At iTrellis, Employee Success, Happiness and Productivity Are Top Priorities

iTrellis provides opportunities for employees to follow a trajectory that fits their career goals.

Written by Cathleen Draper
Published on Jan. 31, 2023
At iTrellis, Employee Success, Happiness and Productivity Are Top Priorities
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According to Matt Queen, iTrellis is unlike any development shop he’s ever seen.

“Most dev shops have people around for a couple of years,” Queen said. “They burn them out, they chew them up and spit them out of the machine.”

But the story is different at iTrellis. Team members want to stick around, and they do. That’s because iTrellis invests in its people — especially their growth.

Several analogies come to mind for Queen when he considers the three vectors for how iTrellis pushes its employees forward. 



A Microsoft Solutions Partner - Digital and App Innovation, iTrellis builds custom software and consults on systems integration. 


First, “the more hats you wear, the more hats you can wear.” 

Second, “you can always run a little faster.”

And third, “once you’ve climbed a few mountains, you know about ropes, the gear, what to pack and the pitfalls.” 

Queen’s analogies for growth inform how team members come together and take the collective skills they’ve built from mentorship, training and certifications, and robust and varied experiences and apply them to complex problems.

It’s what makes iTrellis successful at what it does for clients.

“We’re not just another body shop,” DevOps Solutions Architect Andrew Huddleston said. “Others throw bodies at a problem, not experts. We’re not going to throw 10 people at it. We’re going to put two who really know what they’re doing into the mix.”



Leadership Style 

When a new iTrellian joins the team, they’re put in a position to make decisions early on, with the help of a mentor.

New team members are placed on a trajectory that fits their skills and abilities, like solutions architect, lead developer or junior developer. Practice managers mentor solutions architects, who mentor lead developers, who then mentor junior developers.

Every week, the leadership team evaluates employee’s project status and development progress to ensure they are doing all that they can for that person’s success, happiness and productivity. Leadership looks at the projects an iTrellian has worked on, what they were successful at and what they had difficulty with. And they discuss what they can do for that person to ensure the best fit possible.

They also reflect on the role of that new team member’s mentor. They delve into how the mentor has supported them and constructively helped them grow.

“If we are diligent in making sure that there’s no iTrellian left behind, we end up with people who are very happy with what they’re doing, and they find what they want to work on and their interest areas,” Queen said. 

As employees build their careers at iTrellis, they can focus on managing programs, projects or client relationships, serve in a “team captain” role on a development team, or provide their skills and expertise to projects.


“If we are diligent in making sure that there’s no iTrellian left behind, we end up with people who are very happy with what they’re doing.”


A natural progression into leadership roles like lead developer exists, but these leadership positions don’t have to involve traditional people management.

“iTrellis has figured out that you can have career progress that is based on the skills and abilities that you’re looking to build,” Queen said. “You don’t need to become a manager to roll up to a role where you have expertise.”


The iTrellis team stands atop a summit


Incentives to Grow

To build expertise, iTrellis invests in employees who invest in themselves.

The company’s bonus structure incentivizes career development and rewards team members for pursuing industry certifications.

Andrew Huddleston, a DevOps solution architect, has completed five certifications since joining in February of last year. It wasn’t just the bonus that motivated him to do so.

“I want iTrellis to grow and get better people into the DevOps world to help companies with their DevOps needs,” Huddleston said.  

iTrellis was on the path to becoming gold-certified as a Microsoft Azure partner, and Huddleston knew that more employee certifications would help the company get there.

Within a month of joining, he became a certified Microsoft Azure Developer Associate. He earned two more Azure certifications in September, including an Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.

Huddleston also helped form a partnership with software company HashiCorp, which offers industry-standard, open-source products for DevOps professionals. Huddleston proposed the idea of pursuing HashiCorp certifications to iTrellis’ CEO, who whole-heartedly approved.

Huddleston became certified in HashiCorp’s Terraform and Vault, and many of his colleagues have, too. As a result, additional companies have contracted with iTrellis.


At the Center of Responsibility Is Trust

David Yaeger recently joined a company project after it had already kicked off, and he saw some areas of growth. He reached out to Chris Johnson, iTrellis CEO to discuss potential process improvements.

Yaeger told Johnson that he had experience that would help teams on similar projects make choices that set them up for success, and the two set up time to talk about getting Yaeger onto those types of opportunities sooner.

“You’ll accelerate your path quicker than you would, say, at a bigger company,” Yaeger said.

Yaeger has forged his own path at iTrellis. Several years ago, he went to Dallas to help establish a new branch of the company. He worked to build a relationship with a local client and find candidates to represent iTrellis in Dallas.

“I’ve never done something like that before,” Yaeger said. Though he’s always been a part of the recruiting process, he had never seen what it takes to bring iTrellis’ work to a place where there wasn’t currently a home base. And the process proved to be easier than he initially thought it would be. 

“Seeing something like that opens your eyes to different opportunities that were once only here in Seattle,” he said.

At the center of a greater sense of responsibility is trust. Yaeger has been with iTrellis since 2016, and he’s never felt babysat or micromanaged. It’s something he values deeply.


“You’ll accelerate your path quicker than you would, say, at a bigger company.”


“I’m good at what I do, and I know what I’m doing,” he said. “If I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll figure it out.”

He sees that mindset throughout iTrellis. Everyone does what they need to do, and they trust each other.

“It just continues to be a good experience,” Yaeger said.


Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via iTrellis.

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