We sat down with Slalom Austin’s Salesforce leader, Amy Flamenbaum, to get a sneak preview of what’s ahead.
Tell us a bit about your journey before joining Slalom.
I’ve made a career tackling the chaos of IT consulting. I’ve worked in large and small organizations ranging from Accenture to the University of Chicago, to a one-person-company where I was both the CEO and the Janitor. My industry experience ranges from Higher Ed to Professional Services, Oil/Gas, Retail, Public Sector, Manufacturing, and Technology.
I arrived at Slalom Austin after overseeing delivery, people, and practice capabilities for Accenture’s Southwest Salesforce Group. I have managed projects and training programs all over the world and have helped organizations grow with technology, innovation, and superstar teams. I picked up Salesforce seven years ago and have been conquering the impossible on the platform ever since.
What attracted you to Slalom?
Genuinely happy people. As I considered my next career move, everyone I met at Slalom seemed to love the culture, the supportive environment, and the work/life balance. The positivity caught my attention, and I decided it was time to come see what it was all about.
What do you love most about consulting?
There is an old This American Life radio episode — the narrator uses classified ads (this was 2002) to assemble a “one-day-band” of random, unrelated musicians. They come together, arrange and perform a unique and beautiful piece of music, and then the day is over, and each musician moves on.
Consulting takes on the same spirit. I love watching a diverse team come together to pool their creativity and talent to build something amazing. The group eventually disbands, but they leave their creation behind, and each person takes a piece of that unique experience to share with the next team.
Instead of worrying if I do/don’t know exactly what to do, I turn my energy to the 'I’m going to figure it out' mentality.
What are the qualities you’re looking for as you build your team?
Fearless technologists who are proactive, curious, and who love to learn/adapt on the fly.
Can you tell me about an experience in your life that taught you something about leadership, or informed your leadership style?
There’s a story about “The Three Kinds of Work Personalities.” It begins with three scouts following their leader as she walks towards the edge of a cliff. The first scout is so busy taking in the scenery; he doesn’t notice the impending danger. The second sees the edge and yells “hey — we’re headed straight for that cliff up ahead!” The third scout steps up and announces, “here’s my plan to redirect. Let’s agree on this and give it a shot.” She steps in, turns the team around, and they’re all saved.
It’s a simple parable, but since I heard it, I watch to make sure I’m scout #3. Instead of worrying if I do/don’t know exactly what to do, I turn my energy to the “I’m going to figure it out” mentality. As a leader, I encourage the individuals on my team to understand the problem fully and then to live in the solution.
What’s a tough but valuable lesson that you’ve learned in your career?
I’ve been on teams where, against my better judgment, I’ve held back on tough questions. The louder confidence of peers convinced me I didn’t get it, or I had missed a logical explanation. As time went on, I started to notice — the unexamined downsides and muted questions kept coming back to burn me and the group.
Over the years, those burns and experiences helped me listen to and articulate what my Spidey Senses were telling me. I comfortably speak up now, knowing worst case scenario, I’ve tried to poke a hole in a decision, but the direction stood up to the scrutiny. And in many cases, I’ve uncovered holes, answered questions on others’ minds, and prompted a positive turn away from the edge of the cliff.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Do it anyway. “It” comes in many shapes and forms — might be a tough conversation, a nagging broken thing, or even getting off the couch to visit an old friend. Knocking it off the list feels good — and yet it’s so easy to talk myself out of stepping up. The “do it anyway” mentality is often the kick in the pants that gets me started.
Outside of work, what’s your life like? What do you enjoy doing?
I’m on the board of the Merivis Foundation, an organization that teaches Salesforce to veterans. I also love playing the piano, drawing, getting lost in new cities, geeking out with my 7-year-old, gardening, and spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen.
What does great client service mean to you? How do we deliver the best to our clients?
Good listening is at the core. It’s easy to assume we have the answers before we fully understand the problem. It’s the cliché — when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When we listen, connect, and validate, we not only build trust and confidence; we get the best solution for our clients.