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“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – Milton Berle
As a consulting firm, Protiviti is in the business of helping others. That’s our passion. While helping our clients is always top of mind, we place just as much, if not more, emphasis on helping our employees to grow their careers by providing opportunities to mentor, to lead, and to get engaged. Through Foundations, our entry level hiring program, we aim to deliver a customized series of meaningful experiences and opportunities that help our people uncover the things they are passionate about.
I recently had the chance to talk with Experienced Senior Consultant, Alex. Alex sits in our Houston office and graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014. After making the biggest mistake of his life in turning down a Protiviti internship (just kidding…maybe!), he came back the next year and was quickly reconsidered and hired to join us full-time.
In full disclosure, Alex was quite honestly one of my best interviewees to date. For someone who is relatively young in their career, Alex was so articulate and mature in his responses. Later in our conversation, I’d come to find out that speaking engagements are nothing new for him, which explained his demeanor during our conversation. Did you know that this year he spoke to crowds totaling 600+ and he also has worked directly with members of our Executive Team? This is Alex’s story.
Q&A with Alex
You mentioned that you received an offer for Protiviti’s internship program but decided to go a different direction. We forgive you [insert laughs]. What made you come back to be considered for full-time work post graduation?
“After completing an internship in industry, I realized that I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed. I wanted to support different projects, be doing different things, and have more variety than my prior internship had offered me. I knew that Protiviti could provide me with the diversity, so I called up Casey Jo who now leads the U.S. Campus Program and asked to be considered for full-time post graduation.”
We’re glad you did! So let’s talk a bit about that variety. Over the past 4.5 years, can you give us an idea of some of the projects you’ve seen?
“I’ve worked on everything: from SOX and audit, home loan review with the Risk and Compliance team as an IT resource, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations, I’ve helped to support Anti-Money Laundering (AML) reviews and most recently I’ve been working in Robotics Process Automation (RPA).”
Wow, that’s a truly diverse mix of projects. How do you get those types of opportunities?
“I don’t just say I want to try something different. I look at what interests me and then I hone in on something more specific. If something peaks my interest, I talk to my advisors and say ‘how can you help me get to this?’ or ‘what do I need to do to experience this?’. The other thing I’d note is just being open to different opportunities — and not everyone ends up being glamorous, but they help you to understand your own interests better. There’s also probably some factor of good timing and luck!”
We know how valuable our Consultants and Senior Consultants are to our organization but did you ever have an “ah-ha” moment where you truly realized this yourself?
“We had a big ERP implementation project where we were helping a client move from an old system to a new system and we got to ingrain ourselves in the business and tackle some different issues that came up. It was one of the more difficult projects and it challenged us but as we made progress and as we finished, there was this realization of the impact and value we brought to the company and that was a great feeling. In hindsight, it changed the way they did their business, it changed how they were able to serve their customers and it made them more competitive and we were able to help them to go down that road. Without us, they would have had an extremely difficult, if not impossible time, to implement this system. The other part I really enjoyed was that we became close with the client, so we ultimately built a business partnership, but we also developed friendships. For example, someone on our team was getting married. One of the other consulting teams got her a gift, I brought in cupcakes, and the client celebrated our coworker with us. It was so successful because we weren’t just working through it as business advisors but also as people who were there to do life with them as well and to be real people with them, not just business partners.”
That’s such a great point! Earlier you mentioned Robotics Process Automation (RPA) which is such a hot topic right now. How did you get involved with RPA?
“I started with RPA at the beginning of the year because I had some bench time and wanted to learn the technology. I used an online learning academy to help educate myself and I even began to use what I was learning in my personal life as practice. I love movies, so I built a bot that helps me update my movie data-base by scraping IMDB. It was a great way to practice on my own. Once I knew a lot more, I was able to leverage that knowledge. One opportunity I had was with our internal audit team, as we started to look at controls we could automate for them.”
So, you essentially built out your own resume by using your time and resources wisely – that’s great. What advice would you offer to others when it comes to creating opportunity and taking advantage of the ones they have?
“At the end of the day, if you have an interest take the time and the initiative to learn it, even outside of business hours. I was able to build up a skill that has now allowed me more opportunities. If you’re interested in something, pursue it and then let people know about your interests because it can open up to be something really cool.”
What would you say to those just starting their career?
“Make the most out of every opportunity, there is always something that you can learn. Even projects I thought might not align with my interests have taught me something valuable, so don’t waste the opportunities you have!”
What keeps you engaged at Protiviti?
“I think it’s that everything is still interesting to me. The work that we do is interesting and the opportunities we have are interesting. The people are just awesome to work with and I feel like I can learn as much from my clients as the people I work with. I love to learn — and in some ways graduating college was sad, but Protiviti has continued to challenge me in both work and outside of work and that keeps me stimulated. It also allows me to be engaged in my life outside of work. I like to bake, travel and cook and I am also getting married soon. Because of the balance of my career, I enjoy my work and the things I can do outside of my work.”
Outside of your ‘day-to-day’ responsibilities, are you involved with any other organization initiatives?
“I’m involved with the training committee in Houston and I get to help organize office trainings. One of my favorite things is helping new hires to navigate their career here at Protiviti, so I am heavily involved with helping to train the interns and Consultants off-campus. I’ve also helped to lead an initiative for quick one-page guides.”
You’ve won 10 million dollars in the lottery, what are you doing with it? “I would want to travel with my fiancé, including South Africa, Patagonia in Argentina, and Italy.”
Last thing you watched on TV: “I just finished going through all the seasons of House!”
Favorite ’90’s jam: “For some reason the first one that comes to mind is ‘Hook’ by Blues Traveler”
Thank you to Alex for sharing his wisdom and advice! We’re proud to have such a hardworking and dedicated employee and we look forward to watching him continue to grow in his career.