Slalom's head of sales for public and social impact discusses one of our fastest-growing industries, the fuel behind his passion for the sector, and how Slalom has become a key partner in government, education, and nonprofit organizations with host Kim Taylor. Read the highlights of this powerful Slalom On Air “Living Our Values” podcast episode.
Randy Tan has been a management consultant for over 20 years—seven of those with Slalom. He has a deep passion for public sector, education, and nonprofits, coupled with a decade of adjunct faculty positions with leading universities. He's brought those passions and his consulting expertise together in a way that has grown this area of our business by over 200 percent just in the past three years. Randy, welcome to Slalom On Air.
Hello Kim, thank you for having me. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart so I'm incredibly excited to talk with you and speak to your audience.
Well, I'm so happy that you're here. You know you're a known quantity around Slalom, and certainly in this space. What I'm curious about is why does this work call to you to begin with? What got you into this space?
So, my entire journey has been built upon foundational principles of my growing up, my values about hard work and education really came from my father. He's now retired, worked so hard as a general practitioner for over 30 years, and he would always say to me, “You may face a lot of adversity in life, but nobody can ever take away your education.” And to be able to live these values and be in a workplace that allows me to scale. This passion is an incredible gift.
Strengthening partnerships with governments, educational institutions, and nonprofits around the world
Tell us about public and social impact. What is it and where did it come from?
Slalom has a long history working with government education nonprofit customers, but it was only a few years ago that we put a global focus on building our work in this area, and we went from a small handful of our markets doing this work to nearly all of our markets across the globe now engaged. Just this year the public and social impact practice became a formal Slalom global industry.
In government organizations and many of these public-facing, mission-driven organizations, there’s a lot of work to do around breaking silos among them. The challenge, however, is the problems facing our society are not siloed.
We have an opportunity to modernize and innovate how government, education, and nonprofit organizations provide services to address the various societal challenges and needs that we have, and create that transformative systemwide change.
One of the things that I think is so impressive, Randy, as I listened to you talk about this is we are literally attacking this problem, challenge, opportunity from every angle and that is where scale comes from.
In government organizations and many of these public-facing, mission-driven organizations, there's a lot of work to do around breaking silos among them. The challenge, however, is the problems facing our society are not siloed. So how do we begin to affect transformational change to truly meet the needs of our communities?
Driving transformational change at scale
Let's do a little bit of a lightning round. Give us a teaser on who we worked with and what were some of the impacts? Let’s start with an example from the government.
From a government perspective, some of the big key challenges are around public health and public safety. We partnered with Cook County and the City of Chicago to build their COVID-19 dashboards, as well as enabling their vaccine management and distribution process. This impacts millions of people.
When Congress passed the CARES Act to provide $350 billion in loans to US small businesses to help them weather the global pandemic, we helped the federal government quickly deploy a loan processing solution to reduce that processing time from roughly 30 days to around 24 hours. That's just one example in public health space.
When it comes to improving public safety today, we are partnered with local governments across the country, including cities of Oakland, CA and Tempe, AZ to reimagine their approach to public safety data and transparency to improve trust with their respective communities.
Tell us a little bit about an education example. How have we worked with folks in education and what have we done?
I have been an adjunct faculty member for 10 years now, so I am especially passionate about the work we do to improve student success. We have helped Seattle University, Georgia State University, and many others with their analytics modernization as well as K-12 schools like the Atlanta Public School system.
I am particularly excited about a predictive analytics model we created for a medical college to help them be proactive in how they improve student retention.
We look forward to hearing more about that. One more in our lightning round; tell me about a nonprofit client that we've worked with.
Nonprofits are an integral component of the foundational transformation we are looking to make. Our work, for example, with Feeding America, is especially critical to help address food insecurity in this country. The Slalom team, along with our partners, is focused on sourcing more food for people facing hunger, for our neighbors facing hunger at scale.
So, if children and families are hungry, for example, how can they be best when they are in school or when they are looking to be at their best at work? This is foundational transformation. This is the kind of impact Slalom is making and I am so proud of it.
If children and families are hungry, how can they be best when they are in school or at work? This is foundational transformation. This is the kind of impact Slalom is making, and I am so proud of it.
Inspiring all to get involved with impactful work
What was your favorite project thus far in that growth journey?
My favorite project, as one of my first projects at Slalom was with the Washington State Patrol—an incredible organization whose mission is to protect the residents, the visitors of that state. We engaged in a project to improve how they are organized, to improve how they are led. And it was one of the most inspirational projects and the impetus for a lot of the growth of our public and social impact practice. Let me tell you why.
At the end of that project, I had the opportunity to present our findings to the Washington State Senate Transportation Committee. All government folks out there know that there's a public access channel and this is all televised and recorded. Brad Jackson, our CEO, got hold of that video and he sent out an e-mail to the entire company talking about how he grew up in Washington admiring the State Patrol. He told the story, he showed the video of me, and he said, we all should be doing this work and if we want to start a public sector practice, to reach out to him.
In these seven years, what has been the most rewarding part of the journey?
Every time a Slalom consultant tells me, “This is the kind of work I always wanted to do” or “This has been one of the most impactful projects of my career,” are the most joyous moments for me and just telling you this, Kim, is giving me chills.
It further drives my passion for us to continue growing what we're doing in this space and getting more people involved on this journey. My vision is to one day be 20 percent of our total business.
We're going to need skills. We need experiences. What are you looking for as you build the team in this new practice?
It is the pure passion of our people across each smaller market that is driving our public and social impact growth. Of course, we are recruiting individuals with the right skills and experience across business and advisory services, technology modernization, data and analytics, but more importantly, it's those individuals that are experiencing or seeing these challenges in our communities who are immediately asking themselves, “How can I help fix it?”
If this inspires anyone listening, please reach out. I look forward to working with you.
I love that invitation and no doubt people will take you up on that offer to reach out and I look forward to hearing as we grow and continue to move mountains in this space.
Love it, thank you so much, Kim, and I look forward to coming back to share with you that we have now achieved becoming 20 percent of Slalom’s business.
Absolutely, we're ready for that conversation when you are. If you're interested in joining Slalom, check us out at Slalom.com/careers.
Slalom On Air “Living Our Values” is a podcast about how we truly live our values at Slalom—not only with each other, but also in our work. Listen to Randy’s full episode below, or follow Slalom On Air wherever you get your podcasts.