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Looking Back at My First Decade as an SEIer

By: Joe Combs


This summer, SEI celebrated our 25th anniversary and in a few short weeks, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary as an SEI consultant. As I look back on my last decade and SEI’s first quarter century as a company, I’m struck by how things have changed and, more importantly, how much they have stayed the same.

There Are More of Us
When I started, the Cincinnati office boasted a consultant count somewhere in the low forties. We’ve grown significantly since then; never growing for the sake of growth. The numbers of cities we operate in has grown as well. Ten years ago, Phoenix was in its infancy and Dallas was only just starting to incubate. New York, Chicago and Washington DC – who knew we’d have a firm beachhead in these major markets!

Collaboration Is Still King
Headcount and city-count are great, but those are just superficial indicators. What’s really amazing is the way collaboration is still ingrained in SEI culture. Even when it was just Cincinnati, the idea that consultants had a level of trust in each other that allowed them to work cooperatively, often across clients, was crucial to our success. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen our collaboration portal go through several incarnations. With each evolution of our platform, the collaboration has been enhanced. We now routinely give and receive thought leadership from fellow consultants across the country in real-time.

People Change
Over the years, I’ve seen many new consultants join the team. As a result, our skillsets and offerings have become even more diverse over time. We now have consultants providing program and project leadership, acting as business analysts, agile coaches, data management experts, and architects. Despite the variety of roles, there’s one trait that we all share; we’re problem solvers. SEI’ers love to dig into a challenging problem, help clients gain new insight, and deliver real business value.

Family Matters
When I first joined SEI, I learned the story of Josh Cares and how SEI rallied around one of our own at a time of great loss. In the last decade, I’ve seen several other instances of SEI’ers rallying around other families in difficult circumstances. I have an immense amount of pride in the way we’ve got each other’s back. We’ve also seen a real baby boom in recent years. For many of our consultants, SEI is a great place to maintain a true work-life balance. As my own kids have grown, it’s been invigorating to see fellow consultants continue to make memories with their families as I have with mine.

Advocacy Runs Deep
As a new consultant, I was paired with an experienced mentor who helped me find opportunities to advance to our business. As time passes, consultants “graduate” from the formal advocacy program, but our core values have a basis in mentoring and peer accountability. I regularly see folks sharing articles, books, podcasts and TED talks that they find helpful or inspirational. There’s an old saying that “Iron sharpens iron”. In much the same way, SEI consultants make each other stronger little by little, day by day.

When I initially made the leap into consulting after nearly a decade in industry, I was craving variety in the challenges I could conquer. I’ve certainly found that, and more, with SEI. Several things have changed over the years, but much has remained the same. With a solid foundation laid 25 years ago, we’ve grown to a company that breaks the consulting mold. I’m thrilled to be completing my first decade as an SEI’er. If you think this might be the environment you’ve been searching for we’d love to hear from you!

Joe Combs


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