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The Conversion of a Consulting Road Warrior

For a long time, I thought being a consultant meant traveling every week. Period. The road warrior lifestyle of weeks away from family and living out of a suitcase was a necessary evil within the consulting profession that demanded such personal sacrifice to in effort to best serve our clients. It was not until I discovered SEI that I realized there’s a different way.

Before joining SEI, I traveled all over North America, spending weeks in remote locations such as Cape Girardeau, MO; Stockton, CA; Bridgeport, NJ; and even a stint in Mexico City. My lifestyle revolved around being an effective traveler; I read blogs about how to pack more efficiently (wish I was joking about that), kept up with the latest tech travel gear, and despised going through the security line at the airport with non-business travelers. All to ensure that my clients were happy and that my projects were successful. For a fruitful career, “normal” entailed being away from my family, living out of suitcase, and watching my son grow up over FaceTime. I knew I wasn’t the only one; this “normal” was what all my colleagues had come to terms as the only option at consulting success, and therefore “acceptable” sacrifices. My family also understood this was all part of the gig. It never occurred to me that a successful career in consulting didn’t have to be like this.

The turning point came when I woke up at home on a rare Tuesday morning when I wasn’t traveling and my wife turned to me and happily exclaimed, “Wow, you’re here!” It helped me realize that the road warrior lifestyle was neither healthy nor conducive to my family life. There had to be something better, something different. I knew I enjoyed doing the work of consulting, but not at the expense of missing out on both the big and small family moments. That’s when I discovered the SEI website. To my surprise I found a consulting firm with a local delivery model built upon a flat organizational structure. Translation: No travel, no titles, and no bureaucracy; a welcome opportunity to apply my consulting expertise and maintain a true family life.

I joined SEI in February 2013, looking for a fresh start and hoping to find a professional home for the rest of my career. Beyond the local model, what else changed when I joined SEI? The short answer is: much more than I expected. With a model that serves only the local market, rapid growth in consulting demand, and unique organizational culture, was SEI’s model really a sustainable recipe for success? I can confidently say that the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” The transition from my prior experience was much, much easier than I anticipated. The local delivery model meant I was home every night, and the importance of this aspect cannot be overstated. On a daily basis, I have an opportunity to work in challenging roles that stretch my skill set and experience. I am then able to go home, break bread with my family, and put my kids to bed. This is all enabled by what truly sets SEI apart from other consulting firms, global or local: its culture. It starts with the flat organizational structure; a true community of peers coupled with a real employee ownership model provides intrinsic motivation to improve, grow, and stretch your limits as an individual and a collective team. This in turn enhances SEI’s services offering, which fuels growth and opportunity in the local market. As each inflight project, newly acquired skill, and additional consultant raises our collective value, the demand for client committed consultants in the local market grows as well. It’s a thing of beauty!

So, if you are reading this in a middle seat on a plane, on a rental car shuttle, checking your frequent flier point balance, or in your hotel room and are thinking to yourself, “Wow that sounds great! What’s the catch?” Spoiler alert: There isn’t one. If you are ready to shed the road warrior title that you have worked so hard to earn, then SEI may be the place for you. Consider retiring your noise cancelling headphones, travel neck pillow, and rugged carry-on bag. For me, It’s only checked luggage from here on out, and I will never look back.

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