Best Places spotlight: American University promotes worker growth

Fresh challenges and evolving roles keep things lively for IT pros at the No. 96-ranked organization on our 2013 Best Places to Work in IT list.

Jacqueline Palumbo needs to draw a deep breath before ticking off all the reasons for her long tenure in American University's Office of Information Technology (OIT), where she has worked in one capacity or another for the past 15 years.

IT staffers at American University
IT team members Laurie Ambach, Kamalika Sandell, Terry Fernandez, CIO Dave Swartz, Cathy Hubbs and Sharjil Hasan. Courtesy of American University by Jeff Watts.

First, there are the benefits of working for a university: a campus that's close to downtown Washington but is still secluded and leafy; a vibrant, stimulating intellectual environment; generous vacation and leave policies; on-site child care and preschool; and full tuition remission for employees, spouses and their children. Palumbo earned a graduate certificate in organizational change from American University, and her husband received an MBA.

OIT's environment is challenging yet supportive, says Palumbo, who participates in OIT's mentoring program as both a mentor and a mentee. In 2011, she won a Campus Partner award, one of several awards that are part of a robust employee recognition program. "My position is always evolving. I'm never bored," says Palumbo, currently manager of training and performance improvement.

Steven Munson, a director in enterprise systems at AU, says that sentiment is just what OIT is looking for in its workforce, which numbers about 80 employees. "We have a tremendous amount of opportunity for people to step up to more of a leadership role, grow their skills in a different technology, or join a collaborative team," he says. "This is not a rigid organization where you're stuck in your role."

Next: Employer scorecard: Who's tops for training, benefits and more?

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