We continue our Akili Employee Spotlight Series and introduce Business Planning Consultant Blair Hamilton! This week, we learned more about the pug-enthusiast of our Dallas office and her role.

Tell us more about your role and what you like most about it.

I am a Business Planning Consultant, and I focus specifically on Anaplan solutions. I love that I get to work with a variety of interesting and intelligent clients and colleagues. I am looking forward to seeing how different companies work and developing innovative solutions to streamline our customers’ planning processes.

What drew you to Akili? Is Akili what was described to you and what you expected?

Akili’s mentorship program was a big draw for me. The idea of being paired with an experienced Akili team member who serves as a resource and a coach for setting goals was appealing. It has definitely lived up to that billing. My mentor has been a phenomenal resource for me by talking me through my future career expectations and any work challenges I’m experiencing. It turns out he’s also someone I can chat with about soccer.

What’s your favorite Akili memory?

So far, my favorite memory at Akili has been the Halloween party where everyone dressed up in fun and silly costumes — to give context, I wore one of those inflatable tube men that stand outside car dealerships. My favorite phrase of Akili’s is “we are casual about everything, but our work.” Balancing out intense customer engagements with celebrations like our Happy Hours and holiday parties create a positive, high-energy environment that I enjoy.

What makes Akili stand out from the rest?

To sound repetitive: “The people, the people, the people.” I am not exaggerating when I say that the people I work with on a daily basis are some of the smartest and most fun I have ever met / worked with.

My coworkers have taught me valuable skills within Anaplan, how to deal with clients, how to present confidently in front of a crowd, but also fun things like where to go for the weirdest workout class or best barbecue in Dallas.

What are 3 career lessons you’ve learned so far?

  1. Speak up early and often. Sometimes problems or changes can occur but the sooner you say something, the more opportunities you will have to make the situation better.
  2. Great managers produce great employees. Managers who care about their employees and their work make the office culture more productive and positive.
  3. Say “yes” to things that make you uncomfortable. By uncomfortable I mean things that may appear “too challenging” because often times I have run into a challenge and come out on the other side more experienced and feeling more capable than I thought.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

Akili is made up of individuals that make it great. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and show off your knowledge, your experiences and activities that excite you.

It is extremely important to be self-motivated. One of my favorite things about this company is that they treat their employees like adults. Meaning if you are given a task or project, you are expected to work on your own to figure it out, not expect babysitting or hand-holding. We are treated and trusted like adults, and this independence allows employees to shine.

What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?

I would say the craziest but coolest innovation in my lifetime has been Facebook. I’ve seen it be used as a place to store photos, a way to connect with middle school friends who live in different parts of the world, a way to find groups of people who also love dogs in the middle of XYZ city, or a way to announce exciting life events to your entire group of family and friends. Although Facebook often is a rabbit hole of distraction, it is an innovation with a huge amount of impact.

How do you like to spend your free time / what are you passionate about?

I am a dog lover, specifically pugs. I have a 15-year-old black pug named Lily who is THE best. However, since Lily lives in California, you can often find me at pug meet ups around Dallas, going on Amazon to find some random pug paraphernalia, or scouring Instagram for cute pictures of famous pugs.

I also love to travel. These past 3 years I’ve gone to Vancouver for a half marathon, France for the Women’s World Cup, and Croatia to see all of the filming locations for Game of Thrones! If I had to pick a favorite city out of all of the places I have visited, it would be Budapest, Hungary. Budapest was the site of fascinating World War II history, quirky “ruin bars” and delicious desserts that look like bread turtlenecks covered in cinnamon.

But when I’m not cuddling my pug or traveling, I love to spend time with my family and friends, whether it is trying out new brunch locations in Dallas, playing soccer on Sundays, or watching SNL on the couch.

Motto or personal mantra?

“Be AmaZEN.” This random motto came from a dream my mom had. It means to be calm and zen, but not just calm and zen.