The generational shift in the global workforce has been a hot topic of conversation in the consulting profession in recent years. For the last 20 years, life sciences consulting firm Trinity Partners has embraced that shift, making a point of seeking out young talent and valuing the fresh perspective they bring to the table. Consulting caught up with Michelle Adams, Trinity’s Director of Talent, to talk about their commitment to hiring recent graduates, integrating them with more seasoned consultants and the impact of the practice on their firm’s culture.
Consulting: What prompted Trinity to start hiring tranches of younger employees so long ago?
Adams: In order for us to help transform a challenge or business problem into an actual solution or life-changing experience for patients across the globe, we found it really comes down to ensuring we take a personalized and intellectual curiosity-first approach working with our pharmaceutical and biotech clients. With all that in mind, our culture has really been based on looking for high degrees and rewarding high degrees of intellectual curiosity, service orientation and a commitment to transform the healthcare space. What we found is that requires an immense amount of innovation, dedication and energy to tackle those really tricky problems our clients pose to us. We’ve had great success over the last 20 years in bringing on young talent to create a diverse employee base that allows us to tap into fresh perspectives and a dedication to innovation, which really plays well to what we found to be the core tenets of our business model in the first place.
Consulting: What have been some of the tangible benefits for Trinity?
Adams: What we’ve found is an increase in the level of innovation. To define that for us, we’ve found that because our younger talent that comes to us when they’re new to the workforce, they don’t have that inherent bias of how work gets done. What we’ve seen especially in the last 5-7 years as technology has innovated and the way people communicate has shifted drastically is a lot of those ideas brought into the workplace in how our younger generation of employees want to get work done. When we hire pools of younger talent, they come to us with an all-in mentality. I’m here, I will give you my all, and I hope to get something in return in terms of the total employee experience. So where we’ve seen that really play out is if we allow ourselves the room to empower them to be innovative and harness that dedication and energy where they want to make their mark.
Consulting: How do you bridge the gap between younger and more seasoned employees?
Adams: We’ve really embedded in our day to day the importance of self-awareness of work style in a few ways. We’ve ingrained into our culture that when teams form to work on a new project engagement we take the time to ensure people have defined for each other what their work styles are, both at a holistic level and a tactical one. This allows them time to be educated on how the project managers or project executives they’ll be partnering with like to work, here’s an opportunity to define articulate how they like to get work done and figure out how we can come to an agreement on social contract, how can we work best together knowing we’ll each probably need to adapt to some degree. It’s become kind of the cultural norm that you don’t start a project unless you’ve given yourselves room to really understand how each other is going to be working.
Consulting: What’s been the overall impact on firm culture?
Adams: Adaptation and collaboration are key to our success. The space in which we work evolves so quickly, and complexities continue to increase in the healthcare and life sciences space. What we’ve noticed is with this intersection of our growing workforce, not just with our numbers but the growing number of new to the workforce employees at Trinity, has allowed us to say we’re going to continue to have people with fresh perspective, they’re also going to maybe have a different lens about what they’re hoping to get out of their work experience. Our culture has become more open and transparent over time especially as we’ve welcomed new undergrad hires who bring with them an expectation we share with them openly. We’ve seen a great benefit to that because it’s challenged our tenured staff and leadership alike.
Consulting: How has retention been with these younger employees?
Adams: The consulting space is often an industry where people really want to challenge themselves and learn and figure out where they can take their career next. We’ve found we have great tenure here. We have a large contingent of Trinity team members with at least 5-10 years at Trinity. A large proportion of those started with us as undergraduate hires, their first job right out of school. That’s bucking the trend for the industry we’re in.
Consulting: What have you learned from this practice of hiring a lot of young employees each year?
Adams: Be humble, be vulnerable, and be open to the fact that you’re going to learn things from people who are potentially half your age or half your professional age. Another is to be open and honest as a business about where harnessing fresh talent can really help you and being open and honest about what we in turn need to offer our workforce because we’re seeing a different perspective, a desire to come in and give to the business as much as you get back.