I recently joined a new consulting company, SEI-Boston, and was eager to meet my new colleagues, jump into a new client partnership, and engage in the company culture. When I was looking for my next role, the largest factor in my decision-making process was the culture of the organization. As an experienced professional having worked in both consulting and industry for over 16 years, I knew what appealed to me and what I felt was most important for my future career growth. In many cases, working for large corporations, where cultural identity can degrade if not nurtured, can leave employees feeling isolated or unrecognized for their contributions. I was hungry for a new opportunity that would challenge me to grow in breadth as well as depth!
During the interview process with SEI, I met a handful of consultants that provided me with insights about how the company works, the culture, the expectations, and most importantly, the opportunities for consultants to be a part and contribute in an employee owned company. It all sounded great, and a perfect fit for my desire to be an active contributor, in more ways that just client delivery. To have my hands in a number of initiatives and not be confined to a narrow job description; to embrace (and be enabled) to lead with an entrepreneurial spirit was something I was eager to experience.
How does SEI differ from other companies in embracing new consultants into their culture? Here are some key observations and experiences have affected me personally in engaging from the start:
- In this together! Consultants not only look out for one another, they help match consultants to new project opportunities. My fellow consultants identified what became my first client project. It felt awesome knowing there were so many pairs of eyes looking out for me, even before my first day on the job.
- I can help with that! There is no incubation period before being empowered to contribute. In my short time with SEI, I’ve been able to contribute to cross-office collaboration through my professional network. Even a connection made at a conference over a decade ago proved meaningful! It felt great to hit the ground running!
- The SEI way! I can confidently say that I look forward to seeing my SEI colleagues outside of the office, and have already made it a routine to reach out and connect regularly. SEI Consultants invest time in forming genuine bonds with one another through regular staff meetings, social events and volunteering activities. This is one way in which we set and reinforce the cultural norms that form the basis of the company, by proactively checking in with one another, and the having humility to ask for help. We believe that these norms are especially important as the company steadily grows, to continue to maintain the character of the organization. At every staff meeting, we discuss what we are doing to become, and stay connected with one another. The fact that so many colleagues reached out to me personally when I joined SEI made me feel so welcome. And in turn, welcoming newbies across all offices is something I enjoy, too!
- Bringing newbies together! New Hire Orientation at SEI occurs in Cincinnati where SEI was founded. By the time I attended Orientation in January, I had already been with SEI for a couple months. To describe orientation succinctly, it was nothing short of full immersion into the SEI culture, which included an overview of the company’s history and SEI’s core values. One of my favorite parts of Orientation was bonding with other new consultants from other offices! What I didn’t expect, was to spend time with our CEO, Bill Gallagher. Access and engagement to management throughout the orientation experience was something that really impressed me. In addition to the CEO, one office’s Managing Director and the VP of Talent Management were present for the several business days that spanned orientation; this to me not only underscored the flat structure within SEI, but also management commitment to preserving a small company feel, and a high level of engagement with new team members.
As I reflect on the last three months with SEI, I feel as though I’ve been part of the team for a lot longer. I suppose that’s because when you’ve joined a family, rather than simply a place of business, you live and act in a way that is less transactional, and more relationship-based. I couldn’t be happier, or more enthused, with my onboarding experience, which has out-paced my personal expectations!