By Rosa Brigman
From the moment I stepped on the streets in Mexico, I could not believe how magical it felt. Even though I am from Peru, I felt a similar energy and excitement, and it made me feel like I was back home. There were people on the streets selling food, the signs were all in Spanish, and even the horrible traffic (well, they also have that in Atlanta, too).
When my client told me “You are going with us to Mexico,” I couldn’t have been more excited. For a second, I forgot my real purpose for traveling to Mexico. After three months of working remotely via Skype with the client’s team in Mexico, I would finally get to meet this team in person. Together we would continue to launch the pilot project we had begun at the Atlanta headquarters.
When it landed in Mexico City, it was a 45-minute ride to the industrial area of Guadalajara. My challenge had officially started, and I had three days to accomplish my goal: to help the client improve revenue and customer service. However, my trip to Guadalajara was more important to me than this objective alone. I wanted to prove to myself what kind of consultant I am. Some people think that speaking two languages and having the privilege to understand both sides of a conversation is easy. In fact, straddling two languages and cultures requires a great deal of thought and care, particularly in business settings.
To this point, as I reflected on my brief trip, I divided my experiences into four categories, with each of them as enriching and challenging as the last.
1. The Company Culture
As a visitor to a company, you must adapt yourself to any rule that the company has. For me, the challenging part was to see the signs on every other wall saying: “It is mandatory to speak in English” and “Only English after this door, please.” At the Atlanta Headquarters, I had been responsible for auditing Mexico’s team performance to help with more inputs and solve day-to-day customer service problems. I had weekly Skype meetings with the Mexico team before I met them, and many of them had the expectation that we would speak in Spanish when we were in person. It was disappointing for both of us that I had to say, “Sorry, tell me that in English please.” My strategy was to take advantage of my ethnicity to empathize with these employees, but because I couldn’t use my Spanish, I had to find a new strategy to build a close relationship with them for the coming days. As a consultant, you need to look for different solutions immediately.
So while I couldn’t use my language as a point of connection, I noticed during the initial training sessions that my young audience was 18- to 25-years old. This cued me to include some icebreakers and games to engage and connect with them. As a result, people felt more comfortable to speak with me about their experiences in the call center and how to improve customer service.
2. New friends
This company that I was visiting in Mexico is the third-party partner of my client. My client uses this particular vendor for customer service. It was my first time visiting them, and it was also the first time for me to be inside of a call center. Two words to describe it: huge and loud. It occurred to me I never really visualized a call center. There were at least ten islands with approximately 25 cubicles per island, each with a supervisor table verifying that everything was working correctly. Every island corresponded to a different client. What grabbed my attention more than anything else was the central station, which concentrates all the information from the entire call center. IT representatives could monitor how customer service representatives handled time, escalations, and system problems. IT and managers could get any information from any computer in the entire room.
This center stage records video and audio. It also captures immediate data about representatives and customers, including the purpose of the call. It was fascinating to see how the whole place worked, and at such as fast pace. And despite the breakneck speed, they were always ready to solve any emergencies.
One skill that consultants never stop learning and working on is networking. During my trip, I had the opportunity to participate in many external conversations with executives from the customer service company and my clients. In these conversations, I was able to learn about other project concerns, which I could then prepare to solve the next day. It is a fun way to collect thoughts, know more about your colleagues, and at the same time have an excellent time sharing some drinks and delicious food. I was even able to help translate orders for our waitress, who didn’t speak English. It was fun, and I was glad I could help!
If you are a consultant or want to be one, having these conversations is an essential part of your career. I have received some of best career insights so far from conversations like these.
4. The food
My favorite food is Asian, and I am not the biggest fan of Mexican food. However, my personal preferences don’t limit my admiration of Mexican cuisine. Mexico is so proud of its food that, in Guadalajara, 90% of restaurants are Mexican and there are very few options for other cuisines. I was amazed by the way Mexicans want you to embrace their love for their food. They generously offered me to try their dishes.
One dish that I tried is called “Chiles en Nogada.” It is essentially meat stuffed poblano chiles bathed in a walnut cream sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley. After Agustin de Iturbide signed Mexico’s independence and the treaty of Cordoba, this plate was created in his honor and is thus an extraordinary symbol of Mexican cuisine, It can only be made in August and September because of the unique ingredients it requires. It looked beautiful, but it was one of the most unusual things I have ever tasted in my life!
To sum up, traveling with clients can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. At Golden Source Consultants, I am asked to be a L.I.O.N. (Leader, Innovative, Open to sharing, and Nice) ready to jump to any situation and start problem solving immediately. It was my job to live up to that and represent us well. I believe I was successful in that mission, and I was rewarded with new experiences, new learnings, and new friends.
Welcome to Episode Six of the LIONs DEN: Conversations around a 21st Century approach to management and talent. In the sixth episode, we speak with two veterans of the armed forces, who have recently had to transition back into the corporate workforce. In our conversation today, we discuss how organizations can make this process smoother and more beneficial for both sides.
1. How big of an actual problem do veterans have in transitioning back into the workforce?
2. Sean and Grady walk through the different types of servicemen, from officers to enlisted, and the various paths they each take through the military and into the business world.
3. What are the basic challenges that veterans face when they transition into the workforce? Not speaking corporate business language, for one example. Second, veterans come from a life of service, and it’s hard when they transition into an organization that seems aimless and without a mission and purpose.
4. We discuss how organizations address issues like this…and we hear from our two veterans how they would advise organizations to integrate veterans. “A three-part transition…” [Sourcing, onboarding, culture]
5. When all of this is done the right way, retention is improved. A lot of veterans leave their first job too soon…
6. Sean mentioned onboarding, and we discuss if that process should be different with regards to veterans…
7. Are there any organizations that are doing it right that we can learn from?
8. Brady and Sean both share career advice to transitioning veterans to make this process easier (expand your network, stay positive, prepare better).
Welcome to Episode Five of the LIONs DEN: Conversations around a 21st Century approach to management and talent. In the fifth episode, we speak with two millennials, two recent graduates of the GSC Associates program, and hear straight from two millennials about the issues that are top of mind for them…and busting up millennial myths that are prevalent in today’s workforce…
1. What was your favorite part of the GSC Associates program?
2. Team bonding meetings, activities, AND training (“learn more about each other…) were one of the highlights…
3. You cannot disregard training, as you see, it can be a CRITICAL part of the team building process…
4. What concerns do millennials have when entering into the workforce? “How do we apply all that we have learned?” “Are my skills specific enough?”
5. Despite the myth that millennials are “cocky and arrogant,” they enter into the workforce with a lot of anxiety..
6. Once in the corporate world, what challenges did you encounter that you were not expecting? “Adapting quickly to a client’s culture is a big challenge…”
7. People and organizations have concerns about working with millennials. But…what concerns do millennials have about working with traditional corporate clients? “Millennials are always up to solving problems, do don’t shy away from giving us these problems to solve…” “As a millennial, I want to have support…”
8. What are some things that employers have DONE WELL that excite millennials? “It’s not just about more pay…”
9. How can employers be successful in helping millennials achieve successful careers, or at least set them on a path towards success?
10. To close, we shift to the Millennial Lighting Round (About all the Millennial Myths we keep hearing about):
A. You love social media.
B. You prefer to order your products online.
C. You want more electronic communication vs. face-to-face communication.
D. You want your work to mean something.
E. You like to travel.
F. You like to travel for work.
G. You love GSC.
You’ll be surprised by some of these answers, BUT, the most important observation from the lightning round: The work of millennials has to MEAN SOMETHING!
If you’ve visited our website you may have noticed some of the photos. As with everything related to the GSC brand there is a story behind them. Learn more about it here.
Jordan Lofton explains that her love for photography has shaped her view of management consulting and she wanted that to be reflected in the GSC brand. In particular she thinks that management consulting can help to show those they serve something they pass everyday in a new way.
She tells us, “These are all images taken around the Atlanta, Georgia area where we are headquartered. These are all areas where our clients and even our team go quite frequently. You pass them on your way to work, as you’re out and about showing your friends the city of Atlanta, these are places you know. They’re probably places you’ve overlooked many times.”
If you’ve been to one of our LIONShares, visited our blog The LION’s Den, or heard someone on our team be referred to as a LION, you may have noticed a patter in how GSC capitalizes the word LION. In today’s video blog we find out why.
As it turns out, LION is an acronym which reminds the Golden Source team of our core values:
Lions are beautiful creatures, but what do they have to do with consulting? When Golden Source Consultants first started there was no lion in site. After feedback from the first GSC team members, a hunt for a new logo began.
Many images were considered, including a peacock, a chess piece, and of course the lion. Upon seeing the hand drawing of the lion logo a decision was easy to make. “What I love about it is that it is simple and elegant. And, the lines are perfect. So I think in that, one of the parallels it draws for project work is just the simple elegance of a beautiful solution. They’re often times not complex, but they help us see things in a new way.”
There is much to a name, and Golden Source is no exception. From the very beginning quality was the focus. In a conversation which seemed like it was just two colleagues day dreaming, “gold” became a theme that CEO Jordan Lofton and her counterpart focused on. But there needed to be more. A connection to consulting.
“All of a sudden a light bulb went off in my head and I knew what it was! Golden Source. The golden source is the record of truth in a database…. And so it seemed appropriate. It denotes quality. It’s the record of truth. And its the standard that other consulting firms are judged against.”
When someone tells you they are a consultant, the very next question is “What type of consulting do you do?” Golden Source Consultants hears this question all the time. For GSC it’s simple. There are four core offerings. Easy enough to be remembered on one hand but essential enough to be needed for every business.
GSC offers Project Management, Business Process, Strategy, and Training Development. In today’s video blog our CEO explains why these core offerings were chosen and Golden Source integrates these together to provide additional value to our clients.
As Golden Source Consultants comes into year 4 of business, we’re excited to keep answering great questions from our clients, our team, and our peers. Over the years our core value of openness and sharing has lead us to be sought after for advice on topics ranging from “What are my competitors doing that I need to be aware of?” to “How can I better mentor the next generation?”
We want to answers more of these questions, so in true Millennial style we’ve found an innovative solution. Our new Video Blog series is here for you to answer your hardest questions. Please leave us a comment or message here or on our Facebook page so we can answer your questions.
To start us off with, our CEO Jordan Lofton is answering some questions asked frequently about Golden Source Consultants. Today she tells us the story of how Golden Source Consultants began from a simple client need and a humble response of “yes”. In her own words Jordan says, “At that time, it was a shock to me. It wasn’t something I had planned to do. So I went to family and friends, really thinking that they would confirm for me that this was too risky,…but amazingly, my family and friends encouraged me to pursue this opportunity. So I took the savings I had in my bank account and I hired two employees. We had one project, and one client.”
by Grady Brain
The short answer is no, GSC hires throughout all demographics. But an equally important question is, why does Golden Source Consultants focus on the millennial workforce? When one thinks about it, the answer becomes one of common sense.
Golden Source Consultants was founded on the premise of understanding emerging social-economic demographics and how cultural influencers directly impact public and private sector clients. Ok, but what does this really mean? And are recent demographic trends only here today to be gone tomorrow? Again, the answer is no, millennial talent is here to stay and so is their influence on all forms of business operations.
Millennials are joining the labor force at unprecedented rates. They have surpassed the once dominant group, Gen X’ers to become the largest demographic in American history. As demographics change, so too do their wants, wishes, and desires. At times, it is easy to lose sight of generational cultural differences even within a socio economic class. What was once important to Baby Boomers may be less so to Gen Xers and even less by millennial standards. But again, what does that mean? It means in order to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing environment, national and multi-national corporations (MNC) must thoroughly understand how to manage their workforce in order to remain competitive.
Millennial talent isn’t exclusively found in America. Millennials are part of a growing global community that are well connectedly and hyper-aware of their environment. Social media, technology, and mobile platforms are often a preferred form of communication versus traditional emails and phone calls. A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that by 2015, millennials will overtake the majority representation of the workforce and by 2030 this hyper-connected, tech savvy generation will make up 75% of the workforce.
It is clear to see millennial talent is here to stay. The question then becomes how do you train and keep millennial talent engaged? This is where GSC shines. GSC is a millennial driven, management consulting firm that focuses on successfully applying emerging demographics views in the industry. We understand the requirements of our clients and apply proven methodologies shaped by millennials allowing us to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients. As a result, our clients see this value and are always eager to work with our team on new projects.
GSC understands the unique brand millennials bring to the workforce and how best to effectively apply our strict internal processes to solve our client’s most pressing problems. It is a perfect marriage.
Having managers who relate to the millennial point of view is very important. As with any successful firm, managers and senior leaders are responsible for driving progress. Our managers, directors, and executives closely follow and analyze market shifts and are quick to adjust, though still remain firmly grounded in foundational business principles. Managers and directors tend to be more senior to millennials, however, are equally dynamic and passionate about social trends and their impact in our clients operations.
GSC understands the importance of providing a superior product for clients and employees alike. Leadership has created a win, win, win environment. Clients win because of our heavy focus on product delivery and solving their greatest needs; employees win because of the open and inviting culture at GSC that allows for freedom to create and think outside the box; and our community wins because of our dedication to giving back to those that have given us so much.