Learn more about Erica’s path to leadership, her discovery of consulting, and love of analytics shaped by her career at Slalom.
Why did you decide to join Slalom?
I was working in the oil and gas industry for about five years and was getting my MBA at night. I took an Advanced Analytics course and realized that was what I wanted to do. So, I quit my job and moved to New York to attend graduate school. Working in academia during my graduate program gave me a taste of consulting: we solved various problems with different problem-solving techniques. I enjoyed the variety and knew consulting was my passion. When it came time to look for a job after my program, I first reached out to people I knew and learned a friend of mine was working at Slalom. The first official conversation I had with someone at Slalom left me with a great feeling about the company culture.
What also sold me on Slalom was the local model — I knew a few people working for other firms who always traveled and focusing on working in my community was what I really wanted.
How was your experience moving from academia to consulting? What helped you succeed in your new role as a consultant?
Understanding the relationship between the client and the consultant was new to me, but I was lucky to have great clients. In fact, all my clients have been awesome! Additionally, I was fortunate that one of our leaders, Saken Kulkarni, took a real interest in developing my skills. He recognized my leadership and helped guide me through my onboarding and new hire experience at Slalom.
What experience at Slalom or prior to Slalom has shaped you into the leader you are today?
I think quitting my job and going on a journey to do something that I loved has greatly influenced me. I love what I do and I appreciate it more than if I had just found this path right out of school.
Outside of your client-facing role, what other initiatives are you involved in at Slalom?
I’ve been involved in starting an Innovation Lab in the New York office. We started by creating a backlog of ideas for internal projects that we could potentially take to a client and deliver. The first Innovation Lab project was focused on the insurance underwriting process — it involved reading social media data for small businesses and identifying risks based on sentiment score reviews. We used this project as a sample for a client and they loved it! Getting involved in initiatives like this really help to diversify my experience and Slalom’s presence in our region.
Who inspires you?
I really admire our Regional General Manager, Chris McGrath’s people skills. He is very soft-spoken but incredibly funny. When he wants to make a point, he makes it in a very succinct way that I really admire. I’m also inspired by my fiancé: he has a strong work ethic, he is encouraging, and props me up for success. Those are some of the reasons I’m marrying him.
What do your leaders do or say to encourage YOU to be a better leader?
I feel I can really go to my leaders with any question and it’s not going to be stupid. They push me out of the nest to figure things out on my own and a lot of it is honestly the relationship we developed over time. It’s a sense of openness that our leaders create and a sense of “you can do it” that’s really inspiring and encouraging.
How can Slalom build a more inclusive and diverse workforce?
This has been the most inclusive workplace I have been a part of in my career. I think it’s important to continue building programs and communities such as Authentic Connection in our New York office which helps foster networking among working women.
What advice that you would give a new hire starting at Slalom?
The core value of “Be authentic” is very important here and that is what I’ve experienced at Slalom. I feel I can truly be myself here. Being authentic while being open to feedback is also important. When you receive feedback, listen to it, process it and translate it into positive guidance on what to do in the future.
What does Slalom provide that allows you to accelerate your career?
When I first started in consulting, I asked for a mentor because I wanted to learn. I have learned so much from our consultants and solution architects in particular. I believe that our internal team members have made the biggest impact on my career development at Slalom. I’ve also been involved with different types of business problems than I experienced in academia and that exposure helped me advance my skill set.
What is one Slalom project that’s been exciting or allowed you to develop new skills?
Our Avis — Proof of Technology project is one of my favorite projects. We partnered with Amazon Web Services to prove out a connected vehicle solution for Avis. It involved analytics and machine learning on streaming data. It was the first cross-functional project that utilized all of our skills across technology, data, advanced analytics and data visualization which was incredible to be a part of.
If you could write a book about your life, what would be the title and why?
I’d have to say, “Late to the Party”. I always tell people that I fell into things backward and it has somehow turned out really well for me! It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do in undergraduate school and again when I first entered the workforce. I finally got up and running later in my 20's and Slalom was a big part of that. Slalom’s been the best thing that’s happened to me.