The Challenges and Pleasures of Working for a Growing Software Company

My name is Rachel Steger, Office Manager for TrustBearer.  As a newcomer to the world of start-ups and software development last summer, my first six months with TrustBearer have been hugely enlightening.  With a background only in medium to large-sized corporations, I have found that I had a few misconceptions about what my professional life would look like once employed by an early-stage start-up company.  I never realized how non-existent bureaucracy could be within a hugely successful company, or how much of a relief it would be to not have to wear a suit and heels for my first day in the office.

TrustBearer life is about as casual as it gets – which is pretty typical for a small software company, from what I understand.  We all appreciate the flexibility of tracking our own hours and coming to work in shorts in the summer, if we want to.  Work hours are often long, but we all have a good time while we’re here.

The casual environment should not be confused for a slow-paced work day, however, or a lack of professionalism.   Work pours in and we pour it back out.  Projects show up with short deadlines, customers on other continents need immediate attention and assistance, and our office in D.C. keeps us hopping with an ever-growing list of government sales.

As Office Manager, I’ve been tasked with adding structure to this small company as it quickly outgrows its start-up status – as well as just about anything else that needs done (OK, so we’re not quite out of the start-up phase yet).  I would have to say that one of the joys of my job is that there are very few of us who have to come to consensus on how this should be done, which simplifies the process immensely.  The challenge has been to figure out how to grow without killing the great environment that has been built here over the past five years — how to add policies and procedures without completely annihilating the freedoms that we all appreciate on a daily basis.

When I joined the company last year, I didn’t quite anticipate the types of clients that a company of a dozen people would be working with on a daily basis – large enterprise customers and government clients such as SSA, FAA, Air Force, and others, to name a few.  As the smallest company in the smart card/middleware market, it has been exciting to see us build important relationships with large-scale companies, and to understand that even a small company in Fort Wayne, Indiana can make a world-wide impact in the security industry.

2009 was a great year for TrustBearer!  For the first time we have formal, dedicated 24-7 customer support; we helped rollout a healthcare product and obtained an exclusive American Hospital Association (AHA) endorsement; we expanded to a second location in downtown Washington, D.C.; we made an appearance on the GSA schedule; and we forged exciting partnerships with companies from all over the world.  It will be interesting to see what 2010 looks like.

Stay tuned…..


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