Celebrating 1 Year at Slalom Seattle

“No worries on PTO/working-offline around the holidays…we’ll work something out that fits your schedule.”

I had just nervously spent 30 minutes crafting the perfect email, asking my new manager (whom I had yet to meet) about time off and working remotely during the holidays. Above is his quick, one line response.  Could it really be that simple?  It was late October 2015, and I was about to start a new role at Slalom.  Due to coordinating flights home with family, I wanted to get ahead of the question.  As it turned out, it really was that simple!

Last month was my one year anniversary with Slalom.  Along with getting to know the city of Seattle, it’s been quite the journey.  Overall, I had a great year and am looking forward to 2017.  Here’s a recap:


I present a ton of amazing highlights below, but I’m not only going to write about the good stuff.  No matter how rosy a picture I paint, no company is perfect.  

I only had one major challenge this year, in the beginning months of my first project.  As much as I’d love to share details because I’m all about transparency, it would be one-sided and thus not fair. That said, the situation involved working with some very toxic individuals.  For too long, I put up with it without saying anything.  I had my excuses, of course: being brand new and not wanted to “rock the boat” too early on, not knowing yet if toxic people/unsustainable working hours were part of Slalom’s culture (they’re not!), and more. When I finally came to my senses, Slalom management was swift and… “corrected the issue”.  I am very appreciative of their support and bias for action. Overall, it was a good experience to learn from:

- I no longer have any tolerance for toxic/negative people; I’ll cut them out of my life right away.

- For unpleasant people whom I must be around: I’ve rediscovered the idea that my happiness is mine and mine alone to control; someone can affect that only if you let them!

- I awakened a dormant strength: These days I’m extremely confident/outspoken while still remaining humble/respectful. I have no issues speaking up for what’s right, though.

Highlights (Where do I begin?!)

Core Values: It says on our Core Values page that we take them seriously.  We really, really do.  I’ve seen them represented in big actions (quarterly events, happy hours) and in small ones (open conversations with the CEO or Consultants I’ve just met).  My personal favorites are “Do What is Right, Always” (we’ve fired clients if they’re not a good fit) and “Stay Humble and Curious” (most folks I’ve met are incredibly down to earth, want to learn from you, share ideas, and get to know you).

Flexibility & Trust: Slalom prides itself on running local market offices; travel is optional.  This is huge because it supports families and respects work/life balance - you don’t have to spend weeks living out of a suitcase. They recognize that if you’re jet lagged and unhappy all the time, you can’t do your best work.  Also, I was nervous for months about my ongoing travel/remote work requests, but each time my People Manager allayed my fears: *Shrug*…“I don’t care what you do, I trust you to be honest and get your work done.”  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it hasn’t.  You’re treated like an adult at Slalom, no micro management necessary!

Transparency: At the beginning of the year, our CFO told us that Slalom continues to save aggressively and plan for the next economic downturn. I almost fell out of my chair. What? Who does that these days? Seriously, my respect for management shot through the roof that day. No IPO/selling out here - they really want to build a private, long-term company that “our grandchildren will work at someday.”

Business details are shared with everyone.  This is huge for many reasons: transparency gives us confidence in the business and allows for open discussion/feedback.  I struggled in the past with understanding the business-side of things because details were hidden from anyone below management.  The issue I took with that was, how am I supposed to grow and move up the managerial ladder if I can’t learn from real situations? I can read about it in a book, but it’s not the same.  The “why” behind decisions is typically not open to discussion: Financials. Layoffs. Acquisitions.  Politics (“No, he wasn’t actually promoted… this was really a demotion and a signal that he needs to improve or leave the company.” “Oh.”).  I was fortunate in my last role to have a manager that would open up about some of these topics, but he was still reserved.

Supportive: Goals, training, honesty, you name it… Slalom excels here.  There is no annual training budget - as long as what you want to do aligns with your goals, it’s likely to get approved.  "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" really push us to think big and accomplish more than we ever think we can.

Everyone’s willingness to help is astounding. There are no political roadblocks.  With a short email, I can reach out to fellow employees from any team or market and get results. Can I visit Slalom Chicago while working remotely? Done. Can the social media team post/promote some of my new work? Done. Can I refer someone to Slalom Denver, and oh, I still get a referral bonus, right? Done. Can I start a new X group (Toastmasters, Agile, Improv, Leadership) and get help generating interest? Done, done, done!

Personal Highlights:

- Attending Microsoft Build 2016 conference in San Francisco (was approved to go after only being an employee for 2 months)

- Shifting my work schedule (often last minute) to accommodate friends coming into town. Working remotely in other cities, allowing for more travel and flexibility.

- Main client: Being part of their largest IT project in history. I learned so much about scaling technology for millions of users and the challenges that are involved.  Using newfound skills from Toastmasters and Slalom leadership training classes to drive organizational change at my client. Specifically, getting siloed teams to begin communicating and sharing with each other. Seriously, I’m fairly certain several teams had never spoken to each other in person over the years before I came along!

- Being asked out of the blue to assist with a large cellular company’s web based mobile project. I was brought in to leverage my PhoneGap skills, which until now I’ve only used in side project work. Yay!

- Making exercise and better health my first priority, but still being successful at my client. Exercise has given me the best mental clarity I’ve had in years, making me incredibly productive.

- Continuing to grow my leadership, management, and mentoring skills. After a quick conversation with my manager, I was able to start interviewing candidates for the first time. I’ve got much more planned for 2017.

- Delivering a speech at Slalom Speaks, our TED-like annual event, to over 100 coworkers and clients. Let me tell you, that was the fastest 10 minutes of my life! Here’s me on stage:


I could keep going, but I need to speak with my people manager.  It’s time to discuss my Holiday 2016 PTO plans!

About Slalom: Slalom is a purpose-driven consulting firm that helps companies solve business problems and build for the future, with solutions spanning business advisory, customer experience, technology, and analytics. We partner with companies to push the boundaries of what’s possible—together. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Seattle, WA, Slalom has organically grown to nearly 4,000 employees. We were named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2016 and are regularly recognized by our employees as a best place to work. You can find us in 25 cities across the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Learn more at slalom.com.

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