Quicken Loans Inc.

The personal touch helps drive innovation

It's not the barbecues, Wii Bowling and Guitar Hero competitions, or even the free tickets to Cleveland Cavaliers games and concerts at the Quicken Loans Arena. Those things aren't what make Quicken Loans' IT department a great place to work. The perks are nice, says software architect Matt Cowie, but it's the collegial atmosphere, job flexibility and opportunities to work with leading-edge technologies that keep him from looking elsewhere.

Team-building begins in the office, where the culture favors personal interaction over more impersonal e-mail or IM exchanges. "We don't throw things over the wall. We base a lot of what we do on face-to-face communications," Cowie says. The IT staff works as a team and also plays as a team. Outings have included a bus trip to the 2007 NBA finals. Last year, IT managers rewarded staffers with more than 3,000 tickets to sporting events and concerts.

Even the offices of this Livonia, Mich.-based online mortgage lender are unique. "It's not your normal drab, gray environment," Cowie says. The Cleveland office was designed to look like a basketball court. (Quicken Loans' founder and chairman Dan Gilbert is majority owner of the Cavaliers basketball team.)

Managers encourage innovation, even for ideas that may seem crazy at first, such as when a staffer demonstrated how to use a Wii controller to manipulate displays at meetings. Says Cowie: "The leadership gives us the ability to do that. I can't imagine anywhere else I'd want to be."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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