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Q&A with Kyle Kruse: General Manager, Seattle

We spoke with the general manager of Slalom’s first office about what drew him to Slalom more than 11 years ago, how his team inspires him, and why he’s passionate about leading Slalom’s expansion into Japan.
 

Tell us about your career before Slalom.

I started my career at Arthur Andersen. I went into consulting with the idea that I’d get great experience working with different clients in different industries and then find a long-term job in one of those industries. But I got completely hooked on consulting. I love coaching and advising clients to help them solve their problems. I love coming in as an unbiased third party and helping people create a path forward.

What brought you to Slalom more than 11 years ago?

I came to Slalom to do the consulting work I love while getting off the road. I grew up moving around a lot. My parents were from the Midwest, but I was born in Mexico, then moved to Costa Rica, then to the Midwest, then to Sweden, then Japan. As much as I loved experiencing other cultures, by the time I was in my 30s and had a family of my own, I didn’t want the typical consulting experience of being on the road all the time. I wanted to be able to spend a lot more time with my wife, Cindy, and our kids, Andrew and Kira. Slalom’s work-where-you-live model made that possible.

Getting off the road was a big part of what brought me to Slalom, but what’s kept me here is the people I get to work with every day. They’re the smartest, most passionate group of people I’ve ever worked with, and they really care about our clients’ success and our Seattle community. Everyone is deeply invested in each other’s growth. There isn’t an organization that can make a bigger impact on Seattle than Slalom.

Will you tell us about your role as General Manager of Slalom Seattle?


My role is to ensure we’re living our core values and making this an incredible place where our people can continue to grow and learn. A big part of that is shaping where and how we invest in our peoples’ skills and the capabilities we bring to bear with our clients. We’re fortunate to be in a city with so much energy and innovation from AWS, Microsoft, and Tableau being headquartered here. As Slalom’s largest market, we also focus on making sure we have the operational rigor in place to run efficiently, while ensuring we keep the entrepreneurial goodness that got us where we are today.

You’re leading Slalom’s expansion into Japan. Tell us why Japan is a good fit for Slalom and why you’re excited about leading us in this initiative.  

Growing up, I never lived anywhere for more than three years until we moved to Japan. We were there for seven years, when I was in junior high and high school, and it was the first place that felt like home to me. I think the culture had a big impact on me. The innovative technology, the efficiency, being service-oriented—these are all things that I took with me and helped shape who I am today.

When I was living in Japan in the 80s and 90s, Tokyo was the technology center of the world. Today I live in Seattle which is the cloud and AI capital of the world. With Slalom’s partnerships with Microsoft, AWS, Salesforce, Tableau, Google, and over 200 tech companies, it seems like the perfect fit to bring these two innovative markets together, to do what’s never been done.

I love the balance of leading Slalom’s largest, most successful market while creating our newest market. It's challenging and gives me energy. I also think that having these two very different perspectives makes me a better, sharper leader in both markets. I’m grateful to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime venture to open the doors in a country I love.

 

Slalom general manager Kyle Kruse at beach with family

You host a “GM for a day” where someone in the Slalom Seattle office gets to shadow you. Tell us about this.

I think it’s important for everyone to try to see things from multiple perspectives. “GM for a day” is an opportunity for someone to shadow me for a day and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be the GM of Slalom Seattle—and for me to learn from them as well. It’s fascinating for me to get someone else’s perspective on how I spend my day. We share our experiences, challenges, and tips with each other. I’ve made great memories on these days. An especially interesting “GM for a day” was when [Slalom CEO] Brad Jackson shadowed me.

What’s your favorite spot to spend time in the Seattle area?

There are so many places that I love in the Seattle area. I particularly love being close to the water. Before we had kids, we lived on a houseboat on Lake Union. I also swam for UW in college and I still meet up with friends from my team at Lake Washington to go for a swim, followed by donuts and coffee at Madison Park Bakery. Our family loves being part of our Kirkland community and spending time with friends in the neighborhood. We also like to adventure out to the peninsula, San Juans, and Eastern Washington. We truly love where we live.

Is there a book/movie/album that’s inspired you recently?


My kids play a big role in what I’m listening to and watching. My kids love musicals and theater, so Cindy and I have learned a lot about musicals and theater through them. Our family recently watched the movie The Greatest Showman. To say this soundtrack has become our family soundtrack would be an understatement. As much as this movie has inspired me and my family personally, it also has great applications to Slalom Seattle. For example, this part from the song “This Is Me” stands out: “Look out ‘cause here I come/ And I am marching on to the beat I drum/ I am not scared to be seen/ I make no apologies/ This is me.” What I love about being at Slalom is knowing we can all show up as our authentic selves, and that we’ll support each other. I feel lucky to get to work with people like this every day.