This is not a fluff piece. I wasn’t asked to write this or prompted to share my thoughts. Like everything on my blog, this is my own view and opinion. I want to share the why behind “I’m with Slalom”.
I’m very pleased to share I’ve been with Slalom for 5 years today! It’s been a great 5 years out of the 20 in my career. I started in the Boston office at number 14, and now we’re up over 180 people! It’s been an awesome ride.
If you get an offer from Slalom, you’d be stupid not to take it.
Said to me by an interviewer just over 5 years ago. He was right! I’ve come to appreciate and love this company, and our people.
When someone asks: “Where do you work?”
I get excited to say: “Slalom! Like the skiing sport, not Salem or shalom, and no I don’t ski.”
I go onto sharing what my role is and what we do as a company, but then I get to share what we do as a company. I love to share stories of our impact in Boston: working with Cradles to Crayons, Boston House, Greater Boston Food Bank and others. I get to share the fun we have at our events and retreats. People are encouraged to get plugged in and push their passions to the limit, bringing along their coworkers.
It’s awesome to work at a place that isn’t all about the work, but the people. Seriously.
We have some core values at Slalom, you can see them here, which look great on paper, are nice to talk about and are good for sales and marketing, but for us it’s more than that. They’re real. These are values I’ve seen brought into conversations on projects among our peers and with clients. We do our best to live and work by them. You’ll see they’re primary people focused, which is what makes Slalom awesome.
I’d like to highlight my top 3 I’ve witnessed and appreciate over my last 5 years. This is what has attracted me to Slalom and why I remain.
Do What is Right, ALWAYS
Top of my list is my all time favorite value that I’ve witnessed, put into practice, and had great debates about. Do what is right. Do what is right for our clients. Do what is right for our people. This is the order in which I tend to think, as a consultant I am client focused, clients are my bread and butter, without them I don’t have a job.
Doing what is right for the client isn’t always easy. I know you’ve heard:
The client is always right
Lies. The client is not always right, if that were true then why would they need me? The client is king, and deserves the respect and honor as such. My job is to bring them what’s best for them, be their counsel, consult them into the best decisions they can make. Sometimes this is hard, sometimes we have to reason, push, and prove our point before it’s accepted.
Sometimes what’s best for a client is not Slalom, sometimes its to push internal people to get it done. We’re okay with that.
I’ve witnessed many consultants, architects and program managers, (even myself) go toe to toe with clients to do what is right. Always in a professional manner, always polite and respectful of the king. These clients tend to appreciate us more.
Doing what is right for our people can be very tricky. Given the client comes first, sometimes we do have to work 50-60 hours in a week to meet a deadline and knock it out of the park. It’s rare, but it happens. It comes with the territory of being a consultant, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Doing what’s right for our people at the client is having leadership in the project focused on the solution we’re delivering with an eye on our people. Vacations, kids’ graduation from 1st grade, sick dog, a daughter made the national team, nanny quit unexpectedly, husband got into a car accident. Life happens. Setting expectations, having clear communication, and being transparent wins the day with both the client and our people.
Internally, Slalom does a great job of keeping their people healthy, for lack of a better word. They encourage work life balance (heck we’ve won awards for it!) in a way I’ve never seen. We are encouraged to limit our work weeks to stay under 45 hours.
I had my sights on working a 60 hour week given what needed to get done. My manager reached out to me when they heard and asked why and wanted to make sure I was okay with it. They wanted to check to see if I was burning out. I assured them I was okay with it, and I wanted to get in a feature prior to the release of the client’s MVP. That was an awesome feeling to know my leadership has my back. As lead on projects, I watch for the same thing of my team, and have those conversations to ensure we’re keeping a healthy balance.
The focus on people has proven itself. We have a strong camaraderie in our office, people actually like to hang out with each other, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to do so. I know close friendships have been made. Check my Twitter feed, you’ll see many team outings, lunches, retreats, etc. We do a lot together.
Finally, as a Christian, I’m a firm believer of always doing what is right. I love being a part of a company that follows this same value. I find this value trickles into the others, you may see some resemblances.
Take Ownership. Get it DONE!
Taking ownership is key to doing what is right. If you don’t take ownership, you don’t care, if you don’t care, you won’t care to do what is right.
This should go without saying, to be half decent at your job you need to own it. Half hearted attempts are painfully obvious. As a consultant it’s even more important since that is what makes us.
Nothing worse than coming into a new project after the last vendor and see a half hearted attempt. Knowing that going the extra mile would’ve saved the day but they decided against it.
This hasn’t been much of a value to discuss among my peers. We all seem to get it. People are all too eager to go the extra mile for a client and their teammates to get the job done. Doing so allows us to take pride in what we’ve accomplished. This mentality is contagious and sometimes becomes a competition on a team. Who can do more?
I love this value because it’s what makes Slalom, Slalom. In my 20 years of experience with other firms and vendors, this is not a common sentiment. We’re not punching a clock, making sure to hit 8 hours a day. We are partnering with clients, impacting their organization, and at the end of the day that feels great.
I had one project where the client said “you can do whatever you want, build it”. We introduced new technologies (AWS, Angular.js, Gulp, and others) and program management methodologies like agile. Our project was not just technically successful, but we impacted their project management team by illustrating successful agile. It was a win-win.
Inspire Passion and Adventure
This sometimes feels like a silly one, it’s not. This is an area I think Slalom takes care of its people, by encouraging passion and adventure.
We have little collections of people called interest groups. They range from animal friends and bad jokes to foodies and wellness. There are over 60 groups. Don’t see one, we are encouraged to fire them up as we like! The latest one I saw added was cricket (who knew that was a real sport). This one gentleman created it and it’s gained members already. It’s peaked my interest too. Some of these passions inherently bring adventure like hiking, which hits Mt. Washington yearly, skiing, and a separate group for winter sports, for us non-skiing types, and more.
We have a Scotch drinking group too. We have tastings every once in a while. This group has changed me from a casual Scotch drinker to a fan, trying to learn more about the craft of Scotchy Scotch Scotch.
Our leadership leads the trend here by bringing a passion for our community. We have open sign ups to volunteer monthly at Boston House (formerly Ronald McDonald House), quarterly at Cradles to Crayons and the Greater Boston Food Bank. We have active participation in Movember, Junior Achievement, and hold an annual food drive across all the Slalom offices, with our office’s proceeds benefiting the GBFB. Leadership has asked for 100% participation from our office in the community through volunteering (in or out of Slalom events) or donating. And we meet it!! Really! Awesome right?
This passion trickles into our clients as well. We rub off, it’s contagious. I’ve had the opportunity to go cook at the Boston House with the CIO of my client! How awesome is that!
We inspire passion in others by expressing and sharing our own. It’s pretty sweet to see in action.
What about my job?
Funny, I haven’t spent much time talking about my actual job, my day to day. I love that too! I love working with clients, supporting them through big decisions on how to best implement a new business process and solution. I love working with my team on delivering great, fun, and challenging solutions.
I learn a lot with each new team I work with, not just technology but about our people. They impact me in real and tangible ways. I learn new ideas, methods, and concepts that I can churn on and try myself. We can have (heated) debates on anything and still come out professional and friendly (see 2016 Elections :o ).
They even impact my life outside of work. My family (all six of us) has connected with other Slalom families. I have grown close to a few others, and have come to rely on them in and out of work. It’s awesome when you know going to work means your seeing other friends and family and meeting new people focused on the same things you are.
For all of this, I’m grateful. I’m glad I said yes 5 years ago and glad they haven’t let me go.
Note: the sentiments are real!