When I first joined InfoTrust, there was a feeling of risk. A startup that couldn’t take care of plants … how could I be sure I’d still have a job in six months, a year? Over the years, and through the structure and processes we’ve put in place, I’ve never felt more secure and confident in the stability of the company (knock on wood of course!). I truly feel this is because of the forward-looking decisions our leadership team has made, as well as the amazing contributions every team member provides on a daily basis. Above all else, it’s the focus to first Be the Best Place to Work, since Our Success is Someone Else’s Miracle. It’s not “be the most successful company first, then best place to work after.” Yes, we need to be successful and profitable to provide for our team, families, and communities, but by placing the emphasis on our people first and “Give to Grow” mentality, it’s allowed us to come up with new solutions or ways of working beyond what may just be easy or what we normally do. This sense of stability and trust, while focusing on people, has been more and more important for me as I started my own family. The birth of my son, Charlie, at the end of 2019 is what really made me understand and appreciate the focus we’ve put on this purpose. And it’s not only because of the amazing three-month parental leave, for both mothers and fathers, with a reduced work schedule for three months coming back from leave. But the fact that I am not only working for myself or my career, but for my family and all the families at InfoTrust and even all the families outside of InfoTrust that we can impact—more on this in the next section.
However, I do feel it’s important and fun to share some of the perks of being at InfoTrust for 10 years through our annual workiversary celebrations/rewards. Here are a few highlights I was able to enjoy with my tenure:
- Years 1-4 on workiversaries: some form of gift card in increasing value and a personal letter/email from my manager of appreciation
- Year 5 milestone – all-expense paid trip! For me, this was to a resort in Oman (as I was in Dubai at the time) with Caroline. Covered flight and lodging.
- Years 6-9 milestones – choice of cash bonus or special gift. For example, on my 9th workiversary I was awarded a custom tailor-made suit with a few shirts and ties. But it was the entire experience—going to a tailor, being measured, and consulted on exactly the right fit and style I desired. This was especially useful ahead of a busy wedding season and still my finest suit yet. Other team members got new, latest and greatest smartphones or a special gift they requested.
- Year 10 – $10,000 cash bonus after tax. Though there’s a joke at InfoTrust that early on, we had it documented that anyone that reaches 10 years would be sent to the moon, with a 2-year-old and one on the way, a big trip wasn’t ideal for me. As now a fully suburban dad, and with a wife who was a stay-at-home-mom, we only had one car living in Chicago thanks to the public transit but knew this was not going to be ideal with our growing family. So instead, we are taking this amazing 10-year anniversary gift and putting it towards a new car. And yes, it’ll be a mini-van (they are pretty cool nowadays and I’ve been convinced).
While all the gifts/rewards are certainly fun, and the compensation/benefits/perks are competitive, it’s much more than just financial incentives that have been the second major reason I’ve stayed at InfoTrust. It’s the stability and confidence that we can provide for our team and their families, and chose to do so first. But, what is even more rewarding is what we chose to do for others which I explain in the next section.
Core Values and Purpose
At InfoTrust, our core values and purpose are at the center of all we do. They are our guiding principles, and what we look to when we don’t have an answer to new and challenging problems.
Purpose: Be the Best Place to Work, as Our Success is Someone Else’s Miracle
Core Values: Respect, Impact, Growth, Diversity, Innovation, Ownership
I think the most important part about this is a very personal one. These core values, as well as the purpose that InfoTrust has, is what I want to be able to exhibit every day. The core values are ones I want to showcase with anyone I interact with, but especially when raising Charlie and my other future little ones. Be the Best Place to Work essentially means be the best place anyone wants to be when they choose to spend time away from their families. Time is our most valuable resource, and to me, time with family is sacred. Being able to provide for my family is important and why I am grateful for everything InfoTrust has been able to provide both financially and intangibly through the experiences that have shaped me to be a better man, husband, and father. And it goes beyond this, which is where it gets really impactful.
Our Success is Someone Else’s Miracle. The hard work we put in at InfoTrust not only allows us, as InfoTrusters, to support our own families … but families of hundreds to thousands of others through the InfoTrust Foundation. Every year we are able to give back to support orphans in Africa to have proper living arrangements, food, and shelter that we take for granted. Every year, we are able to provide for families that are in need in our various communities through our Basket Brigade efforts. It’s a constant focus for InfoTrust to provide for families who may not have all that we do.
To think there are little Charlie’s out there without a rooftop or food gets me very emotional, and why I am so passionate about the work we do and the focus on giving back. When I first stepped foot in InfoTrust’s small office, I was the quintessential single, young dude. But over the past 10 years, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to grow not only in my career, but as a contributor to my community. I wasn’t always the family man that I am today. It is because of InfoTrust that I’ve looked beyond the data and analytics to what matters most in life. Yes, loving what I do each day is important … but InfoTrust taught me that making an impact was more than just numbers on a screen or words in an email. It was about bettering myself in all aspects of my life, something I continue to strive for each day … and something I look forward to in the next 10 years at InfoTrust.