How I’m helping consultants to get the most out of their careers

About 18 months ago, just before I joined Guidewire, the company conducted their annual culture survey. The results were clear, there was a gap in career development of our Professional Services Field Consultants. This lead to the creation of the consulting manager (CM) role, which I then stepped into. The role was effectively to be a career coach for the field consultants.

In previous years, Field Consultants had reported directly to Principal Architects, Engagement Managers and Directors who also have their own client responsibilities and billable utilization targets. With the formation of the consulting manager, we now had the ability, opportunity and capacity to solely focus on the consultant and their goals and aspirations. It's ourr job to coach, mentor and work with them on which direction they want their career to go.

Creating a brand new role

This was unchartered territory for Guidewire, we essentially had set up our own start up business and were able to make it our own. The Consulting Manager team started with my manager (the Director of the team) and one other CM. We quickly hired three other CM's and have grown our team to include our Director plus nine managers.

As a consulting manager, building a meaningful relationship with the consultant is a top priority for me. I have monthly check-in calls with each person to make sure I’m helping to drive their career forward. During this call I discuss their current project/assignments and depending on their role we may review project team members and gather information to share with other CM's. It’s important for me to ask about work/life balance too, and any other topics they may want to talk about. The Guidewire core values of Integrity, Rationality and Collegiality are essential to these conversations. Not only do I want to make sure that I am portraying these to my team, but that the team member is embodying our values internally and to our customers and partners.

Since Guidewire moved away from a formal annual review the Consulting Manager will gather feedback on each consultant several times throughout the year. Each CM has been paired up with one or more of the portfolio or practice directors to have monthly feedback discussions. This feedback is used to monitor employee performance, project placement and promotion. Feedback is also requested of the on-site project managers as they have daily interactions with the consultants at the client site. I like to gain feedback from Directors, Project Managers and fellow project team members for a well-rounded view.

Reviewing our progress

A few months ago I was asked by a Guidewire executive for my opinion on how I felt the CM role was being received. I shared a situation that arose early in my tenure, a Consultant that had transferred to my team had some issues at their previous project and was ready to leave the company. I was able to drill into the situation and came up with an action plan on how to approach the next project and also some tools to be successful. Fast forward 12 months, that consultant told my manager the only reason they remained with Guidewire was because of me. I believed in this consultant, gave them what they needed to be successful and they are doing a terrific job.
While each manager has their own approach and style of building relationships, our consultants will find each CM prides themselves on being the advocate for their consultant. I often describe myself as an agent. Imagine your favorite athlete, movie star, etc., behind their careers they have an agent. Even if you are not a fan of the NFL you most likely know of Peyton Manning, and not only because he is a two-time Super Bowl champion. You’ll often see him starring in commercials for a famous car company, an insurance carrier who’s also a Guidewire customer, a famous worldwide pizza brand, and many more household names. He has a great agent behind him (Tom Condon) negotiating the largest off-field earning of any NFL player. The passion that an NFL agent has for their player's career is the same passion I bring to my team.

Michele Sayed, CISR
Consulting Manager, Guidewire Software

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