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CultureJan 14, 2019

Reflecting on Credera’s 20th Anniversary & Looking Ahead to the Next 20 Years

Justin Bell

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Credera, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my 14-plus years here and what I envision the next 20 years will look like for Credera.

first, a look back

The pre-Credera portion of my career was a rocky ride. I had worked at Arthur Andersen (which went bankrupt after the Enron scandal), Luminant (consulting firm that went bankrupt when the dot-com bubble burst) and American Airlines (was going bankrupt at the time). Through all that, I learned no company, large or small, was free of risk. I also learned it was really important to me to be able to see the impact of my work (vs. being buried deep in a huge organization where my impact didn’t really matter).

When I came to Credera in 2004, I was 26 years old and hired as a manager into a company with about 10 people and one main client. At the time, I was attracted to the vision that Rob, Matt, and David had for the firm and by the opportunity to make a real difference in a smaller organization. Their shared vision was to build a company full of great people, where both talent and character mattered equally, and to build a great business that allowed and encouraged us to be great at work and great at home (our definition of work-life balance).

growing strong

Helping to make that vision a reality has been an incredible experience. In many ways, I’ve grown up at Credera. I’ve had very few days in the last 14 years when I wasn’t learning something new, being challenged and building new relationships. I’ve performed many different roles both internally and with clients and have benefited from learning from an incredible group of leaders.

Both of my kids (now 11 and 13) were born while I’ve been here and have grown up as part of the Credera family. We’ve built an amazing firm that is filled with people I hope my kids grow up to be just like (the ultimate compliment; great at what they do and more importantly amazing people).

We’ve been recognized many times as a “best place to work” by national and local publications. We’ve built an amazing client list that any consulting firm would love to have and are doing truly innovative and strategically important projects for some of the world’s leading brands. This past August, we completed a strategically important step in our own journey by becoming part of Omnicom. With that acquisition, we set ourselves up for an incredible next 20 years.

Six months into this relationship with Omnicom, it couldn’t be going any better. The ability to still maintain our culture and brand and have the autonomy to run our business has been at least as good as expected. The strategic fit with the other Omnicom clients and agencies has been better than anticipated. What Credera does well is a perfect complement to what the other Omnicom agencies excel at and aligns well with the general transformation occurring in the marketing and advertising industry.

looking to the future

The next 20 years are an exciting time for Credera and our people. We’re getting additional opportunities to work with some of the world’s leading brands across a broad range of industries. This brings growth and opportunities for career advancement for our people. Realistically, we could be 1,000 people in five years and 8,000 or more in 20 years with offices all over the world. The people on our team today will be the foundation for that growth and will get great opportunities to lead interesting client work, internal initiatives and functions, launch new offices, and participate in many other strategic opportunities. That’s an incredible opportunity for us to positively impact the lives of more people/families and the communities we live in.

The key to our success will be scaling and growing our business without losing the core DNA that makes us who we are. I’m confident we can do that. As the firm has grown over the last 20 years, our culture has improved with each new person we’ve hired. Some people were concerned that growing from 50 people to 150 people would lose something, but instead we got better. We added exceptional talent (I sometimes half-joke that Credera wouldn’t hire 26-year-old me today) and those additions brought their unique backgrounds and diversity that give us a more well-rounded point of view and better teams.

opportunities ahead

One of our strategies to preserve the DNA of the company is to open new offices in the cities that have a concentration of new clients (e.g., New York, Chicago, London, etc.) so that we can serve those clients well without having our people traveling full time. Through that model, we’ll be able to meet the needs of our people and our clients. What we find is that some of our people love to travel at their respective stage of life, some are OK with a bit of travel, and some really can’t travel at all. We are well positioned to be able to meet all of those preferences and needs.

My vision and hope for the next 20 years is that we continue to evolve as a firm, learning and getting better every day, maintaining our family-friendly culture, and that we fully realize the strategic fit with Omnicom. I believe Credera can help to transform Omnicom’s relationship with all of their clients. If we do that, I know that our people will have amazing opportunities, be great at work and at home, and have their lives shaped in incredible ways like I have.