Q&A with Sam Andrews: General Manager, Dallas-Fort Worth
Our Dallas-Fort Worth leader opens up about her greatest mentors, always looking ahead, and why she never settles for the status quo.
What makes the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) business community unique?
The sheer size of the metroplex creates a mega-hub of businesses that span across pretty much every industry one could imagine!
I don’t see a trend of one industry over another—it’s everything from the startup community to technology, financial services, distribution, manufacturing, energy, and retail.
Texas is also known as a friendly state when it comes to taxes and conducting business. That is evident due to the number of companies that have either brought major aspects of their business here or centralizing their headquarters in the greater DFW area. We’re starting to see a lot of investment going into the universities as well, supporting the transformation in areas such as engineering.
As you think about the next five years, what are your goals for DFW? What are you most excited about?
First, I’d like us to be known as Slalom’s most customer-centric market. It is important for us to show up in an innovative, personal way for our customers.
Second, I plan to focus on our commitment to our community, so that we can be more involved in the economic development of our metroplex. We can help with the adoption of new technologies, ways of working, cultural dynamics in the business place, and support our nonprofits as they grow and expand.
We have an opportunity to bring our customers together across industries and create community amongst them in a more deliberate way.
You moved here from Seattle to DFW back in 2013. How do you like living in DFW?
I love it. I love the community. It is incredibly diverse, with people who have moved here from all over the world. I love the closeness of my community, schools, and the abundance of amenities and resources in the state. Everyone I met when I moved into town was welcoming and genuinely happy to treat their community like family. I love the opportunities my kids have here.
You began your professional career at AT&T and spent 17 years there. What brought you to consulting—and why Slalom?
Being at AT&T was the greatest learning opportunity as I had exposure to all parts of the brand. It couldn’t have been a better education for me to learn how a company really operates and all the different facets of creating an employee and customer experience.
I had been a customer of Slalom for several years and had built some great relationships here. When it was time to move on, I thought, well, why don’t I go to Slalom? That led me to join our cross-market digital strategy team.
I started to demonstrate success and move up. Before I knew it, I had progressed to being one of the main leaders in our strategy practice. I absolutely loved that team. We started Slalom’s primary research capability, opened Slalom Element, and established Slalom Ventures.
When I was approached about this role as market leader, I was very humbled and incredibly inspired by the opportunity. Local markets are the heartbeat of Slalom. Being close to our customers and our business is something I really am excited to be a part of.
What was the most satisfying project you’ve ever worked on?
The futurism sessions my counterpart and I would hold with our customers. We would take customers on a curated workshop journey of the political, economic, legislative, technological, environmental, and social trends around them to help paint new future scenarios.
We’ve done that with some of the largest telecom and wealth management companies to help them really think about what they could become and how to prepare for those futures. They were very satisfying engagements.
I enjoy thinking about the future and then taking all those potential futures and applying a pragmatic lens on how to get there. We should be pushing ourselves and customers to be more than we are today.
Who are the great mentors in your life?
I think one of my most influential mentors was a former boss. At the time we were in a very male-dominated organization. What fueled her was her ability to break through the glass ceiling and really be heard, as well as to maintain the integrity of what we were delivering. I learned how important it is to always be advocating for your team and managing upwards as well as across, letting people know the great things your team is doing. And that when something goes wrong you don’t take it out on your team.
Another mentor of mine is my mom. She is a self-made entrepreneur in social work. Her tenacity and drive and what she did in the community was impressive. She was so self-motivated and had to overcome a lot of red tape. I got a lot of my drive from her and from seeing how hard she worked. I think it’s made me a better professional and inspired me in my career.
What’s your favorite Slalom core value?
It’s hard to pick a single core value, so I am going to choose two.
I would say the first one is fuel growth and innovation. I feel if we’re not always looking ahead at where the world is going, we can’t help our customers prepare to serve their customers. We should always be thinking with a growth and future mindset. I think that is bound by another core value, do what is right, always. If we keep that mindset and show up every day doing what is right for each other, then it will reflect how we grow and evolve our culture and how we create customer lifetime value.
Finally, what’s one rule that you live by?
Always be pushing the boundaries of what is possible ... never settle for the status quo.