Posted on

Employee Spotlight: Meet Keith Fenske

Big or small, whatever the technology issue may be, Keith is here to solve it. When you don’t see behind the scenes, it can be easy to take working technology for granted – until something goes wrong! This week, we had the chance to learn a lot more about Keith and his role, as well as share appreciation for all that he does to maintain a smooth operation.

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

I am an IT Consultant. I provide technical solutions and infrastructure to the point of it going unnoticed. Success is measured by little or no technical disruption for both end users and company services and operations.

How did you become interested in your line of work?

I was fascinated by the rapid technology development pre-dot com and seeing how the personal computer was going to transform everyone’s work and home life. I felt that this movement was the future, so I decided to make it my career.

What about Akili made you decide to join?

I was referred by a former coworker at a large corporation who had recently joined Akili. At first, I was hesitant leaving a large company for such a small entity, but once I met the owners and they shared the core values, the company direction, and their openness that I could walk into their office at any time to meet with them, I was sold.

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

A few core values come into play: Teamwork, Intensity, and Fun. In the earlier years of Akili, we were going through an acquisition of a Houston company and needed to move the acquired company’s IT infrastructure and desktop computers into the Akili Houston office over a weekend. The complete IT team traveled to Houston, rented a large truck, and worked long hours every day to get the move completed. At the end of each day, we made sure to decompress and enjoy some refreshments, play pool and share our best jokes.

In your opinion, what makes Akili different?

So many things. The culture: where work is just as important as having fun. The people: where everyone knows everyone and enjoys each other whether it’s on client projects or at company events. The teamwork: where collaboration leads to results.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy going on bucket list vacations (Australia, New Zealand, Italy) with my wife, getting together with family and friends, and playing the frustrating and rewarding game of golf.

What keeps you motivated?

Many people feel intimidated by technology and embarrassed to ask for help. I’m driven to comfort people of this anxiety and provide technical assistance no matter how simple or complex their issue may be.

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

Live for today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Life moves very fast, so make the best of it in the moment or you may regret it.

Anything else you’d like everyone to know?

I jumped out of a plane not only once, but twice (3,000 ft and 10,000 ft). Having this experience, I was able to convince my wife to para-glide off of a mountain in New Zealand.

Posted on

Akili Core Values Series: Integrity

 

By Julie Ziemer | Project Manager

Integrity: No games and no hidden agendas. Honesty defines our relationships with our people, clients, and partners.

At Akili, we do what is right for our clients and our employees, even if it means we lose revenue or have to say goodbye to a teammate. As a result, we have gained and maintained valuable, high quality, and meaningful relationships, which translates to more lucrative clients and employees in the end.

Integrity is one of my top personal values. I have been with Akili for close to ten years of my career, and have witnessed many difficult conversations with both clients and employees, and I am continually impressed with the conversations and outcomes. If you want a “yes company”, we may not be your best bet. We do not take the easy route. We take the right route.

Of course, the integrity of a company is only as good as its weakest employee. Warren Buffet once said, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

Akili does hiring right. We have exceptionally bright, hard-working, fun (and often quirky) employees who are not afraid to speak their truth. Management expects and rewards that. In fact, our CEO has a rating scale for employees calling “bull $ it”. If you do it well, with solid truth and convincing content, you are rewarded. If you don’t speak up in a difficult situation, it’s likely that you will not last. We do not have time for people who lack integrity, and our team will not tolerate it.

Ask any of our clients what they like best about working with us, and my guess is that the response will be something around performance, fun, and integrity. That, in a nutshell, is why I love and am still working at Akili.

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams

 

By Josh Fadley | ERP Practice Director

in·teg·ri·ty –

  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.

“Integrity” is a term often used when describing upstanding interpersonal qualities, however to fully understand its meaning and practical application as a core value at Akili, it is critical to understand both of its defined meanings.

While its first definition refers to the inherent state of being honest, Akili’s view on Integrity as a core value takes it one step further. We dedicate ourselves to not just being honest, but being openly truthful – “no games and no hidden agendas”.

Over time, this value has demonstrated itself on multiple occasions. Back during “Akili Version 1.0” in the 1990s, Akili had signed its largest ever engagement to date with a focus on developing a custom solution for a client. During the initial project preparations, one of our consultants discovered a product already in existence that would provide the requested functionality with reliable quality at a much more cost effective price point. Akili approached the client and offered to tear up the contract in order to do “the right thing” by them. This was a financially painful decision but it was ultimately the right decision – it was not just honesty when asked a question, but rather it was actively seeking out and offering truth beyond what most expect.

When viewing integrity from this perspective, the second definition of integrity, “the state of being whole and undivided”, is not merely an alternate meaning of the word but, rather, an inevitable consequence that comes from living out the first definition. When members of a tribe are not just honest but overtly truthful, the natural result is a group that inherently trusts one another and forms a true team.

At Akili, the results of embodying both definitions continue to play out a thousand ways each and every day, from our internal culture, which is shockingly devoid of people “playing politics” to healthy and lasting relationships with clients that span decades, industries, and economic climates.

People often refer to Akili as being “just different” – that’s OK, we know we’re different in quite a number of ways. And our clients invariably trust us because of this difference.

Posted on

Employee Spotlight: Meet Aline Koch

Whether it’s managing big tasks at the office or family functions at home, Project Manager Aline Koch keeps herself busy, but very organized. We spoke with her to learn more about her role and the life she leads outside of the office.

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

I am a Project Manager at Akili, which appeals to me because I love to organize everything. It’s very satisfying to see people adopting something that I had a hand in creating. Our customers’ excitement when embracing whatever it is that we have for them, and running with it, gives me a sense of accomplishment.

How did you become interested in your line of work?

I actually moved into IT during the dot-com craze. I started out as an Oracle DBA and Business Objects developer. I moved on to Data Warehousing and almost any tool that could be associated with ETL or reporting. I enjoyed analyzing, solution development, and basically solving a puzzle. This led me to being a Data Architect, Director of Business Intelligence, and other data-related positions. When I began at Akili, I was a Data Architect and I would PM as needed. As the need for PM’s grew, I moved into my role as a PM. It is just another aspect of problem-solving: How do I accomplish this goal with the resources, budget, and timeline presented? I love what I do.

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

I remember the first Halloween at Akili after I started. The costumes were very funny, irreverent, intellectually challenging, and elaborate. I remember thinking what a great group of people to hang out with. All of us work hard, but we truly believe in balancing our lives by having fun too.

In your opinion, what makes Akili different?

I believe that Akili is different because of the partnership we offer our clients. Our leadership team truly embraces the concept of partnering with our clients. This is the first company I’ve worked for that will actually turn down a client engagement or go to a simpler, less expensive solution if that is what is right for the clients. This leads to strong loyalty with our clients and per one of our clients, they trust us to choose what is right for them as we will give them the unvarnished truth. We end up with long-term strategic clients because of this.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I’m mostly involved in volunteering for all my kids’ activities. There are only so many years that kids want their parents involved in their lives, so I want to stay as involved as they will let me be. I have 3 teenagers who are all great kids. The older 2 are in Marching Band, which is strangely more intense than football… in Texas …yes, I know that means that it is insane. They went to state on Nov. 8!

My husband and I have to schedule our date nights to make sure we have time alone. We’ve done creative things like a cooking class, dinner clubs with friends, scuba-diving weekend, vacation to Disney World without the kids (I highly recommend this), and lots of other fun weekend getaways.

We have an incredibly large family, which means we have a lot of family events. I have 20 first cousins, and my husband has 12. The photo is just some of my French family that was in town to give you an idea.

What keeps you motivated?

I enjoy the challenge and love walking into new projects. Getting a new project with a new objective is like giving me a favorite piece of candy. I’m a data geek at heart and love to find a way to get the end result accomplished.

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

The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.

Essentially, this is what consultants do. We find a way to do what is asked of us, even if it seems impossible.

Posted on

My First 90 Days at Akili: Anali Rosas

 

By Anali Rosas | Anaplan Consultant

When I first started at Akili, my initial impression was, “Wow, everyone here is so incredibly talented. They work hard AND have fun doing it.” As simple as it sounds, it’s a rare combination to find in a corporate job. From the very first day, I was motivated to work and learn everything I could from my colleagues.

And so far, my impression has not changed.

At other companies, seeing an email from the CEO might just be another state of the company address, automated message sent by the executive administrator, or worse – a bearer of bad news. At Akili, you can expect anything from Shiek, like an email blast challenging all of us to a month of burpees. The entire office keeps it light, which makes it enjoyable to come in every day.

When everybody outside of Akili asks how I like my new gig, I respond the same each time – “I’m still waiting for the catch!” There’s always a catch, but not at Akili. I really appreciate the open door policy we have here. There’s a sense of community and accountability from top down.

Beforehand, I was in a completely different field, so I knew starting a job in a new field would be a challenge. My life so far at Akili has been a steep learning curve, which keeps me on my toes! It has been a humbling experience. There’s always something to learn from someone and I definitely do not take my job for granted.

As for the future, I’m looking forward to not being the “new” person anymore! Just kidding. I’m looking forward to participating in the Dallas marathon – our office is quite the competitive one, and we have two relay teams competing this year!