Q&A: A conversation with Slalom Phoenix’s Jim Sikora
November 19, 2014
Jim Sikora is the general manager of Slalom’s Phoenix office. Jim talked to us about how we’re helping Phoenix-based companies take advantage of their data, what makes Slalom a great place to work, and what he’s learned from baseball legend Babe Ruth.
Jim, what attracted you to Slalom Phoenix?
What attracted me to Slalom, more than anything else, is our go-to-market model. I don’t think there’s another consulting firm in the Phoenix area that has a model similar to ours.
When you think about what Slalom can bring in terms of having an energized, local workforce delivering to clients in Phoenix, backed by a national team that can provide spot expertise—there’s no one else in this market that can do that.
What are some of the unique challenges that companies in Phoenix are facing?
I think what we’re able to do is introduce some of the newer technologies, different approaches, new levels of innovation to some of those companies that are more established and are operating under more mature business models.
When you look at new or smaller companies, they’re looking for someone to help them mitigate the risk associated with the implementation of some of these newer technologies. Being able to help them understand how they can do that in the most efficient way and help them stand up a new technology mitigates a lot of the risk of failure—and at the same time, helps them implement something much quicker.
What opportunities do you see for local companies in your market?
Phoenix is a unique market in that we have lots of large companies headquartered elsewhere with back-office operations here locally. These companies have a lot of data stored here and we believe there is a significant opportunity to help them figure out the best way to use that data to turn it into information they can leverage.
And the other area where we seem to be having a number of conversations is around mobility—helping companies take what they’ve developed and figuring out how to present it on any platform for their customers and internal workforce.
Let’s switch to recruiting. How are you getting people excited about opportunities at Slalom Phoenix?
I think the opportunity to join a startup that’s part of an established company is exciting to a lot of our candidates.
Many consulting “road warriors” love the concept of being able to do the type of work they love doing right in their local community. We also give people an opportunity to do really cool, interesting work with shorter, more impactful engagements, so I think that’s very appealing, too.
I often hear, “How do I become better connected to the company that I work for? I want that connection.” And that’s something that will be a focus area for us, making sure that we build that sense of community, both within our local office and within our community in general.
I love how you touched on consultants wanting a connection to the broader company, and also feeling like they’re really giving back to their communities.
What do you think makes a great consultant?
I would say a couple things. One is obviously a core base of competency—whether that’s in technology, strategy or business, or a true consulting competency, like organizational effectiveness.
The other thing that we’re looking for is people who are going to fit within our culture. We have built a very strong culture of people here who are like-minded and want to serve our clients, want to serve our community, but want to have a great time doing that.
If you have people who love the type of work that we do, and love the people that they work with, they’re motivated. And when you think about how that motivation is perceived from the eyes of our clients, it makes a big difference. They love to see people who are jazzed and energized, and are willing to go the extra mile for them.
What’s your approach to leadership, and how do you keep people jazzed and energized?
We bring in people with experience, people who have been doing consulting-type work for a long period of time. They know how to do their jobs.
I can provide them with the opportunity to leverage a greater Slalom network that will help them grow, not only from a competency perspective, but from a leadership perspective as well. I put that trust in them.
I want to be able to celebrate their successes with them, and make sure that they feel like they’re valued in terms of what they’re doing. But at the end of the day, sometimes the biggest thing I can do is get out of their way. I think they want to know that I trust that they can do what they do best, and that they can deliver what they’re committed to.
What motivates you, professionally?
I spent almost 20 years at a Big 4 consulting firm. And although there was a tremendous amount that I learned, what motivates me here at Slalom is the opportunity to build something great in this market. And I have so much confidence in the people that we have here; I have confidence in the model we operate in; and I have confidence in our company’s leadership. So what’s motivating for me is watching us grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
I’m a huge baseball fan, and there are a lot of great analogies about success in baseball. One that I always seem to remember is from Babe Ruth. When he would strikeout and people would ask if he was disappointed, his answer was, “Of course not! That strikeout means I’m one at-bat closer to my next homerun.”
As we grow our market, we recognize that there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. We obviously want more ups than downs, but I have confidence that every setback brings us to our next big win, and that we’re on our way to a very successful enterprise here in Phoenix.