Unearthing My Value

By: David Hilber

I’ve always been an insatiable learner, but the rigidity of learning in a school setting was difficult for me. After finishing high school, getting married, and starting a family, I knew being a bank manager wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy my creative and intellectual desires. So I did what I do best: I took up a somewhat unconventional hobby. I decided I was going to learn how to write software.

How It Began

As most hobbies begin, I was a self-admitted neophyte. I read as much as I could, and I practiced the information I gathered to gradually improve my skills. I started off writing macros and VBA scripts using Microsoft Excel. And then as luck would have it, a friend of mine gave me my first copy of Visual Studio 2005. I’m pretty sure I stopped sleeping after that. I began spending every waking moment designing, redesigning, and making small applications. I made applications for my wife to use for her work. I made applications for my father-in-law. At that point, I knew I found my passion. And I knew I had to find a way to use my knowledge and experience.

So, I did what most folks do in the age of information: I created a resumé and put it out there, hoping to find a career in this newfound passion of mine. And as luck would have it, my resume was found and I was brought in for an interview.

The Rest is History

As nervous as I was to have my first interview as a Software Developer without a formal education, I knew this was my chance. I confidently walked into the office and showed off what I had built. And from that moment on, my career took off.

I have to admit, it was difficult at first. I was previously leveraging VB.NET with Access databases. And at Finys, our primary language is C# with Microsoft SQL Server databases. There was a plethora of new knowledge I had to obtain. At first, I felt like I was drowning. And then, I met my co-workers. Everybody at Finys was welcoming, kind, and supportive. It was more like a mentorship than what I had expected. I expected to be thrown into the water to see if I was going to sink or swim. But because the environment was so welcoming, because everyone was so generous with their time and the things they’ve learned, I simply springboarded and accelerated even faster than I ever imagined.

I wanted to make sure Finys knew how serious I was. I wanted to make sure they knew they made the right choice by giving me a chance. After about three months of being mentored, I was put on my first project. I remember spending so much time reading the ISO manual for Commercial Auto. I presented my ideas to the team and was given the opportunity to work with the development team to build and implement my design. That project certainly seemed to separate me from the herd.

The Diamond in the Rough

Fast forward ten years, and I’m sure they would agree taking a chance on hiring me was worth it. While I still run technical projects and develop software, I’m also responsible for some of the hiring procedures at Finys. And I’m grateful for the opportunity because I get to look for individuals that share my passion and perhaps not the typical path of formal education followed by career. I try to watch out for those individuals who have the drive, a unique way of thinking, and for some, the ability to claw their way into a field like software development.

If I can find developers to add to the organization who have a similar mindset to my own, Finys will be a better company for the perspectives they’ll bring.

Family First

I’d also like to share the family-oriented perspective that Finys brought into my life. When I was working at the bank, my first child was born. He was born on a Saturday, and I was back to work the following Monday. At that point in my life, I figured that was just the way life was. But when I had my second child and I was an employee at Finys, I was given time off to bond with and care for my child. That experience was invaluable, and I’m grateful to work for a company that saw the value in my absence for the purpose of my family life. I may not be the poster child for the optimal work/life balance. I get passionate about my projects. But with a family-oriented employer like Finys, they see the value in supporting me to be equally as passionate about my wife and children.

We’re looking to add team members who fit into our culture. We’re looking to add team members who want to succeed. And I’d say we’re looking to add team members who not only add value to Finys, but want to find their personal value and true potential. It’s more than a job. And I’m grateful to be a part of this organization.

Leaders by Design

By: Zoran Topalovic

Since we’re a software company, we’re most often looking for software developers or software engineers. But regardless of position or title, we’re looking for leaders. Since we don’t expect all the applicants to be natural born leaders, we empower our hires to be strong, competent, outspoken, and compassionate. After all, those are the skills all leaders need to be successful.

How Do We Do It?


We bring everyone up to speed as fast as possible, understanding individuals have different abilities or ways of learning. We teach people what our technologies are, assess their knowledge gaps, educate them on our product and the insurance industry, and help them feel comfortable. That enables them to jump in and feel good about their progress, rather than being on the job for three or four months before they feel like they’re contributing.

We do that because we don’t function with a typical hierarchy of middle-managers. Rather, we prefer to develop leaders — project leads, team leads, and others — because leaders aspire to make others around them better. As one of our people has said, “The ceiling at Finys is a ceiling you make for yourself.”

If you come with the intent to have a career at Finys, you can contribute to the best of your abilities and take on any responsibilities that are up for grabs. We’ll support you and guide you all the way. You can also expect to have a significant tenure.

Why Do Our People Stay?


I’ve been at Finys for 15 years. I started off as a junior developer. Within two years, I was leading a project team for one of our insurance companies. There were seven people on the team, and I was constantly creating backups for myself on the team. I may have been doing too good a job because my people were continuously promoted to leads on other projects.  I took that as a pat on the back because I developed those people to the level at which they could take on additional responsibilities, grow their own careers here, and continue to develop other people.

Around forty-five percent of the people who work here have been here for eight years or more. Some of whom have been here for more than 20 years or are approaching their 20th year. Our people stay because of the unique leadership opportunities and career paths we offer. Our people stay because they realize that’s what they want.

Our people also stay because our pay structure is based on performance. We start our hires at competitive salaries. Then their salaries increases and bonuses are determined by performance in a given position. If they perform above expectations for a particular role, taking on responsibilities, growing, and becoming a project or team lead, their compensation is an outcome of that performance.

As Our Leaders Grow, We Grow


We encourage our employees to share their ideas. If they find ways to improve something or to do something better, we want to hear about it. And if they are feeling underutilized, we want to hear that, too. We’ll work with them to find a spot where they contribute more. We encourage people to be honest with us. We want to learn from them. We won’t be able to grow successfully without listening to the people who are doing the work.

We think our approach is fair to everyone in the organization. When I was hired, there were 15 of us. Since then, the company’s grown to more than 100. But our approach to people has remained the same. It works for us. It works for them. And we have no desire or need to change it.

After all, designing software isn’t the only thing we’ve been good at. It’s also designing our leadership. And we wouldn’t be half the company we are today without our leaders.

To Us, HR Means Healthy Relationships


By: Kurt Diederich

The good news is we’re in the New Year. The bad news is we still have some of the challenges we had in the old year. More specifically, we have to determine whether return to office (RTO), work from home (WFH) or a hybrid model work best for our companies and for our people.

While we weren’t deliberately trying to create a new abbreviation, we were deliberately trying to create a model that varies slightly from those models and that entails the best of both and then some: We decided to call our model work from office (WFO). To us, that means we have to take care of the people who take care of our customers and our business.

Two-Way Streets

To earn the right to work here, our people have to be committed and conscientious. To earn the right have them here, we have to make sure:

  1. Total compensation is meaningful and competitive: The combination of salary and benefits has to attract the talent we want.
  2. Recognition and rewards are consistent: Performance-based reviews, rewards, and promotions have to be suitable to retain the talent we want.
  3. Policies and procedures are clear, current, and accessible: We can’t expect people do know what to do, what to expect, what’s acceptable, and what’s not if we don’t tell them.
  4. Career opportunities are clear and available: In addition to letting people know what’s expected of them, we have to let them know what’s possible for them. And we have to be engage in those conversations with them.
  5. They know their feedback is welcome. Employee feedback: We can’t know what our people want and need — and we can’t know what contributions they’re capable of making — if we don’t converse with them. “We’re only as good as our people” is so much more than a cliché. It has to be.
  6. We provide the necessary flexibility: Open-ended flex time isn’t manageable or constructive. But we give our people the time they need for family commitments, necessary appointments, vacations, and PTO. Those aren’t gifts. They’re signs of respect and appreciation for what our people do every day.

That’s Healthy

We’re successful. We’re growing. And we’re committed to making Finys a place in which people feel comfortable, fulfilled, recognized, and rewarded. Since those things are true, we believe WFO is fair and favorable for all of us. And we believe it creates healthy relationships.

Trust as an Element of the Sales Process

By: Scott Hinz

I’m a sales guy. I’ve sold for other companies. What makes Finys different is that we don’t treat our sales prospects the way other companies might treat their sales prospects. We treat them as peers who have a need and whose trust and respect we have to earn.

We earn that trust and respect, in part, by offering what we call Project Risk-Elimination Planning (PREP). There are eight steps to PREP, each equally important:

1.    We schedule a comprehensive visit to our prospects’ locations. There’s nothing like handshakes and eye contact to plant the seeds of trust.

2.    We get to know their people, their organizations, and their operating styles. Just as important, they get to know us.

3.    We review their systems, the functionality of those systems, their lines of business, and the states in which they write that business.

4.    We demonstrate Design Studio, our configuration toolkit, including its capabilities and its workflows.

5.    We list and validate all the systems and sources with which the Finys Suite will need to integrate.

6.    We share our implementation methodology, step by step.

7.    We discuss the roles, the responsibilities, and resources that will be required to make the implementation successful.

8.    We thoroughly review the project management and data migration plans.

A is For Accountability

One other way we earn trust and respect is by being accountable. If we commit to doing something, we do it. If that something is complicated and time-consuming, we’ll say so. We won’t sugarcoat or mislead. We’ll tell you what you need to hear, even if it’s not what you want to hear. We’ll finish everything we start. And we’ll work as hard as we can to meet and to exceed your reasonable expectations.

Why doesn’t every company work the way we do? We don’t know. But we do know what works for us and for our customers. And we’ve been succeeding with what works for us and for our customers since 2001.

That’s a pretty nice track record if we do say so ourselves.