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Reflecting on 2021

JC Grubbs Founder & Chief Executive Officer

2021 was a year of transition, gratitude, and excitement. Throughout the year we celebrated our tenth year in business — a milestone I only could have dreamed of at our founding in 2011. Here are some of the highlights of our tenth-anniversary year.

Our Team

After the pandemic forced us to become a remote-first workplace in 2020, 2021 has been the year of truly embracing it and making it part of our culture. Our team has spread across the map. Widening our hiring field means that we now have Tandemites in seven different states, all bringing new perspectives, backgrounds, and skills to the table.

Despite spanning the continental U.S., we are more connected than ever. I’m thankful to everyone on the team for the work they’ve done to hire nine amazing new teammates this year, and for the continual work every day to build the type of inclusive culture we want to work within. As a team, we only continue to grow stronger and more resilient.

This year, we had two people who started as apprentices achieve the highest level on our career path! Matt and Sasha both started with us when they had just completed coding bootcamp, and they’ve worked hard to learn, adapt, and grow as their careers have progressed. These are the first apprentices who have climbed the full career ladder at Tandem, and I couldn’t be more proud. Sasha is now managing other team members, while Matt serves as a trusted team lead for our clients — it’s so gratifying to see their growth from early-career engineers to confident leaders. I’m excited to see what they do over the next ten years as they continue to grow in their knowledge, consulting experience, and mentorship of others.

2021 Recognitions

This year, we published our salary bands to promote salary equity amongst our employees and in the tech industry as a whole. Our salary bands have been transparent to employees for a while now, and it was time to take the next step in making them public. The tech industry is not always a welcoming, inclusive place, and it’s our responsibility to help create lasting change in our field by eliminating secrecy around compensation. I’m really proud of Tandem for the thoughtful work we’ve done to remove bias from our hiring and compensation decisions, and it was rewarding to be recognized by others for those efforts too.

We are also proud of Tandem’s selection as Chicago’s regional Tech in Motion Timmy Award winner for Best Tech Work Culture (Small – Mid Size Employer). After publishing our salary bands this year, getting recognized for our culture is heart-warming reinforcement that we’re on the right track in our equity and inclusion efforts. I’m really proud of us for winning the regional Timmy, and you can count on us to aim for the national award next year.

This year it was revealed that Tandem ranked no. 197 on the 2021 Inc. 5000 Regionals: Midwest List, which was a huge accomplishment — so we were even more elated when we ranked no. 2167 on the national Inc. 5000 list. To see where we fall within the industry is always a positive thing. Being named to these lists is validation that our way of working resonates with our customers and their teams, and that recognition is welcome. We’ve been doing this for ten years, we’re still here, and to be recognized for our continued growth reinforces that we’re doing something right.

2021 Accomplishments

In 2021, the Tandem team accomplished amazing things in collaboration with our clients.

This was the year that we put the MEPCOM Integrated Resource System (MIRS) into production nationwide for the United States Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM). In March, it went live at all of the applicant processing facilities in the U.S., which process hundreds of thousands of new military applicants each year. It used to take several months and a 200-page manual for new employees to become proficient with the old MIRS system — after a complete redesign led by Tandem’s product designers and software engineers, that training now takes a matter of days. What a huge achievement! It took three years from the beginning stages of research to this year’s launch, and now we’re in production continuing to make the system better and better as we get user feedback and insights.

For another longtime client — this one in the energy sector — we successfully navigated the first half of the 2021/2022 fire season. Our team supports the client’s communication software, enabling their emergency operations team to quickly and accurately notify their customers in the event of electricity shutoffs during dangerous wildfire conditions. So far, this year’s fire events have required communication with more than 50,000 customers, so our team’s continual fortification of this software is essential. To that end, we’ve worked with the client to transition their software development process from waterfall to agile, which allows continuous improvement and flexibility during unpredictable fire conditions.

Tandem’s 10th Anniversary

2021 marked a major milestone for Tandem: our 10th anniversary. Over the years, there have been so many people that have helped us get to where we are today:

Our friends: We have been fortunate to work with many partners and mentors along the way. I’m grateful for our partner network of like-minded sister companies who have proven that when we collaborate rather than compete, we all benefit. Over the last ten years, I’ve also had many mentors personally and for the company who have helped us with their perspective on business, technology, and consulting.

Our clients: I’m very grateful for our clients, especially those that put their faith in us in the early days. Clients can look at a new, smaller company and wonder about stability. Yet by those clients taking a chance on Tandem, we’ve been able to solve complex problems and consistently deliver value by working collaboratively across disciplines. As we’ve demonstrated the effectiveness of our style of technology consulting over the years, we have been fortunate to strengthen our reputation and earn the trust of new clients, repeat business from past clients, and the biggest honor of all: referrals from our clients to others.

Our employees: Folks have come and gone over time, and every single one of them has contributed to the processes, knowledge, and culture that makes Tandem great. I’m grateful for every Tandemite, past and present, who has been a part of our 10 years of success.

Looking Forward

2022 is going to be a growth year. I think we’ll see the next evolution of Tandem take shape, and I’m excited for the new challenges and opportunities that it will create.

Our team now works from distributed locations, but Tandem’s headquarters have remained in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood for the last seven years. The time has come to close that chapter and start a new one. Beginning in January 2022, Tandem will be headquartered in the historic Lyric Opera Building in Downtown Chicago. I’m excited to host clients, employees, and friends of Tandem at our new space for many years to come.

What will the next decade bring for Tandem? Over the ten years since our founding, a lot has changed in technology and that’s only going to accelerate. Tandem may look very different ten years from now because the nature of work changes, and so do our clients’ needs.

Whatever the future holds, I’m confident that the next ten years will be met with resilience and continuing to grow our culture in a way that’s healthy for fostering our team — and that’s something I deeply value. Cheers to 2021, and let’s keep moving forward in 2022.

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