Our Akili Employee Spotlight Series continues as we introduce Jordan Edwards. This week we learned more about our Dallas-based consultant.
Tell us more about your role and what you like most about it.
I joined Akili in September 2019 and I am a Senior Consultant within the Anaplan practice. However, my background has allowed me to also spend a lot of time helping clients solve their Business Intelligence problems. I’ve been splitting my time so far between Anaplan and Tableau projects, with a little Power BI thrown in for good measure. The variety of challenges is what I enjoy most about the role. I have a unique opportunity to use my creative energy to build out visually appealing, insightful dashboards for an industrial gas company’s sales department and then turn around and dive deep into problem-solving mode on an Anaplan FP&A project for a global financial services firm. That is a major promise/draw for the consulting industry as a whole but at Akili, that promise is actually fulfilled.
What drew you to Akili? Is Akili what was described to you and what you expected?
A friend from high school (who also helped me get my first part-time office job in college) has been with Akili since 2015, so I had more inside knowledge of Akili than most during the hiring process. I had seen a lot of his posts from company events, and I trusted his opinion of the company and the quality of people who make Akili what it is. During the interview process, a common theme that really appealed to me was “we treat you like an adult / we’re not here to babysit you”. Akili expects you to show up as an adult, work hard and deliver excellent work and in exchange, you are treated like an adult. There are no pointless rules which make it more difficult to contribute, and I don’t have to worry about a politics game when I come to work. So far, my expectations have been exceeded. The people are fantastic, the culture is the best I have experienced, and the work is rewarding.
What’s your favorite Akili memory?
My favorite memory so far has been the 2019 Holiday Party. It was great to have all of the remote employees flown into Dallas and get to meet so many people that I hadn’t met yet or have only spoken to on the phone. I was really looking forward to the Summer Party this past year, so hopefully we will get to have one in 2021!
Another is not so much a memory (more of an experience), but in 2020 a few of us in the office started working out regularly over lunch hour. It’s been awesome to see everyone working together towards common exercise goals. I have always believed that getting the team together in a non-work setting is the best way to build teamwork and get closer to coworkers. We typically have 4-6 people, and sometimes up to 8. I’m looking forward to more folks joining and keeping it going strong in 2021.
What makes Akili stand out from the rest?
Commitment to excellence. The singular focus on doing what is best for the client and always delivering a product of the utmost quality is something that I haven’t seen in the past. A lot of consulting companies care only about billing but here, we do what is in the client’s best interest. We only bill value-added time, and we may even recommend a client to go a different direction if their goals are incompatible or a different technology would better suit their needs.
The integrity is rare in this industry.
What are 3 career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
- Get to know people on a personal level
- Always be willing to do the work
- Ownership and integrity are critical
What advice do you have for prospective candidates?
Do your homework, come prepared with good questions, and bring your whole personality. The best thing about Akili is the people, and every individual brings diversity and a unique set of experiences. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
What is the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?
Anaplan, hands down.
Jokes aside, I would have to say “the great equalizer”: the internet. It has enabled the sharing of information that allowed humanity to innovate at unprecedented speeds. It also led directly to the smartphone, which is probably the best and worst thing to ever happen to us. The internet has allowed educators to continue teaching virtually and companies to stay fully operational during this pandemic. Can you imagine experiencing 2020 without the internet?
Also, it is somewhat of a crucial component to cloud platforms, like Anaplan. Have you heard about connected planning?
How do you like to spend your free time?
Most of my free time currently is spent getting ready for my wedding this spring, learning Spanish, and planning vacations. I really enjoy camping, hiking, being outdoors in general, and spending time with friends and family. My brother and I also have a holiday lighting business, so the next few weeks will be a lot of taking down lights and getting everything stored for next season. I also have a shuttle bus conversion that is under construction, so I’m planning on getting back to that after the wedding to finish it. It’s a 12-passenger 2004 Ford (think church bus or airport shuttle), and I’m completely converting it into an RV (bed, sink, shower, stove, couch).
Motto or personal mantra?
Don’t talk about it, be about it. You will never learn a new language by talking about it in your native language.