Q&A: A conversation with Slalom Hartford's Jim Goldschlager
December 3, 2014
Slalom’s Hartford office was recently honored by the Hartford Courant as a top workplace in the small business category. We talked to its general manager, Jim Goldschlager, about bringing back work to the U.S. and the value of blowing off steam with coworkers at the end of a long day.
Slalom’s expansion across the U.S., and now abroad, has been really exciting. Why was Hartford such a great fit for Slalom?
Hartford, which originally was on no expansion plan whatsoever, really emerged as a great fit for two reasons. One, there is an amazing amount of work in this area for some very large companies.
Two, Hartford is basically halfway between New York and Boston, and we have an opportunity to collaborate with both those markets to accelerate growth for all three of us. It’s just such a tremendous opportunity for us to work together in how we approach the Northeast.
You spent several years working at Slalom’s Seattle office before heading to Hartford. What made the Slalom Hartford opportunity exciting for you?
You know, I’m originally from Connecticut. I’ve lived and worked here several times. I was a client of Slalom before joining Slalom in Seattle, and joining Slalom was like a dream fulfilled for me. It was everything I believed consulting can and should be, and gave me every bit of reward that I missed from being a consultant.
The opportunity to bring that back to Hartford, a market that I knew could really appreciate it, felt like something I had to do. I knew we could do incredible work while creating great opportunities for people. And the idea of that was really exciting to me.
What are some of the key business trends that you’re seeing in your market right now and in the year ahead?
This is a market that’s full of large and established insurance companies, healthcare providers, and manufacturing companies who’ve had incredible cost pressures on them over the last several decades.
To address this, many have embraced the outsourcing trend to reduce resource costs and do more with less whenever possible. I think what they’re finding is perhaps that outsourcing pendulum was swung a little bit too far, and that doesn’t allow them to see growth opportunities, innovate, and sometimes even deliver as well as they’d like.
An emerging trend we’re seeing is some of that work returning from offshore back to the companies, as well as other kinds of providers who can deliver in more agile ways. I believe there’s a realization that real value doesn’t lie in the unit cost of a service being delivered, but in the time, the quality, and the overall cost of whatever a company is trying to accomplish. And I think Slalom is in a unique position to help with that.
Your office was recently honored as a top workplace in the small business category—congratulations! What do you think makes Slalom Hartford a great place to work?
I’m humbled by the entire thing. I think everything begins and ends with our purpose and our core values. Our core values aren’t just words on a page. Everyone feels it and it encourages all of us to make this the top work place to be.
It’s not any one thing we do. It’s creating an environment where people can come back from a challenging day at a client site where they’re fighting the good fights, but want to blow off some steam and spend time with their Slalom peers to get support and have some fun.
It’s so true that enjoying the people you work with and wanting to actually spend time with them makes your work environment so much better.
It really, really does. I mean, it’s a family. If anybody says, ‘Outside of work, who do you want to spend time with?’ I want to spend time with the people I work with every day.
What do you think makes a great consultant, and what are you looking for in terms of recruiting?
We do something at Hartford probably a little bit different than our other markets. We hire more people with both a consulting and industry background, and we’re very successful at it. For me, what makes a great consultant is the ability to exhibit what we consider core consulting competencies. You have to have those competencies and passion for being thrown into the deep end and figuring something out.
The other thing that is equally as important is alignment to our core values. When we find competency alignment and core value alignment, we’re really confident that we can develop the rest. And so far, we’ve had tremendous success doing that.
What would you do if you weren’t in consulting?
You know, I think when I wasn’t in consulting, I may have had answers for that. Now I don’t because I have my dream job. This is exactly what I want to do; it’s the last thing I want to do. I love it every day.
That’s inspiring. What’s been the highlight of your year at Slalom?
We’ve had more growth than I expected. I think we had to earn (our clients’) trust by getting in the trenches and fighting some of their most challenging, difficult fights side by side to earn the right to be asked to do more strategic things for them, and that’s happening.
It would be easy to say the top workplace award, but honestly, it probably comes down to little things. Like when, at the end of the day, consultants come back to the office, we’re at happy hour, and they’re just excited about what they’re doing together to achieve something—and I don’t care what it is. The excitement on their faces makes me happy, day in and day out.