At the Associa Shared Services Center in Richardson, Tex., many of the cubicles in the open concept office are adorned with certificates of completion from Richland College. They serve as points of pride, showcasing that the holders are furthering their education. The certificates and the training completion they represent provide the potential for career advancement for the several hundred people who show up for work each day at this Associa location.
Last October, The Texas Workforce Commission presented Richland College with a $449,988 Skills Development Fund grant to train 222 new hires and 79 incumbent workers at the Associa Shared Services Center. Since then, Richland College has been providing the workers with classes on customer service, supervisor leadership, Lean office processes, Microsoft Excel and accounting.
“Overall, everyone is very happy with it. They take pride in the fact they’ve gone, post the certificate on their board, discuss who goes next and what sessions are available,” said Eric Blanchard, director of client accounts payable for Associa. “On the job side, they’re looking for ways to apply their learning. I get folks who have attended the Lean session and are trying to figure out how they can apply it to a project they’re working on. They don’t just want to take the course. They want to take it to that next step.”
Stephanie Taylor, director of data management organization at Associa, agreed. “[The employees] have been excited about the fact that they can see we’re investing in them, and that’s always a big bonus in regards to morale and building that sense of support and team spirit for them,” she said.
From the employees’ perspective, the training has not only allowed them the opportunity to learn new skills that can then be translated back to their jobs, but it has also provided them a way to further their dreams and career goals.
JJ Moreno, a lead accountant with Associa, said it felt good to be getting continuing education credit with Richland College because it’s helping him achieve his goals. With the training, Moreno is hoping to build his career with Associa and move up within the company. So far, the classes have helped him not only polish his skills, but they have also allowed him to approach problem solving from new angles.
“The classes have been a lot of help because they definitely make me think twice before I act in a certain way,” said Moreno. “I now try to always approach things in a different way so that I can get a better outcome.”
Debbie Simpson, the tax and banking manager, might be Associa’s biggest advocate for the training provided by Richland College. Not only has she completed multiple sessions herself, but she was also instrumental in ensuring her employees were the first group to complete the customer service training.
“I haven’t heard anything negative about the training,” said Simpson. “I’ve heard them say, ‘oh, I want to take that class!’ or ‘I want to do this!’ It’s very valuable to the company and the team.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity we have as a company to have this training available,” Simpson continued. “If we’re having this training offered to us, we need to utilize it.”
Simpson places a priority on ensuring her staff has opportunities to grow in their careers and hopes the training will allow her to promote more employees from within her department.
“You want the success of your staff so they can move up and do better things,” Simpson said.
Overall, the management team at the Associa Shared Services Center echoes Simpson’s sentiments on the training and how it has affected not only the skillsets of their employees, but the morale of the company as a whole.
“To me, it’s been exciting,” said Blanchard. “That’s a good word for it. As a manager, seeing employees excited about attending a course and figuring out how they can leverage that going forward is great.”
Associa was founded in 1979 by Texas State Senator John Carona and is North America’s largest community association management firm with more than 150 branch offices worldwide. The company serves homeowner associations of all types, including condo, mixed-use, master-planned, luxury high-rise, active-adult, resort and golf communities.