Joining Slalom Consulting
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September 18, 2019. It’s my first day at Slalom Consulting. I am so thrilled to be joining this company, its people and its clients for the next chapter of my career’s journey. This is the story of how I came to and chose Slalom.
The Back Story
It started early one mid-July Friday morning. I was drinking coffee on my balcony, contemplating my to dos for the coming days, and reflecting on the happenings of the last few weeks since my return to the US from my latest trip to Munich in late June.
I am not gonna lie: I was having somewhat of a pity party. Several days prior, I had interviewed for a pretty boss job I was really interested in at a certain German automaker in my geography, one of the few companies I was actually considering here. But at this point, short of turning into a total stalker, I had done all the follow up I could on that opportunity. I was facing the reality that this specific lead had surely gone completely cold.
I was also realizing that I would have to once again change my strategy for achieving my dream of expanding my career globally. In the last year, I had spent 6 months in Munich, building my network, my brand and my business, with some marginal success: I’d had a handful of significant and lucrative freelance engagements with German & American companies in the German market and I’d received 3 offers to join German companies full-time. But none of that was exactly what I wanted. I would have to persevere differently to accomplish that goal. And to be completely transparent, that Friday morning, I didn’t know what to do next.
I literally thought: “A job isn’t going to fall on my lap. It’s time to dig in and see what else is happening here in DC, where I actually live, now.” I turned my frown upside down, refilled my coffee and headed to my home office to put an action plan together.
A couple hours later, Ci-Ci Thomson, a former colleague from a job some 8 years ago turned dear friend, neighbor, confidante and tribe member reached out via text: “Are you in the US? Let’s get together! I have news, including a new job at Slalom and I think you would love it here.”
I’d only heard about Slalom once before when I saw on LinkedIn that a former IBM Canada colleague joined them in Toronto last year. (Hi Justin!). I quickly checked them out: Google search, slalom.com, latest news, key people, Glassdoor, all the things. I realized: this isn’t a Canadian company, it’s a modern global consultancy! I was intrigued and sent in my CV via Ci-Ci. Later, that day, I had a date scheduled with the region’s Recruiting Leader.
In retrospect, upon meeting Tierney Little for coffee some 10 days later, I almost immediately knew Slalom would be a good cultural fit for me. Also a fellow former IBMer, she and I understood each other right out of the gate; we essentially spoke the same language. She summarized her career’s story, shared her journey to Slalom and some of the highlights of her almost one year there. She spoke of collaboration, autonomy, and growth fueled by excellence in client service and delivery. As I then shared my career’s experiences and aspirations, rattled off my accomplishments and prosed about my vision, passions and leadership philosophy, I secretly hoped I would get the opportunity to meet her colleagues.
And I did! Just short of a dozen of them. Each as impressive as the previous one. Each completely focused on our conversation. Each intriguing me. Each committed to sharing the magic of Slalom with me. Each meticulously asking me questions and attentively listening to my answers. Each eager to thoughtfully answer mine. Each invested in making a real connection with me. After a few visits to Slalom, DC’s Tysons Corner, VA office, and easy 8 miles east of my domicile, I even started to wonder: where is the catch?
It was when I met with DC General Manager Kristine Rohls the second time for a brainstorming session about the value I could bring to and role I could play on her senior leadership team that I understood: there in no catch; this is real. Here was an approachable and enthusiastic woman who humbly had built an office, a team, a community, from scratch. Someone whose passion, approach and accomplishments I already admired. Someone I wanted to work for, learn from and grow with.
All along the way, I knew I had found my home. Even yet, perhaps it had found me.
Why I Chose Slalom
Beyond this story, here is why I am joining Slalom.
One: My Colleagues SAW Me
The number 1 and the most important reason. All along the recruiting and hiring process, I truly felt like my new colleagues were interested in me for who I am: my ideas, my thinking, my experiences, my journey, my capabilities, my value and values…. My individuality. They all saw Caroline Trudeau, the person, the woman, the professional, the human. Not the paper version of me. Not the idea of me. The actual me. And I felt they understood me. They valued me. They recognized me. They SAW me. And at work and in life, don’t we all want to be seen? For more on the psychology of being understood, here is a thought leadership piece from Leon F Seltzer. I’d found a new tribe.
Two: A Culture Match
Beyond the stories and testimonials I heard, the following company values govern our behavior, every, single, day:
- Do what is right, always.
- Drive connection and teamwork.
- Inspire passion and adventure.
- Take ownership. Get it done.
- Celebrate authenticity.
- Focus on outcomes.
- Fuel growth and innovation.
- Stay humble and curious.
- Build and shape a better future.
And I continuously heard words like: different, commitment, passion, passion for clients, for consulting, for Slalom itself, being an inclusive place, making meaningful connections, energy, purpose, focus on individual, caring for the success of our clients, for our craft. And the word love. Yes, love.
It’s no wonder Slalom has been recognized several times as a best place to work, lately and namely as Fortune’s 2019 100 Best Companies To Work For and Glassdoor’s 2019 Employees’ Choice Best Places to Work.
Enough said. But definitely sounds like me.
For more about Slalom, check out Who We Are.
Three: Unbelievable Leadership
This kind of behavior and culture doesn’t happen by luck or chance. It takes a concerted effort from the top down to curate, create, cultivate and live this philosophy; a legit commitment to people, first. From DC to our Global HQ in Seattle, WA, every leader I interacted with fascinated and inspired me.
In a welcome video that was part of my onboarding activities, I heard John Tobin, Slalom President, Founder & Chief Experience Officer say: “If you truly immerse yourself in the intimacy that is our model, this will be the best place you have ever worked, the most impactful place you will ever work. That’s what we want for you.” John, I’m in. Let’s do this.
BTW, CEO Brad Johnson is #24 on Glassdoor’s 2019 List of Top CEO with a 96% approval rating.
You can’t make this kind of leadership up. Just saying.
Four: The Slalom Model
A key differentiator for Slalom in a persistently competitive management consulting space is its local, community-based model. Each market is responsible for its own success. Each client is served by local consultants that live and sleep in, know and understand their community. Supported by an overarching structure of subject matter experts our of our global teams; augmented in our specialty teams such as Slalom Build (Hi Noah!). This approach fosters deep and real relationship building in our neighborhoods. I love and believe in this model.
Additionally, we differentiate by competing in the space between the traditional strategy / management consulting firms and the IT consultancies. We prioritize engagements where we can partner with and execute on our clients’ long-term strategic goals.
Five: A Company in Growth Mode
Specifically, expanding globally. And back to my career dreams, aspirations and goals, that’s completely aligned with what I want to do. My strategy now is to achieve these goals with Slalom. Sometimes you have to stay where you are to get to where you want to be.
And finally, the work.
Work in experience, strategy, technology, transformation, all delivered in our digital world, with world-class consultants I am eager to lead.
In January 2018, I wrote a vision about the career I wanted to return to after my discovery year (almost 2 years now!).
I work for a global company. I use my French at work. I have the opportunity to travel internationally, mostly to Europe as part of my job. I may even live in Europe for part of the year. I hold a leadership position. Yet I am supported by a strong leadership team. Our direction is clear and we can focus. I am responsible for a team. I inspire this team. I teach this team. This team works on a digital product or offering that provides our customers (or our clients’ customers) with exceptional experiences, leverages disruptive and emerging technology innovations and has the potential to change the world. We don’t just talk about transformation; we actually do it. We constantly listen to customer feedback to improve our work and build meaningful relationships with them. I am well compensated. I am measured by both financial and non-financial goals. I am constantly challenged to push my comfort zone’s boundaries. I achieve the work-life balance I desire. I write.
Let’s get to it.
For more about Slalom’s point-of-view, check out our stories on The Slowdown on Medium.