The 2017 Best Small Firms to Work For: Systems Evolution, Inc.

3. Systems Evolution, Inc.

Headquarters: Cincinnati Billable Consultants: 235 Client Industries Served: Communications & Media, Consumer Products, Financial Services, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Higher Education, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Public Sector, Retail, Transportation Consulting Service Lines:  IT, Operations Management

Bill Gallagher, CEO of Systems Evolution, Inc. (SEI) says it’s a great honor to be recognized as a ‘Best Small Firm to Work For’ for this, the seventh year in a row. Given that the designation is based on survey input from its consultants, Gallagher views it as a strong testament to not only the firm’s unique business model, but more importantly “our commitment to our consultants. The impact of the award is felt the most on our recruiting efforts, where candidates routinely mention the recognition by Consulting magazine,” he says.

In addition, being designated as a ‘Best Small Firm to Work For’ has a very positive impact on the morale of the company, he says. SEI’s No. 3 ranking matches the firms’ highest ever, so it’s safe to assume things are pretty positive at the Cincinnati-based firm. One other point of pride: In August, the firm celebrated its 25th anniversary.

“We have a unique and substantial broad-based employee ownership program, and we actively promote a high degree of empowerment across our employees given our focus on transparency and open book management,” Gallagher says. “This coupled with our commitment to providing local consulting opportunities, fosters a high degree of professional and personal satisfaction among SEI employees, their families and our clients.”

Gallagher says the firm is carrying a lot of momentum into 2018 and SEI has “a ton of demand” in both new and existing clients. “We’ve added new team members to our various offices and continue to expand our footprint to new markets,” Gallagher says. “In addition, I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with a more committed and close team of people.”

To that end, collaboration is at the heart of everything SEI does, Gallagher says. “We collaborate with a high degree of precision—particularly in terms of client delivery. Our clients receive immediate benefit from our ability to collaborate both at a local level as well as nationally. Our flat model ensures that there aren’t any competitive roadblocks that prevent our consultants from collaborating.”

As SEI grows, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring its consultants are building strong relationships within their local office and across the firm, he says. “We have addressed this challenge in several ways, beginning with our approach to onboarding new employees,” Gallagher says. “When possible, we begin onboarding employees even before their official start date, giving them access to their colleagues and allowing them to get integrated into the team before they begin their first client engagement.”

Q&A: What’s unique about your firm?   

Gallagher: “We operate a unique, employee ownership model. Not a traditional ESOP, but a tangible ownership model that includes ownership units valued by the financials of the local office, quarterly dividends and last but certainly not least—voting rights for the local office board of managers. While lucrative for our consultants, I believe it supports our collaborative culture and empowers our consultants to act like owners and leaders. Coupled with our approach of providing financial transparency and open book management, every consultant is empowered to make business decisions and support the growth of the company.”

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