Swanson Russell will always be a work in progress, but we hit a milestone this year that we are really proud of: being recognized by Quantum Workplace as one of Lincoln’s Best Places to Work. The Quantum Workplace competition annually surveys and recognizes employee engagement. It is a great way to learn how employees feel about leadership, benefits, communication, team dynamics and more.
As I read the hundreds of employee comments, I was excited to see proof of the same two cultural themes that have profoundly influenced me over the past 29 years I’ve spent working here. Let me explain.
When I joined Swanson Russell in 1990, there were 30 of us. It wasn’t long before I was working side-by-side with just about everyone. We were a tight-knit group—sometimes working into the early morning hours—doing what it took to meet deadlines and do work we were proud of. The hard work didn’t matter. In fact, it energized us. It brought us closer together.
With over 160 employees today, we are now five times the size. But that bring-it-on-then-celebrate attitude still pulses through our culture. Teams are energized. The work they are doing together is making a difference for our clients and getting national recognition. And we have a lot of fun, both day-to-day and with our many planned activities.
A spirit of trust and camaraderie—that’s the first cultural theme I saw in employee comments.
The second is a bit more personal to me.
In my early years, my interests were many: graphic design, writing, photography, computer technology, marketing strategy, business architecture. And I had an entrepreneurial drive that kept me up at night. But I hadn’t sorted out what to do with these interests. (And I wasn’t great at any of them.)
As our first computer graphics designer, I loved teaching how to design with computers and figuring out how we could grow our business by using technology to do more in-house work. Then I dove into the art and science of direct marketing—as a designer, as a database developer, and then as a copywriter. After seven years, I was allowed to pursue a growing desire to work directly with clients as an account executive.
From Steve Russell (former CEO) to Dave Hansen (current CEO) on down, everyone I worked with was patient with me, mentored me, challenged me. When I was the bull in the china shop, I got the necessary “coaching” without losing support. There was room here for my evolving and changing passions. They were welcomed and nurtured. Swanson Russell people, over decades of time, helped sort me out; helped make me who I am today.
People here invest in you for the long haul—and that’s the second theme reflected in employee comments and the other reason our culture makes this a great place to work.
Recently, we announced that I’d be taking the helm here at Swanson Russell. As I prepare for that role, I have a personal interest in ensuring this culture continues to thrive. It’s the collective work of everyone who has put their heart into Swanson Russell over the past 57 years. And it is reflected in the core values we live every day: be a team, be real, be honest, be hungry, and be thankful. If we can remain focused on these important intangibles, I have no doubt we will remain a company where people feel trusted and believed in.