Stephen Scarbrough retired from the Navy about eight years ago and quickly found a new role at IntelliGenesis. He’s far from the only one — about 70 percent of the company’s employees were previously in the military.
Veteran or not, employees come to IntelliGenesis and stay there because of the company’s mission, and also because of the culture and benefits offered to them by President/CEO Angie Lienert, an Air Force veteran who wanted her company to be different from those where she previously worked.
“People seemed only to focus on the bottom line. I’ve always been about both the mission and taking care of people,” Lienert said. “We invest in them, care for them and their future. All of the benefits we have are based on that very simple premise. What are going to be their concerns, and what can we alleviate so they can just focus on doing a great job?”
The jobs they focus on at IntelliGenesis include providing cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, intelligence analysis and software development services, both to the government and commercially. The company is based in Columbia, though many of the 76 employees work on-site for their clients.
“Because we do have that heavy veteran background, we’re really focused on the mission,” Scarbrough said. “A business is about making money. But in our industry, our primary focus is serving the country. Our customers are not just getting another contractor. We really do care about the outcome.”
And IntelliGenesis employees truly feel that Lienert and the company care about them. The competition for cybersecurity talent is fierce, so the firm’s benefits include 20 days of paid time off, 10 percent contributions to 401(k) accounts, profit sharing, pet insurance, tickets for local sports teams, and $10,000 for anyone who opts out of using the company’s medical plan.
In 2017, IntelliGenesis flew every employee and a guest — about 140 people — to Mexico in celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary.
“That tells you this is a company that wants to take care of its employees, and that keeping employees happy is not something you do for the lowest cost possible,” said Guy Howard, a lead software developer who’s been with IntelliGenesis since 2007.
Along those lines, there is no limit on the cost for employees’ training expenses and continuing their education. Employees also get 40 hours of additional paid leave per year for that purpose, and their travel costs are covered, too.
“Why would we want to put a cap on them learning?” Lienert said. “Your employees are happier, they have more skills, the customer is happier, and that then opens them up for additional positions and gives you more capabilities and opportunities within your own company. When I was going for my master’s degree, companies would cap their education at $5,000. That doesn’t really help.”
When Howard was hired, he told Lienert of his interest in leadership. She encouraged him to go back to school. Howard has since received his master’s degree in technical innovation management.
“Within a few months after finishing my degree, I got to be a section lead on my project,” Howard said. “Ever since then, I’ve gotten to be in leadership positions. It’s really exciting. It’s what I want to do.”