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CultureMay 31, 2017

Life at Credera: Taking Initiatives

John Zhang

Contributions by Emily Dunn, Michael Davis, Andrea Curo, and John Lutteringer

After joining Credera, my definition of a leader was turned upside down. Credera creates an environment where we encourage one another to succeed and learn as much as possible. There is an adage, “A leader does not create followers, but a leader creates leaders.” Such an atmosphere is surreal and unexpected. It does not matter how long someone has been with the firm or even how much experience they have—what matters is initiative.

Building Trust

Within my first month here, CEO Rob Borrego gave his quintessential speech that a year at Credera is equivalent to three years in the industry. It was difficult for my wide-eyed, fresh-out-of-college self to understand exactly what he meant. Like many of my peers who first heard this, I thought he was just exaggerating or upselling. Little did I know the true meaning of his words: Credera is a place where everyone can do something great.

In other companies, it may take three years to be given meaningful responsibility. Credera fosters and supports the idea that employees are responsible for taking initiative. As soon as you join, you are taught to think like a leader and take action. There is no shortage of opportunities for new consultant-level team members to step up and lead crucial presentations or demonstrations for a client.

Identifying Individuals

The most significant part of Credera’s culture is that people genuinely enjoy helping others. There are many opportunities to do great things—all it takes is motivation and initiative. I was surprised at how some of my co-workers redefined this idea and took it to another level. These individuals saw opportunities where others did not and stepped outside their comfort zone to achieve their goal.

As the company grows larger, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize all the individual displays of leadership. I would like to take the chance to introduce four people who I am proud to call my co-workers—Emily Dunn, Michael Davis, Andrea Curo, and John Lutteringer—and share a part of their Life at Credera.

Emily: Leadership Within a Project

Emily was a first-year consultant when she started working with one of Credera’s clients. Over the course of the project, she realized past projects faced delays because of miscommunication and outdated specs. She saw the opportunity to help her team and client by revamping the client’s documentation process. The client and her team members were excited by the idea and fully supported her—but little did they know Emily would go above and beyond their expectations.

Emily used her experiences and thoughtful approach to develop an efficient process for her client. She analyzed collaboration tools, narrowed the options, and recommended a best-in-class tool (i.e., Confluence). During this process, she appropriately scoped the project, vetted her recommendation with key stakeholders, and developed methods to store and access project documents within the tool. In addition, she developed and executed a training course for 25 of the client’s key users on how to navigate the new solution.

As a result, her client actively uses the new processes and tool, which has had a direct and positive impact on the efficiency of the client’s projects.

Michael: Leading Outside Credera

One day while driving to work, Michael listened to a podcast about Node School. He was interested in supporting the organization, which encourages participants to learn node and other related technologies by organizing open-source public workshops. He was excited to get involved, but realized there was no chapter in Dallas. So he decided to step up and start the first Dallas Node School chapter.

Michael rallied a group of four Credera teammates interested in supporting the node school initiative. They proposed the idea to Credera, which encouraged their venture and even provided resources to host classes. During the first meet up, Michael and his team led over a hundred participants who crowded every flat surface in the Credera conference rooms.

Since then, Michael has hosted 23 classes and continues to lead the Dallas Node School. Keeping true to the Credera mentality, he strives for continuous improvement and regularly introduces new aspects to the Dallas chapter’s educational repertoire. For example, he started activities such as applying node technology to robotics, as well as info sessions where he and his team present on a new and innovative technology.

Because of Michael’s venture, Credera has hosted 16 sessions and has established its position as a company that supports new technologies and the programming community. As the Dallas chapter is moving toward completing its second year, it’s important to appreciate that this idea came from listening to a podcast while driving in a car. Since then, the Dallas chapter has matured and realized great achievements. Michael’s small initial step has led to huge impacts on himself, the community, and the company.

Andrea: Intra-Practice Leadership

Andrea was a first-year consultant when she was given an opportunity to help redefine the Mobile Practice. She recognized that Credera has a strong company culture, and wanted to cultivate the concept of a Mobile Practice subculture.

Andrea collaborated with Mobile leadership, proposed a budget and set goals for the Practice. She independently took feedback from her practice’s members and executed the Mobile Practice’s first team-bonding social events. She coordinated several Mobile Lunch and Learns, a Mobile Practice paintball retreat, and several celebrations of life events for Mobile Practice members.

After Andrea paved the path, several Mobile team members followed suit and are now leading their own initiatives. For example, Mobile lightning presentations and Mobile hackathons are currently being planned. Such events are now embedded in Mobile subculture.

Andrea did not see herself taking on a large role within the practice. But due to Credera’s support and encouragement, she developed skills she otherwise would not have. During this initiative, she recognized it’s not only the goal that’s important, but the journey as well. In her words, “This project is a work in progress—we have goals planned out monthly, as well as yearly, but the real work is learning and improving from event to event.”

John: Inter-Practice Leadership

John saw an opportunity to step up and bring back an old Credera tradition. In the past, Credera hosted companywide “techTalks”. TechTalks were intended to introduce new and innovative technologies to the company. Since then, Credera has broadened its services, and grown to nine separate technical and non-technical practices. As a result, the techTalks were scoped down to practice-level presentations.

John used this opportunity to introduce inter-practice education. John hosted a presentation on Clojure, a functional-programming language he is very interested in and has used in his side projects. His goal was to demonstrate his use of the technology to meet his project needs, and to potentially get Credera team members to think about problem solving in a different, more functional way.

However, what really stood out about John’s work was that he was completely self-motivated. John genuinely enjoys teaching and practicing his public speaking. John created an opportunity to improve his skills while educating others. As a result of his leadership, John set a precedent for other inter-practice events.

The Only Limit is You

Taking on a leadership role is not limited to anything but yourself. It only takes one step in the right direction to begin paving a path to something meaningful. Credera will encourage and support you along the way. All it takes is a little bit of determination and motivation!

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