TEECOM has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies, Largest Engineering Firms, and Top Corporate Philanthropists by the San Francisco Business Times, and has been voted one of the Best Places to Work. What makes TEECOM a top engineering firm to work for? We sat down with a few of our designers to talk about some of their favorite aspects of the job and what drives them to bring their best every day.
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“First of all, TEECOM is a smaller business. There’s more transparency as to what leadership is doing and what direction TEECOM is going,” says Molly Totten, EIT, CDT, Associate. The last Friday of every month, TEECOM CEO David Marks conducts a very candid and insightful General Office Meeting (GOM) where employees across all offices can join in via video conference and receive company updates.
Molly was a physics major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was seeking the same positions as the majority of her peers at places like Google and SpaceX. Falling into the architecture/engineering/construction industry was, as with many, an accident. Before TEECOM, she took a position at a large MEP firm. Approaching her second TEECOM anniversary, Molly has happily found her niche in technology consulting with many of those tech giants now serving as clients. She adds, “I’ve never experienced working with such a bright and enthusiastic group of people. At any moment, there are multiple people willing to jump in and help you solve a challenge, help you learn something, encourage you, or provide advice. I think we really get teamwork right here.”
Designer Jessica Abrolat joined TEECOM after college as a biomechanical engineering major. “Adapting to a new job is always pretty difficult. You have to learn the standards, how things work, but I found it was really easy to adapt to TEECOM. Everyone’s really friendly and willing to point you in the right direction.”
As part of her onboarding training, Jessica went through TEECOMuniversity, an intensive classroom-style program teaching all technology systems offered by TEECOM (telecom, security, audiovisual, acoustics, and network/wireless).
“[In school] you’re not really taught the low-voltage side of things: Wi-Fi, displays, conferencing systems,” she says. “We’re constantly surrounded by it, but you never think about the design that has to go into it.” The goal of TEECOMuniversity is to bridge the gap between the lack of education in this engineering field and the level of talent necessary for the industry.
Along with the access to leadership, a wealth of knowledge, and on-the-job training, Associate Principal Gil Lopez, CTS, CDT, agrees that the quality of the team is one of the defining factors. “In the five years that I’ve been working here, I’ve learned a lot about what it is to have a team that really cares, collaborates, and listens to each other. At TEECOM, I get a lot of feedback from both superiors and reports and that’s very, very valuable. That’s the biggest difference I noticed.”
Gil also mentions TEECOM’s giving back programs as another personal driver and benefit of working here. TEECOM offers many opportunities to contribute as a group or individually in our local communities or to any other charitable efforts you might be passionate about. A native of the Mexican state of Puebla, Gil was compelled to provide assistance after the 2017 Mexico City earthquake. TEECOM matched his and his son’s contribution through our dollar-for-dollar matching donation program.
Challenges and the Tools to Succeed
Molly and many of her cohorts encounter questions regarding building codes, proper installation, and engineering theory. “I can post something on Slack [the internal messaging tool] and get a response from five different people and have them all put time into trying to help,” she says. “There are so many years of experience here. I never feel like there is not an avenue to solve a problem.”
Technology is ever-evolving. But innovation can be the biggest challenge when it comes to designing systems for buildings. “Particularly in the AV world, staying on top of every development, every change, of every design nuance is very difficult as an individual,” says Gil. “Having the knowledge of multiple disciplines in-house is a great advantage.”
Another way TEECOM stays ahead of ever-changing technology systems is by investing in its own in-house Research and Development group led by Principal, Executive Vice President Alex Serriere. Recently, Gil took Alex and R&D Hardware Engineer Jake Tesler to a meeting with Plantronics, a business and consumer audio communications company, about a new product in the making. As the research engineers were able to speak with the Plantronics team at a more in-depth level, Gil was able to learn more about the product and gain deeper insight into the development process.
Support for Certifications, and Bonuses Once Earned
Gil has multiple manufacturer certifications, is an AVIXA Certified Technology Specialist (CTS), and has recently earned the Construction Document Technologist (CDT) certification.
“The fact that TEECOM encourages your growth and provides you with an incentive not only translates to better work, but you’re also happier to go pursue those additional trainings,” he says.
Molly also just took the CDT exam, which she claims was more difficult than expected, but it has vastly helped her identify all the moving parts of a project: “It helped me understand the architect’s role, the contractor’s role, and who does what.” TEECOM offers study groups for various certifications. Since she was unable to attend a study group at the time, Molly sought advice from Gil, accessed videos and books from other peers, and successfully passed the test.
Jessica has passed the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Design Fundamentals exam, a stepping stone to other key Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) certifications. As she studies for the Engineer in Training (EIT) exam, she too relies on in-house study guides, guidance from her team, and Slack channels dedicated to internal education.
Learn more about engineering certifications. Read:
The Agility of the Open Office, and Cutting-edge Technology Tools
A welcoming company culture is huge for Jessica, and the open office not only helps her workflow, but also enhances daily interpersonal exchanges with leadership, interns, and all who fall in between. “Everyone is out on the floor. Everyone knows your name and is approachable, from the top to the bottom,” she says.
An open office setting no doubt has its list of pros and cons, but Molly said the percentage of time when it’s not beneficial is outweighed by the overwhelming amount of times when it’s really helpful to have everyone in the same space. Plus, there are plenty of enclosed huddle and collaboration rooms to use when needed.
Coming from firms with cubicles and separate offices prior to TEECOM, Gil says, “When you’re siloed in an office, your communication with your team isn’t as great as it can be when you’re in an open office like it is here.”
When it comes to workstations, everyone at TEECOM gets a laptop that gets updated every three years, fully equipped with the latest software, and around the clock IT support. “I came from a department where I actually was the IT department out of necessity, which added a lot to my workload,” says Gil. “Having that here as a resource is a great relief. It’s a great advantage when you see workstations properly formatted. If your computer crashes, or gets lost or damaged, there are provisions for you to be able to continue to work.”
Each new hire’s desk is set up prior to their first day with a 4K monitor, ergonomically friendly options, and all the TEECOM swag. “Having a giant screen is pretty awesome. I feel like I’m more organized and can more easily multitask,” says Molly.
Jessica enjoys afternoon workout or meditation sessions through our TEECOMfit program multiple days throughout the week. “TEECOMfit really brings everything together,” she says. “It’s nice to have a gap in your day and relax or be mobile for a bit.”
Families, pets, long commutes, and other complications are part of life. “Having remote access to the network gives fantastic flexibility when it comes to your schedule — personal and work,” says Gil. “That balance is well-established.”
The TEECOM Experience
We are continually striving to give and receive feedback, improve processes, and ultimately enhance the overall experience for employees at all levels and potential candidates and clients. Heavily investing in the tools and training is a no-brainer if you want to create a great place to be and we see that value reflected in the work. We are growing and want to find the right people to grow with us.