Twenty-Five Years of SEP

October 16, 2013

Before Software Engineering Professionals (SEP) had a name or won over its first client, 24-year-old Jeff Gilbert and his three Rose-Hulman buddies were working in unsatisfying jobs, dreaming of creating an environment where they would want to work.

“We wondered, what if the technical people were running the company. If we stayed focused on employees and clients, would the finances follow?” Jeff recalls. It was an experiment with few resources: no contacts, no money and no business experience.

Snaking wires through a hole they drilled in their apartment wall, Jeff and his partners connected their computers so they could get started. Every month in those early days, each partner would tell Jeff how much money he needed to survive, and Jeff wrote the check.

From these beginnings, the SEP leadership team has grown and developed. In an industry where a person is often hired for a project and then let go, SEP is the exception with each executive team leader having been with SEP for a minimum of 15 years.

“Ever since SEP launched 25 years ago, we have talked about building a place,” says Jeff, now President and CEO of SEP. The place Jeff and his team have created is one of Indianapolis’ largest software development companies, but it is also a relatively unnoticed Indiana success story.

SEP continues to build an environment where people create innovation and excellence in software engineering, bringing out the best in each other while producing success for their clients. SEP discovers unique talent through its internship programs, its commitment to agile and lean practices, and industry networks throughout the city. The company embraces creative thought and processes, with everyone having a voice in SEP’s flat hierarchy.

The company’s commitment to creating a place where employees want to work and live was further cemented in 2010, when company owners transferred 100 percent of their stock to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

SEP’s culture, ESOP structure, and recruiting process (changed very little in 18 years) can be credited with high employee retention and satisfaction. In fact, SEP has been a Best Place to Work in Indiana winner five consecutive years (ranking No. 1 in 2010).

Jeff’s vision of a company run by software engineers driving business decisions and processes continues to develop after a quarter century. “It’s exciting to see how we have evolved over the years, yet have kept the same culture we have been so careful to preserve. We have entered into a really exciting time at SEP and I look forward to continuing to tell our story.”