We talked to Slalom Philadelphia’s general manager, Amy Loftus, about business trends she’s seeing in the Philadelphia market, why female consultants should never take a backseat, and the value of finding great mentors.
What attracted you to Slalom?
One of the things I was first struck by was the quality of people that Slalom has attracted. Another was the opportunity to build really strong relationships with clients in the local market, backed by a wonderful national delivery network that helps deliver innovative capabilities at scale.
The core values of Slalom also resonated with me. You see those values alive and well in every person that you meet here—it’s something that the company exudes.
Successful consultants are very curious people by nature. They're constantly asking why, wanting to learn more, seeking the best solution for their client.
What makes Philadelphia a good fit for Slalom?
There couldn't be a better time to be in Philadelphia. There is a vibrancy and energy here—you can see it in the business community, the revitalization of the downtown and other urban areas, what’s happening culturally in the city and the suburbs, and more young professionals living and working within the city limits. And Philadelphia has an exceptionally diverse business community, from innovative startups to industry giants and companies of all sizes in between.
Given the diversity of the business community, what kind of work are we going after?
We’ll support a range of projects. Philadelphia is certainly known for its exceptionally rich heritage in healthcare—from leading health insurers and academic medical institutions to life sciences companies, and we'll absolutely be working there. But our work will span across industries, as there are a diverse set of companies that could benefit from Slalom's support in financial services, insurance, retail, and other markets in the city and region.
And you’re uniquely positioned to help our clients in the healthcare space given your background.
Yes—I spent 22 years in consulting working in the healthcare space, and the last four years on the client side building an innovative healthcare company. I bring deep experience helping companies bring new products to market for patients and consumers, as well as developing user experiences and leading technologies to support an organization's business goals.
Having been a consultant, consulting practice leader, and a client, I bring a unique perspective to Slalom and this role. I'm excited to support clients that I've worked with in the past and those that will be new to me and Slalom. I believe Slalom is a consulting partner that clients in our market will gravitate to, given our intimate model and ability to field very experienced teams while also drawing upon deep technology expertise nationally.
How are we helping companies address the complexity of today’s healthcare system?
Today's healthcare system relies upon the smart integration of consumer experience, data, and technology. We are well positioned to support these areas across the board. Fundamentally, healthcare companies need to bring together their data, technologies, and people to deliver the individualized experiences that consumers and patients want. Great user experiences are critical to winning in today’s healthcare environment.
We bring a unique perspective, helping leading healthcare companies not only transform their experiences and technologies, but also providing rich information management and analytics skills to help companies get closer to their consumers and patients by delivering experiences that keep them coming back, again and again.
Having been a consultant, consulting practice leader, and a client, I bring a unique perspective to Slalom and this role.
What other business or industry trends are you seeing in your market?
There are a number of trends we're seeing in the Philadelphia market. I believe one that we see across industries is certainly consolidation. For example, we’re seeing very large life sciences companies combine with smaller biotechs to create something unique in a particular therapeutic category with a platform for future scale. We also see affiliations that we haven’t seen in the past, with previous competitors going to market together, and also closer ties with the insurer and provider community in accountable care models. And I believe we can help these companies figure out strategies, pathways, and enabling technologies and data to make these mergers and alliances even more successful.
What are your short- and long-term goals for growing Slalom's business in Philadelphia? Where do you see Slalom Philly in five years?
Short term, our goal is to really attract the very best and brightest to Slalom. I strongly believe that we will attract individuals that want to put their best foot forward in consulting. We’ll also focus on hiring a strong leadership team over the course of the next four to six months.
In five years, I hope that we’re ramping up to be one of the biggest Slalom offices. I think our region can certainly support it, given the breadth of talents that we have here and the diversity of industry.
It's more important than ever that women have access to educational and leadership opportunities early in their development...to help build future women leaders of the world.
Speaking of attracting the best and the brightest…what do you think makes a great consultant?
I think it starts with great listening skills. It's hard to understand what a client's looking for if you're not listening, if you're not probing, if you're not asking that next question. Successful consultants are very curious people by nature. They're constantly asking why, wanting to learn more, seeking the best solution for their client. And they're also someone that works well on a team.
What's a tough but important lesson that you've learned in your career?
I think one of the toughest things I’ve learned is not to assume that people understand what you're thinking, and be vocal about opportunities that you're interested in.
And the other thing I always say to newer consultants is, hey, don't have such a prescriptive idea about a particular project or a particular type of technology. You can learn something from every assignment that you take on, because I think some of those assignments—the ones that didn’t feel like the best fit at the beginning—end up being the ones where you learn the most.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
I started my career right out of college with Accenture [formerly Andersen Consulting]. I was the first woman to join as an analyst out of college and make equity partner in my office, and I did that in 10 years. It set the path for many other young women that saw that you could be a successful partner and a wife and a mom. Women still need role models like that in the workforce to show them that it is possible.
I'm really passionate about making sure that young women have the same opportunities as men as they are growing and developing in their careers as leaders. One of the things I do in my free time is serve on the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College, which is my alma mater. It's more important than ever that women have access to educational and leadership opportunities early in their development, especially in STEM, to help build future women leaders of the world.
Personally speaking, my greatest achievement is my children—which, of course, I haven't done on my own. I have two boys—one is 13 and one is 8. It makes me so proud when people come up to me and tell me what great kids they are. I like to think I had a little something to do with that. They are both exceptional individuals who are forging their own paths. What’s important to me and my husband is that we’re raising good people who are respectful, curious, and love to learn. And who also laugh—a lot.
What advice do you have for a young woman starting her career in consulting?
First and foremost, you deserve to be there. And second, take every opportunity available to you. Don't take a backseat to anyone in the room. Be curious; raise your hand; and seek out those opportunities.
And find mentors—both men and women. It will serve you well for the rest of your career.
You may tend to gravitate toward a person that seems like you, but you’ll learn different things from different people.
Who’s been a mentor in your life? How did that person have an impact on your career?
I had a counseling partner early on, and one of the best things that he did for me was tell me that I could do more than I was doing and put me in slightly uncomfortable situations to really stretch my skills. I think a great leader does that for you: recognizes something in you that you may not recognize in yourself.
They’ll push you to take an opportunity that may take you outside of your comfort zone, but you learn skills that you never thought you had. And they’ll also give you really honest feedback.