At Cengage Group, our employees are dedicated to helping learners gain the skills and competencies needed to live choice-filled lives. We are all driven by our credo and ethos, which starts with a belief in the power and joy of learning.
Our Ethos defines our character as a company and as a team. It's the foundation of our culture and guides our employees as they support millions of students and thousands of educators each year.
Transparency and collaboration are core values to our Ethos and we believe in recognizing employees who go above and beyond. One of the ways we do this is through the monthly Ethos award, a culture recognition that acknowledges exceptional people within Cengage Group.
“The goal of this award is to drive a high-performance culture tied directly to our Ethos,” explains Andrew Theado, who manages the program. “Throughout the year, eligible employees nominate a colleague or group of colleagues for the award. Each month, a cross-functional selection committee reviews the nominations and names one Ethos Award Winner, as well as two runners-up. At the end of each fiscal year an ‘Ethos Award Winner of the Year’ is named.”
This year, the Women in Technology (WiT) Leadership Development Team was the 2022 Ethos Award Winner of the Year for their Leadership Development Pilot Program, designed to advance WiT members’ leadership journeys. Together, Brooke Charles, Director of Risk and Compliance, Ryan Dowd, Senior Learning & Development Manager, Andrea Eshelman, K12 Midwest District Sales Manager, Tiffany Kimbrough, Technical Program Manager and Pooja Rajanikant, Associate Manager of Quality Assurance, are working to close the senior leadership gap for women in the technology industry.
Brooke explains that she was inspired to create a 12-month Leadership Development Program because “a collegue and I noticed that some high performing women left Cengage Group after struggling to achieve upward mobility. I wanted to find a way for the WiT ERG to help support and promote female talent at all levels of leadership. I am thankful to Ryan, Andrea, Tiffany and Pooja who joined my team as the program began to grow. Their thoughtfulness, expertise and passion has helped shape the program into what it is today. I am so proud to be a part of the ERG community and a company that truly believes in its employees.”
Ryan Dowd explains that the mission of the Leadership Development Program is to “work with key talent from within the WiT ERG and elevate them through new tools, learning opportunities and experiences. Through the foundations of self-discovery, skill building and performance, we wanted to provide guidance and support for our participants in their own unique career paths.”
He was “inspired by WiT’s goal to provide equity and guidance for women working in technology roles. I saw a chance to use my background in training and skill-building to support the program with a development curriculum customized to the specific needs of our amazing participants. Since joining WiT, I have increased my awareness of women’s specific challenges in the technology space, plus I’ve had the ability to connect with a team of passionate, motivated people from areas of the business in which I don’t often get to engage. The ERG has certainly enriched my employee experience.”
“The Leadership Development Program started with an idea and grew to one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had,” says Andrea Eshelman, K12 Midwest District Sales Manager. “I was more than happy to join Brooke in her mission to help WiT members discover paths to leadership. Our ultimate goal is to expand the program to more WiT members and eventually to the entire Cengage Group organization.”
“Being a part of WiT has allowed me to make so many new connections and friendships that I will value forever. I have been both a WiT mentee and mentor. The support is unlike anything I have ever experienced at an employer. Cengage Group feels like my family and WiT has given me several hundred sisters who encourage me every day! I think that is something that everyone should experience.”
Tiffany Kimbrough, Technical Program Manager, shared that during the 12-month Leadership Development Program the participants were faced with unique situations and personal struggles. “This wasn’t something we anticipated, but it was a great reminder that each person was at a different place in their lives and career journeys. We pivoted and adjusted the program to accommodate each of the participants.”
“While we were confident that this program would be impactful for the women, we could not guarantee job opportunities or promotions. The fortunate news is that each participant experienced growth either in receiving new jobs, an inline promotion or an increase in pay. It has even inspired other WiT members to participate in future cycles of this program. I am proud to be a part of WiT. It’s allowed me to have a seat at the leadership table, expand my network and connect on a personal level with so many women across the organization.”
Pooja Rajanikant, Associate Manager of Quality Assurance, says that earning the title, 2022 Ethos Award Winner, “was an incredible honor and surprise. The award brought the Leadership Development Pilot Program to the forefront and increased awareness about WiT programs. To be nominated for the yearly award was humbling enough, winning took us over the moon!”
What’s next? “We are definitely looking to scale this program. It was received with such great response from both the participants and Cengage Group leaders that a second iteration is absolutely in works.”
Pooja says that she is happy that WiT has become such a big part of her Cengage Group experience. “I am never too tired or busy to jump into a WiT initiative. The camaraderie and support from fellow members gives me so much energy. As a WiT co lead, I witness firsthand all the awesome programs and initiatives that the community is creating to support and enable women to reach their career goals.”
Congratulations to our 2022 Ethos Award winners. If you’re interested in working with amazing colleagues like these in a job that makes a difference, visit our Careers page to learn more.
This content was originally posted as part of an employee takeover on our LinkedIn page. To see more, follow us on LinkedIn.
Up Next: Read more about our 2023 Ethos Award Winners