Crafting a Culture Cocktail: How Embark is Mixing Up the Accounting Consulting Industry

Clancy Fossum. November 13, 2017 . consulting, company culture

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This, of course, is one of those circular references that can drive accountants directly towards the Cliffs of Insanity, like an Excel formula that leads through the Fire Swamp and past the Rodents of Unusual Size. Obviously, your friends at Embark are not above a good Princess Bride reference.

crafting-culture.jpgHowever, there is a method to our particular madness. In the constant battle for market share and superior client support, there seems to be quite a discrepancy in opinion over what truly drives the bottom line. While a solid client base that expands over time is an obvious revenue driver, are an accounting consulting firm's resources best spent directly on the interests of those clients or on the culture that attracts the talent and fosters the environment that collectively guides the clients to a firm in the first place?

Our People Come First

This, of course, is a leading question because you likely already know Embark's stance on such matters. We take absolute pride in our reputation as a healthy disruptor to the professional services industry and consistently prioritize our people and company culture above all else.

From our perspective, empowering the skilled and expert minds that make our accounting consulting firm unique is the healthy long-term play that yields lasting results. Since we have no outside stakeholders, a fact many of our competitors cannot claim, we have the freedom to focus on our people without the outside influence that often leads to shortsighted goals.

Fitting into the Embark Culture

To that point, we use a very specific set of criteria when looking for potential hires that will fit well within our corporate culture cocktail, relying on particular questions to find particular people.

  • What have they accomplished in their career? What is their experience and professional certifications? Embark is looking for individuals with a very specific background to match our singular culture and ethic.
  • How are they wired? In order to quantify the inherently qualitative, we employ a data-driven approach that relies on different personality tests to gauge an individual’s capacity to work in our specific environment.
  • Such tests reveal a sense of social intelligence that we place a significant amount of importance towards since our people need to be able to successfully navigate social conflicts on a daily basis.
  • Embark also measures fluid intelligence that goes well beyond simple IQ and book smarts to measure mental and emotional agility. Being able to think on your feet, pivot when necessary, and quickly adapt to every new client situation adds value to our services and firm as a whole.
  • How are their interpersonal skills? An interview with Embark is more than just questions and answers but is extremely telling on a person's capacity to interact with others in a communicative and productive way. References are also insightful to see how they treat people in different environments and stress levels.

Successful candidates will meet all of these criteria, not just most of them. Above all else, however, we look for people who really want to join our team, who understand and appreciate how our unique perspective and culture builds an environment that ultimately serves the client exceedingly well.

Furthermore, since we don't have the luxury of hiring massive incoming classes that factor in the inevitable attrition seen throughout the Big Four, our new hires must be able to hit the ground running and immediately embrace our specific perspective and culture. Embark has flourished solely through the relationships we've built, a notion that is entirely due to our extraordinary people.

The Perfect Culture Cocktail

This isn't to imply, however, that we are completely altruistic in our mission and goals. Just like every other firm, we want and need to make money. At Embark, though, we place absolute value on finding an integration between billable hours and our personal lives that simply doesn't exist across much of the Big Four or other consulting firms. We work hard, are fantastic at what we do, but will always leave time to enjoy life and appreciate everything about it.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONSULTING FIRM


Embark isn't interested in maintaining vampire hours where our people rarely see the sun except through the pleasantly tinted windows of the
Common Desk. This is a special place that requires special people, a theme that we take endless pride in.

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