The 2017 Best Small Firms to Work For: Propeller Consulting

13. Propeller Consulting

Headquarters: Portland, Ore.   Billable Consultants: 72 Client Industries Served: Energy and Utilities, Consumer Products, Healthcare, Financial Services, Education Technology, Public Sector Consulting Service Lines:  Strategy, Operations Management, HR, IT

Propeller launched just five years ago, but this is already the firm’s third time being recognized as one of the profession’s Best Small Firms to Work For, a recognition that has had a huge impact on the firm, says Amy Weeden, Managing Partner and co-founder of Propeller Consulting.

“We’ve ranked three years in a row and we’ve grown to 70 consultants and to two geographies in five years,” Weeden says. “This truly shows that we are hiring the right people, consistently building a great work culture, and doing exceptional work for our clients.”

That’s most likely one of the biggest reasons morale at the firm is so high. “We guide Propeller with a single belief: Always do the right thing,” she says. “Oftentimes people think consulting is about processes, systems or methodology, but we learned long ago that success always comes down to people. Doing right by the people we work with guides the large and small decisions we make every day. In return, people are happier, work harder, collaborate better and take more risks because we trust them.”

Weeden says that Propeller is focused on continued growth, and the firm now has a nine-person team in its new San Francisco office where it will continue to grow talent in the Bay Area.

In keeping with its people focused culture, Propeller also plans to roll out an employee ownership framework this year. “Growth also means expanding our scope and the value that we bring to our clients,” Weeden says. “We are being asked to tackle bigger and more strategic business problems and our firm is rising to the occasion to deliver for our clients. And as a firm, and as individuals, we are constantly looking for opportunities to grow and improve upon our business model, which means challenging the status quo.”

As far as the market, Weeden says Propeller’s clients are in dynamic industries with many business opportunities; yet are also threatened by disruption from the digital economy. “We are excited to partner with clients to help them capitalize on the new economy and drive long-term growth through increased revenue, internal efficiency, building strong capabilities and taking advantage of strategic opportunities.”

On the survey, Propeller excelled in the areas of Career Development and Work/Life Balance. “Our consultants live in the same city that they work. This allows them to apply their expertise with some of the most successful organizations, build a strong consulting career, and also be home for dinner at night,” she says. “Propeller has a generous individual training budget as well as extensive training available for employees to develop themselves. Employee development and growth is a key strategy for the leadership team at Propeller.”

Q&A: What’s unique about your firm? 

Weeden: “There are four key differentiators for Propeller. First, we make the complex simple for our clients. We help simplify complex business problems and identify the steps needed to get there. Second, we customize our solutions to each client need which means that we avoid the one-size-fits all approach.  Third, we specialize in strategy and execution. Our consultants deliver business results. And finally, we are agile and adaptive. Our consultants embed themselves within client organizations and it’s the emphasis on the ‘we’ that effectively drives change.”