Recently we spoke with Branch Manager Ryan Sturgis about working out of the Downtown Chicago market. Previously, it was left up to Oak Brook to handle the Downtown market but, given particular trends and changes in the market, it became imperative to expand to the city.
Iain McDavid: How did the Downtown Chicago team come about?
Ryan Sturgis: Well Downtown Chicago is very, very different in terms of the talent it’s yielding. And given trends with how newer generations and the new workforce are living: Most of them are staying in city. Especially the top technologist, they’re not moving out to the suburbs. Conversely, our original IBS Oak Brook was primarily suburban focused.
IM: So the branch is relatively new—it opened for business back in January 2017. What was the initial team size exactly? What is it now? And how has it changed over the past year?
RS: We started with 3 employees and we actually just added our newest hire. Her name is Chloe Kittle and she just started back in February. So at this point we are a team of four, all of which are brand new IBS employees.
We recently expanded and so everybody at the Downtown Chicago office is new to the IBS family. They all started with me. Like Daniel, for instance, the other sales person started with me. And we added a hire back in November and again in February of this year.
IM: So it’s my understanding that you guys work out of a shared work space environment. I’m curious how that differs from a traditional office environment. Is there anything you prefer or dislike about that kind of environment?
RS: I like the shared work space environment. For one, there’s free flow of ideas—there are no barriers, there are no walls in a space like this. Everyone is around when we’re getting emails and phone calls and we’re making decisions, so we are able to ask for immediate advice and feedback. There are also startups in the office, including some staffing companies, so we can ask them “what would you do in the scenario?” There’s just a lot people with different backgrounds circling through, and I’ve actually gotten some leads from it too, so it’s kind of cool working in a dynamic work space.
Over the course of a year we’ve seen some of startups grow, two of them got too big to be here and had to move out. So it’s good environment, especially in downtown Chicago because it’s kind of a hotbed of technology.
IM: What is it about your approach that has made the branch so successful?
RS: Well I came from a much smaller staffing firm where I to wear a lot of different hats and fill a lot of roles and positions. So when I came into IBS I had the thought process of “ok, there’s a lot of different things we can work on, so we need to go into the marketplace right now and just be flexible.” So people needed to learn new things. For instance they might have to recruit in area they haven’t worked in before: marketing technologies, digital technologies like UI, UX and digital design. We had scraped that surface before but we never really focused on it. So now we’re partnering with a lot of different companies, like advertising agencies and e-commerce agencies, staff startups. And that’s a very different market than what IBS was previously reaching in. They were more focused on the “old school” companies and the large enterprise companies. So I guess the main thing is I had my team target more mid-market companies, companies that you can have an actual relationship with. We’re a partner instead of just being a vendor.
John Schroeck: So, in wrapping up, you’ve been with IBS for over a little year now. Is there anything that has set IBS apart from the previous roles you had? Obviously getting the opportunity to start this new branch and giving the company a new face to a new audience. But is there anything else you’d say particular enjoy about working at IBS?
RS: I think there’s a lot of investment, not only in our team but also in our consultants. So I think one of the major differences in this position vs others one I had in the world of staffing, is that IBS is very much a relationship based organization built out of respect and accountability, and less of a transaction based kind of company.