(Special Thanks to Tom Hulsebosch of West Monroe Partners for his time and insights)
Earlier this month, Tom Hulsebosch stepped into the role of Office Leader at West Monroe Partners, and the consulting firm has big plans for their Chicago office. Although the firm has been featured on this blog for its corporate social responsibility program, West Monroe Partners also seeks to make a major impact on the Chicago employment scene. With plans to double its local workforce from 800 to 1,600 by 2024, West Monroe Partners has some ambitious plans...and we spoke with Tom Hulsebosch for more details.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. As you’re stepping into your professional role and integrating West Monroe’s plans to double its workforce, what is your overall vision and approach toward your role?
There are two principles I will focus on in this new role: Continuous improvement in our people-first culture and doing engaging, high-value work for our clients. As employee-owners of West Monroe, we empower people to power growth. In fact, one of our 13 core values at the firm is “quality over growth.” We strive to care more, do more, and achieve more – for ourselves, our clients, our firm, and the communities in which we live and work. Growth is not the most important part of our strategy: In our business, the most important things are the fulfillment of our employee-owners and delivering value to our clients
West Monroe is looking to double its workforce by 2024. What is your overall strategy for making this happen, and how will you balance aggressive recruiting/hiring and maintaining employee retention?
The strategy is to hire very purposely and methodically. Each August we hire a new class of campus graduates—in 2019, we hired more than 100 new graduates in Chicago alone. For experienced hires, we find that a vast majority of people who come in to interview are “sold” on the company. So, a key part of our strategy is to get them to meet with as many people as possible and experience as much of the culture as possible. Our interviews are, at minimum half-days and for more senior positions we conduct days’ worth of discussions and interviews. During this time we give them a tour of the office, meet with people on and off their teams—getting to know the culture, the people, and the opportunities through transparent conversations,
How do you see West Monroe as an organization adapting administratively to this challenge? (Also, how do you see it impacting the organization overall?)
We made the investment in 2019 to hire a chief administrative officer in Kevin Rooney, whose primary responsibility is to make us as efficient as possible—which is incredibly important for the next stage of our growth going from 1,500 to more than 3,000 employees. We also recently hired Alberto Ruocco as our chief information officer, who will be focused on creating a digital workplace that fuels an engaging, productive work environment and employee experience. We are looking inward and finding new areas of efficiency, through redesigned processes and technology, in finance, HR, onboarding, employee learning, employee communications, IT, and more. The key here is finding ways to improve our high level of client service and continuously improving our employee experience.
Doubling a workforce while maintaining (or improving) profitability can be a challenge; how can an organization like West Monroe (or any organization) be aggressive in recruiting new talent while maintaining current profitability?
As a 100% employee-owned firm, our leadership pays very close attention to profitability—because not only does it determine viability for future growth, but it also affects every single employee’s financial well-being. So we balance hiring with many other factors, including profitability, employee experience, the ability to put someone to work right away, and others. But we don’t set hiring goals and push on without constantly reassessing the numbers and needs. If we see a slowdown in our future work, we hold back on hiring for a bit until our revenue pipeline bounces back. So we never hire people without having the true need for them.
West Monroe serves clients through nimble, multidisciplinary teams—industry experts, operational experts, and technologists. This team-based approach breeds a culture of collaboration and truly engaging work, which attracts smart, motivated people. If we stay true to this commitment, we will attract the right people that want to enhance our organization, our clients and our community. The financial metrics are not an input to our strategy, but rather a measure of its success.
Finally, what is it about Chicago that makes it ideal for West Monroe to engage such an ambitious hiring strategy?
The Chicago area has some of the best talent in technology, our core industries, and our key functional areas as well. With a robust campus recruiting program and alliances with local organizations, as well as our very dedicated talent acquisition team, we are able to hire hundreds of people every year in Chicago. It helps that we win the best place to work awards every year—that piques people's interest. And we also find success in recruiting people back to Chicago—those who grew up here, but left for other cities, and are looking to come back to settle down or just return home.
I believe the workforce of the future that is currently at CPS and City Colleges are other resources we have in Chicago, and that we must all better utilize. We can complement our educational institutions to provide these students with professional experience and mentor support that will accelerate their entrance into tomorrow’s digital workplace. At West Monroe Partners, we are partnering with organizations such as Genesys Works, HFS Chicago Scholars, Chicago Apprenticeship Network, Springboard Foundation and so many more that are helping students across our city get the experience and mentorship they need to be prepared for a professional career. I look forward to partnering with industry leaders, educational institutions, and non-profits to create our future leaders and the future workforce of West Monroe Partners.
(Special thanks again to Tom Hulsebosch for his time and insight - please leave comments below or join us on our Facebook page. And as always, thanks for reading!)