American Express

Schedules are fast-paced but flexible

Banging on a drum while sitting in a circle with colleagues was the last thing Ileana Figueroa expected to be doing when she first joined the American Express Technologies (AET) group, the IT division of New York-based credit card and travel giant American Express Co.

"We do some wild team activities," she says, like the team-building exercise in which she learned to play the drums. But that's just one part of employee development efforts that also include both technical and business training. "It's not just about technical training, but leadership competencies," says Figueroa, a vice president at AET and an 11-year veteran who worked her way up from the business side.

Although the day-to-day work environment is hectic, Figueroa says flexible work hours, telecommuting opportunities, compressed-workweek arrangements and a program that allows employees to "buy" up to one extra week of vacation time a year help her keep work and home life in balance. (Employees "purchase" the time through a program that prorates their salary.)

AET's focus on family also includes an emergency backup child care facility and on-site medical assistance. "As a mom, I am able to arrange my job so that I don't miss important events at home," Figueroa says. The company also offers community outreach programs, including a sabbatical program that pays AET staffers to donate their time to nonprofit organizations.

Figueroa says IT staffers are fully engaged with the business, both in daily work and in strategic planning. "We have a seat at the table," she says. "We're not just order-takers."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon