Q&A: A conversation with Stefanie Thelen, GM of Slalom St. Louis
August 3, 2016
St. Louis is one of Slalom’s newest offices and is poised to be one of the fastest growing in the Midwest. Home to a burgeoning start-up scene, storied Midwest companies, and loads of talent, St. Louis is a city on the rise. We sat down with Stefanie Thelen, the office’s new general manager, to learn why she chose Slalom, her perspectives on the market, and what inspires her.
You’ve decided to make Slalom your home—and we couldn’t be more excited. Tell us a little about why you chose Slalom.
I love my Slalom story—I didn’t know I was looking for Slalom until they found me. I happened to pick up a call from a Seattle area code, and it was Troy Johnson, co-founder and general manager. After 30 minutes on the phone with him, I felt incredibly inspired by his energy and vision.
The more people I met across Slalom, the more I kept thinking, “These are my people. These are the people who want to give more, learn more, risk more, and be more for each other and for our clients.” It’s important to me that we have the skills, experience, and perspectives that come with our broader national and international presence—but I’m really here because I’m inspired by our people.
What are the key things you see in building that type of culture in St. Louis?
On my first day on the job, I got some great advice from our president, Tony Rojas. Tony reminded me that my number one responsibility as a general manager for Slalom is to be a steward of the culture. I’ve thought a lot about what that really means and how I can best serve my team.
Culture has a lot to do with fostering connection and commitment to bring out the best in people. Companies don’t have ideas—people have ideas. Companies don’t solve problems—people solve problems. And we, as individuals and as teams, do our best and give our best when we’re connected to each other. When we have trust and loyalty, we feel safe enough to fail. That means we can be bold and have the courage to take risks and drive truly amazing outcomes. That’s the environment we want to build and sustain in our market.
That alone was inspiring—you are going to have a team of very inspired people working for you in St. Louis.
I appreciate that. I’m really impressed and thrilled with the team that we already have in place here. I’m excited to grow from such a strong foundation.