Be awesome: A key tenet for success
You can’t help but be intrigued by a company that expresses its core values in phrases like: “Wake up. Be awesome. Repeat.”
That slogan is one of the things Jamie Hing likes best about LoyaltyOne, a global leader in the design and implementation of loyalty programs and services, and customer analytics. LoyaltyOne was selected by Waterstone Human Capital in its annual Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Awards (Enterprise).
“What I find here, and what keeps me here, is that so many people are passionate about what they do,” says Hing, associate director, reporting and insights, who has worked at LoyaltyOne for more than six years.
The owner and operator of Air Miles, one of Canada’s most recognized brands, LoyaltyOne has been in the business of building and managing loyalty programs for global clients for more than 20 years.
But it’s much more than the blue and white logo seen in retail stores affiliated with the iconic rewards program across the country. Owned by Texas-based Alliance Data Systems Corp., LoyaltyOne is also a provider of cuttingedge analytics and retail solutions, loyalty consulting and industry research.
Its global influence is reflected in its ownership of Precima, a rapidly growing global retail strategy and analytics company, and its majority interest in BrandLoyalty, one of the largest and most successful data-driven loyalty marketers.
One of the key advantages of working at a company as diversified as LoyaltyOne is that associates have the opportunity to learn, grow and enrich their careers in ways that they might not be able to do at more narrowly focused firms.
“The main reason that I’ve been here for over 11 years — during which time my friends have had three or four different jobs — is because there are so many diff erent opportunities here,” says Jonathan Lee, director of business development and client services at Air Miles.
“If you work hard, you’re passionate, authentic and you provide value, t he company gives you opport unities t hroughout t he organization.”
Lee would know. He arrived at LoyaltyOne fresh from an undergraduate degree in commerce at Queen’s University. So f ar, he’s worked in analytics, business development and client services, honing his capabilities with data and insights, his boardroom presence and his people-management skills.
As a member of the company’s senior l eadership team, Lee also helps champion LoyaltyOne’s corporate values throughout the organization — something that all leaders are asked to do in order to bring the company’s values to life every day.
“We have a few core values t hat we f ollow, and recently we put them into everyday terms to get people to understand and embrace them more fully,” Lee says.
Descriptive catchphrases like “less is more,” “embrace the fringe,” “keep it real,” and “team first” represent the values of simplicity, curiosity, authenticity and collaboration.
Collaboration is definitely a value that comes up again and again when talking with LoyaltyOne associates. The company seeks input from its associates and they seek input from each other. For instance, there’s the “What If ” program, which is an online forum where associates can share ideas and new ways of thinking about products, services, business strategy or how to work together.
There’s also the millennial advisory board, which is comprised of 20 young people from different parts of the company.
“We’re a sounding board for organizational changes that would impact the quality of LoyaltyOne as a workplace,” says Heather Gouinlock, senior business analyst, international, who also co- leads the mentorship program for the company’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. “We meet on a monthly basis and discuss a different topic. It’s a great example of how the organization values t he opinions of associates from all l evels and different demographics.”
Gouinlock is also part of a team of associates who have moved from their traditional cubicles to an open- concept test space. Their feedback is being considered in advance of the Toronto office’s move to a new building near the Distillery District next year, which will be a new kind of collaborative space that embraces LoyaltyOne’s culture of innovation, fun and well-being.
“Even our senior vice-president has given away her office and she is now in the thick of things at an open-concept desk,” says Gouinlock, adding that the company’s CEO, CFO and senior vice-president of human resources have all done the same. “It’s highly collaborative. We’ve got these great desks that move up and down depending on whether you want to sit or stand, and we really feel closer as a team.”
Other teams will be cycling through the test space over the next year to get a feeling for working without walls, while providing input.
In t erms of personal health and well- being, associates come together annually over the span of a week to volunteer at high- impact charities at various locations across the country, re- inforcing their bonds with the communities where they work.
They’re also encouraged to take the stairs when possible, use the on- site gym or their wellness subsidy to join a gym of their choice.
And because all associates — especially millennials — value making connections and making friends in the workplace, the company also hosts competitive tech challenges, such as the hacka- thon, and the annual Fun Day: last summer’s consisted of a massive scavenger hunt followed by a party for 1,200 associates.
When it comes to employee recognition, the company’s Pass It On program is a unique way to highlight someone at any level of the organization for doing great work that exemplifies one of LoyaltyOne’s core values.
“Essentially, a message gets posted to a digital board with a thank you and a comment and a picture recognizing someone for something they’ve done,” says Gouinlock. “It’s a way to celebrate someone you’ve worked with.”
Air Miles also play a big role in how LoyaltyOne rewards its associates. For instance, they’re awarded when an associate celebrates their fifth, 10th, 15th or 20th anniversary with the company. On each of these milestone dates, associates receive 20,000 Air Miles and a paid two- week sabbatical leave, explains Lee, who celebrated his 10th anniversary last year.
In 2010, when Lee’s vacation allotment was five weeks, he got a paid twoweek sabbatical leave and joined some colleagues on an extended trip to Australia — airfare, naturally, funded with Air Miles.
“I was never a big traveller, but with those two extra weeks and the Air Miles I felt that I could afford to go to Australia,” says Lee, who has since become an avid globetrotter. “That trip changed my life and my view on the world.”
With LoyaltyOne in a growth phase right now, the company is actively readying its talent. Hing was recently tapped to take part in a leadership training program called Expedition, which culminated in a Dragons’ Dentype of competition where participants had to solve some of LoyaltyOne’s actual business challenges.
“The program wasn’t just about training but we were actually practising what we were learning,” says Hing, who holds an honours business degree from Oshawa’s University of Ontario and has worked at bigger companies but prefers the more intimate feeling of mid-sized LoyaltyOne.
“So now I can pass that along to my team of people that I work with.”
Like Lee and Gouinlock, Hing sees a long career for herself at LoyaltyOne.
“I’m one of those people who can get bored quite quickly if there’s nothing new for me to learn,” Gouinlock says.
“But this is an ‘ all- handson- deck’ environment and there’s always something new to l earn and something different to work on. It’s been a real journey, and I don’t expect it to end any time soon.”
WE HAVE A FEW CORE VALUES ( THAT WE PUT)
I NTO EVERYDAY TERMS TO GET PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND AND EMBRACE THEM MORE FULLY THE MAIN REASON THAT I’VE BEEN HERE FOR OVER 11 YEARS IS BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES HERE. IF YOU WORK HARD, YOU’RE PASSIONATE, AUTHENTIC AND YOU PROVIDE VALUE, THE COMPANY GIVES YOU OPPORTUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE ORGANIZATION — JONATHAN LEE, LOYALTYONE
Heather Gouinlock, left, Jamie Hing and Jonathan Lee, like their LoyaltyOne counterparts, share a passion for their work.