57 A COOPERATIVE SPIRIT CHAPTER THREE The software, iVUE, stands the test of time as a platform flexible enough to adapt to changing needs. It works for small Members and large ones. It enables new billing options as electric utilities offer prepaid options and telecoms promote bundled services. It integrates with new products to make operations more efficient. None of that was assured when the iVUE software devel- opment began. Today’s successful implementations are the legacy of critical decisions made in the earliest days following the merger, when NISC’s path forward was far from clear. How can you best create graphically-based and user-friendly software that will last into the future? How can you finance a total rewrite while staving off competitors who will try to woo away your customers? CEO Gary Hobson and then-COO Vern Dosch placed their faith in the patience and loyalty of Members and the dedication of employees. “Both NCDC and CADP had such great technical people who were very passionate about what they did and how they did it,” says Hobson. annual Employee Learning Quarter, education sessions focus on enhancing knowledge of Member operations, NISC solutions or other key areas. The company supports employees in many other ways, including mentoring and free access to external training resources, such as Lynda.com. NISC’s tuition reimbursement program helps make advanced education more affordable for employees. In July 2017, the leadership team asked the Board to raise the lifetime maximum from $16,000 to $20,000 to take into account higher tuition costs. The Board responded by raising it even higher — to $25,000. That move shows the Board’s strong support for NISC employees, says Kari Reichert, Vice President for People Services. “They recognize that people are our best investment,” she says. Alls exemplifies an employee who was eager to learn — and who sought new opportunities. When he finished his mailroom night shift at 7 a.m., he would sit alongside employees on the customer support team and listen to their phone calls. He watched how they put service to Members at the forefront. Soon, a position opened up; he applied and joined the support team. Eventually, he was training new employees and speaking at Member Infor- mation Conferences. He had more promotions, becoming a Product Manager and then returning to Member support as a Team Lead of 11 people. He values the mentors he had along the way, and now he pays it forward. Alls meets at least once a month with each of the employees on his team to support them in their career goals. “When tasks come along, I try to make sure each one of them has an opportunity to tackle an important project, to let them grow, let them stretch themselves a little bit,” he says. In this culture, employees flourish — and so does NISC.