What It's Like to Work at . . . The Humane Society

FRAMINGHAM (03/20/2000) - Interviewee: Matthew Schroebel, director of information technology planning and architecture; "I'm also a programmer."

Company: The Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org)Main location: Washington; IT is based in Gaithersburg, Md.

Number of information technology employees: Five dedicated staff members; others share responsibilities for IT and membership services.

Number of employees (end users): About 200 nationwideIT budget: $1.7 million in 1998Current projects: "I primarily work with the fund-raising group on the back-end systems, such as reporting donations, analyzing data from fund-raising campaigns to determine which ones worked well and tracking responses and contributors. We're short-staffed, so a lot of end users do their own data analysis, and our job in IT is to make sure the data is clean and reported properly."

Web site projects: "The Web site isn't done by IT. It's outsourced, and there's a Web mistress who manages that."

Training: "I'm learning graphical programming. I went to two Learning Tree Java courses, but there was so much to learn that they weren't that valuable for me to get something up in a reasonable period of time. So I changed modes and took a class in an AS/400 RPG [database query language] tool. But we want to go to Java in the long term."

Dress code: Business casual

Pet policy: "Pets are not allowed. They were in the past, but then they got pretty strict about it. Some people here have allergies. It also was distracting."

Compensation: "They try really hard to be competitive, but they aren't necessarily. We have a hard time finding people to fill the membership processing job because it pays low. My salary is equitable [with the market], but I'm at the top of the scale; I'm maxed out. We have a [required] 35-hour workweek, so if I take that into account, I'm happy."

Workday: "7 a.m. to 4 p.m., if it's a good day"Come on. Really? "Occasionally to 6 p.m."

Employee review practices: "We have annual reviews where we set goals and create growth plans. Short of my boss leaving, there's probably not a clear-cut path to a promotion for me, but it's not an issue."

Why not? "This is a very pleasant place to work. Users are reasonable in their requests. I have a great boss, and I believe in what we do."

What do you see on people's desks? "A lot of people have stuffed animals on the tops of their partitions and pictures from the Humane Society calendars."

Computers: "I have a Dell Dimension P450. We were buying Compaqs before for their connectivity to the AS/400."

Must people carry beepers or cell phones? "No, only the CIO, Kate Benedict."

Telecommuting policy: Only on snow days

In-house cafeteria/food service: Just a lunch roomFree refreshments: Eight O'Clock coffeeThe one thing everyone complains about: "We try not to complain."

Office mascot: "We have these Digital Dog pictures in the computer room that our San Francisco office created."

Little perks: Catered holiday party, group birthday parties each quarter, discount at local health club, three weeks' annual sick leaveWould employees feel comfortable e-mailing the organization's president? "I would say no. I don't think he'd be the right person if you wanted to bring something up. But I'm very comfortable e-mailing my boss about anything, and she reports to him."

Quote: "This is a great place to work because it's a flexible environment, and the goals are clear. A lot of things come up on short notice because that's the nature of fund-raising, but I like it here."

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