Founded more than two decades ago as a small virtual queuing technology startup in the United Kingdom, accesso has grown to serve an international audience of over 1,000 venues worldwide, including theme parks and attractions, museums, fairs and festivals, live entertainment venues and more. Its largest office is nestled in the heart of The Corridor region in Lake Mary.
“Fast forward to today, we are a global company with six distinct solutions supporting the leisure and entertainment industry,” said Maura Schiefelbein, accesso senior vice president of people. Currently, those solutions – ranging from ticketing to virtual queuing, e-commerce and more – provide venue operators with end-to-end support across every step of a guest’s journey at a theme park or attraction, from the time they buy a ticket online to when they return home – and everything in between.
As the company continued to grow, accesso expanded to open an office in Lake Mary, where, currently, 190 of the company’s employees call Central Florida home. Recognizing the area as a great place to live and play, Schiefelbein believes Central Florida truly has a unique offering in the culture its residents, companies and communities have created – one with an open, inclusive and welcoming environment.
From a professional recruitment standpoint, accesso has witnessed firsthand the host of resources and networks the local tech community has to offer. The company has established valuable partnerships with local institutions, such as the University of Central Florida and Full Sail University, to connect and engage with the burgeoning pool of high tech talent seeking meaningful, high-skill jobs upon graduation.
Advancing Success for Women in Tech
While there are countless benefits to seeking out a career in high tech, especially here in the resource-rich Corridor region, Schiefelbein recognizes that women in the industry are faced with a unique set of obstacles throughout their careers, and those challenges play a direct role on diversity in the high tech workforce. Studies show that, although women account for a little more than half of the college-educated workforce, only 29% of the high tech workforce is female – a disparity which can be intimidating for women considering starting out in tech or making the switch.
With this in mind, Schiefelbein has consistently worked to find new, innovative ways to support women in their technology careers by enhancing the traditional mentorship model. For example, in 2019, Schiefelbein and her colleagues established a program, piloted in accesso’s Lake Mary office, called “Leadership and Inspiration for Females in Technology” (LIFT). The six-month program offers mentorship and education for participants in key areas of opportunity for women in the workplace, such as self-confidence, defining your personal brand and establishing healthy barriers.
In-person LIFT sessions are currently on hold due to COVID-19, but one of Schiefelbein’s goals for the year ahead is to expand the program, making it a global initiative available to all accesso employees. She is also working to determine how these sessions may be held virtually to ensure global accessibility.
Navigating 2020 Side-by-Side
As a provider of technology solutions to the leisure and entertainment industry, accesso was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As thousands of venues across the globe were temporarily shuttered due to their high-touch, in-person, attendance-driven environments, client demand slowed to a near halt. In the earlier stages of the pandemic, accesso proactively implemented responsive measures, including navigation of a short-term furlough process and shortened work weeks for employees.
“Everyone sacrificed through this whole period, but no one complained,” Schiefelbein explained. “We understood what was at stake. For those on furlough, we did as much as we could to maintain their comprehensive health benefits, as well as provide additional, web-based training opportunities so they could use that time to expand their skillsets.” Over the course of this difficult time, Schiefelbein truly saw the accesso team band together despite the unprecedented, individual and global challenges they faced. Schiefelbein is proud to share that, as of November 2020, the full accesso workforce is back in the virtual “office” full time.
During this time, as accesso was diligently focusing on the care of its team, the company also pivoted to ensure its award-winning solutions could be adapted to better serve its clients – operators that were preparing for eventual reopening and those that were already beginning to navigate the process – in a time of heightened need.
One of the company’s main initiatives was the launch of its 100% Virtual Queuing model, which allowed operators to offer virtual queuing – a traditionally premium add-on – to guests at no additional charge for any ride within a venue, eliminating the need to stand in a traditional queue where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain. In just six months following its launch, this unique offering was adopted by four leading theme parks across three continents, laying the stage for a successful guest return and redefined in-park experience.
Most companies say that their people are at the heart of what they do, and that may be true. But, at accesso, the team truly walks the walk. As accesso navigated the most challenging year in its existence, and its people felt the universally shared physical and psychological impacts of COVID-19, Schiefelbein realized the need to revamp the company’s employee benefits, prioritizing the inclusion of new offerings that focused on holistic wellness and inclusivity, both through the pandemic and into its wake.
“No matter who you are, there is some aspect of life that COVID-19 has strained, whether it be your career, finances or emotions,” she shared. “We wanted to make sure, no matter what we’re doing, that we’re operating through a lens of understanding, treating our team first and foremost as whole people, not just employees. We strive every day to make sure our team has the tools they need to be their best selves, both in and out of the office.”
To that end, accesso offers a wide variety of benefits to support their employees personally and professionally. Beyond generous health benefits for employees (and their pets!), company-sponsored volunteering time, a robust Employee Assistance Program (including counseling, legal and financial consultation, crisis intervention services and more), accesso also offers a number of other benefits, including things like:
And, in the current virtual environment where in-person team bonding events aren’t possible, the team has gotten creative in ways to stay connected – ranging from the creation of online community groups and weekly virtual team happy hours, to supporting the creation of a two-part accesso blog feature dedicated to the “Pets of accesso.”
The Lake Mary office team prides itself in the diversity it offers; not only in the traditional sense, but also in the fact that every accesso department is represented under one roof. Diversity may be one of the most important ingredients to boundary-breaking creativity, and, as Schiefelbein shared:
“We are at our strongest when we have a group of people that think differently and bring different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to the table. We’re looking for creative problem-solvers who are not afraid to speak up, show their uniqueness and contribute in that way.”
Looking ahead, accesso has a number of exciting opportunities on the horizon, as the pandemic has inspired other industries to explore utilization of technology solutions like accesso’s (such as virtual queuing) to help circumvent challenges brought on by the ever-evolving “new normal.” Schiefelbein was quick to underline this: “As an organization, we’re coming out of this pandemic stronger and better, with the ability to secure new opportunities in new markets and be better prepared for those opportunities – this is an amazing time to join accesso.”
accesso has several job opportunities at its Lake Mary office available now, including a Client Success Manager, UI Engineer and Software Project Manager. For more information, please visit https://accesso.com/careers.
“Careers in The Corridor,” spotlights high-skill, high-value careers across the 23-county Florida High Tech Corridor region. Interested in showcasing current career opportunities with your company? Contact Rachel Ilardi.