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Akili Core Values Series: Excellence

 

By David Allen | SAP S/4HANA Solutions

At Akili, we focus on aligning our people, processes, and delivery to customers around our core values. As we change and develop as a consulting company, the one constant is our allegiance to our value system. In this post on our core values, I have the opportunity to discuss excellence, which we describe as:

Excellence: Mediocrity is not an option. We prize innovation and consistently strive to better our standards for speed, efficiency, and quality.

In no way do we take excellence as an attribute of being better than someone else or better than another company. In fact, our goal with excellence is to be humble, since there is always room for improvement. To be excellent is to define a point in time and at Akili, our goal is to innovate and consistently strive for more. There is a quote by Aristotle that states:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

In fact, excellence is the outcome of excelling at a combination of other habits in the workplace. So, what is Akili doing day-to-day to achieve excellence?

Akili focuses on delivering business value and not just technology solutions. Business value is focused on the people, the process, and the technology. In any project, these three components are impacted differently, but all of them are impacted with every project. Our goal with our delivery methodology at Akili is to ensure the customer has complete transparency on that impact within each project.

An example of the ‘people side’ of the solution delivery can be described around the change management activity within a project. As with all projects, there is a limit to the available budget, timeline, or available resources. When there is a budget limitation, a customer may want to handle the change management requirements of the project directly. Many consulting firms will remove that scope from the project plan, but at Akili we simply change the ownership on the plan and continue to monitor the activity of the customer with our project manager. The success of the project will be graded on the entire project delivery, even when it may not be in Akili’s direct deliverables. No matter how well the technology solution that Akili delivers solves the problem, the technology will not be impactful unless the business understands that change and embraces it. It will not be impactful or achieve optimal business value unless it is balanced across the people, process, and technology. Our goal with our projects is to be an independent advisor that is accountable and results-oriented.

Akili chose excellence for a core value, not because it is easy to achieve, but because it is difficult. Success is shown each day by our customer’s commitment to utilize Akili for multiple projects, by the longevity of our team with a very low turnover rate, and by the recognition we receive by our community and partners.

When was the last time you looked at your consulting partner and thought they represented excellence?

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Akili Core Values Series: Intensity

 

By Shannon Bachar | Social Media & Content Specialist

Intensity: Work hard. Play hard. We push the envelope so we always know what we are truly capable of achieving.

At Akili, we don’t believe in comfort zones.

And honestly, that can be said about everything we do. Step inside our office for a day and you’ll see how we define intensity, because we don’t use that term loosely.

You’ll see our employees doing what we do best, turning data into information and knowledge. We’re always looking for new and better ways to compete like never before, with our clients at top of mind. It’s one differentiator that we take great pride in.

In my own work, I am often presented with turning around a proposal deck in a matter of days to meet the time frame of a client. This requires me to step up my performance to bring our brand to life and create something of value for our company. Being on the frontlines of change with my position gives me a true challenge, and makes me feel accomplished with all that I do. I think that’s something all of us employees feel at the end of the day.

We’re able to maintain our intensity at work because we play hard, too. We allow ourselves the chance to recharge so we can continue to perform to the best of our ability.

Our CEO recently challenged us to a 30-day burpee challenge to keep us moving during the slow, ‘dog days’ of summer. Whenever I stopped by the gym after work, I would see some fellow Akilians breaking a sweat to get their burpees in.

Why? Because we love to compete. We embrace intensity.

Each year, we also team up to run the Dallas marathon, and not because we have to. We do it because we want to. There’s no better feeling than the sense of accomplishment after going the extra mile (literally).

Chat with any of our employees about their hobbies and you’ll hear anything from climbing mountains to jiu-jitsu to running hundred-mile races. I couldn’t make this up.

These are the kind of traits that inspire me in work and play. These are the kind of people I want to surround myself with.

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Employee Spotlight: Meet Ben Goodson

As one of our remote employees in Colorado, Business Planning Consultant Ben Goodson knows what it takes to provide a solution that works well for your business. This week, we had the chance to learn more from him outside of his consulting knowledge and picked up some great insights and advice along the way.

What’s your role at Akili and the most satisfying aspect about it?

My role with Akili is a consultant on the Business Planning Team. What I find most satisfying about the role is the gratification to hand off projects that really provide a solution to a problem. It’s fulfilling knowing that your own hard work is being valued. In addition, this role has allowed me to grow within my career with new technologies and different platform exposure.

How did you become interested in your line of work?

It sort of fell into my lap. I originally was in an accounting role, which then moved into a FP&A position. While in this role at my former employer, they were implementing BPC. There was a need for a key business person and I filled that role. The more that I got involved with the system, the more I saw where I could hop between the true business functions and the IT faction. It allows for me to see more of the business and learn more about the given tool itself. It became a good fusion of business and tech.

What about Akili made you decide to join?

For me, it was the ability to see a variety of businesses and industries and get out of the monthly business financial grind. Since joining, I have been exposed to oil and gas, retail, construction, manufacturing and tech. I am a people person, so the ability to be able to interact not only with my fellow Akili-ans, but be exposed to a bunch of different clients works well for me.

What’s a memory that stood out to you at Akili?

Being someone who is outside of the home office in Dallas, I think that it was the first time that I made the trip to meet everyone in person. It was the overall hospitality and professionalism that I experienced on that first meeting that has stuck with me. It is sometimes difficult to sustain long-distance relationships, but every time that I am back in Dallas, it is like seeing a bunch of friends that you haven’t seen in a while.

In your opinion, what makes Akili different?

I think that there are a few things that really stick out: work-life balance and subject matter experts. The first is pretty clear-cut, but at Akili, it is true. When you say you are out of office, you can truly be off and it is respected in a very professional manner. The second is something that you realize rather quickly, the number of people on Akili’s team that are smart and knowledgeable, which is everyone that I have worked with. There have been times where I have run into an issue and you have a meeting of the minds. The specific knowledge of any number of people is very impressive and is something that makes me want to be better and know more. My fellow Akili-ans have helped me create some pretty cool solutions , so it is a true benefit to working with Akili.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Living in Colorado, I try to enjoy the outdoors with fly-fishing, golfing, gardening and snowboarding. Recently I have taken up woodworking as a new hobby, so that is a challenge when I can find the time.

(Left) Fly-fishing (Right) Snowboarding

What keeps you motivated?

I think that the internal drive to be able to solve a problem and be able to provide a solution that solves the problem, is something that drives me in all aspects of life. One of Akili’s core values is Excellence: Mediocrity is not an option. We prize innovation and consistently strive to better our standards for speed, efficiency and quality. This is a constant theme throughout all of our work and it makes me want to learn more and be a better consultant each day.

Tell us about some of the greatest advice you’ve ever received.

There are a few things that I try to instill in my life both personally and professionally; one, is to just be a nice person and the second, is to listen more. I think both of these are intertwined on a lot of levels, but you never know if someone is having a bad day or if there is something out of your control that is dictating a mood or response. To go along with that, and this is something that has helped me become a better consultant, is that if you allow a person to respond in full, then often times, they can provide a true answer you are looking for, without you having to interject an opinion that could veer things off course. These are easier said than done, but are little reminders to myself.

(Left) Telluride Blugrass Festival (Right) Chris Stapleton Concert at Redrocks (Bottom) Panorama of Redrocks
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My First 90 Days at Akili: Pearl Puri

By Pearl Puri | Anaplan Consultant

When you first receive a job offer, there is a sense of skepticism on whether it’s the right job for you.

Well, you do get a sense of what’s in store, but the real question still looms large.

Luckily for me,  it was indeed the right choice.

My initial perception of Akili when I first came in to interview, was that it was a place where I could strike a healthy balance between work and fun. It was evident how valued the ‘fun’ aspect was by looking at the ping pong table and beer on tap near the work space.

My first week on the job was both interesting and reassuring. I was brought up to pace with the technology landscape and expectations were set forth for the near future. The most important part of all, was the introduction of a mentor who has to this day, helped me in all aspects. During the first week, I also realized how important the peers are in helping you get acquainted to the work culture and sorting any queries regarding work. This helped me immensely to transition to a work place environment as someone coming right out of graduate school.

With time spent working on a project, I realized how I had already inherited the Akili core values, even though it had been a month. I was extremely dedicated in providing robust solutions to clients with inspiration from my colleagues who I saw exemplifying the Akili spirit. I also acknowledged that the ‘fun’ part of the work extremely complemented the challenges my new position brought, which helped me to grow holistically.

One distinct thing I learned about the company, is how well we are respected by our clients. This not only helped me in delivering quality solutions, but also ensured that those solutions exceeded our clients’ expectations.

In continuation of this journey, I look forward to working on other challenging projects and bringing more value to the firm. Working at Akili has been a tremendous learning experience and it has been fun to be a part of this amazing family.