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No. 1: Quicken Loans

Seeing is believing for visitors to this three-time top-ranked firm.

By Julia King
June 18, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - After lunching recently with an old friend he hadn't seen in a few years, Jona Jeffords invited his buddy to come back and see where he works as a software engineer at Quicken Loans Inc. in Livonia, Mich.

The friend took in the brightly colored murals on the walls, the open floor plan, the banners for various IT teams with names like "Speed Demons" and "Jedi Council" and, of course, the free-flowing popcorn and cappuccino. He also noticed how the CIO and other executives sat at desks alongside their teams rather than in remote offices off in a corner.

"By the time he left, he was asking me where he could go and apply. Just by the vibe he got, he knew he wanted to work here," Jeffords says.

Quicken Loans IT employees
Quicken Loans IT employees

None of this comes as a surprise to Quicken Loans CIO Frank Laura. A significant percentage of Quicken Loans' growing IT staff have come to the company via employee referrals. "Good people here know other good people," Laura says. In fact, through Quicken Loans' Talent Scout program, employees collect $2,000 for every new hire they refer.

What keeps them with the company, IT employees say, is access to cutting-edge technology, daily opportunities to implement good ideas, a culture that encourages and rewards creativity, and oh yes, those over-the-top holiday parties and bus trips to NBA games and rock concerts. (Quicken Loans' founder and chairman, Dan Gilbert, also owns the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.)

Rick Scero, who manages a business intelligence team, had been with the company only three or four months when an executive handed him a book of tickets for suite seats at a Detroit Tigers baseball game. "He didn't come over and say, 'Here's a ticket for you.' He said, 'Here's a whole book of tickets for your team and their families,'" Scero recalls. It's no wonder, Scero adds, that he has been asked by more than a few friends and family members for help getting a job at the company. "I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't want them to work in an environment like this," he says.

"We don't have one thing. It's 1,001 little things that make us unique," says Laura. But company culture seems to top that list of little things. From Day One, IT employees are immersed in the Quicken Loans culture, which they describe as "democratic," "energetic," "creative," and "work hard/play hard."


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