In this article we feature MultiTech Systems, Inc., winners of Business Worldwide Global Corporate Excellence Awards in the categories of ‘Best Corporate Citizen (Mid-Market), USA- 2016’ and ‘Management Team of the Year, USA- 2016.’ We look at how they’ve created a stable workplace culture that leads the way in tech innovation.
Tech innovation is a fast paced business. Every day new products, concepts and services are launched, and many of them have completely reshaped the economic and social landscape. It is clear that, analysing tech trends alone, we are moving towards a more closely connected world. Tech businesses need to adapt to keep up, particularly in their management, organisational and ethical practices.
The tech industry values cutting edge innovation and blue sky thinking. This involves quick project turnarounds, critical and imaginative thinking, a flexible attitude to change and horizontal ways of working.
So it’s always good to hear from a company that thinks it has got the ingredients ‘just right.’
MultiTech, based in Minneapolis, US, designs, develops and manufactures communications equipment for the industrial side of the Internet of Things (IoT); the future of product design. MultiTech designs objects which communicate with the Internet to make them work more efficiently. Connecting objects to intelligent monitoring via the web can deliver anything from energy savings in heating and lighting systems to smarter and more productive delivery and stocking procedures. It can also offer us information about the way we live and work, which means the potential to do those things better.
The company’s core values are ‘creativity, performance and people,’ and it sees an overlap between these core values. Workplace practices of collaboration, understanding, and mutual respect feed into performance and creativity.
“What I find most rewarding as a leader is simple: working with great people – and, however I can, inspiring them, making this a fun and satisfying place to work, and delivering success for them as individuals and for the organisation,” CEO Stefan Lindvall says. “If you take a look at our organisation, you’ll see we have spent some time making sure the right people are in the right roles in order to simplify and improve our agility. As a team, we are intensely focused on execution across every part of our business, and to making this a great place to work.”
Diversity and creativity
Tech companies can be seen as a place where the young and precarious work. Not so MultiTech. The company has undergone many changes since the appointment of Lindvall two years ago, but one thing has remained the same – the company’s commitment to its people. This commitment is reflected by an engaged workforce with an average tenure of sixteen years in the company. Lindvall brought some major changes to MultiTech, including personnel. It was about getting the right people in the right positions, ensuring good communication and motivation. Even so, more than a quarter of the management team have spent more than 20 years at the company, and as a whole, the team brings more than 300 years of combined industry experience to the 45-year-old company.
Furthermore, the company is not just managing to maintain a diversity of age and experience. Gender diversity is also important. MultiTech is a female-owned business, and more than a third of its executive leadership roles are held by women. Patricia Sharma (the owner) and the VP of Engineering, Tracey Dickenson, have been recognized as Women of M2M by Connected World magazine. Sara Brown, Senior Director of Marketing, has been named first Women of IoT in Marketing, while the VP of Finance, Jennifer Johnson, has just been awarded the title Top Woman in Finance, by Finance & Commerce.
Why does diversity matter? The thinking now is that a diverse approach to problem-solving helps creativity and innovation. Innovation isn’t considered to be the product of individual creative ‘genius’ anymore, but a group effort where different perspectives can spark new ideas.
Part of making MultiTech a great place to work is the company’s ongoing commitment to the community. They have frequent charitable drives in which everyone from the management to manufacturing teams participate by bringing in donations. The company offers Raghu Sharma Scholarship funds to two high school students a year, supporting them in a college degree in technology or engineering. In 2017 they plan to expand on this, working in partnership with Technovation MN to build technology and entrepreneurship skills among middle school-aged girls.
A favourite among the team is the annual golf tournament. The organisation comes together on the first Saturday after Labour Day every year for a morning of fun on the links with prizes for just about everyone. Through player fees, lottery ticket sales and vendor sponsorships, MultiTech has contributed more than $25,000 to local Minnesota based charities over the years.
But corporate citizenship isn’t just about contributing to charities or training for young people. It means leading on new ways of working and industry codes. MultiTech’s key associations are with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the LoRa Alliance, and OneM2M, all of which are aimed at developing standardised industry codes to ensure the IoT operates smoothly. MultiTech has also adopted the EICC Code of Conduct and all its principles.
MultiTech’s interest in corporate citizenship derives mainly ` from its core business. The IoT not only has the potential to improve business operations, it can also help to alleviate pressing global problems. By improving food logistics, fewer people go hungry. In developing more eEducation, children around the world can receive an education. Lives are being saved by better-connected emergency services.
MultiTech’s corporate citizenship has impacted its business processes, which have evolved to include green manufacturing and are now tackling the issue of conflict minerals with a goal of being 100% conflict-free by the end of 2017.
As Lindvall says, “Wouldn’t it be nice to look back at retirement and know that in some small way you’ve left the world a better place?”
Who could disagree with that?