December 21, 2020
purpose.jobs named the leaders of software design and development consultancy Atomic Object as the 2020 Top Midwest CEOs. Co-CEOs Mike Marsiglia and Shawn Crowley received the award on the merit of their resiliency and perspective as leaders in an unprecedented year.
In April of 2019, Marsiglia and Crowley ascended to the co-CEO role after founder and CEO Carl Erickson moved into an executive board chair position. Most of Atomic’s software development is done through “pair programming,” so adopting this paired leadership model for the CEO role was a natural fit.
“When Mike and I stepped into this role, it felt like a continuation of the trajectory Carl started as the company’s founder,” said Crowley. “We were tasked with running and growing the organization within the spirit of Atomic’s purpose and mission.”
When covid-19 hit in early 2020, the pair realized they needed to adapt to safeguard Atomic's survival in addition to Erickson's legacy.
“Back in March, I intuitively felt that we were talking about something big—not just a challenge, but a catastrophe,” Crowley said. “Mike and I knew that we had to keep our purpose, traits, and values at the forefront and make every decision with those in mind.”
Their thoughtfulness proved successful as Atomic saw a healthy 2020. The agency hired 11 employees, was awarded and subsequently returned a Paycheck Protection Program loan by funding their own safety net, and had a record year for revenue.
Marsiglia says the co-CEO model helped Atomic stay resilient, but the pair didn’t have to bear their responsibility alone.
“A lot of leaders within Atomic really stepped up,” he said of those who made sure employees’ emotional needs were met during a hard time. “That allowed Shawn and me to focus on helping the business survive. If you keep the business alive but people aren’t thriving, what’s the point?”
The focus on employee wellbeing resulted in a host of creative initiatives, including virtual employee onboarding, enriched daily stand-up activities, and weekly meetings led by the co-CEOs to transparently discuss financials. Due to these efforts, Atomic employees reported record-high engagement with the firm this Fall. Gallup Q12 survey results put Atomic in the 98th percentile for employee engagement in 2020.
Looking forward, Marsiglia says Atomic is strong going into 2021.
“Receiving this award was such a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Part of our mission as a purpose-driven organization is to share our experiences and inspire others, so getting our ideas out there is meaningful. I can’t wait to see what we can do when we’re all back together next year.”
About Atomic Object:
Atomic Object is a custom software development and design agency with offices in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Chicago.
purpose.jobs is a startup community in the Midwest that connects talent with purpose-driven startups based on values, experience, and cultural contribution.