You've got to be willing to go to those young, entrepreneurial, bright people and say, 'We believe in you.'
Learning and development: We spend a lot of time, energy, and money on developing and teaching people. Almost from day one, we start them in a soft-skills as well as a technical program because it will make them better business people. It's about understanding how people communicate and, through discussions with clients, understanding basic things, such as how to conduct a business meeting right. We do a generational class, which has been new to us, more than a year, where we talk about how to deal with different generations in the workforce and try to debunk the myths.
Giving Millennials a break: These poor Millennials get stereotyped. People say, "They don't want to work hard. Life/work balance is everything for them. They expect to have more time off." But at [Armanino] we don't see that. Millennials will work hard. They might not want to sit at the office 10 hours a day, but they're on their devices doing work quite constantly. So the more you empower that technology and embrace the fact that they like to do things a little differently, the more successful and satisfied they'll be.
Fast-tracking careers: In most firms, by the time you become a partner, you've got to be about 15 years into your career. We are willing to promote people when they're ready, not when their age says they are. Maybe it's partially because we sit here in Northern California, where technology companies have CEOs in their 20s or early 30s. You've got to be willing to go to those young, entrepreneurial, bright people and say, "We believe in you. You're going to be a next leader. We're going to promote you when you're ready."
Make way for leaders: We're always looking for ways to have our young people lead something. Help them, mentor them, but let them be in charge. [For instance] the firm's going to sponsor 30 projects in our community, and we want them to be led by 30 different leaders. So [our staffers] have to come up with the idea, vet the idea, get it approved by our committee that's approving the idea, and then they have to lead it.
Innovating with the cloud: The majority of our consulting practice is geared around technology. The cloud's awesome. It's providing companies opportunities to get business applications in a way that you never could get to in the past. It's cheaper. You might have a cloud ERP [enterprise resource planning] system. The trick is having someone who understands how to help make [ERP systems] talk to each other, to integrate them.
—As told to Sheon Ladson Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C.