My First 90 Days at Twelve Consulting Group
Blake Gauer — Senior Consultant
Setting the Stage:
My career path was set. I had graduated from the Opus School of Business at the University of Saint Thomas with a degree in Finance, and was able to land a full-time Financial Analyst position at a large corporation after a successful summer internship. I was driven and highly motivated to rise up the corporate hierarchy as quickly as I could, with the end goal of becoming a CFO of a large corporation. After 6 years of steady progression, I had exceeded my initial career milestone goal of becoming a manager before I turned 30. Everything was going to plan. But then something changed. I started to realize I was no longer learning and building my technical and professional skills at the pace I had earlier in my career. The days seemed to drag on, and navigating corporate politics seemed to consume more of my time and energy than anything else. I couldn’t figure out why I felt less motivated, less driven, less hungry. “Maybe this is just something that happens”, I thought. Maybe this is the “burn-out” that I had always heard about?
Coffee with Haley:
When I was at my former employer, I had the opportunity to conduct on-campus interviews for the summer finance internship back at my alma mater. I always looked for a certain type of person — someone who not only was smart, but was also personable, energetic and fun to work with. Those were the traits that had helped me to become successful, and that was the type of person I most enjoyed working with. In 3 years of conducting these interviews, one person stood out above all of the rest — Haley. She was selected for the internship and accepted the full-time offer that was extended to her once the summer had concluded. I was fortunate enough to get to work with Haley during her time there. She reminded me of my younger-self — so much energy and hunger to learn every single day. I was selfishly bummed out when she told me she was pursuing an opportunity outside of the company. It was about a year later that she reached out to me to grab coffee and catch up. I immediately noticed how happy she was, and how excited she was to tell me about what she was doing now. What type of “work” could possibly make someone so happy? So fulfilled? So excited to tell me about?
Twelve Consulting Group:
It only took 5 minutes of talking with Haley for me to realize how unique the opportunity is to work for Twelve Consulting Group. And that was before I met the rest of the team. After being at Twelve for just 90 days, it has become increasingly clear to me what makes Twelve different, and why I feel so much more fulfilled than I had previously.
The People. The people here are honestly incredible. Everyone that works here reminds me of that ideal intern candidate that I had targeted before. Everyone, literally everyone, is intelligent, driven, energetic, and a team player. It is a team full of natural leaders and collaborators. I have never worked with so many talented and capable people. I have never been more naturally motivated to learn, primarily because I want to be able to provide the same level of help and support to my fellow colleagues as they have provided to me during my time here.
The Technology. A lot has changed since I first started my career in finance. I was able to make my mark by quickly learning how to leverage tools like Microsoft Access and Excel in order to manipulate large volumes of data to make it tell a story. Just as quickly as “big-data” went from a new and trendy buzz-word to an everyday part of life as an analyst, so too have the aforementioned tools become outdated and insufficient to handle the magnitude of the data available to us today. Anaplan, Twelve’s primary implementation tool, is a true game-changer. Born in the Cloud, this is the only software of its kind that can allow business leaders to plan and manage their businesses in an agile, dynamic and connected manner. After just 90 days at Twelve, it has become increasingly clear to me that had I not decided to make the jump when I did, I would have been falling further and further behind regarding my technical skillset and therefore less and less valuable as an asset. Now, I am confident I am working with the most cutting edge technology available, and am contributing to leading a change in the way business leaders can expect to plan and drive value-add analysis.
The Leadership. The partners, Jill, Josh, John and Fred are absolutely incredible. They are approachable, engaged with the team, inclusive, and so not political. They lead by example, getting their hands dirty with everyone else when needed, and always looking for better ways to operate and enable our team. My favorite thing about the leadership here is that when they say they want to do something, they make it happen. Gone are the days where big ideas come and go, without ever coming to fruition. At Twelve, our leaders are constantly looking for opportunities to evolve and immediately put those idea’s into action — and then see them through. They are highly involved in developing leaders out of our team, and are passionate about the personal growth and development of each of us. They share the same drive and hunger of those who they hire, and their influence is fundamental to Twelve’s success. I can’t say enough about how great they are to work for (and that’s not just because I want to keep my job).
The Pace. Everything at Twelve moves fast. As a young, but quickly growing company, there is no downtime. The moment you complete one task or wrap up a project, there is always a new opportunity around the corner waiting for you to conquer. There are so many things that we want to do here that we get to create and develop from scratch. Everyone is enabled and empowered to seek more efficient and effective ways of doing things, and once discovered, we have incredible internal domain specific collateral to spread the knowledge to all team members. It is such an exciting environment to work in and the days fly by. Every person here thrives on the pace required to work here, and it is truly inspiring.
The Projects — What we do. Working at Twelve is kind of like getting an MBA on steroids. Every project and client is different. We get to go into all kinds of businesses, learn how they are currently operating, and set them up to conduct their business planning using a cutting edge technology. Whether it is FP&A, Sales Quota Planning, Incentive Compensation Management, Trade & Promotion planning, Headcount/Workforce Planning, etc. — you will learn it. I cannot think of a more comprehensive way to learn all aspects of business planning than how Twelve enables its employees. The opportunity to learn here is never lacking, and the internal knowledge base we have here is uniquely diverse. Furthermore, Twelve has an outstanding enablement program — the 90-Day Plan. This internally designed and developed program was created specifically to maximize new employees comprehension of Anaplan in the shortest amount of time, while also emphasizing Twelve best practices that set us apart from other firms. Case in point, I have only been here for 90 days, and I have already worked with two very different businesses implement two different use-cases. I came into Twelve with a strong FP&A background, but limited in the sense that it pertained to one company and was Finance only. I already have been exposed to more business cases and learned about more business planning scenarios than I did in my previous 6 years of business experience. I am confident there is no educational program available today that would round out ones business acumen better than the 90 days I have spent with Twelve. And I am just getting started.
Now…I would be mistaken if I told you everything is rainbows and butterflies here at Twelve. It is challenging, it’s fast-paced, the work is hard and expectations are high! We are constantly encountering new challenges and finding new solutions. With Anaplan the client solutions can be complex so the learning curve can be steep. There are days that I leave and feel discouraged, and wish I was learning faster, but what fun would it be if there weren’t challenges to overcome? Those are exactly the challenges that I was missing before coming to Twelve. Our entire team is comprised of competitive people who are driven by such challenges, and that is largely what makes this group so special. I am more encouraged by my decision to come to Twelve every day and am excited to see what the future holds for us.