Engagement, Dedication and Entrepreneurship: Leaders from 3 Companies Give Insight Into Their Team Dynamic

Written by Robert Schaulis
Published on Nov. 02, 2022
Engagement, Dedication and Entrepreneurship: Leaders from 3 Companies Give Insight Into Their Team Dynamic
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When Built In asked leaders from stand-out Chicago tech firms for one word to describe their colleagues, “engaged” sprang to mind. 

It may seem like a modest descriptor, until you consider the empirical evidence. A 2021 Gallup survey of more than 57,000 employees estimated that just over one third of employees exhibit real engagement in their workplace. Sixteen percent of employees are actively disengaged. 

The polling firm noted that for nearly every two workers engaged in the workforce at large, there was one actively disengaged — with the majority of the workforce operating in the middle of the two extremes.

Engagement requires several things: a sense of dedication, a self-direction, the curiosity to pursue goals and grow in one’s role and a kind of enthusiasm.

“Intellectual curiosity paired with a strong work ethic are the two critical things we look for in a potential colleague,” Athanasios Sofronis, principal software engineer for Upfront, said. “Combined, these will create a deeply dedicated teammate who will share our core values and meaningfully contribute to our product and organization.”

Built In spoke to Sofronis and two of his local peers, on tech teams in industries as far flung as price management software and cannabis, to learn more about what makes their teams unique. Read on to find out how you can join these growing companies. 


Further ReadingEmployee Engagement 101


The Pricefx offices


Kelly Pronek
Vice President of Revenue Generation & Enablement • Pricefx


What they do: Pricefx is a price management software company. The organizations native cloud and SaaS platform helps B2B and B2C clients optimize pricing and increase their bottom line.


Whats one word you would use to describe your colleagues at Pricefx?

Engaged. My colleagues are genuinely engaged and curious — not just about their own work but about the way in which their work impacts those around them. This contributes to the quality of our work, the relationships we build with one another and the flexibility we have to adapt when something unexpected comes our way. Above all, though, it helps us to celebrate the wins, to work through the challenges and truly enjoy the experience of working together.


Further Reading10 Employee Engagement Strategies That Actually Work


How has your skill set and overall career grown at Pricefx?

Pricefx is a highly innovative and dynamic company, and that extends into the way in which we support our people in their work. I joined Pricefx with the mission of building our demand generation function. I was excited to hone my skills and dive deeply into one specific marketing area. 

What I didn’t expect was the tremendous amount of support, engagement and resources that I’d have behind me. This allowed me the experience of building a highly effective and efficient demand generation function. And because of that, my deep expertise in this area has grown.



A young woman meets with their doctor in a clinical setting; the two review information on a tablet


Athanasios Sofronis
Principal Software Engineer • Upfront Healthcare


What they do: Upfront is a digital patient navigation platform that combines analytics with automated outreach to improve patient experience, increase necessary visits, reduce no-shows and improve population health performance.


Whats one word you would use to describe your colleagues at Upfront? 

Dedicated. They take true ownership over the products they build, and this is abundantly clear in how diligently and tirelessly they work. Continuous improvement is a critical part of our work ethos, and we challenge one another every day to live up to that. We are committed to solving problems by pushing intellectual boundaries and utilizing the best available technologies.


How has your skill set and overall career grown at Upfront?

It’s impossible for me to imagine a career path that would have allowed me to grow so rapidly — both in terms of my technical skill set and in my career development — anywhere other than Upfront Healthcare. This company offers engineers the opportunity to take true ownership over the products they build and the decisions they make. While this can be daunting at times, there is no better training ground for true servant leadership.  

The company’s culture is fast-paced and requires thoughtful and robust problem solving. It requires us to explore cutting-edge technologies to build our platform. Developing from the ground up forces us to be incredibly hands on in our development process. It also necessitates thorough research and collaboration with teammates. The lessons learned along the way are foundational to both hard and soft skill sets. That sort of experience is irreplaceable.



A mobile device displays the Green Thumb logo in from of a plant


Chris Clai
Director, Information Security • Green Thumb


What they do: A national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer, Green Thumb is dedicated to promoting well-being through cannabis while giving back in the communities in which the company operates. 


Whats one word you would use to describe your colleagues at Green Thumb? 

Entrepreneurial. Working in a nascent industry, you must go beyond just being innovative to find solutions to the challenges we face. Many of my colleagues feel a shared sense of ownership in the future of the organization and will take ownership of our challenges and drive the business toward solutions while building collaboration along the way.

The kind of traits I look for in potential colleagues are curiosity, a passion for improving things, willingness to learn and understand, empathy and the ability to consider solutions beyond their typical realm of thinking. Those are all important to being successful in our industry.


Why is your industry an exciting place to work right now, and what role does Green Thumb play within it?

We’re building upon a new great American growth story with cannabis — one where we are providing quality cannabis products across our rich brand portfolio. Our products help people unwind, enjoy life and take better care of themselves. Knowing the work we do and the products we provide benefit people and have made their lives better is incredible. 

Our company plays a pivotal role as one that is writing the story of our industry at scale and setting the expectations for what a multi-state cannabis company can do. There are not many opportunities that come by in a lifetime where you can say you were a part of building something like this.


Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and featured companies.

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