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Top large employers embrace mission, support systems

A lot of successful companies work at developing a strong sense of purpose that both management and employees share.

That sense of mission often turns out to be a significant factor in employee satisfaction.

This holds true with the highest-ranking large employers in the American-Statesman’s Top Workplaces project for 2016. Cirrus Logic Inc., J.B. Goodwin Realtors and Q2ebanking ranked first, second and third respectively.

Employees at all three companies say there is a strong sense of purpose about their companies and their jobs.

Cirrus Logic is a leading maker of analog and signal processing chips. Its top customers are among the world’s largest makers of smartphones and other portable smart devices.

Engineers at Cirrus like Tripti Murarka can pull out her smartphone and say she worked on one of the audio chips inside the device.

“You are working on a product that millions of people will use to listen to audio,” she said. “When you know that final goal, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to use a phone and say I worked on that.”

“The challenging work we have keeps us self-motivated,” she said. “The people who work at Cirrus are really bright. So that makes it more fun. You are working with these really smart people and there is so much to learn. When your job is exciting and challenging and you are trying to solve new problems with every new project that comes up, that is what keeps me motivated and happy.”

Murarka has been working at the chip company since graduating from college at Arizona State University.

She began work on the specialized software that assists chip designers. Then she moved to a position as a verification engineer, which involves substantial work on proving that a new design actually accomplishes what it is supposed to do.

Because Cirrus works on audio technology, it tends to attract some workers, like Andy Rumelt, with a musical bent. Rumelt is a software tools developer who has worked at Cirrus for nine years. He also is an avid musician and plays keyboard with several local groups. On the job, he spends much of his time working on software that enables products with Cirrus chips to create pleasing sounds. Those products can include smartphones, tablets or small Bluetooth-enabled speakers that people connect to their phones.

“You have a small speaker and it can only produce a certain amount of bass, especially when the goal is to improve battery life,” he said. “So one of my jobs might be working with (business customers) and helping them develop a software algorithm that will maximize battery life with good sound output. I love doing that.”

Rumelt remembers when he got his first keyboard when he was 13 and got involved in programming it to produce the sounds he wanted.

“So everything I do here related to what I was doing as a kid,” he said. “We have a work hard, play hard environment. That is a buzzword, but it is true.”

Rumelt plays keyboard in several bands around Austin, but he took classes at Cirrus to become a more proficient electric guitarist. The company has group guitar lessons for employees, among its many other worker training programs. The classes were created after Cirrus CEO Jason Rhode began taking guitar lessons and asked whether employees might be interested. The answer was a resounding yes.

“Jason is one of us,” Rumelt said. “He is a musician.”

Q2ebanking: Focus on mission

At Q2ebanking, the purpose centers on helping community financial institutions — including small banks and credit unions — compete better by having the same kinds of e-banking and mobile applications tools that their larger competitors offer.

For regional sales manager Aaron Kwan, who started with the company in 2005, the purpose of the company is a constant.

“We started off with a mission in 2004 and we have never wavered,” he said. “We want to strengthen communities by strengthening the financial institutions that serve them. We only work with community financial institutions.”

Online and mobile banking software gives community banks “the highest touch point and the most cost-effective delivery channel to their customers,” Kwan said.

“The people that work with community financial institutions, they get it and they say they need that capability.”

By focusing on community banks and credit unions, Q2ebanking has shown strong growth. The company went public in 2014 and since then has added more than 200 employees. It reported revenue of nearly $110 million for 2015.

Jack McBee, who heads internal and executive communications for the company, describes its mission as “an integral part of our DNA. We want to strengthen communities by strengthening their financial institutions.”

The 12-year-old company still has the feel of a startup, McBee said, citing himself as a prime example. He joined the company in 2013 as a new graduate of the University of Texas. Within months, he was involved in planning the communications around the company’s stock offering in 2014.

“That signifies the trust they put in people,” he said, “the kind of trust you would be hard to find elsewhere.”

JB Goodwin Realtors: Strong support system

At JB Goodwin Realtors, the culture is focused on serving clients professionally and supporting agents with training programs and staff assistance.

Goodwin has been a major name in Austin real estate since the 1970’s and agents for the company say there were attracted by the company’s strong brand.

Isabel Affinito moved from New Jersey to Austin with her husband Christopher two years ago after getting their Texas real estate licenses.

They interviewed with several firms, but were attracted to one of Goodwin’s division vice presidents, Mark Murrell.

“I wanted to work for a broker I could trust and respect,” she said. “And I wanted to know that my broker would be available to me and happy to help.”

They found that at JB Goodwin, she says.

“Last year, my husband and I did $10 million worth of sales volume and this year we are on track to do between $15 million and $20 million,” she said. “We are really happy with where we are. I see us being here for a long time.”

Andrew Constancio joined Goodwin 19 years ago as an agent after making a midlife career change from retail management.

He said he likes the collaboration and management support he finds at Goodwin.

Newcomers will get lots of assistance and support when they are starting out. After they get established, they are encouraged to “pay it forward” and help others.

That’s what Constancio has done in his time with the company.

“I thoroughly enjoy it here,” he said.

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