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Akili PHD: The Volunteer


By Christina Neubauer | Business Development Manager

When I was 21, I bought my first rabbit; a baby lop-eared girl named Ava. At the time, I thought I knew enough about rabbits to properly care for her. It took about a week for me to realize my error.

In that week, my ruffian little rabbit had proven to be a handful. So, I dove headfirst into research and quickly learned that my first mistake wasn’t my lack of knowledge on pellets versus rabbit-approved veggies. It was that I had bought Ava from a pet store instead of adopting.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 6.5 million companion animals are brought to shelters in the United States every year. And of those 6.5 million, 1.5 million are euthanized. It’s a staggering number to be faced with, especially when many pet stores in my own area are never in short supply of kittens, puppies, and of course, baby bunnies. I learned very quickly that rabbits are overpopulated and under-cared for by owners.

And I was one of them.

Over time I learned more and more about rabbit care and eventually found myself at Chicago’s Red Door Animal Shelter. Started in 2000, the Red Door Animal Shelter rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes the top three pets in the US; dogs, cats, and rabbits. All while being a no-kill, non-profit, 100% donation-run organization.

I became a volunteer, then an adoption coordinator and educator, and recently a board member. Working with the shelter has shown me many good times, like finding a sweet but abandoned cat a new home with loving people. But it has also shown me many upsetting times, like the day a cardboard box of emaciated kittens was dumped on our doorstep. Nevertheless, I became determined to do everything I could to educate people and place our animals into caring homes. I became more thorough and hell-bent to put all of my effort into each individual situation.

That same determination has carried over into my work at Akili. The passion I have for animals somehow transferred seamlessly into a passion for above-standard service. As a business management and technology consulting firm, our job is to improve the business performance of our clients by presenting well-researched solutions to fit their needs, all while providing the best support from the best people for the best mix of technology and consulting.

It’s clear that I’m not alone. Every member of the Akili team is determined to bring the very best results to each of our clients and to each unique situation or need. From Business Planning to Support Services, we’re passionate and determined to make the business lives of our clients easier.

Whether it’s finding loving homes for animals at the shelter or solutions for clients at work, my passion for service always shines through.

Christina with Avalanche, the 15-lb Flemish Giant Rabbit
Christina with Lex, the Human-Climbing Cat
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Webinar Replay: The Roadmap to BW/4HANA

Miss our webinar on BW/4HANA? Catch the replay here:

Companies make decisions with the available data and that data is disaggregated across your SAP Business Warehouse, third party data warehouse solutions, and the thousands of excel files across the organization.

There is a better way with SAP’s release of BW/4HANA and the time to plan for this is now.

Watch our webinar to learn about:

  • The value of SAP BW/4HANA compared to SAP Business Warehouse
  • The difference of SAP HANA and SAP BW/4HANA
  • The roadmap to SAP BW/4HANA
  • AND the one thing SAP may not have told you about SAP BW/4HANA