Emphasis on fun, learning, growth; and rewards
By Laura Baverman - The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 28, 2010
Recruiters have stopped calling Dawn Valandingham. They know she's at a company she never wants to leave.
Valandingham celebrates five years as an employee of dunnhumbyUSA this year. And for that, she earns a bonus sixth week of vacation and a magnum of champagne.
But even more important than the incentives has been the opportunity for growth within the downtown market research and brand strategy firm.
She says her success comes from a strong belief in the company's core philosophy: If you put the customer first, you win in the end.
It's that culture that resonates throughout dunnhumbyUSA's offices in Cincinnati and around the country, says Mary Sue Findley, dunnhumbyUSA's senior vice president of human resources.
It's also why employees think so highly of their workplace that it ranks No. 1 among mid-sized companies in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
dunnhumbyUSA started as a small office in the United Kingdom but has grown to more than 300 employees with U.S. headquarters downtown on Third Street and small offices in Atlanta, Chicago and New York. Today, the firm counts clients like Home Depot, Macy's, Procter & Gamble, Best Buy and Panera Bread. It uses shopper data collected from these clients to tailor advertising and marketing directly to individual customers.
During the hiring process, dunnhumbyUSA weighs equally candidates' technical skills and their fit with four key values: passion, curiosity, collaboration and a customer-first approach.
"If we screen in the right kind of people from a cultural standpoint," Findley says, "it really helps to build the type of workforce and work environment to succeed."
dunnhumbyUSA encourages individuals to make a difference within the company and then rewards them with new or expanded responsibility.
"There is not a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and chain of command," Findley says. "dunnhumby is not about the status quo. That's what makes it fun, a place to really learn and grow."
The company's fast growth over the past five years also has kept things exciting and new.
Last year, it moved its headquarters into a renovated warehouse on the edge of downtown. The new space provides free parking, a coffee shop, a workout facility and many collaborative spaces for employees to come together. It also has extra room to add more staff over time.
"It gives us that feeling of knowing we can expand and grow. It gives us the freedom and the space to run our business," Valandingham says.
"Our environment absolutely supports our 'work hard, play hard' mantra. It's a completely open workspace that encourages collaboration. We're passionate about putting the customer at the center of everything we do, so the level of energy here needs to be high - and some of the best thinking comes from impromptu conversations or social situations."
dunnhumbyUSA chief operating officer Stuart Aitken,