My Strive Story: Jennifer Aiken

Strive Consulting wouldn’t be the company it is today without the inspiring group of employees who make up our workforce. We pride ourselves on hiring individuals who bring a diverse group of skills and backgrounds to the table, which set our organization up for success.

Throughout our ‘My Strive Story’ Interview platform, we sit down with members from our different teams within the organization to find out where they came from, why they chose Strive, and what makes their experience here special.

Jennifer Aiken headshot

Jennifer Aiken

Director, Strategic Accounts

Dallas, TX

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Texan that has had many amazing experiences in my “short” life. 

I can’t get enough of experiencing different cultures and seeing the world. I have traveled to 5 of the 7 continents and plan to make it to six (Australia), but may leave out Antarctica (burrr). During these travels, I’ve climbed two mountains, eaten great food and food that made me sick, plus walked many, many miles to see amazing historical sites. However, the crown jewel in my life is my family.  It all began at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) a few decades ago and now my husband Tom and I have a wonderful daughter that keeps us busy outside of the office.

Professionally, I have worked in a variety of industries and roles and am loving my current role at Strive Consulting where I am the Director of Strategic Accounts based in our Dallas office for over 6 years. 

What attracted you to Strive?

I was working at Strive’s first client located in Texas over 12 years ago. Strive came in and provided great resources, partnership, and solutions to our challenges. When the opportunity was presented to join Strive, it was a no brainer. I was attracted by what I had already experienced on the client side, good leadership and work ethic, plus Strive also provided opportunity for growth personally and professionally.

What keeps you at Strive?

Strive has had tremendous growth, but maintains a personality of being hardworking and flexible in how we accomplish our work with our clients. Strive also encourages fun whenever possible!

Strive is a company where I know I can make an impact. It is a place where ideas are heard and expanded on whether it is for business, our culture, or reaching out to the community. 

What makes Strive stand above the rest?

Strive’s agility and our people are what makes us stand above the rest of the competition. We have flexibility in how we support clients, we make adjustments to our business model to address changes in the marketplace, and we listen to our clients to make sure they feel heard and understood.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I look forward to watching my daughter chase her dreams. Right now, it’s to be a college gymnast at a D1 university. I also look forward to partaking in Strive’s national growth as we expand out markets and services – we are well on our way!

Interested in joining Strive?

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed personally and professionally. Check out our Careers page for open roles and opportunities within Strive. We’re hiring!

Contact Us

My Strive Story: Kathy Loveless

Strive Consulting wouldn’t be the company it is today without the inspiring group of employees who make up our workforce. We pride ourselves on hiring individuals who bring a diverse group of skills and backgrounds to the table, which set our organization up for success.

Throughout our ‘My Strive Story’ Interview platform, we sit down with members from our different teams within the organization to find out where they came from, why they chose Strive, and what makes their experience here special.

Kathy Loveless

Manager, Management Consulting

Dallas, TX

Tell us about yourself.

I have been on a journey with IT for over 20 years, beginning as a desktop SME, all the way to program managing the implementation of a global contact center in the cloud. My love of learning and my training as a journalist has kept me asking questions and expanding my knowledge. I have worked in many industries, but the travel industry, where I’ve worked for almost 10 years, has always held a special place in my heart. Along the way, I have also become an Agile convert and believer, truly seeing the benefit and help it brings to so many companies and it excites me to help others implement and make the shift to an Agile way of working.

Outside of work, I spend quite a bit of time with my family. I’m the mother of an eighteen-year-old and work with my brothers to help my widowed Mom out with all kinds of things. In my spare time, I like to work on home improvement. Whether it’s re-doing a piece of furniture or fixing something around the house – plumbing, electrical or carpentry, I’ll try it all. I also enjoying reading and binging on YouTube learning about tons of different subjects.

What attracted you to Strive?

I was recruited by Strive’s Principal of National Recruiting, Jose Lomas, or as we refer to him in Dallas “Master Recruiter”. He kept checking-in with me and eventually came with an opportunity to work with a travel industry client. After a whirlwind interview schedule, I was hired within 4 days of first meeting Jose. After my time at this company came to a close, I knew Joses was the person I wanted to work with during my job hunt, and Ii’m so glad I did. He led me to Strive!

My decision was pretty easy. I wanted to get back into consulting because it fit my need for change. Strive was appealing because at the time, it was a local model and as a single mother, that was a necessity. I also appreciated the fact that it was a national company with markets throughout the U.S., but with an opportunity for growth. I liked everyone I met and they genuinely seemed excited for me to join the team.

What keeps you at Strive?

In one word: people. I love the people at Strive. I’ve been at Strive for many years now and we tend to attract people who are excited to learn from each other and grow themselves both professionally and personally. This creates an energy that is wonderful to be around. Another part I love about Strive is that I can contact anyone at the company and they are happy and eager to help. You can’t find that everywhere.

What makes Strive stand above the rest?

Just like it’s the people that keep me here, I think it’s the people that make Strive successful. Our relationship with our clients is all important. We want to know them and their challenges before determining what will work best for them. We don’t come in with cookie-cutter fits because we realize there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. We want to provide the best solution for our clients, so they will want to use Strive for their next challenge.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. My daughter is now 18 and things are changing, providing me time to try new interests. Additionally, Strive is going through exciting internal changes with our purchase by The Planet Group and the acquisitions of our sister consulting companies, Launch Consulting Group and Future State Consulting. These additions will provide new opportunities and new people for me to get to know!

Interested in joining Strive?

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed personally and professionally. Check out our Careers page for open roles and opportunities within Strive. We’re hiring!

Contact Us

My Strive Story: Margaret Rendleman

Strive Consulting wouldn’t be the company it is today without the inspiring group of employees who make up our workforce. We pride ourselves on hiring individuals who bring a diverse group of skills and backgrounds to the table, which set our organization up for success.

Throughout our ‘My Strive Story’ Interview platform, we sit down with members from our different teams within the organization to find out where they came from, why they chose Strive, and what makes their experience here special.

Margaret Rendleman

Corporate Recruiter

Chicago, IL

Tell us about yourself.

Hello! My name is Margaret Rendleman, a Corporate Recruiter on the Corporate Recruiting Team here at Strive. I’m originally from Carbondale, Illinois and went to school in Colorado at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. After school, I bopped around a bit; lived in DC for a few years, did an 8-month “around-the-world” trip, went back to Colorado and skied for a year, and finally moved back to the Midwest to live in Chicago and am absolutely loving it here!   

What attracted you to Strive?

What attracted me to Strive are similar to the reasons everyone else is here; reasonable work/life balance, super fun and supportive culture, ever-evolving opportunities, and a ‘people-first’ mentality. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that people want and expect more from their companies when it comes to their livelihood and I was no exception! I was impressed by Strive’s online presence and culture ratings, but what ultimately sold me was the personable conversations I had with the awesome people I interviewed with.

What keeps you at Strive?

I’m still fairly junior in my career, so having positive and encouraging leadership to help guide me has been nothing short of incredible. Strive as a company, wants each of us to develop in the way we want to develop. I’ve personally been able to evolve within my own role at the rate that I have because I feel safe and supported by my team and management.  

I’ve seen so many amazing people get promoted and move up within the short period of time I’ve been here, and it’s super encouraging to see the opportunity for personal growth and achievement. Strive is growing in an organic way and it feels great to be a part of it! 

What makes Strive stand above the rest?

Something I’ve noticed in my tenure at Strive that differentiates us from other companies are the close-knit, familiar relationships we’re able to build, not only with each other but also our clients. You’re not a cog in the machine, people know and remember you. Something I looked for while interviewing was how long current employees had been here, and with some Strivers ranging as much as a decade or longer, I felt that was a sign of a company with happy people in it. A sense of community with people who like it here brings people together in a favorable way, making Strive a place that people call home for many years. 

What are you looking forward to in the future?

The fabulous development we are having company-wide allows for a lot of opportunity to open up and look forward to. Most of us like having a sense of direction and a path to follow, especially if you’re more junior like myself, and Strive continues to create chances and open doors for those looking to expand their skills and move up. Years from now I hope to be in a leadership role and strongly feel that at Strive, that goal can be achieved! 

Interested in joining Strive?

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed personally and professionally. Check out our Careers page for open roles and opportunities within Strive. We’re hiring!

Contact Us

My Strive Story: Faye Thompson

Strive Consulting wouldn’t be the company it is today without the inspiring group of employees who make up our workforce. We pride ourselves on hiring individuals who bring a diverse group of skills and backgrounds to the table, which set our organization up for success.

Throughout our ‘My Strive Story’ Interview platform, we sit down with members from our different teams within the organization to find out where they came from, why they chose Strive, and what makes their experience here special.

Faye Thompson

Senior Management Consultant

Columbus, OH

Tell us about yourself.

I have worked in IT delivery for over 20 years as a consultant coach, product owner and scrum master. With a focus on an Agile mindset and continuous improvement, I have spent time in the financial services, healthcare, advertising, marketing, automotive, aviation and retail industries. I am passionate about using innovative solutions to drive business value, and enjoy training, mentoring and coaching workgroups as they transform themselves into highly engaged and energized teams. 

When I am not at work, I serve on the board of directors for the Central Ohio Agile Association and as President of the Women in STEMM Alumni Society of The Ohio State University. I also just completed my 25th year volunteering as an emergency medical responder and public affairs coordinator for the American Red Cross.  In my free time beyond that, I am an avid hockey fan, cheering on the Columbus Blue Jackets. I also really like nerding out on my hobbies, including cooking, gardening and wine. 

What attracted you to Strive?

From my initial conversation with a recruiter here at Strive, it seemed as though something different – something special – was happening here. People are at the forefront of everything Strive does, and that was really important to me. As I moved through the interview and hiring process, I only saw more and more examples of this. In fact, that whole experience was so positive, even if it hadn’t been the right fit or the right time, I still would have walked away with a positive impression of Strive. 

What keeps you at Strive?

I love that we place such a strong focus on our Core Values, and that they drive everything we do. We always seek to do the right thing for our clients, our communities, our Affiliates and our employees.   

 Also, we keep hiring more and more super cool people, and I want to hang out with them on a daily basis, which is really special. 

What makes Strive stand above the rest?

We don’t pitch one-size-fits-all solutions. We get to know our clients’ specific goals, environments and people first, and then tailor our recommendations to meet their unique needs. This is unusual in the consulting world, and it’s fantastic! We are building something really cool here. 

What are you looking forward to in the future?

After travel has been on the back-burner for the last couple of years, I’m looking forward to getting back out there and seeing the world. I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. My near-term goals are to finish visiting all 50 states (I’ve been to 48/50), all 7 continents (4/7), and all 63 US national parks (17/63). 

Interested in joining Strive?

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed personally and professionally. Check out our Careers page for open roles and opportunities within Strive. We’re hiring!

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Categories: Culture, MyStriveStory

My Strive Story: Lindsay Norcom

Strive Consulting wouldn’t be the company it is today without the inspiring group of employees who make up our workforce. We pride ourselves on hiring individuals who bring a diverse group of skills and backgrounds to the table, which set our organization up for success.

Throughout our ‘My Strive Story’ Interview platform, we sit down with members from our different teams within the organization to find out where they came from, why they chose Strive, and what makes their experience here special.

My strive Story: Lindsay Norcom

Lindsay Norcom

Manager, Recruiting & Talent

Atlanta, GA

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Lindsay, an Atlanta-native who recently returned to my hometown after almost 6 wonderful years in Chicago. After a relocation for my husband’s job took us to Chicago, I decided it was a perfect opportunity for me to try a career in the corporate world. I worked as an elementary school counselor prior to our move, and Chicago is a city full of amazing opportunities that I wanted in on. In my journey to find the right path, along came Strive and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have already grown immensely here at Strive and am currently serving as a Manager of Recruitment & Talent. Outside of work, I love hanging out with my husband, Andrew, and our tabby cat, Phoebe. While trying new restaurants and bars is still a favorite past time, the pandemic has allowed us to hone our home chef and bartender skills. Outside of that, we both love spending time with friends and family, especially our niece and nephews. Oh, and we’re big sports people! We root for all the hometown teams – the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta United, and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. We also cheer on our honorary Chicago Bears during football season.

What attracted you to Strive?

From the beginning, I met a tight-knit team of incredibly kind and driven individuals who were always willing to help me learn I was drawn to Strive from the first conversation I had with a member of the corporate recruiting team. I could tell the company was warm and welcoming and striving (pardon the pun) to achieve big goals. It was evident that the people here were smart, passionate, and open-minded –  knew I wanted to be a part of what Strive was building. I also loved that Strive didn’t see my lack of corporate experience as a barrier, but a building block to my potential success. My time in education certainly taught me numerous skills that I could apply to my job as a recruiter and Strive valued that. All I needed was drive, determination, and a willingness to give 100% each day and my teammates and leaders at Strive would help me learn and develop along the way.

What keeps you at Strive?

If I had to pinpoint one thing that keeps me at Strive, which is tough by the way, it would be the growth opportunities I see for myself, the recruiters I manage, and the company as a whole. In just the 2.5 years I have been at Strive, we have added two new markets, Minneapolis, MN and Charlotte, NC, and have our sights set on adding many more down the line. Not only are we adding markets, but the leaders at Strive knew about my desire to one day move from Chicago back to my hometown of Atlanta, GA, one of Strive’s existing markets, and they helped me achieve that. As we continue to grow, there will be a need for Strive’s people to step up into new roles and it’s exciting to think about what that will look like.

What makes Strive stand above the rest?

I believe Strive stands above the rest because of the dedication and commitment to deliver the very best. To me, Strive stands out because it’s a place where your voice is heard and you have the opportunity to live out our Core Value, ‘Make an Impact.’ Upon joining Strive, I got involved with StriveX, our employee-led committee of extracurricular activities, and am now serving as a Co-chair of our revamped National StriveX program. I am also still involved with StriveX committees including Wellness and Women’s Empowerment (WE). Being a part of StriveX allows me to connect with my colleagues in a different way and build relationships outside of our day-to-day roles at Strive. Strive also makes it a priority to serve the communities where we have offices and StriveX is a catalyst to achieving that

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I look forward to seeing how Strive continues to grow, especially with our recent acquisition by The Planet Group. We still have big goals ahead of us and I fully believe that we have the right people and the right resources to help us achieve them. I am also really excited about all the new people we will add to Strive. Strive isn’t the company we are without our people, and I love that we are adding a diverse mix of bright and driven individuals month over month.

Interested in joining Strive?

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed personally and professionally. Check out our Careers page for open roles and opportunities within Strive. We’re hiring!

Contact Us

Collaborating as a ‘Team’ Using Microsoft Teams

In March 2020, companies were forced to swiftly adapt to a new reality. While offices emptied out seemingly overnight, an entire workforce adjusted to working remotely for the foreseeable future. Despite most organizations having a disaster recovery playbook to fall back on, many still relied on teams being co-located, usually with a skeleton crew working from an additional temporary office space. Clearly, those presumptions were challenged, as suddenly, living rooms became offices, conference rooms, lunch spots, as well as break room, all in-one, with a need to keep business going on as usual.

Understandably, remote work requires us to have the correct communication tools at our fingertips. Enter Microsoft Teams, a business communication platform that is part of the Microsoft 365 family of products. Microsoft Teams offers workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration utilizing the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite of applications.

Improved Collaboration

Lack of collaboration negatively impacts the organization, making people feel disengaged and demotivated, ultimately affecting employee morale and cohesiveness across the board. Collaboration tools enable team members to seamlessly cooperate with one another, allowing users to share information and communicate all in one centralized place. Typically, a conversation with a coworker starts as an impromptu chat, whether in-person or remote via a collaboration tool. They discuss new product features, which may in turn, develop into a larger discussion utilizing a phone call or even a video call, potentially looping in broader product teams to continue strategizing.

Within Microsoft Teams, Users can work together within the same document, seeing others’ contributions in real-time, while elaborating on ideas, either via the ‘posts’ functionality or using the Teams conference channel. Additionally, Users can leverage a ‘chat’ feature to share links to external sources, or even render diagrams from embedded PowerBI reports, directly into a collaboration channel. The embedded search functionality allows for fast retrieval of documents, conversations, and guarantees that Users are only served with results for the Teams that they are Members or Owners of.

Internally at Strive Consulting

Our organization started utilizing Microsoft Teams in 2019, and the tool was adopted eagerly across Strive. Without formal governance guidelines or training in place, it became apparent that action needed to be taken to ensure long term success of this companywide collaboration tool.

Objective: Improve cross-departmental and market utilization of Microsoft Teams and facilitate increased collaboration, by providing guidance and training materials, with key outcomes being:

  • Improve usage of Teams by providing governance guidelines for using the tool, help users decide when to use Teams versus Channels, and provide guidance for the team’s lifecycle (initiation, active use, and sunsetting)
  • Migrate critical artifacts from Microsoft SharePoint to ensure those can be accessed directly in Teams
  • Provide Users with quick role-based access to searchable content across the Teams platform
  • Reduce e-mail threads leveraging Teams conversations and facilitate online collaboration within OneNote or any of the Microsoft Office 365 tools

The project started with an in-depth assessment of Strive’s entire Microsoft Teams inventory, interviewing the respective Team Owners across all departments and markets. Through analyzing content of said Teams and Channels, we quickly found that a third of our existing Teams could be eliminated, and another third could be moved into other higher-level Teams, significantly reducing the time Users spend navigating to relevant content.

MS Teams make teams work

Irrespective of the size of an organization, optimizing collaboration within and across teams will be beneficial to your company. Diverse teams, spread across continents and time zones, can collaborate on joint projects, communicate effectively, and focus on specific deliverables rather than wasting precious time reading through email chains or searching for message threads.

Embracing Microsoft Teams has helped Project, Product, Sales, and Marketing teams adjust to the new normal, allowing for seamless collaboration on various concurrent projects, whilst keeping stakeholders and leadership abreast of progress, opportunities, and pitfalls. For development-focused teams, especially those in technological advanced organizations, integration of Microsoft Teams with the Microsoft Azure platform unlocks a whole new level of collaboration, not only between the developers, but the broader project team, including project managers, testers, and end-users.

So, what’s next?

As companies continue to adapt to this new hybrid model of conducting business, a plethora of applications and tools will be utilized by both in-office and remote workers. Ultimately, the locale from where team members collaborate will be eclipsed by the efficiency and availability of the tools that allow for maximized hybrid teamwork. Unlock potential by deliberately planning and governing upfront, while continuing to add to your collaboration roadmap throughout its lifecycle. Microsoft Teams has the hallmarks allowing for successful collaboration within and across teams, ultimately allowing organizations to deliver for their clients, customers, and internal employees alike.

Is your organization working to collaborate more effectively?

Strive Consulting continues to innovate and grow through modern and ever-changing times. A shared collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams allows us to collaborate, enable trust, and deliver results to our clients and colleagues alike. Strive is here to provide guidance and assist in any way we can – drop us a note to see how we can be your partner, committed to success.

Understanding Modern Data Integration Best Practices

Access to data and real-time analytics are incredibly vital to any business. There are important decisions to be made, process improvements that can be achieved, supply chain notifications that are needed for immediate business choices, as well as other insights and information used to create or drive data-led decisions. With the data landscape changing over time and an increasing number of tools and cloud-based solutions available, the data space is always evolving. Understanding best practices when moving to a modern data architecture can help organizations succeed. Follow along and learn how Strive sets up our clients with the tools needed to bring business value every time.

Centralize Data

Data should be centralized, creating a single source of truth. It’s easy to say, and a lot more complicated to perform, depending on current source systems, but data silos can create multiple sources of data. As you can imagine, this complicates things. Two individuals can view two different data sets that have underlying differences when they should show the same data results.  Creating that single source of truth adds value of reliable data, data sources, and consistent results.

Scalability

One of the wonders of modern cloud tools is accessibility to a massive number of resources with no on-premise hardware increase. Using cloud tools, the elasticity and scalability can be essential to the accessibility of all data. Coinciding with the data lake concept, all data can be landed at low storage costs. If more data is needed to move downstream into the different data layers, resources can be added and scaled accordingly. Additional servers can be added for more power and clusters can be added for more concurrency. In a modern data architecture, scalability should always on the top of mind.

Extract, Load, Transform (ELT) vs. Extract, Transform, Load (ETL)

Traditionally, resources were needed to be planned out on-premise and ahead of time… plus databases had storage limits. This meant developers had to extract data from their sources, transform only what was needed, and load the data into the target. Tools or special coding were needed for this process, and the resources utilized for all of the transforming and loading of data were cumbersome and time consuming.

With the modern data integration approach, businesses can achieve a more ELT approach. The data is extracted and loaded first, due to low storage costs amongst cloud providers, allowing date to be transformed downstream. For example, with all of the unstructured and structured data loaded directly into a data lake, data scientists have access to everything and the ability to analyze every single bit. The data can finally be transformed based on the analysis and business rules to move downstream.

Re-usable Coding

As the number of tools grow and grow in the technology space, trying to keep re-usability in mind is very important. This improves speed to market and can improve the time it takes to deploy code, send extracts, load data into different layers, etc. For example, Strive partnered with one of our clients who needed 150 different files sent to a vendor. Using our proprietary ELT Accelerator, Strive developed reusable code and a database that could be used and run one time, loading all 150 files quickly and efficiently, saving our client time, money, and additional resources, while increasing speed to market.

Excellent Commenting and Documentation

Writing detailed documentation is difficult, but immensely important, especially in the beginning of a project. Creating a foundational aspect of commenting and documentation saves re-work and colleague understanding in the long run. Each piece of code, each SQL statement, and every deployment should have documentation and commenting. This makes support, future debugging, and future code changes easier.

Tool Agnostic Thinking

In order to understand a modern data architecture, it is important to think agnostically when deciding on tools. There are many cloud platforms, from AWS, Azure, Google Cloud as providers, and a growing number of data platforms in the cloud, such as Snowflake. When sifting through, it’s always important to take a step back and remember what is happening behind the scenes. We are moving data from one area to another and if you can learn one tool, it’s simple to learn another.

Minimal Approach

In the data landscape, there is no need to over complicate data pipelines. It adds to the skillset needed for a support team, creates data latency, and can increase the areas needed for code changes.  Let’s keep it as simple as possible. For example, a data lake can be housed within an AWS s3 folder structure and move to Snowflake. All layers can then be made within Snowflake itself. If the coding mindset remembers the ease of deployment and tool use, everyone wins.

Remember, it’s important to understand the current and future state of modern data integration and architecture. Data lakes are needed for data scientists, conformed layers are needed for downstream consumption, and semantic layers are needed for reporting purposes. As long as we all look at data and solutions as scalable, centralized, and re-usable, we are working towards a purpose that makes everyone’s job easier.

Interested in Strive’s Data & Analytics Practice?

Here at Strive Consulting, our subject matter experts’ team up with you to understand your core business needs, while taking a deeper dive into your organization’s growth strategy. Whether you’re interested in modern data integration or an overall data and analytics assessment, Strive Consulting is dedicated to being your partner, committed to success. Learn more about our Data & Analytics practice here.

Benefits in Joining Strive Consulting’s ‘Affiliate Network’

The holidays are a magical season when many of us take much needed time to slow down and reflect on what has transpired over the last 12 months. We begin to look forward to the refreshing promises of a new year – a chance to start anew, this year especially. It is an understatement that 2020 has offered more challenges than anticipated and unfolded in ways that were previously unfathomable leaving most of us eager for a fresh start.

For many business and technology professionals, the search for a fresh start will lead to taking a critical look at their current role or company, redefining what is most important in life, and seeking out a new opportunity that better aligns to their career or life goals. Of course, many will continue to prioritize the perceived stability of dedicating their careers to a single organization, but this year, more than any other year, people will make the decision to walk away from careers in industry to intentionally pursue project-based work.

Project-based work is not new, but the fact is that the emergence of the “gig economy” has diminished the “contractor” stigma that might have existed in the past and, in many ways, leveled the field for the individual. This is especially true in technology, where the demand for talent has never been higher and specialization has created leverage for individual contributors. A career may now be focused on the individual, rather than the company. While some are motivated to work on projects related to a specific technology, initiative, industry, or leadership path, others may seek more flexibility or the ability to take ownership of their career and maximize compensation.

Companies are doing their best to fight this shift – building great company cultures, increasing social responsibility efforts, and a higher degree of transparency are all now requirements if you strive to attract and retain top talent. But for those individuals that do make the decision to pursue project-based work, it is important to connect with an organization that values independent consultants and one that is able to provide a steady stream of exciting projects and opportunities. Strive Consulting is a pioneer in doing just this, having maintained a network of independent consultants since 2006 – known to us as Strive Affiliates.

3 Benefits to Being a Strive Affiliate:

  1. Access to intriguing projects and opportunities:

Strive Affiliates gain access to a variety of projects from across our 3 Practices – Technology Enablement, Data and Analytics, and Management Consulting. They can pursue projects that align with their career and life goals and are able to avoid projects that do not.  Affiliates get to continue in their area of specialty and those who are looking for more flexibility have their druthers as well.  Most simply stated, they are in control of their career!

  1. Strive’s Flexible Engagement Model

Our unique model pairs world-class Strive Consultants with specialized Strive Affiliates to create highly effective project teams and solutions. It a simple equation really – great people enjoy working with great people and teams are most efficient and effective when every team member is suited for their role.  So instead of pulling together teams of who is available on the bench, we curate customs teams for optimal enjoyment and performance.  Additionally, many of our Affiliates work with Strive repeatedly in this fashion, while an equal amount ultimately find long-term homes with the clients they served while at Strive.

  1. Advocates – Recruiters that care more

Foundational to every Strive office is a team of Strive Recruiters who love people and take great pride in fostering long-term relationships with the best and brightest. They abide by a candidate-centric recruiting model, which focuses on matching Affiliates with opportunities that align to their needs and desires – as opposed to the traditional client-centric model.  Ultimately, Affiliates have true advocates who present opportunities that align to what’s most important to them, be that work product, location, or compensation.

Thinking that Strive might be the right fit?

If you are interested in learning about the potential of becoming a Strive Affiliate, or leveraging the services offered, send us a note at the contact form below and our world class recruitment team will be in touch!

Blog Series: Transitioning Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Operations and Maintenance

This is the final post in a 3part series on building an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) capability for the first time. In case you missed our post last week, the second article covered how to set a targeted objective through development and communicating results. We will now focus on deploying and transitioning Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability to operations, governance of the capability, and establishing monitoring and maintenance routines to ensure performance holds with passing time 

Transition to Operations and managing the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability

The stakeholders have decided to move the AI/ML capability onto operational systems, and now it’s time to move forward. At this point ensure the data utilized to build the capability and the code or model itself are validated. Establish a specific plan with the Operations team to either transfer the AI/ML capability into the system or connect to the system using an API call. Depending on the final data needs, data pipelines may need to be established. 

Use a pre-packaged solution for deploymentmonitoring and governance or utilize a custom-built solution out of open-source tools and frameworks (Pachyderm, etc.)There are many pre-packaged solutions that are either optimized for a specific application or that can handle many types of models and be customized. If you have internal existing tools and frameworks already for other models, you may want to expand upon what is currently used to achieve easier adoption of your AI/ML capability. 

Perform Change Management.

With any new business process or capability, change management activities preceding deployment result in greater, more widespread adoption and less user frustration. The outcome for the user is they better understand how to incorporate the new AI/ML capability into their workflow and what insights they can achieveA combination of training documentation, in-person training, roadshows and even training material inside the operational tool (if applicable) are useful methods to do knowledge transfer and training. Any changes that are made to the capability may impact a user’s workflow, so perform an assessment with each capability update.  

A key to a successful rollout is to have users involved as the capability is transferred to Operations, before it is deployed. They can then provide input on how a user will interact and respond to the new insights generated or give input on how to optimize or modify an impacted business process. 

Maintaining and monitoring the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability. 

Like any new technology, without the appropriate care and feeding the new capability’s performance will decay over time and eventually wander into dangerous territory. To retain good AI/ML health and avoid using bad insights, there are two aspects to address. The first is ensuring the data integrity is stable: it continues to be updated at an appropriate interval and the data quality suffices. The second component is ensuring the model continues to perform as needed for the organization. These two aspects are key to your success and may be the make or break case for utilizing AI/ML in your firm.   

To make monitoring easier, add automated methods for data quality checks and the AI/ML capability performance in OperationsDashboards with visualizations are good tools to monitor performance and data quality at-a-glance. Use notifications for key individuals to take corrective action quicklyHave a communications plan in place if/when the capability is not available or goes down.  

It is a best practice to hold a major review of the AI/ML capability on regular intervals beyond monitoring activities. The state of business may change enough that the capability does not accurately represent the current state. There may also be new data available or external data sources that can greatly enhanced performance or applicability to the business. 

Identify how to best support the deployed Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability. 

As this is potentially the first foray into AI/ML for your organization, it will likely receive a lot of attention. To ensure a smooth adoption, provide timely support for special training requests or any issues that surface. Identify subject matter experts that are responsible for addressing either data issues or functionality issues. This may be a combination of a business product owner, a data owner and an infrastructure owner to cover any type of problem. It is also wise to earmark maintenance resources for a period to ensure proper support is available if needed. 

Updating the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability.

There is a repeatable process that occurs with every iteration, starting with training the model with updated data and/or additional data fieldsOnce proof-of-concept training and testing is complete, the capability is registered as a new configuration, then validated by a team of business and technical subject matter experts. The validated capability then moves to Operations, and monitoring functions start. Once an issue with performance is identified or new features / data are desired, another iteration occurs. 

Example scenarios where your AI/ML capability may need to be retrained arethere was a shift in the market place or your business model/performance (COVID-19 is a great example), third party or internal data is newly available or you a need to have the current business environment captured. 

Connect with Strive! 

Here at Strive Consulting, our subject matter experts’ team up with you to understand your core business needs, while taking a deeper dive into your organization’s growth strategy. Whether you’re interested in AI/ML implementation or an overall data and analytics assessment, Strive Consulting is dedicated to being your partner, committed to success.  

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