It’s a sultry Thursday afternoon and the team at ServiceNow’s brand-new Chicago office is on the roof cooking juicy, two-inch-thick Tomahawk steaks.
But that’s not all that’s cooking in their new 24,000-square-foot Fulton Market digs. Every day, this fresh-faced crew is crafting innovative platform products to improve digital workflows for our global customers.
For the team, the steaks are a fitting (and delicious) reminder that they’ve set up shop in Chicago’s historic meatpacking district. Today, Fulton Market is better known for its code than its cattle. Tech companies began flocking to the area in 2015, when Google launched an office here. Uber, Glassdoor and a slew of startups followed, with ServiceNow setting up shop here in 2018.
“Chicago is shifting and growing,” says UX design lead Chris Johnson. “A lot of young companies are growing up around technology. It's an exciting, vibrant time for the city.”
With its red-brick warehouses and rumbling El trains, Fulton Market retains its patina of grit, but Franklin Avenue now bustles with T-shirted techies exploring its hip restaurants, craft breweries, art galleries and chic nightspots.
The energy you feel on the streets is humming inside ServiceNow’s Chicago office, too, which is poised to be the company’s largest U.S.-based engineering and development center outside of the West Coast. Its staff is young, ambitious and united by a shared commitment to creating quality software.
Building a team from the ground up
Since moving from a cramped co-working space to its spacious new Fulton Market office in early September, the newly assembled and fast-growing team has been building a culture that is creative, collaborative and, by all accounts, warmly welcoming.
“It’s been great to help grow an office,” says full-stack engineer Ben Meeder. “I've been really impressed with the group, with the friendliness and focus on the product. It's all about what's our next goal and how do we get it done.”
Ben is fresh out of Iowa State University and joined the team after a 2018 summer internship at ServiceNow in San Diego. Johnson, a Google and YouTube veteran, came onboard in May. Mike Bosch, another Google alum, has been with the Chicago team just over a year. It’s a common thread: The new office is filled with new ServiceNow employees.
Ellen Ormerod is another newbie. ServiceNow recruited her directly from Full Stack Academy, a Chicago-based coding bootcamp. In fact, she was the fifth person hired for the office. More recruits followed, with six recent Full Stack alumni currently on staff.
“I did have other companies that I was interviewing with,” she recalls, “and I chose ServiceNow because the interview felt like a conversation. They were truly interested in how I would solve a problem. ‘Let's walk through it together. If you get stuck, we'll help you.’ It was really collaborative and it has continued to be so.”
Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword in Chicago—it’s an essential best practice day in, day out. Although each engineering and design team may be focused on developing specific and granular aspects of new products, ultimately they must all work in harmony.
“Everything that you touch impacts so many different teams and processes,” Ben says. “That inevitably leads to a lot of cross-team communication and collaboration.”
It’s all about the product
While today the ServiceNow community is buzzing about all the cool functionalities introduced with the most recent Now Platform release, the Chicago team is hard at work building platform products that will be unveiled in March 2020.
“We've been designing and implementing algorithms that can adjust on the fly for changes in your data,” Mike explains. “We expect that this will help make customers’ lives better because it’s more adaptive and efficient.”
Chicago is unique among ServiceNow offices in that it’s largely a self-contained unit focused solely on new projects and products for future releases.
“We own most of the aspects of the products that we're building here,” says Chris. “And the team is all in the same physical space. That's really important for good, rapid product development. We're really operating as one product team, and I hope that the quality of the product that we produce here is representative of that cohesion.”
That cohesive vibe extends beyond the work itself. Every day at lunch, the office’s sleek café becomes a hub for mingling over takeout, or a big group ventures into the neighborhood to discover a new addition to restaurant row. Friday afternoons bring a come-one-come-all happy hour on the roof when the weather permits or a hang at a local bar.
“Every day in the lunchroom, people sit with people who aren’t on their team,” Ellen remarks. “Nobody judges you if you're not interested in socializing, but if you want to come in and make friends, this office is very open to that.”
The discussion of bonding over food naturally brings us back to those cookouts. They weren’t a one-off. Since ServiceNow relocated to its new Chicago office and the team found the rooftop barbecues, the grills have become a bit of an obsession. Some weeks the team will cook up brats, other weeks chicken wings—always served with skewers of marinated fresh veggies for vegans and vegetarians.
“Grilling has really taken the office by storm,” laughs Meeder. “It's a great way to get to know people you might not typically interact with.”
With winter on the horizon, grilling season will get put on ice, but the tight-knit Chicago crew is brainstorming about other after-work activities, such as a sports league. One perfect-for-Chicago idea that’s gathering steam: a ServiceNow curling team.
Want to join our rockin’ team? Visit our careers page.
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