Slalom’s Fort Worth leader on building trust through transparency, connecting remotely, and life in Fort Worth beyond oil and cattle
Jaime, tell us a little about the Fort Worth business community and how Slalom fits into that.
Historically, Fort Worth business was all about oil and cattle, but it also has some fantastic large-enterprise clients too. American Airlines, Alcon, and BNSF [Railway] are born-and-bred Fort Worth companies, while newcomers like Charles Schwab are moving in each day. The business community is very close-knit and family-like. So for Slalom, it’s a perfect fit.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m super transparent, almost to a fault perhaps. People always know where I’m coming from. I believe admitting when times are hard and celebrating when times are great are equally important. That transparency builds trust.
What’s one of the most satisfying projects you’ve worked on at Slalom?
We’ve got a couple really great projects happening right now. One is a complete transformation of a financial company’s business. It’s sales and service for a very disparate workforce. Their advisers are all over the world, and the CIO actually said this morning, “I’ve never done a really large-scale deployment virtually, but it's working well!”
What does the idea of “bringing your whole self to work” mean to you and your leadership?
It’s allowing myself to be vulnerable with my clients and my team. Like last year at the start of the pandemic, I didn’t have all the answers. But I was able to tell my team, “I don’t know what's going to happen, but we're going to figure this out together.” It’s sharing with someone not only what you’re celebrating but also what you’re struggling with, and asking for help.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I’d have to say raising my hand to start the Fort Worth office. I’m a fairly risk-averse person, so saying “I want to grow a business here” was definitely the bravest thing I've ever done. I have been challenged more than ever but am loving every minute of it.
What do you look for in new hires?
One of the things we subscribe to in our office is the Patrick Lencioni book Ideal Team Player. For new hires, we look for the qualities of being hungry, humble, and smart. We care a lot about EQ—knowing how to read a room and relate to each other is so important in what we do. We can teach Salesforce configuration, but intuitively wanting to care for your client and knowing what’s working for them and what’s not is crucial to what we do here at Slalom.
Tell us what it takes to build a diverse and inclusive team, and how you’re approaching that in Fort Worth.
It’s important for both candidates and clients to see a Slalom team they relate to, someone who’s saying, “This is a place that works for me, and it could work for you.” We’re working hard to source more diverse candidates at the top of the funnel—reaching into the community so we can have a more diverse leadership team. We hired over 30 people last year. We’re very focused on building a team that’s both inclusive and diverse.
How about gender parity?
I also believe gender parity is incredibly important, and I want to see that at all levels of my office. I recently had a new hire tell me, “I had multiple offers, and one of the reasons I chose Slalom was because of the number of women you have in leadership.”
What do you miss from the pre-COVID days?
Well, I will say that I am an introvert, and I really miss my commute. My career has challenged me to be more extroverted, but I truly am an introvert, and at the end of the day I often just need some quiet time. My commute was always a time to decompress, to transition from home to work, and then to home again at the end of the day.
What’s your favorite Slalom core value and why?
Smile. When you connect with someone emotionally, you can do anything together.
I recently had a new hire tell me, ‘I had multiple offers, and one of the reasons I chose Slalom was because of the number of women you have in leadership.’
What do you think we really sell at Slalom?
Our scope of work is one thing, but what we really do is connect people and help the client see through their organizational challenges. I think we give so many of our clients a perspective that they just can’t see on their own. They’ve often been so focused on one aspect or area that they have no idea that a colleague three doors down is tackling that very same challenge.
I can't tell you how many times a client will say to me, “Hey, I want you to do this,” or ”We need to do that next time.” And we’ll introduce them to someone in their own organization who’s already tackling that.
I think we give so many of our clients a perspective that they just can’t see on their own.
And finally, what’s a rule that you live by?
I’d say, “Do what you love.” For me, I was lucky enough to find that in consulting. I like to figure out how things work, and I love working with clients and building teams. I really love what I do.