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This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Friday is my last day at Slalom.
See the last time I left a job was IBM, in 2017. Then, I had absolutely no doubt that moving on was the only decision for me. In fact, I wrote about my conviction to leave Big Blue on LinkedIn, well before The Voices Collection saw the light of day.
This time, it’s completely different. And oh so worthy of the labor of my love of writing.
It feels akin to saying goodbye to a loved one at an airport. Someone you know you deeply want to see again, but that you just aren’t sure if, or when you might be able to. It’s like letting go at the end of the long goodbye hug, the one you know is the last one, the one you close your eyes for and savor until the time to break it apart undoubtedly comes. The one that leaves you going home feeling alone and broken.
This time, it goes beyond the usual psychology that usually makes leaving a job tough: the self reflection about one’s performance while at the company, the unease that comes with looking back and wondering what could have been, the uncertainty that creeps in about whether one tried hard enough, the crashing of what was once vision for the future, the societal pressures of making that choice, the act of quitting. To resign. Nobody likes any of it.
After weeks of thinking and re-thinking, of mental Olympic-level gymnastics, of looking at a new fork ahead and at possibilities for my career, of careful considering and deep searching, of intentional decision-making and of preparing for this closure.
This is the summary of how I am feeling.
It’s difficult to leave a good place and its terrific people.
Oh, I know, it’s terribly cliché. And for a diva who prides herself on original thinking like this one here, it’s almost embarrassing. But it’s the truth. So for this “so long to Slalom” chapter, I give you my top 5 reasons to love Slalom.
1. From The Top
I am always going to be a fan of the Senior Executive team. For more than 20 years, the Founders have had a relentless vision for what Slalom is: a place where everyone has the opportunity to love their work and life. Colleagues and clients alike. I always get jazzed when I hear Brad talk about his priorities for the road to the next 30 years. Or Troy pump us up about his growth plans. Or Tony prose about financial performance in a way only he can. Or how John spontaneously showing up at a monthly community of practice meeting to stay connected with what’s really happening in the nodes of the organization. I am also truly inspired by the highly competent women Chiefs who have joined their cadre, in the name of growth, equity, diversity, inclusion and responsibility. Indeed.
I respect and admire their collective commitment to building a multi-generational modern company. I appreciate their consistency in providing transparent and clear communications and measurements, both as an employee and as an (albeit minuscule) owner. I’ll always be proud to have worked for this team of admirable leaders.
From its headquarters in Seattle to all of the markets I have had the opportunity to work with, I’ve observed our company values consistently govern all of the talk and all of the actions. It’s not lip service. It’s real and it’s integrated in everything they do. Believe.
I had 2 incredibly remarkable bosses at Slalom. One in the DC market, Kristine Rohls, who now and forever sets the bar when it comes to caring for the business of people. And one on a global team, Rio Longacre, who I got to observe as the best experience consulting leader and practitioner and the best practice-builder on best staffed and best run team I have ever had the opportunity to be on. Period. I am eternally grateful to both of them.
2. Collaboration Lives Here
I knew I would need to understand where others had found success with “digital” across the company as I started to put my 2020 agenda together. At first, I was bit apprehensive about building an internal network from scratch, across three dozen distinct offices. Yet, I was floored at the ease with which my colleagues both made themselves available to connect with me and offered to help. I immediately got paired up with an awesome mentors (I miss you already Brian Ladyman), and to my delight, everyone he recommended I meet with immediately took a meeting with me. It was the beginning of me discovering everyone’s eagerness to share their successes, their gotchas, their special sauce, their knowledge and expertise and recommendations for what information or idea to prioritize. COVID made this teamwork even better, forcing the evolution of internal procedures and accounting for an even stronger cross-company resourcing capability and lateral collaboration.
Yet it is in the realm of intellectual property that I found the spirit of cooperation to be strongest. I remember reaching out to a community of practice for work samples in response to a client ask earlier this year. Within a few hours, I had responses from 4 individuals all from different teams along with all the support I needed to successfully respond to my client’s need. The sharing of stories, methodologies, frameworks, offerings, outcomes and lessons learned is internally abundant and available for everyone to learn from. If you know where to look, or who to ask, you are going to find the information you are looking for. And become a better consultant for it. All for one.
I was lucky to benefit from all of this, but most importantly, from having the privilege to co-create with and travel this bit of road alongside so. many. kindred. spirits. Tribe members, you know who you are. I see you and we know how to find each other. Thank you for teaching me.
3. It’s Different
It was really special to work for a classic consulting company with a different operating model than most. Each market makes its own decisions about how they want to serve their local business community; they are augmented by shared teams where specific capabilities and methodologies reside. By design, variety flourishes from market to market, all supported by depth of expertise available globally to augment their scale and growth. It’s an interesting dance to observe, study, learn and participate in, especially once one understands the accompanying P&L structure.
4. And It Works
It has for 20 years, it did during COVID and it continues to as we enter the post-pandemic age. In Tyson’s Corner, VA, there is a Slalom office ironically in a building with the name Deloitte on it, working with strictly commercial clients in a market that otherwise serves the seat of our federal government and its agencies, that continues to grow faster than anything I thought was possible. I joined a new team earlier this year and quickly realized that my team was blowing their forecasts out of the water and on track to contribute as much revenue to the collective as a mid-size office. And according to the impressive Customer Love survey, at company-wide all time client satisfaction high scores. Bananas.
Because it’s growing like this, it’s attracting even more terrific people. Two years ago, my barista at the Starbucks by the office couldn’t spell Slalom. Now, the word is out about Slalom, and it’s become somewhat of the new kid on the block in consulting, the smallest of the bigs, the darling dear everyone is intrigued with and wants to know more about. This year only, I have taken more phone calls from those I call “the Slalom curious”: former colleagues and LinkedIn connections wanting to know what it’s like to work there. I know you have seen the best workplace accolades Slalom has been getting for years on end. It is. Love your work and life.
5. It’s an Awesome Adventure
Slalomers talk a lot about adventure. It’s a core value, it’s often attributed to a famous quote from one of the Founding Fathers and it continues to be part of the culture, even beyond a company-wide career development framework rolled out late last year. My adventure was staccato-ed by several milestones: the on-boarding, the digital campaign, the COVID chaos of Q2 ’20, Practice leadership, the short leave for extreme self-care, the return & transition and joining the regional-going-global experience delivery team. There is plenty of work to go around and I am confident that my adventure would have kept on going.
It’s difficult to leave a good place and its terrific people.
My next adventure is, I have heard, no surprise. I am making a shift to focus exclusively on the automotive and mobility industry. At a moment in time where it is experiencing monumental shifts that will have significant societal impacts for decades to come, it’s the place I choose to dedicate my efforts and expertise.
But for now, it’s Au Revoir. Until we meet again. Hugs. KIT, Slalom.
Danielle Garvey says
What an amazing tribute to Slalom! I can’t wait to hear about your next adventure, I’m positive that you will succeed beyond measure as you do with everything!
Caroline Trudeau says
Thank you my dear friend! 🙏🏼. Let’s see what comes along on this ride, as we have for so many before 😘
Sid Gavandi says
It’s the best tribute I have read so far and is so real with everything I have seen and experienced at Slalom. You couldn’t have said it any better. Good luck to you on your next adventure, Caroline!
Caroline Trudeau says
Sid! Thank you 🙏🏼. And K to the I to the T!