The 2020 Best Small Firms to Work For: Spinnaker Consulting Group

#11. Spinnaker Consulting Group

Headquarters: Richmond, Va.

Number of Billable Consultants: 35

Client Industries Served: Banking & Finance

Consulting Service Lines: Strategy & Operations Management

Spinnaker Consulting Group approaches each client interaction with an eye on the big picture. That strategy is reflected in its hiring, where it looks for star-performers with real-world experience who are capable of motivating each other to excel while strengthening client relationships.

“The Spinnaker Way” — which serves as internal shorthand for the firm’s guiding principles — can be broken down into two main spokes: The first is to assume positive intent, the second is to build meaningful relationships. These two core principles are the jumping-off point for every internal and external initiative the company undertakes.

“As Spinnaker, we have an internal program to help develop individuals’ skill sets and professional growth. These ‘People Developers,’ as we call them, work one-on-one with team members to strengthen their skills, but their feedback is always shared from a place of caring and positivity,” says Spinnaker CEO Shawn Sweeney.

“We also routinely volunteer within the communities we are a part of as a way to build meaningful relationships. Last year we volunteered with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, Home Again and Soldiers Angels.”

When it comes to Spinnaker’s approach to talent, the firm says it emphasizes hiring employees that align with its mission and values, something that can be easy to overlook when hiring for a niche role in a rapid growth environment.

“It’s a harder path — to invest the time to know what matters most in your organization and stay true to that knowledge — but if it’s a matter of that, or taking the chance of eroding our culture, I’d choose the former every time,” Sweeney says.

As for what it takes to maintain a culture to live up to its Best Small Firm to Work For distinction, they say details matter.

While our engagement teams are constantly keeping an eye on the end-goal, we also emphasize the importance of taking care of the little things. We want to be 100% on-the-money when it comes to following through on deliverables, on time and on budget.  But we also want to take care of little things, like scheduling meetings, to help relieve stress and make the experience as easy as possible.  When you do a lot of little things, consistently over a period of time, it adds up to a material differentiator,” says Sweeney.

Ask him about the impact of being named a Best Small Firm to Work For on the firm, its employees, and its clients, Sweeney says the recognition warrants celebration.

“We’re currently a team of 44 and looking to grow. We do our best to stay humble, but when others take notice of our culture and growth trajectory, we take the opportunity to celebrate that recognition to draw in the right people who possess that niche, senior-level expertise,” Sweeney says.

“Attracting high-caliber talent allows us to operate at the intersection of technology, business acumen and roll-up-your-sleeves style consulting. This approach is why our clients come to us.”

Consulting: What’s the top priority over the next 6 to 12 months?

Sweeney: ”We’re planning to add members to our team, practice areas to our core offerings and industries serviced. We can only achieve that with the right people – deeply skilled professionals with a hands-on approach. Culture is so central to who we are as an organization.  As we continue to grow, we’re focused on evolving our systems and experience to ensure our team remains engaged and excited about the work we do each day.”

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