We continue our Akili Employee Spotlight Series and introduce Steven Barry. This week we learned more about our Tennessee-based consultant.

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

My role at Akili has evolved into what I call a Swiss Army knife. When I first started with Akili a little over a year ago, I was primarily an Anaplan Model Builder. Now, I have become an Anaplan-certified Solution Architect, am helping to lead our Akili Training program, and am even doing Sales and Marketing work as well. I love that I am in a position where I can wear many hats for Akili. It means that there is never a dull moment! It allows for me to contribute in many ways, and I think that it is also helping to make me a more well-rounded individual.

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

When Akili first reached out to me about a position, I had no interest in changing jobs. I was in a very good place in my career and was set up for success with my former employer. But as I continued to speak with our Executive Team members, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Akili. It wasn’t just the work that I would be doing, but it was also the personalities of the people at the company. I had never talked with people in their positions at a company that were so kind, laid-back and fun. Culture is everything to me with where I am working, and Akili seemed to have the best culture I had ever encountered in a workplace. I took a leap of faith based on this, and it was easily the best decision of my career to this point. Everything about Akili that was described to me in those interviews has been true. The people all feel like a work family at this point, and I wake up each day happy to do my job.

What’s your favorite Akili memory? Or what are you looking forward to most in working at Akili? 

My favorite Akili memory would be last year’s Christmas party. Since I live in Tennessee and work remotely most of the time, I do not get to see my coworkers in person very often. The Christmas party was the first time I got to see everyone together, and it was a blast! I got to let loose and completely be myself without having to worry about the office politics you might experience with other companies. That feeling of freedom, along with the great mix of personalities that we have at Akili, made for one of the most fun events I have ever attended. 

What makes Akili stand out from the rest?

Culture, culture, culture! Shiek and our Executive team have done such a great job of hiring some of the kindest, hardest-working individuals in the industry. Accompany that with the freedom to be able to speak our minds at any point, and we have an organization that is always striving to help each other be better. There is a reason we are the best in our industry, and it goes beyond the technical capabilities of our analysts. Our people and their commitment to Akili’s growth and success are the differentiating factor.

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

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  2. Don’t be afraid to say “no”.
  3. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. No matter how good you are on your own, you cannot truly be great until you have a team where everyone is able to excel.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

Learn to be comfortable in being yourself. Don’t try to project yourself as being the employee that you think the company wants you to be. Be the best version of yourself, and always be willing to grow and change. Also, take ownership and be accountable for the work that you do, both in success and failure.

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

The efforts that have been made to help us maintain a sustainable water supply are some of the greatest innovations in human history. We still have a long way to go to ensure that future generations will have enough water to survive, but I love seeing the efforts being made today to help save our planet.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love exercising, writing, and gaming. I also love to sit down and enjoy a challenging puzzle when I have the time to do so. I am also passionate about mentoring children, whether it be helping them with schoolwork or just the life questions that come as we all get older.

One thing that surprises a lot of people is that prior to becoming an IT professional, I used to be a professional wrestler. Though I may not look like it now (a decade behind a computer can change a lot of things about one’s appearance!), I would climb into a ring and put my body on the line to entertain crowds on a regular basis. Even though I no longer wrestle, I still am heavily engaged with the sport and love to attend live events.

Motto or personal mantra?

“I’m just a man trying to be a bit better each day.”

If you asked me to sum myself up in one sentence, this would be it. We all fall short of our potential on a regular basis, so my goal in life is to try and find something to improve upon every day. Even if it is just a microscopic improvement, I feel like I am making progress.

Anything else you’d like everyone to know?

Thank you for reading this! If you would like to connect with me, please feel free to do so! Working with people is the best part of my day, and meeting other professionals in the industry is always enjoyable.