K9’s in the Vines
CC Pacers volunteered with the Middleburg Humane Foundation (MHF) at their K9’s in the Vines event last week located at The Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, Virginia. MHF operates a non-profit, 23-acre farm-shelter located in Marshall, Virginia. They rescue, rehabilitate, and adopt at-risk animals and promote animal welfare through community outreach and humane education. Last year alone, MHF rescued 783 cats, dogs, equines, livestock, pocket pets, and reptiles. Take a look at their adoption site for a full up-to-date list of adoptable animals! From puppies to pigs and beyond, MHF rescue and adopt them all!
Volunteering on what was an absolutely beautiful day, we had the opportunity to bring 3 puppies and 2 adult dogs to MHF’s promotional K9’s in the Vines event. As volunteers we spent a few hours walking the dogs around the scenic property, speaking with patrons, and promoting the organization –it was a BLAST! In addition to the in-person event, CC Pacers also donated dog toys, supplies for the shelter, and money directly to MHF.
Interested in becoming a hands-on volunteer with the Middleburg Humane Foundation? Check out their volunteer site for more ways to get involved.
Have you heard of OKRs? Is your organization considering adopting OKRs? If so, this post is for you.
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. Andy Grove created them while at Intel, and they’ve been growing in their use ever since. The Objective equals the “what” we will achieve, and the Key Result is the benchmark we use to measure how we are doing.
OKRs have been working for organizations like Google and Intel for years. Implementing them for your organization can help drive focus and alignment around working on the right things. While anyone can read the book Measure What Matters, by John Doerr to learn how to write OKRs, it is by following a tried-and-true implementation plan that OKRs truly help organizations achieve the desired focus.
According to Scaled OKRs, Inc. the following key steps should be included:
- Build the team
- Execute the OKR cycle
- Calibrate Regularly
- Continue to the next OKR cycle
Step 1: Build the team
Build a team to lead the implementation of OKRs. Identify a sponsor and champion. These leaders should understand how keeping OKRs visible throughout the organization will lead to success. As with any change, practicing good change management is important. Introducing OKRs is no exception. Be sure to include a change manager in your team. In addition, your team should include someone familiar with how to write OKRs to guide and mentor those new to writing them.
Step 2: Communicate
Once you have identified the team that will lead and support implementing OKRs, the next step is all about change management communications. Your first communication should occur about two months before roll-out. In your communication, be sure and answer the questions, Why OKRs? And why now? Aside from creating a sense of urgency to adopt, create a vision for the change and share it out too. Have the communication come from Leadership to show the importance of implementing OKRs. Our change manager follows the Prosci ADKAR Model. The next message should come about one month prior to the roll-out and should be the formal kick-off announcement of the OKR process. Followed shortly by sharing the company level OKRs, and training workshops schedule.
Step 3: Train
Next, you’ll need to do some training. While OKRs may seem easy to write, putting pen to paper and coming up with the right OKRs can be a daunting task. A training workshop with a writing exercise will help attendees get orientated around what makes good OKRs. Here they will learn that the objective is qualitative, and the Key Results are quantitative. You may need a train-the-trainer session to enable others to assist teams in writing their OKRs. I like to share John Doerr’s “Super Powers” of OKRS as a reminder. These include:
- Focus & commit to priorities
- Align & connect teamwork
- Track for accountability
- Stretch for amazing
Step 4: Execute the OKR Cycle
With company OKRs in hand and training underway, the next step is to start the OKR Cycle.
In this cycle, teams write and share their OKRs to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment.
The Enterprise Context grounds teams to the highest level OKRs that were developed by leadership. This gives everyone something to tie their OKRs to and sets the direction for the organization. This allows teams to work on co-creating the localized OKRs.
The OKR Cycle looks like this:
The next step is for individual teams to write their localized OKRs. When it comes to writing OKRs, one of my favorite tips for writing OKRs is that you should be able to read them in the following format:
We will achieve (objective), as measured by (Key result).
Before everyone starts writing OKRS, you may want to think about how they will be kept. If you haven’t picked a tool to manage your OKRs, writing them in a shareable manner can become difficult. It’s easy enough to share across one or two verticals and even one or two horizontals. However, the more widely your OKR implementation, the more imperative a tool becomes.
Once the teams have created their OKRs, it’s time for them to develop their “Action plan,” or backlog of epics they will use to accomplish their OKRs. As part of an action plan, identify key result owners, and the frequency of review huddles. You’ll want a regular cadence of review. This step can be done at Scrum events, like the Sprint Review. The worst thing that can happen is to write OKRs and then forget about them. Finally, identify what scoring mechanism will be used.
Around the second month of the OKR cycle, check-ins and scoring occur. Many organizations follow Google’s lead when it comes to scoring. In their system, 0 is a failure, and 1 is a success. Here is a view of what the scores look like:
You can see from this scale that a .7 is green. It is considered a success. This is especially true for OKRs that are ambitious and represent a real stretch for the team. A team that consistently gets a 1.0 could be considered as not creating ambitious enough OKRs.
In the timeline above, we allocated four weeks to work on the first set of OKRs and two weeks for subsequent quarters. The first draft of OKRs tends to take the longest. Be sure and allocate plenty of time for creating your first set of OKRs.
One last comment about this cycle, tracking and sharing progress is an ongoing effort. All-hands meetings are great places to talk about progress. This will keep them from being just another goal-setting activity and keeps them at the forefront of everyone’s work plans.
Step 5: Calibration
Calibration reviews should happen quarterly. This is where you gather the data and identify if anything has changed before we move on to creating our next quarter’s OKRs. Calibration is a great time to do a retrospective on the OKRs. It is also a good time to ask questions like has the company level OKR’s changed? Before you start a new quarter of OKRs, calibrate where you ended on the current quarter and what, if anything, do you need to update or change before writing new OKRs for the upcoming quarter.
Step 6: Continue to the next OKR cycle
Repeat Steps 4 and 5 as part of your ongoing OKR program.
As you can see, rolling out a successful OKR program takes a bit of effort, but it is well worth it. When you incorporate your OKR roll-out into a program that is well planned, you are sure to get the entire organization on board. Once in place, you can use your OKRs to measure the outcomes the organization is striving to achieve, and everyone will be aligned. You can use your OKRs to determine the right things to be working on and say no to things that don’t align with your OKRs. With a good tool, everyone can see how their work aligns with the big picture. Regular check-ins give you the opportunity to see ongoing progress or make course corrections. Most importantly, your organization will be on the path to measuring progress towards desirable outcomes. If you have questions or want to know more, just reach out to me: email@example.com
Here is our final video in the 3-part series Building and Securing Serverless Apps using AWS Amplify. In case you missed Part 1 you can find it here along with Part 2 here. Please let us know if you would like to learn more about this series!
CC Pace supported So Others Might Eat (SOME) a local nonprofit organization, for our final community outreach event of 2021. SOME is a community-based service organization dedicated to supporting the Washington, D.C. community experiencing homelessness and poverty. SOME provides a variety of services, including affordable housing, counseling, substance use disorder treatment, and job training. Additionally, SOME helps meet the immediate daily needs by providing food, clothing, and healthcare to those in need.
SOME hosts an annual Shoebox Gift Drive each holiday season. This initiative is meant to provide those experiencing homelessness and poverty with immediate living essentials. This December, CC Pacers came together and donated supplies to put together gift boxes. CC Pacers purchased items from hats and scarves to soap and razors, and much more! We were able to pack and wrap nearly 30 shoeboxes in support of SOME’s holiday initiative.
SOME has always had a significant importance to CC Pace, as President, Mike Gordon is a member of their Corporate Advisory Board. We have participated in SOME events for over 2 decades and have witnessed this organization provide so many wonderful services and assistance to those in need.
Interested in how you can get involved with SOME? Visit their website and learn about a variety of ways you can help!
Happy New Year from CC Pace!
Did you know that the first American football game was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton? It would be 51 years later that the NFL was formed in 1920. There’s a whole lot of football history there to be unpacked by aficionados, and here at CC Pace, our employees share that passion for football!
Over the years we have hosted a variety of football-related events including watch parties, festive tailgates, and Superbowl-themed events to get everyone pumped up for the big game! Team jersey days and our yearly football squares for the Super Bowl also help to generate a friendly competitive football spirit throughout the season.
While we love a good football-themed gathering, our competitive Fantasy Football league is truly what sparks the ultimate excitement for CC Pace’s football craze! We are not sure how or exactly when this Fantasy Football league all started, but word around the watercooler is that our President, Mike Gordon, put the wheels in motion while having one of many Monday morning football recaps with people in the kitchen getting their morning cup of joe.
Some of our CC Pace Fantasy Football Leaguers choose to take on their competitors individually while others team up, hoping together they can strategize and outperform their colleagues in the big draft. This is the time of year where you will hear many a conversation amongst CC Pace employees discussing player stats, and how to best keep all that information organized. Do we really expect anything less from a company that has analysts on the payroll? Each week our Football Leaguers closely monitor their standings, re-evaluate their lineups for the weekend and the strategy continues. And, although there is a prize at the end of the season, the most cherished part of the whole endeavor is the bragging rights the winners get to keep for years to come! Our very own CC Pace Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.
So, as we here at CC Pace settle into our yearly football fun, please allow us to leave you with this quote by the famous Coach, Lou Holtz, that stands true both on and off the field, and is something we at CC Pace also relate to: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series here!
By June of 1991, I was in college, and I had been working at Albertsons, climbing the ladder, and was manager of my own department. I had to take mandatory time off because we were trying to catch an inventory thief. I was talking to my Mom, who was a Regional Operations Manager (ROM) for a mortgage company, and told her that I had to take this time off, but I didn’t have any plans. She suggested that I come earn extra money by working in their Shipping Department. So, I did. I became a part-time Shipper and Post Closer. I loved the office life, as it was so different from the grind of the grocery business. It was a grind, don’t get me wrong, but my clothes stayed clean all day and I was learning so much!
(By the way, we did catch the thief!)
There were not any Personal Computers (PCs) on the desks. There were smart typewriters, thermal fax machines, and we used runners (companies that would take a closing package from the mortgage company office to the title office). There were tons of manual forms, file cabinets galore, single – double – triple hole punchers, and colored folders. Heck, you could still smoke in the office back then.
In our department, we used a PC with FoxPro to track everything. The first thing I did was make the database much better. I had been dabbling in computers since I got my first TI Sinclair 1000 in the 8th grade, then graduated to a Commodore 64, then my first Hewlett Packard.
I was hungry to learn as much as I could. I read every manual I could get my hands on. I began reading the loan documents as I stood at the copier making two copies: one to send to corporate and one to retain in the branch. From there, I moved to Loan Setup, and this is where I revolutionized how they put the origination packages together and streamlined that operation. I also was the WordPerfect whisperer and created, updated, and/or streamlined many forms. The Regional Manager didn’t know how to use a computer, so when it was budget time, I was called to work in Lotus 1-2-3 and that was how I learned budgets and P&L statements.
Then in 1992, computers came. These Data Processing folks descended upon our branch. Cables were laid and PCs were put on every desk. I came in over the weekend and followed them around like a puppy dog. Then, after providing some training for everyone, they left. So, who was on-site tech support for all the PCs, the printers, the LAN? You guessed it, me. Printer or PC not acting right? Call Greg! I would intuitively know what to show them or how to fix their issue. I watched as they struggled to enter data and then figured out that I was good at teaching people how to do things and showing them ways to do their jobs faster, more efficiently.
For my actual part-time job, I went on to work in several departments, again, trying to learn as much as I could. My Mom who was the ROM, moved to be the Wholesale Account Executive, and now that nepotism was out of the way, I was offered the full-time job as a Loan Processor. I quit my job at Albertsons and fully devoted myself to mortgage.
Over those first eight years in the industry, I was living the branch life and held positions such as Shipper, Post Closer, Loan Setup Clerk, Loan Officer Assistant, Quality Control Reviewer, Loan Processor, Loan Closer, Pre-Underwriter, Lock Desk Specialist, LAN Administrator, Operations Manager, Assistant Branch Manager, and Loan Officer. I moved all around Texas, from San Antonio to Austin, and then to Dallas.
When I was in Dallas, a unique opportunity came up for me to work in the Data Processing department. I had a direct line to this group and always shared how the system or a form could be better. So, they offered me a job and I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. I also was able to be on the ground floor of rolling out laptops to our sales force. I got to pick the laptops, load them with the software, work on the interface to the processing system, then fly about the country training and rolling them out. I got to go to conferences and branch events. I did not love living in Arizona, so when an opportunity came up for me to move back to Texas, I took it.
I worked on the Help Desk where my hours were three 12-hour days and a half-day on a Saturday once a month. I loved that schedule. But that schedule was short-lived, as within two months I was a Business Analyst working on the Point-of-Sale software and rolling out laptops for a much larger organization that had also bought another mortgage company. Those were some crazy times and late nights.
I spent the next ten years of my career in Information Technology (IT) roles. I continued to strive for and climb into higher and higher positions with more and more responsibility. I ran Point-of-Sale Systems, Loan Origination Systems, branch and loan officer websites, then three POS systems across three company brands, then consolidation of those three systems down to one. I held the roles of Business Analyst, Team Manager, Project Manager, Program Manager, Business Information Officer, and Assistant Vice President. It was a great time to see all the technology changes within the mortgage industry and be involved in discussions with Fannie, Freddie, HUD/FHA, VA, software vendors, C-Suite level executives, all the managers in between, down to all the individual roles. Curating solutions that came on the heels of adapting to market changes and acquiring feedback from users.
Over almost twenty years, I came to realize that because of my production and operations background coupled with IT knowledge, I filled a great niche because I could speak the Business AND the IT languages and bridge the gaps between the groups.
Then KA-BOOM, www.ml-implode.com became daily life. It was a terrible and scary time for anyone in the Mortgage Industry. By the end of 2008, I, along with 10,000 people at my company, had been laid off.
By this time, I was living in Dallas, TX, and wanted to get back to Austin, TX. So, I sold my house, turned down a lateral-down move to stay with the company that had just laid me off, and headed into the unknown.
Continue following Greg’s journey in part 3 of the series here!
A recent Credit Union Times article noted that while credit unions continue to perform strongly with long-time customers (those over 65 years of age), the industry is struggling to retain and add younger customers. The same article notes that the average age of a credit union customer is 47 years old and that only 10% of people aged 20 – 34 currently utilize credit unions for their financial services needs.
So, why are younger depositors leaving credit unions for other institutions and services? A CU Insight article suggests that a combination of cash incentives, reward programs, and gamified customer experiences are driving younger customers to these providers in large numbers.
This implies a trend that will have devastating impacts to the industry if not addressed.
For the last several years, the industry has managed the problem of growth through mergers and acquisitions (similar to the activity seen in the banking industry in the late ’90s and early 2000s). Asset consolidation has led to a few very large credit unions holding a majority of the industries assets, and according to the American Banker, a group representing 12% of credit unions now hold 81% of all managed assets.
While this has solved the problem of scale for some credit unions, it does not help smaller independent credit unions, nor does it provide a path to long-term, organic growth for larger ones.
So, what’s the solution?
Should credit unions pursue similar strategies to traditional banks to attract customers? This can be tricky, as many credit union customers were attracted because they wanted a very different experience from traditional banking; also, offering considerable up-front financial incentives to attract new customers can be problematic, as the incentives have traditionally been focused on lower overall costs and higher returns on deposits.
How about pursuing more unorthodox methods a la companies like SoFi that provide softer incentives through gamifying customer experience? This might be a reasonable approach to attract very young customers who respond better to these types of incentives. This, combined with robust social media strategies can begin to claw back a portion of the Gen Z and Millennial populations that have begun to abandon their parents’ choice of the financial institution; this might shore up customer numbers, but will not likely have a major impact on assets held.
To be successful in the long term, credit unions must continue to focus on differentiation with traditional banking. Superior customer service has been a cornerstone to the value proposition of credit unions, and the industry must continue to look for ways to promote this fact – along with the generally higher return on deposit and investment products. This can be a challenge given smaller advertising and marketing budgets, but as noted above, properly leveraging lower-cost channels provided by social media can provide significant brand lift with a reasonable investment.
In addition, many credit unions have been expanding their reach into the small business segment within their markets, offering loans, payments processing, and other related services and this class of service could be a significant source of long-term growth if the industry can overcome significant headwinds from both traditional banks and FinTechs (see this article from American Banker). Once again, credit unions bring a unique value proposition compared to these other providers, but it is critical that those advantages are made crystal clear through effective marketing, advertising, and social media campaigns.
In short, credit unions offer some incredibly compelling advantages over traditional banking, as well as stability and reliability compared to FinTechs moving into the consumer and small business banking arena. Recent trends in loss of customers is concerning, but with continued focus on maintaining best-in-class customer service and continuing to offer products aligned with the needs of local markets, along with aggressive attention to marketing and branding through more modern channels will both help stave the loss of customers from newer, younger bankers and demonstrate a focus on continued uncompromising service to its members.
I am a mortgage baby, and proud of it!
That is what I was called, before I even started my journey in the mortgage business, a mortgage baby.
I officially began getting a paycheck in mortgage banking in early 1991, although I knew about mortgages way before I entered the business. I am excited to have been able to evolve and grow into a Director, Mortgage Practice for CC Pace Systems, Inc. I hope to share my knowledge, wisdom, and lesson learned with our many clients.
My mom and dad were both originally in the Savings and Loan business in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, my dad (Gerry Self) transitioned to being a Mortgage Insurance Sales Representative. My mom (Sylvia Burnett, formerly Sylvia Self) began working for a mortgage banking firm and she had a side gig, underwriting loans for the local HUD (Housing and Urban Development) office, way before Direct Endorsement. What I remember about the early days of that, was that my dad was always on the road and my mom worked a full day, then would bring home boxes of files from HUD and after getting us all nestled into our beds, she would underwrite loans.
Then in 1984, my parents went to work together at the same company. My dad was the Branch Manager, and my mom was the Operations Manager. They opened the Killeen branch, then we moved to San Antonio, and they opened that branch. I would work many hot Texas summer days from 1984-1986 at that company. I did some light clerical work, like answering the phones, filing, typing, organizing, fetching. Lots of fetching.
What I remember from that was that there were no fax machines and certainly no computers. There were typewriters, IBM Selectric III’s, everywhere. The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) forms were multi-page with all sorts of colors with carbon paper in between. There was liquid paper in several colors; Acco punchers and fasteners; file folders and file cabinets; staplers and staple pullers; three-hole punchers; blue pens and red pens. The blue pens were so you could tell it was an original signature. The red pens were used by the underwriters, who, I assumed like teachers, graded your work.
Paper and manual everything was king. Automation was not even a sparkle in anyone’s eyes.
In November of 1986, I turned 16. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, while we were in Lubbock, TX with the grandparents, my parents bought me a 1981 Buick Skylark for $2,000. I got to drive it all the way back to San Antonio, it was awesome. After unpacking from our trip and settling back in, one day after school my mom came to me. She sat me down and very sternly let me know that it was time to find a job. So off I went to the nearest Albertsons, turned in my application, and was interviewed. I was hired that day and I started the very next day. I came home and let my parents know and my mother was flabbergasted, thinking that it would take me more than a few hours to land a job. So, in December of 1986, I started my job as a Courtesy Clerk (Bagger) at Albertsons on the corner of San Pedro and Thousand Oaks and left the mortgage world behind me. Or so I thought…
Follow Greg’s journey in part 2 of the series here!
From the title of this post, it might seem that we are going to beat up on the ‘status reporting’ aspect. Let me clarify here, both are equally important and convey critical pieces of information to the audience.
What I want to highlight in this post is how inefficiencies are caused due to one replacing the other. In organizations using Agile, adapting to the changing landscape is a central tenet to its way of working. How people communicate is a significant factor in the success or failure of an organizations’ ability to adapt to change.
Before we explore how organizations struggle with effectively using the two ways to communicate, let’s first align on what they are.
Status reporting: The primary intent of this interaction is for one stakeholder to provide information to other stakeholders about the current state of progress. It is a one-way conversation with the information primarily flowing from the status update provider to the listener. There might be some interaction for clarification or instruction, but it is not built into the central idea of the interaction.
Inspect and Adapt: The primary purpose of this interaction is for the stakeholders to examine the progress towards the end goal, identify risks, acknowledge impediments and figure out actionable takeaways that will resolve or mitigate any challenges towards progress. Most Agile ceremonies share this primary intent and should be facilitated as such to achieve the aforementioned outcome.
What really happens: No matter how mature an organization is in its Agile journey, organizational factors such as psychological safety and human psychology influence how people contribute to the ceremonies. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of factors:
- FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. When there are no efficient ways to know the latest status of work, people tend to gravitate towards asking for status-related information during Agile ceremonies. If the status is made transparent and highly visible to the stakeholders, it will greatly reduce the desire to discuss it during discussions that should really be inspect and adapt. In Agile organizations, the use of BVIRs (Big Visible Information Radiators) such as Scrum Boards and relevant Agile metrics can accomplish this. It is critical to make the BVIRs readily accessible and easier to consume to get better user adoption.
- Perception and Recognition: Human behavior is often affected by how your actions will make you look. A status report allows a person to state what they have worked on so far and how it will make them look in the eyes of the audience for their progress. Inspect and adapt discussion makes people state the problems they are or could be facing and ask for help. It is a natural human tendency to try and not be the bearer of bad news. Especially in public forums, such as the Agile ceremonies. If people are getting enough recognition for their work and are made to feel safe for opening up and expressing concerns during the inspect and adapt discussions, the Agile ceremonies can become highly effective.
Tactically speaking, standups and scrum of scrums are typical examples of Agile ceremonies that should be heavily focused on inspect and adapt aspects. What ends up happening on most teams and programs is the ceremony turns into a status reporting session, leading most participants to not get true value out of the interaction.
If you would like to get some tactical advice on how to make these ceremonies more effective, please join us in a free webinar on November 3rd at 12pm EST, where I will discuss the topic in more detail with a fun story about chicken curry, draw the parallels and then do a deep dive into some effective techniques you can implement right now to improve the inspect and adapt aspect in your organization. Click here to register.
Metrics are vital to a team. They give us a starting point, just like choosing “my location” on your GPS. Then metrics tell us where we are headed. They help us know whether our team is winning at continuous improvement. They tell us how our journey is going, and where we might be off course.
The stability of metrics demonstrates that teams are predictable and can forecast future work. Many times, it is a combination of metrics that give us the real picture though.
One measure that can demonstrate a team’s stability is velocity. A team made up of dedicated members should have a stable velocity over time, which helps them better determine how much work to commit for a given sprint. So, measuring velocity over a number of sprints is a great Scrum metric. You might think that a rising velocity is good. However, a rising velocity along with rising escaped metrics tells us we haven’t reliably sped up at all. In fact, if escaped defects are rising, we need to fix something else in our process. We may need to slow back down. In contrast, a rising velocity and a decreasing or stable number of escaped defects would be a good team goal.
Another metric for a Scrum team is Committed vs Delivered %. Rather than just focusing on velocity, add a measure of Committed vs Delivered for velocity to see how your team is doing at being predictable. Teams that frequently have a low percentage of Committed to Delivered are committing to too much work in the sprint. If this is happening to your team, it is time to figure out why. Sometimes, we will know exactly what has impacted our metrics, while other times we may need to have a retrospective to discuss why. Escaped defects are important to consider, as a high percent Committed to Delivered is good, lots of rework is not.
While Velocity and Committed vs Delivered % are end-of-sprint metrics, throughout the sprint, a team’s burndown gives us a view into progress during the sprint. It’s important to look at a team’s burndown every day to assess whether the team is likely to complete all the work they committed to. Burn-down gives us the point-in-time view of the work to be completed within the sprint. If the remaining work is far above the ideal burndown line, we may need to have a conversation with the Product Owner about stories that won’t be completed. On the other hand, if the burndown is far below the ideal line, we may be able to bring another story into the sprint.
Some teams go a step further and measure Cycle Time for stories. Cycle Time starts when a team member starts work on the story and continues until the story is moved all the way to the team’s done column. Cycle time can help us determine if we are right-sizing our stories. For Scrum, stories are right-sized to just a couple of days of work or less. If Cycle Time for stories is extending well past a couple of days, you may need to try and break your work down into smaller pieces.
Using a combination of metrics and charts for a Scrum team can help the Scrum team spot problems and see if their experiments are working. These internal team metrics are just the start and give an even fuller picture when customer outcome metrics are added, but that is a topic for another post. Do not let your team meander along. Get them metrics to see where they are and where they are heading.
It’s been 18 months since COVID changed our lives, 18 months of living in a surreal world, and 18 months of working from home for most of us. So as a company, how do we keep morale up? How do we keep our employees motivated? Is it possible to still create a fun work environment?
These are questions CC Pace has explored and continues to address on a regular basis. Since March 2020, we have focused on keeping our employees engaged through various online programs, events, and activities. We have discovered that while working remotely can be challenging, it’s important to sustain high levels of collaboration and teamwork. Just because we are remote does not mean that we can’t still have fun together, it just takes some consistency and planning to maintain morale!
To mark this 18th month of Covid, here are 18 ideas to help build up morale and keep your team motivated!
- Virtual Happy Hours – Everyone is always up for a little chit-chat and a cocktail!
- Tools – Providing the right tools needed so your team can get the job done.
- Mentors – Having someone in the organization you can go to for support, questions, or advice helps to preserve a positive attitude.
- Video Meetings – Using apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom supports that face-to-face connection (smiling more does too 😊).
- Video calls – Different than Video Meetings, one-on-one calls with teammates to maintain and/or create that personal connection and bond.
- Book Clubs, etc. … – Putting together interest groups creates a sense of belonging.
- Wellness Activities – CC Pace recently promoted a walking challenge to motivate employees to team up with a co-worker to get moving and track their miles. #stayhealthy
- Communication – Leadership who genuinely listen and make themselves available are key to achieving open communications.
- Gifts – A company care package or e-gift card lets employees know you are thinking about them.
- Games – Online games can be super fun, we have had success with Whose Fridge is it Anyway?, Guess the Pet?, and Trivia! (Who doesn’t love a little competition!)
- Feedback – Hearing our employee’s thoughts through surveys and discussions gives us the knowledge we need to move forward and create the best environment for our team.
- Kudos – go a long way! We have expanded our Recognition and Rewards program to empower our team with more avenues to acknowledge each other.
- Professional Development – Encouraging your people to keep growing makes them understand they are a valued team member.
- Benefits – Reexamine your benefits to see if there is anything missing so you can offer the best options and comprehensive packages.
- Small Team Lunches at outdoor eateries – While the weather is nice, try to get a small group together for some al fresco dining!
- Setting Goals – Working toward a goal is often a great motivator for employees.
- Knowledge Sharing – One person’s subject matter expertise can go a long way when they share that information with others in the company who can benefit.
- Celebrations – Celebrating various holidays, occasions, work anniversaries, project kick-offs, etc… is a great way to keep employees inspired! There’s always something to celebrate!
Regardless of where your employees are located, we know all aspects of work can’t be fun, but fun itself in the workplace is a great motivator to help get through those tough times!
According to Deutsche Bank CIO Frederic Veron, “enterprises that wish to reap the potentially rich rewards of getting IT and business line leaders to build software together in agile fashion must also embrace the DevOps model.”
Why is that? It’s simple: DevOps is necessary to scale Agile. DevOps practices are what enable an organization to rapidly deploy changes to many different parts of their product, across many products, on a frequent basis—with confidence.
That last part is key. Companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix developed DevOps methods so that they could deploy frequently at a massive scale without worrying if they will break something. DevOps is, at its core, a risk management strategy. DevOps practices are what enable you to maintain a complex multi-product ecosystem and make sure that everything works. DevOps substitutes traditional risk management approaches with what the Agile 2 authors call real-time risk management.
You might think that all this is just for software product companies. But today, most organizations operate on a technology platform, and if you do, then DevOps applies. DevOps methods apply to any enterprise that creates and maintains products and services that are defined by digital artifacts.
DevOps methods apply to any enterprise that creates and maintains products and services that are defined by digital artifacts.
That includes manufacturers, online commercial services, government agencies that use custom software to provide services to constituents, and pretty much any large commercial, non-profit, and public sector enterprise today.
As JetBlue and Breeze airlines founder David Neeleman said, “we’re a high-tech company that just happens to fly airplanes,” and Capital One Bank’s CIO Rob Alexander said, “We’re a founder-led, 20-year-old technology company.”
Most large businesses today are fundamentally technology companies that direct their efforts toward the markets in which they have expertise, assets, and customer relationships.
DevOps Is Necessary at Scale
Scaling frameworks such as SAFe and DA provide potentially useful patterns for organizing the work of lots of teams. However, DevOps is arguably more important than any framework, because without DevOps methods, scaling is not even possible, and many organizations (Google, Amazon, Netflix…) use DevOps methods at scale without a scaling framework.
If teams cannot deploy their changes without stepping on each other’s work, they will often be waiting or going no faster than the slowest team, and lots of teams will have a very difficult time managing their dependencies—no framework will remedy that if the technical methods for multi-product dependency management and on-demand deployment at scale are not in place. If you are not using DevOps methods, you cannot scale your use of Agile methods.
How Does Agile 2 View DevOps?
DevOps as it is practiced today is technical. When you automate things so that you can make frequent improvements to your production systems without worrying about a mistake, you are using DevOps. But DevOps is not a specific method. It is a philosophy that emerged over time. In practice, it is a broad set of techniques and approaches that reflect that common philosophy.
With the objective of not worrying in mind, you can derive a whole range of techniques to leverage tools that are available today: cloud services, elastic resources, and approaches that include horizontal scaling, monitoring, high-coverage automated tests, and gradual releases.
While DevOps and Agile seem to overlap, especially philosophically, DevOps techniques are highly technical, while the Agile community has not focused on technical methods for a very long time. Thus, DevOps fills a gap, and Agile 2 promotes the idea that Agile and DevOps go best together.
DevOps evangelist Gene Kim has summarized DevOps by his “Three Ways.” One can paraphrase those as follows:
- Systems thinking: always consider the whole rather than just the part.
- Use feedback loops to learn and refine one’s artifacts and processes over time.
- Treat everything as an experiment that you learn from, and adjust accordingly.
The philosophical approaches are very powerful for the DevOps goal of delivering frequent changes with confidence, because (1) a systems view informs you on what might go wrong, (2) feedback loops in the form of tests and automated checks tell you if you hit the mark or are off, and (3) if you view every action as an experiment, then you are ready to adjust so that you then hit the mark. In other words, you have created a self-correcting system.
Agile 2 takes this further by focusing on the entire value creation flow, beginning with strategy and defining the kinds of leadership that are needed. Agile 2 promotes product design and product development as parallel and integrated activities, with feedback from real users and real-world outcomes wherever possible. This approach embeds Gene Kim’s three DevOps “ways” into the Agile 2 model, unifying Agile 2 and DevOps.
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 Agile 2: The Next Iteration of Agile, by Cliff Berg et al, pp 205 ff.
We all are humans and tend to take the easy route when we come across certain scenarios in life. Remembering passwords is one of the most common things in life these days, and we often tend to create a password that can be easily remembered to avoid the trouble of resetting it in case we forget it. In this blog, I am going to discuss a tool called “Have I Been Pwned”(HIBP) which is going to help us find any passwords that were seen in recent cybersecurity or data breaches.
What is HIBP? What is it used for?
“Have I Been Pwned” is an open-source initiative that helps people to check if their login information has been included in any breached data archives circling the dark web. In addition, it also allows users to check how often a given password has been found in the dataset – testing the strength of a password against dictionary-style brute force attacks. Recently, the FBI released a statement that they are going to closely work with the HIBP team to share the breached passwords for users to check against it. This open-source initiative is going to help a lot of customers avoid using breached passwords when creating accounts on the web. We used the HIBP API to help our customers who use custom web-based applications get alerted of any pwned passwords that they used while creating accounts. In this way, the users will be aware of not using such breached passwords that have been seen multiple times on the dark web.
How does it work?
HIBP stores more than half a billion pwned passwords that have previously been exposed in data breaches. The entire data set is both downloadable and searchable online via the Pwned Passwords page. Each password is stored as an SHA-1 hash of a UTF-8 encoded password and the password count with a colon (:) and separated by each line with a CRLF.
If we must use an API to search online for the password that was breached multiple times, we cannot send the actual source password over the web as it will compromise the integrity of the user’s password that got entered during account creation.
To maintain anonymity and protect the value of the source password being searched for, Pwned Passwords implements a k-Anonymity model that allows a password to be searched for by partial hash using search by range. In this way, we just need to pass the first 5 characters of an SHA-1 password hash (not case-sensitive) to the API which will respond with the suffix of every hash beginning with the specified prefix, followed by a count of how many times it appears in the dataset. The API consumer now can search the results that match the source password hash by comparing them with the prefix and the suffix of the hash results. If the source hash was not found in the results, it means that the password was not breached until date.
Pass2Play is one of our custom web-based solutions where we integrated the password breach API to detect any breached passwords during the sign-up process. Below is the workflow:
- The user goes to sign up for the account.
- Enters username and password to sign up.
- After entering the password, the user gets a warning message if the password was ever breached and how many times was it seen.
In the above screen, the user entered the password as “P@ssword” and got a warning message which clearly says that the entered password has been seen 7491 times based on the dataset circling in the dark web. We do not want our users using such passwords for their accounts which could get compromised later using dictionary-style brute-force attacks.
Architecture and Process flow diagram:
API Request and Response example:
SHA-1 hash of P@ssword: 9E7C97801CB4CCE87B6C02F98291A6420E6400AD
Response: Returns 550 lines of hash suffixes that matches the first 5 chars
The highlighted text in the above image is the suffix that matches the first 5 hash chars’ prefix of the source password and has been seen 7491 times.
I would like to conclude this blog by saying that integration of such methods in your applications can help organizations avoid larger security issues since passwords are still the most common way of authenticating users. Alerting the end-users during account creation will make them aware of breached passwords which will also train the end users on using strong passwords.
Everyone says you should use Agile. The call for Agile has reached the CEO level: I myself have heard CEO announcements stating that the organization must use “Agile”—whatever that is, because I wonder how many actually know.
On the other hand, how many Agile proponents actually understand what Agile is? As I wrote in a recent article, Old Versus New Agile, Agile has changed—and changed a lot. Thus if you bring in “Agile” consultants to help, are they using “old Agile,” or “new Agile”?
Old Agile is arguably very limited, and does not acknowledge the realities of a large organization. What I refer to as “new Agile”—and I believe it is described well by Agile 2—is completely focused on the general problem of agility, and how that plays out in the broad range of situations, including and especially large organizations. Because to do big things—profitable things at scale—you need a very sophisticated model. Agile 2 provides that.
I have seen IT managers make tragic and far-reaching mistakes in their attempt to follow “old” Agile. For example, in more than one case an IT SVP eliminated all roles pertaining to testing. I wrote in an article why that is a tragic error that eventually results in terrible quality issues and actually impedes agility.
Old Agile is not all bad. It broke the grip of rigid approaches being pushed at the time by PMI and the procurement school of thought. In a fast-changing market, custom market-facing software cannot be “procured”: it must be seen as something that evolves over time. Agile made us face that. Some of the ideas that it brought into the forefront were:
- Phase-based (requirements, design, implementation) software development does not usually work.
- Business users often do not know what they want or need.
- It is almost impossible to fully design software up front
- Documents alone are not effective for communicating things
- Don’t build something entirely in one go
- Big teams do not work
- Don’t micromanage how developers work
- Don’t trust anything until you see it running
- Build quality in
- More effort ≠ better; automate to avoid effort
- Continuously reflect and improve
These are all good things, especially if one views them as reminders rather than absolutes. But the Agile community also came to espouse some extreme and ultimately toxic viewpoints—again, especially if one views them as absolutes (which is often the case). I consider these views to be part of “old” Agile. These include:
⚠️ Teams do not need leaders, except to “remove impediments”.
⚠️ Always trust the team.
⚠️ A team must be completely autonomous.
⚠️ Multiple teams will collectively self-organize.
⚠️ Written communication is not important.
⚠️ Everyone must sit together.
⚠️ Most challenges pertain to individual contributor team behavior.
⚠️ Teams can resolve technical issues if leaders merely “get out of the way.”
⚠️ If Agile does not work at scale, it is the organization’s “fault.”
⚠️ Specific technical practices such as pair programming and TDD are always “best.”
In contrast, “new” Agile ideas are markedly different. A tiny sampling of these authors includes Klaus Leopold, Nicole Forsgren, Jeff Dalton, David Marquet, Matthew Skelton, Manuel Pais, Mirco Hering, Mark Schwartz, and Gary Gruver, as well as some “old Agile” authors who have evolved a mature view over time (or had one from the beginning) such as Johanna Rothmann, Diana Larsen, as well as myself and the 15 members of the Agile 2 team.
You probably see now that the peril of bringing in Agile consultants is that you might not know if they embrace “old” Agile ideas or “new” Agile ideas. But that is not all. “New” Agile includes many additional narratives that are critical for achieving agility at scale. The Agile 2 team attempted to summarize these through its principles, but a very abbreviated summary is as follows. Note that these are considerably at variance with “old” Agile, but are well aligned with the “new” Agile that Agile 2 and many of the above authors advocate:
- The predominant forms of leadership are the most determinant factors of success.
- Someone usually needs to coordinate things, and be the organizer.
- On any team, one wants a “missionary, not mercenary”—someone who values the organization’s success first and foremost.
- There are many forms of leadership: team focused, advocate focused, technically focused, and maybe others; as well as individual leadership.
- The organization needs to explicitly focus on encouraging benign and effective forms of leadership, and take steps to avoid giving the wrong people authority—avoiding people who “seem like leaders,” and instead selecting (actively or passively) those who are the “missionaries” and the helpers.
- Leadership is needed at every level of an organization, and the same principles apply.
- Leaders of tech-focused organizations not only need to understand outcomes, but they also need to understand how the work is done, because the “how” is often strategic.
On a systems approach:
- Don’t be extreme, unless the situation is extreme.
- Always think holistically—in terms of the whole system.
- Product design is an essential element, apart from product implementation; yet the two are intertwined.
- Direct feedback from customers and stakeholders is the only way to measure success.
- Product implementation teams must be partners with business stakeholders—not mere order takers.
- Data is strategic, and it must not be treated as an afterthought.
- Collaboration is essential, but so is deep thought. People often need quiet and isolation in order to think deeply.
- People work, communicate, and collaborate best differently. A one-size-fits-all approach is not effective.
- Team autonomy is an essential aspiration; but for a complex endeavor, full autonomy is seldom fully realizable.
- Some people want to be experts. Some people want to be generalists. Some are in between. All are valuable.
- Both teams and individuals matter. Don’t over-emphasize one over the other.
- A team should collectively decide how to approach its work; but then individuals perform the work and interact as they need to.
- Transformations are mostly a learning journey—not a process change.
- Never use a framework as defined: treat it as a source of ideas—not an Agile-by-numbers process.
Agile is not a single theory or approach. There is great diversity of thought within the Agile community. When choosing consultants or an approach for adopting Agile methods, be thoughtful about who you choose. Ask yourself, are they interested in putting people on the ground to deliver a commodity service? Or are they deeply thoughtful about what they do, and represent mature and effective viewpoints? And will the people they provide be as up-to-date and astute about the nuances of old versus new Agile ideas as those who have had conversations with you? Because it matters.
Organizations with internal cultures that are aligned with their strategies are far more effective than those without aligned cultures. Decades of data prove this. For example, over the last 50 years, culture specialist Human Synergistics has compiled data on more than 30,000 organizations and it clearly shows strong correlations between specific organizational culture attributes and business performance. Yet it is common for organizations to ignore culture when trying to implement their strategies.
Agile 2 is a more mature version of Agile, and it relies on having a supporting healthy culture. In fact, analysis that Agile 2 Academy has done with Human Synergistics shows that Agile 2 ideas strongly align with what Human Synergistics calls a Constructive culture, which is the most effective kind.
When an organization decides to adopt Agile 2 (or any Agile) methods, it is common to define a set of “practices” that development teams must follow. This is an essential step, but there are some great perils in assuming this approach is enough:
- Many, if not most, practices require people to learn new skills, make new judgments, and behave in new ways. Practices alone are not enough.
- Most of the obstacles to using Agile 2 (or legacy Agile) methods actually exist outside of the development teams. These obstacles are widespread and manifest as management behaviors, lack of supporting systems that Agile teams need, and processes and procedures that make it nearly impossible for teams to operate with agility.
Peril #1 means that people will not be able to execute the practices. They will “go through the motions”—but Agile 2 (agility) is, in its essence, a replacement of step-by-step processes with just-in-time contextual decision-making. If people follow practices and make poor judgments, then the organization will suffer from ongoing bad decisions and poor outcomes. But if the organization’s culture is one that encourages people to seek safety through following procedure, rather than relying on their judgment, then they will not be willing to make judgments: they will copy what others do, and perhaps do the wrong thing.
Peril #2, that most obstacles to agility originate from beyond the teams, is seldom appreciated by organizations beginning an Agile journey. Senior leadership often views Agile as something that development teams and individual contributors do. They don’t realize the extent to which Agile—having agility—relies on having the right support systems in place and the right kinds of leadership supporting the teams.
If the organization has a culture of hands-off leadership, then people who find themselves in a leadership role will not know how to behave when leadership is needed. For example, a common situation is when managers have learned the Agile practice that teams “self organize” but do not realize that that is just a placeholder or reminder. Most teams cannot self-organize well; they need leadership. Self-organization is an aspiration, not a starting point.
The need for leadership is even more acute when one has many teams, and they need to coordinate, and resolve issues such as “How will we design the product? How will we involve real users? How are we going to integrate? How will we manage quality? How will we support our product? How will we agree on branch and merge strategies for the product as a whole?”
When people in a non-Agile organization implement Agile practices, they look for a rule book or procedure to follow, because that is what they are used to, but there isn’t one. If you were to create one, it would not work everywhere, because every Agile decision and judgment is contextual. It always depends; that is what yields agility and makes it possible for people to select the shortest path for each situation.
The above are aspects of the organization’s culture: the ability to discuss issues openly and honestly so that they can be resolved, the willingness to take risks when making a decision, and the patterns of leadership that people have learned. There are many other dimensions of culture that are essential for agility, such as the inclination to learn, the tendency to try things on a small scale before scaling up, and the acceptance of things not going perfectly the first time.
As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and that certainly is true for Agile transformations. If you don’t address your organization’s culture, your agile strategy with its new practices will fail to yield the desired outcomes, and Agile will become a source of problems instead of a driving force for business agility. The good news is that culture can be changed, with the right commitment and the right approach. Agile 2 Academy considers culture improvement to be an important element in business agility. An Agile transformation strategy that includes analyzing and improving your organization’s culture is far more likely to succeed than simply adopting a set of agile practices or frameworks and hoping for the best.
 The best-selling book Accelerate documents research that makes this connection in the context of Agile and DevOps.
Did you know nearly 50% of the world‘s population uses social media platforms? Social media is far-reaching, powerful and has become a necessary component of everyday life. It has certainly changed many aspects of our day-to-day needs, from the way we keep up with the news to the way we interact with our peers.
At CC Pace, we strive to use social media to tell our story, share industry knowledge, and connect directly with our clients, prospects, candidates, and team members. You can find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Our goal with all of these platforms is to provide a way for our followers to relate to us on a more personal level. A goal that has become particularly important to us as we have been forced to relinquish our much-appreciated personal connections, and transition to this mostly digitally connected world we are living in.
While we work hard to keep you informed of all our news, offerings, job opportunities, and thought leadership we also like to focus on the human aspects of CC Pace. We recognize how important it is to be able to put a name with a face, and to share a story at a personal level, which is why we revamped our YouTube channel! Now, when you visit our YouTube channel not only are you able to watch a webinar, and learn more about what we do, but you can also hear directly from many of our team members, join in the fun and see the lighter side of CC Pace. We invite you to take a moment and explore what our YouTube channel has to offer and, if you like what you see, become a follower and subscribe!
Last month CC Pacers participated in a community outreach event to support Animal Friends – VA. Animal Friends – VA is a small local non-profit based out of Woodbridge, VA. They are a no-kill foster-based rescue organization dedicated to saving and finding homes for companion animals in our communities. Having been founded in 2015, Animal Friends – VA is an organization of volunteers who are dedicated to saving the lives of surrendered, abused, and neglected animals. The organization relies solely on generous donors and adoption fees to finance their operation. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has halted in-person adoption events, Animal Friends – VA has continued their mission to service neglected animals in the Northern Virginia area.
In support of this organization’s wonderful cause, CC Pacers collected a variety of items and donations. In total, CC Pacers donated dog beds, toys, crates, treats, and hundreds of pounds of dog food – amongst other items. In addition, CC Pacers also made direct donations to the Animal Friends – VA organization. In lieu of participating in in-person outreach events, CC Pace will continue to find new and creative ways to support our community. A big “Thank You!” to all of the CC Pacers who participated in this event!
Looking to get involved? Great news – there are many ways you can support Animal Friends – VA! Options to help include applying to adopt or foster, donating through their Amazon Wish List, or making a direct monetary donation. In addition, once in-person donation events resume Animal Friends – VA will be looking for volunteers for transports and to lend a hand at adoption events. To learn more about Animal Friends – VA, check out their website.
Meet Alyssa Stewart, Technical Recruiter who shares her journey this past year at CC Pace with us. Here she gives insight on her transition to this position, opportunities that have been presented to her, and her experience being part of the CC Pace family. We are so happy to have her on our team!
If you are interested in a new career with CC Pace please check out our latest job postings. And, we invite you to get social with us, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the most up to date news, information and happening at CC Pace!
I sincerely hope that you’ve been enjoying Mike Gordon’s recent posts on the changing landscape of banking in the digital world. (If you missed them, please bookmark this post and click this link to read them before continuing any further.) Mike has done a great job of outlining many of the macro-level changes afoot among the banking industry leaders, the innovators and the smaller local lenders as they respond to customer demands and competitive pressures in a time of rapid acceleration of mobile computing and personalization of services available in finance. Mike deftly explores how the responses may vary by institutional types along with his insights as to why the digital approach most often aligns with the customer population that typically defines their respective markets.
I recently ran across an excellent thought piece from Alex Johnson and Darryl Knopp of FICO, based on a session they presented (virtually, of course) at an American Banker’s Digital Banking 2020 conference in December and was struck by how well it complemented Mike’s posts at a more tactical and granular level. The executive summary of their session, entitled “The 11 Commandments of Digital Banking”, can be accessed here (Download Executive Summary). I think that you will agree that Alex and Darryl’s “commandments” are well reasoned and thought provoking in the way that they articulate the customer experience requisites of our times, well punctuated with humor and the obligatory TikTok reference our pop culture demands. Coupled with Mike Gordon’s overviews of the current landscape, these pieces give us a lot to think about how well we are doing with regard to transforming our own businesses to better serve our customers and keep up with the times.
Please drop in a comment to let us know how your own digital transformation is going. We would love to hear from you.
Small and medium sized companies are trying to return to “normal.” This short blog by guest blogger, Dr. Amira Roess, provides some guidelines. Dr. Amira Roess is a Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at George Mason University.
It’s not going to be easy, and we may not get back to a pre-COVID workplace for another few years, but it can be done.
A critical factor is employee peace-of-mind. There are three actions an employer can take to ensure employee peace-of-mind:
- Take steps to prevent employees that may be infected from coming to work (i.e. Daily Symptom and Exposure Screening)
- Take steps to remove opportunities to become infected in the workplace (i.e. workplace hygiene and air flow)
- Take steps to rapidly remove employees from workplace that have been exposed (i.e. Accurate and Rapid Contact Tracing)
Daily Symptom & Exposure Screening apps provide a simple way for employees to check their symptoms. The questions on the screening app should be curated by an epidemiologist based on the latest scientific finding from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as other credible sources.
An app that automatically sends daily reminders and/or alerts to employees to complete the screening can reduce the workload in managing the process.
Workplace hygiene must be maintained. Employees must avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If you cannot avoid using someone else’s workstation, clean and disinfect before and after use.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, like workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs. Dirty surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water before disinfection. Choose the right disinfectant for your surface from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Wear a mask in all shared spaces, especially where staying 6 feet apart (about two arm lengths) is not possible. Interacting without wearing a mask increases your risk of getting infected. Note: wearing a mask does not replace the need to practice social distancing.
Employees should wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. If your hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water over hand sanitizer.
All medical professionals know to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if you haven’t washed your hands.
Employees must remember to cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues into no-touch trash cans and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Indoor spaces should be evaluated to ensure that maximum airflow is supported. High quality portable HEPA filters can provide an additional layer of protection.
Contact Tracing is very important. Should any employee find out that they are positive for COVID, anybody that was exposed (i.e. more than 15 minutes in less than 6 feet proximity) should be notified and instructed to quarantine immediately.
Here is a link to the CDC website with Quarantine instructions. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html.
It is strongly recommended to use an automated Contract Tracing system to get accurate time and distance between employees. These systems can also identify where workplace operations result in unintended congregation.
CC Pace has teamed up with George Mason Professors, Dr. Roess and Dr. Lance Shirley, to create Pass2Play.
Pass2Play is a combined Daily Symptom & Exposure Screening and Contract Tracing App that is designed to Provide for Employee Peace-Of-Mind, Ensure Employee Health & Safety, and Maximize Workspace Uptime.
For a demo and purchase: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Working with CC Pace series introduces Holly-Ann Morton a Consultant. Holly-Ann reveals details on how she was impressed that her CC Pace recruiters stayed in touch from their first interaction, and really took the time to understand her needs and skillset. Through this open dialogue with her recruiting team Holly-Ann was able to find her next position with CC Pace, and went into her new role with the confidence. Watch her video testimonial and see if this type of working relationship sounds good to you as you seek a new opportunity, if it does, then be sure to check out our latest openings!
Curious what is it like to work with CC Pace? Shaheen Hossain is an Agile Coach for CC Pace in this video he shares with us his journey from his first interactions with CC Pace leadership, through his full experience with our recruiting team. Watch his video testimonial and if sounds like the right environment for you, and you want to explore joining our team… click here!
It’s an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year. In the midst of a pandemic, CC Pace has been celebrating a milestone anniversary of 40 years in business! To celebrate, we decided to host a 40th Anniversary Community Outreach Challenge. The pandemic has certainly highlighted the need for community service and outreach, we in turn challenged our employees to go out and make a difference in their communities!
Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, CC Pacers continued to show overwhelming support in a variety of ways by donating masks to those in need and supporting organizations close at heart. In addition, CC Pace held a company-wide food drive to support of the Lorton Community Action Center, where together our team donated close to three hundred pounds of food!
In total, CC Pacers donated directly to 10 different organizations, including – two universities, two animal shelters, and multiple local and national non-profits all over the country. And, while some took a more traditional approach, others found creative ways to make a difference. For example:
- Donating 40 handmade masks made by an employee and their spouse.
- Committing to perform 40 acts of kindness throughout the year.
- An avid coin collector on our team, decided to sell one of his coins from 1940 and donate the proceeds directly to charity.
- Conducting and donating 40 hours of Agile Trainings as a fundraiser to the Los Angeles Telugu Association. The proceeds from those trainings, which totaled about $22,000, were given to promote community activities, art and culture.
Wow! Well done everyone! A big “Thank You” to all of our CC Pacers for giving back in so many creative ways! Happy 40th Anniversary CC Pace – here’s to 40 more!
If you would like to learn more about any of the organizations CC Pacers have supported this year, please visit the links provided:
- Houston Diaper Bank https://houstondiaperbank.org/donate/
- WolfTrap Animal Rescue https://www.wtarescue.com/support-us
- Fairfax County Animal Shelter https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/getinvolved
- Shelter House https://shelterhouse.org/get-involved/
- Give Essential https://www.giveessential.org/help
- Capital Area Food Bank (feeding America) https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/how-to-help/
It is almost a certainty in years to come, that we will all recall that period in March 2020 when everything started closing down due to COVID-19. The weeks leading up to this time we kept hearing more about this mysterious virus and the awful effects of it. As a result, many of us started preparing for the possibility that we ourselves would be quarantined for a couple of weeks. Fast forward to November 2020 and here we are, still in quarantine as states continue to figure out the best and safest ways to reopen.
Prior to the COVID lockdown, we here at CC Pace would have never imagined that we could transition our entire workforce to go 100% remote overnight, and much less do it seamlessly – but that is exactly what we did! Our entire staff has effectively been working remotely for 8 months, thanks in big part to our technology group who had already transitioned the bulk of our storage to the cloud, and had implemented Microsoft Teams for more successful and personal communications among our employees.
When the CC Pace team transitioned to full work-from-home status overnight we didn’t let quarantine affect our productivity nor the quality of our work. We hit the ground running and have not stopped. If you were to ask us how we did it, we would have to say that the key has been communication. Our team has adjusted and embraced new modes of communication: Meetings – join us in Teams, chats – ping me whenever, kudos – keep them coming, file sharing – here’s the link, screen sharing – take a look at this, all of this along with video calls have helped us to stay in touch and most importantly stay connected! (Of course, a few virtual happy hours and events have helped too!)
It’s this level of adaptability and agility that has brought us our success. Seeing our team be able to continue to produce and develop superior results only confirms what CC Pace has always stood by, our people are our most important asset! #staysafe
In the first installment of our Product Owner Empowerment series, we talked about the three crucial dimensions of ‘Knowledge’ that affect a Product Owner’s effectiveness. This post is going to take a deeper dive into the impact Empathy has on a Product Owner’s ability to succeed.
Empathy: Assuming positive intent, empathy is something that comes naturally to a person. However, environmental factors can influence a person’s ability to relate or connect with another person or team. Let’s explore some aspects of empathy and how they may impact a Product Owner’s success.
- Empathy towards the team(s): To facilitate an empathetic relationship between a Product Owner and the team, the PO must be able to meet the team where they are (literally and figuratively). Getting to know the team members and building a rapport requires the Product Owner to extensively interact with the team and proactively work to build such relationships. Organizations should facilitate this by making sure Product Owners are physically located where the team is and is empowered to not only represent the team to the business but also play the role of protector from external interruptions, so that team can function effectively. As alluded to above, having a good understanding of what it takes to deliver, helps tremendously with the ability to place themselves in the team’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
- Empathy towards the customer(s): It is easy to assume that a Product Owner acting on behalf of the business will automatically have empathy and an understanding of their needs to adequately represent their business interests. However, organizational culture can sometimes influence how a Product Owner prioritizes work. If it is only the sponsors directing the team’s scope and prioritization, a critical element of customer input is missed. Product Owners should place sufficient emphasis on obtaining customer opinion and feedback to inform the direction of product development.
- Empathy in the Organization: This factor relates to the organizational culture. As companies embrace Agile and expect its benefits to be equally realized, more emphasis on the desire to be lean begins to form. While being lean is a goal every organization should have, it is important to understand what kind of impact a lean organization has on individual teams or team members. A systemic push to be lean, in combination with less than optimal Agile maturity and the presence of antipatterns, can lead to teams being held against unsustainable delivery expectations. This problem is more common than you would think. Most organizations are going through some level of Agile transformation, but leadership expectations of benefits realization are always a few steps ahead of where the organization truly is on the Agile journey. Having the right set of expectations and the empathy necessary to reset them based on continuous learning and feedback is needed at an organizational level.
Check back next week to see how a Product Owner’s success is tied to psychological safety for themselves and the teams they are working with.
If you are a Product Owner or your Agile team struggles with this role, you won’t want to miss our upcoming webinar on Product Owner Empowerment. This webinar will be held on December 15th and you can register today here! Space is limited and on a first-come basis.
The Product Owner plays a crucial role in the success of a team and subsequently the organization. Most organizations consider the Product Owner to be a person with sufficient business knowledge such that they can communicate the business needs to the teams for implementation. While this is an important qualifier for a Product Owner, other factors must be present to have a truly empowered Product Owner.
The following 3 factors have the biggest impact on a Product Owner’s ability to succeed:
- Psychological Safety
These factors are not just applicable to the Product Owner, but also the surrounding environment. This includes the organization, processes, culture, teams, the product itself, stakeholders, and customers. Let us dig a little deeper.
In this post, we are going to focus on the first influencer: Knowledge. Next week, we’ll take a deeper dive into the impact Empathy has on a Product Owner’s ability to succeed, and we’ll round out the series with defining Psychological Safety and looking at the effect it has on a Product Owner.
Knowledge: The knowledge aspect is the most obvious and widely analyzed and assessed factor to evaluate the effectiveness of a Product Owner. However, there are several dimensions of knowledge that are required.
- Domain Knowledge: This dimension doesn’t need explaining and is probably the most obvious one of all. The Product Owner must have a good understanding of the domain they are working in, to effectively lead product development. While it may seem comfortable to assume that industry-wide it is common practice to have Product Owners with sufficient domain knowledge, some Agile antipatterns have led to the emergence of roles such as proxy Product Owner, or technical Product Owner. The primary culprit for organizations gravitating to this antipattern is a lack of understanding of the Product Owner’s role. Organizations assume that as long as there is a communication path to transfer the business needs to the teams, it is ok to have layers between the customer and the team. This creates dysfunction in Agile teams that are supposed to collaborate with the Product Owner in discovering and delivering value, but don’t have an empowered Product Owner who can make decisions and pivot when needed effectively.
- Process Knowledge: When it comes to a PO having knowledge and understanding of the Agile approach, best practices, and antipatterns usually takes a back seat. To clarify, we are not talking about just having your PO take a 2-day certification class and call it a day. Yes, it is necessary to have formal learning as part of role development, but, the learning should not remain at this minimal level. An effective Product Owner should have lived the process, learned from the challenges, successes, and failures, so they understand what it takes to deliver the product they are helping build
- Knowledge of PO role across in the organization: We talked about knowledge that a PO should have, but, to have a truly empowered Product Owner, an organization needs to know what to do with such a role. As mentioned before, a Product Owner role is different from a mere subject matter expert. To empower a Product Owner to make decisions, the organizational stakeholders need to understand how the Product Owner role works in an Agile context. Product Owners are not only the primary source of information on business needs for the team but are also one of the key roles influencing the pace of value delivery.
If the organization doesn’t understand what it takes for an Agile team to receive business needs Just-in-Time, iterate on requirements, let design emerge, deliver value and allow for slack time and innovation, It will make a Product Owner’s job quite difficult if they are still held to traditional expectations from leadership. These expectations may include providing inflexible delivery commitments, obtaining buy-in from a myriad of stakeholders before any scope changes are made, or worst of all, ensuring maximized utilization from the team. The organization’s stakeholders must be trained and knowledgeable about the basics of Agile if they are new to this way of working. Additionally, leadership must know the common pitfalls, assumptions, and antipatterns that organizations fall into and actively work to avoid or mitigate them.
If you are a Product Owner or your Agile team struggles with this role, join me for a free webinar on Product Owner Empowerment. This webinar will be held on December 12th and you can register here! Space is limited and on a first-come basis.
CC Pace would not have reached our 40th Anniversary without a strong corporate culture, which is why we have decided to dedicate this third blog in our 40 Years and Forward series to it! Our president, Mike Gordon, often says that “Our people are our most important asset!”. It is obvious that one of the things that really sets CC Pace apart from the rest, is our continued commitment to our people. Mike’s beliefs in a strong workforce are what has cultivated a culture centered around collaboration, productivity and having fun!
CC Pace understands a “one-size-fits-all” approach towards employees is not the answer to having a positive corporate culture, but rather one in which openness to new ideas and flexibility are encouraged. From day one, our new team members are introduced to our concept of an “open-door policy” where everyone is accessible to those who have questions, need guidance or have ideas to share. Here at CC Pace we value collaboration and you are always encouraged to bounce ideas around with your fellow CC Pacers. Since COVID-19 hit our area, we have continued to foster this mentality remotely through live meetings on Microsoft Teams.
CC Pace and its’ employees are also very committed to giving back to our community through volunteering, collecting donations and providing other support. A prime example of that is the quarterly service and outreach events we organize as a company. In the past year alone, we have participated in events such as the Power Pack Program, a volunteer night at the Katherine Hanley Community Shelter, a successful Toys for Tots holiday toy drive, various item donation events and much more. Connecting with our community and making a difference together brings much joy to our team!
At CC Pace, not only do we work hard but we play hard as well. Social events are a big part of what unifies our tight knit family culture. We like to celebrate everything both big and small! Of course, we have our regular happy hours and annual company party (which is awesome by the way), but the fun doesn’t stop there – our People’s Engagement Committee’s (PEC) sole purpose is to plan engaging activities all year long. Themed events like our Kentucky Derby party and our Superbowl kickoff create a fun atmosphere and help to develop those connections and relationships that strengthen our company. Now that we find ourselves working remotely 100% of the time, our office has navigated this new normal and strived to maintain that level of fun and camaraderie by having online social events such as happy hours (do you see a common theme here?) and even a virtual company bingo night!
The culture that CC Pace promotes empowers employees to not only be social, but it motivates them to consistently produce high quality work as well. It allows our team to better collaborate, learn, grow and develop in their roles.
…Stay tuned for our next edition in our 40 Years and Forward series where we will share 40 Fun Facts about CC Pace!
While digital banking has been on the upswing for many years, the COVID 19 virus has changed its trajectory. While many consumers prefer conducting banking transactions from their phone or computer over making a trip to their local bank branch and dealing with the lines at teller stations or drive-up windows, the pace of adoption has lagged expectations until the recent crisis.
Digital banking can have slightly different meanings depending upon who you are speaking with. For contextual purposes in this blog series, consider digital banking to be the movement of the traditional banking activities that were historically performed when a customer physically went inside of a bank branch to now being performed online through a web browser or a mobile phone. These activities could include:
- Check Deposits
- Money Transfers
- Bill Payment
- Account Management
- Application Submissions for Financial Products
Most commonly, the digital banking experience occurs at a traditional bank that has augmented its branch services with online and mobile tool options. However, new entrants into the financial services market have created digital-only banking where no brick and mortar branches exist, and all transactions are performed electronically.
This move towards digital banking reflects a broader societal trend of conducting more transactions in a self-service mode, which has been advanced by the younger generation who are more comfortable using technology to conduct business. However, not all banks embrace digital banking with the same mindset. Some larger institutions see digital banking as transformational, envisioning a new overall model for conducting business with less bricks and mortar and more ancillary revenue generated by the online transactions. For the most part, smaller players have taken more of a “follower” position, providing basic mobile and online banking functionality that meet a minimal bar for a modern bank but nothing that serves as a marketplace differentiator.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of digital banking apps, with the clear expectation that, even if it were to end, many consumers will no longer go back to the physical branches like they did in the past. The J.D. Powers’ 2020 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that:
- 36% of respondents plan to use more online tools to do more of their banking
- 20% plan to go to their bank branch less often
- 24% plan to use mobile payment apps to make purchases in stores more often
- 18% plan to use ATMs less often out of concern over spreading the COVID virus
The large, national financial institutions envision digital banking as being a fundamental competitive differentiator that they need to continuously build upon. Leveraging technologies that include artificial intelligence, data analytics and advanced fraud detection will provide some of the avenues they seek for further enhancing the experience and convenience to their customers.
The smaller community banks and credit unions have used their local commitment and high-touch approach to provide a different option than offered by their bigger rivals. This distinction is being highly compromised by the reluctance, if not inability, to go into a physical branch for the foreseeable future. To compensate, these local players are looking to find ways, such as mobile account access, to adapt to the current trends and situation, while still providing an attractive alternative as they have done in the past.
Digital-only entrants seek to capitalize on consumer preference changes shifting towards online and mobile devices, making a bet that the future of banking does not require any physical presence. They see that customers are increasingly willing to switch banks for digital features and thus strive to provide the optimal digital experience. Their target market focus are millennials who embrace technology and who are rapidly becoming the largest consumers of financial products.
In my next three blogs, I will provide: 1) insights into what the largest players are investing to further transform the digital banking environment, 2) strategies that the smaller traditional players are taking to compete effectively in the changing landscape and 3) the differentiation strategy that the newer, digital-only entrants are employing to gain some market share and how well it’s working.
As we mentioned in our previous post, we are celebrating our 40th anniversary and, as part of our celebrations, we have created this 40 Years and Forward blog series. So, without further ado, welcome to the second posting in that series!
In our last blog, we took a stroll down memory lane and reminisced about CC Pace’s origins and what the world was like in 1980 when we were founded. While much has changed here at CC Pace and in the world in general (internet anyone?), we have been steady in our drive to meet the needs of our customers by providing valuable business solutions. Working with a national client base that ranges from tech start-ups to Fortune 500 companies as well as government entities – no company or project has proven to be too big or too small.
While we have remained consistent to our values and in our focus, another key aspect to our longevity has been our adaptability. For instance, CC Pace’s biggest client during our first year was the Department of Energy and we were deeply involved with the Oil and Gas industries. As we grew and our client base expanded, we shifted direction to the telecommunications and the financial services/mortgage industry. We focused our strategic planning on truly understanding how innovative technologies and methodologies work, and when and where to apply them. For example, back in 1999, when others were consistently using the waterfall approach, CC Pace started to think differently and used an Agile methodology, XP, for the first time on a custom software development project.
Our adaptability has also come into play as we have successfully navigated our way through many challenging times including the financial crisis of 2009 and most recently the coronavirus pandemic, we find ourselves in today. By seizing the opportunity to adapt to the market, investing in our people and discovering new technologies, CC Pace has successfully kept up with our clients’ needs. We are carrying that adaptability into 2020 as our development teams are currently creating mobile apps and working on cloud transitions and integrations. It is through these continued efforts and our ability to adjust to the market, that CC Pace has become a nationally recognized leader in Agile training and coaching, custom application development, financial and healthcare services consulting and IT staffing.
We invite you to stay tuned to our next 40 Years and Forward blog series in which we’ll share deeper insight into our company culture. And, how our team has thrived in a social, collaborative and productive environment that even encourages playfulness while at work!
Meet Morgan Romero the newest member of the CC Pace Recruiting Team! Morgan joined us in January and jumped right into her role as a Recruiter Assistant with great enthusiasm! We couldn’t be happier with her contributions to our recruiting efforts and are seeking someone just like Morgan for our new Recruiter position – if you think you are ready to take the leap and become a CC Pace Recruiter please apply for this exciting opportunity here and let’s talk about getting started on your new career today!
It’s that time of the year when we get together with friends for fun, good food and some friendly rivalry. That’s right, it’s Superbowl weekend and we here at CC Pace decided to kick it off early with a Jeans and Jersey day! Although we have nothing but love and respect for both the Chiefs and the 49ers, we didn’t want to exclude any form or flavor of team spirit. So, we opened the jersey wearing to any team, in any sport. And, Pacers did not disappoint! People joined in on the fun and showed up in an array of team attire and we shared a field of treats!
We decided we needed to add some competition to our festivities and played a Superbowl word game and guess who the big winner was…CC Pace president, Mike Gordon – Way to go Mike! (and, no we did not let him win because he is the president, we are all way to competitive for that!)
You may notice in the pictures that there was a clear shortage of the Superbowl’s colors, but everyone did have a clear pick on a winner for the big game. The majority of us are rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs, and not just because they haven’t won a Superbowl since 1969 (well, maybe that’s part of it). Go Chiefs!
The primary goal of Marine Toys for Tots is to help bring the joy of Christmas through the gift of a new toy and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children. To join in this amazing effort, CC Pace signed up to be donation center for a second year in a row. Our employees shined with generosity and holiday spirit by overflowing our donation boxes! Not only did they provide games, dolls, books, cars, scooters and toys, but a group of them even took time to go out and shop together for our corporate donation – and as our video shows, had a blast while doing so! Here’s to Toys for Tots for celebrating their 72nd year in spreading joy!
The holiday season brings with it a flurry of fun activities, things like, gatherings with family or friends, taking part in treasured traditions and eating special dishes (there is always so much food!). With all those things in mind we have decided to kick off the holiday season with a festive and fun blog where we surveyed the CC Pace team to find out what they enjoy most during this time of year. So, without further ado, here’s a little insight on what our team enjoys most about the holidays:
What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Stuffing was the #1 answer with 49% of CC Pacers in agreement! Looks like we have a lot of carb lovers, and they like a variety of stuffing. The answers varied from “inside stuffing” to “chestnut stuffing” to “cornbread stuffing” and just the classic “stuffing”. So, let’s hear it for stuffing!!
Which outdoor winter activity do you enjoy most?
- Building a snowman – 5%
- Skiing, Snow Tubing and/or Sledding – 40%
- Shoveling snow – 0% (hey, some people like shoveling snow – right?!)
- None, I like to stay inside and watch the snow from there – 55%
Apparently, staying cozy and warm inside is the priority for most of our team on a snowy day! Speaking of snow, here’s an interesting fact for those who live in the DC area: this year local forecasters are calling for a total snowfall of 10-16 inches inside the beltway, and 15-25 inches outside. Let’s all look back here in April and see how well their predictions held up!
What is your favorite holiday movie?
When it comes time to sit back and relax our team clearly goes for the comedies, with Love Actually and Christmas Vacation tying for the #1 favorite holiday movie, to which we can only say “yes, please”!
Which method do you prefer for holiday shopping?
- Shopping online – Amazon Prime all the way! – 68%
- Going to mall – I like the hustle and bustle of the crowds and grabbing my Starbucks! – 32%
Do you have a charitable organization or volunteering opportunity that you like to attend/favor during the holidays? If so, which one?
Our employees are very generous year-round, and this season is no different. Here are the Top 5 charity organizations they will be supporting during the holidays:
- Toys for Tots seems to be the most popular charity at this time of year amongst our team. That is great news for us since this year CC Pace is again participating as a collection center for the Marine Toys for Tots Program. Toys for Tots was started in 1947 and distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually. All are welcome to drop off toys at our headquarters through December 13th!
- Wreaths Across America
- SOME (So Others Might Eat)
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- Tie – several local shelters and children’s charities.
Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate by a landslide – 75%.
What is your favorite Christmas carol or holiday song?
All I Want for Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey, was released in 1994 and quickly rose to the top of the charts; it is the most downloaded Christmas song of all time. Ms. Carey said when recording this song that she wanted to create a classic, and that she certainly has accomplished!
From CC Pace to all of you, have a happy holiday season full of good cheer and best wishes for the new year!
One of our very own just celebrated this big milestone and rather than just giving you the 411 on it all, we’d like to change things up a bit and play a guessing game with you! If you’d like to play along keep reading, and no peeking at the pictures below. So, can you guess who it is? No? Well it is probably a bit hard given that CC Pace’s employees have an average tenure of 12+ years of service, so we figured we would give you some other clues to help you narrow down your guess:
Clue #1 – This person is a favorite amongst both those of us as CC Pace and our clients.
Clue #2 – This person speaks fluent Russian.
Clue #3 – This person recently obtained their AWS Practitioner certification.
Clue #4 – This person has musical talent and plays the bass.
Clue #5 – This person is also a skilled tennis player.
Still haven’t figured it out? then let’s keep going… Joining CC Pace in 2004, this person was part of the mortgage technology offering LOS Advantage. After working on various projects for us, they began working at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) on the EMMA product, and have been there for over 10 years. During their time at MSRB, they have been consistently praised for their ability to deliver what is asked of them, and always delivering on time.
Need another hint? Now our team lead at MSRB, they constantly work on building their technical skills, learning and adapting to different methodology frameworks, and working very well with people (seriously, everyone loves working with this person). The leadership at MSRB epitomizes the type of client partnership we strive for, one built on value, trust and all-around success, and is due largely to this individual.
Ready for the big reveal??
Please join us in congratulating Leo Belenky for his 15 Year Anniversary at CC Pace. Our president, Mike Gordon presented Leo with his service award and highlighted how his hard work and dedication are vital to the success of our organization. Thank you Leo, for 15 wonderful years of service! And, to our readers, thank you for playing along!
For CC Pace’s 2nd quarter community outreach event, we collected personal care items in support of the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter (KHFS). KHFS is located in Fairfax, right around the corner from our office!
Thanks to everyone who participated. We were able to collect and put together “Care Kits” for 15-20 children, 10-12 women and 10-12 men. These Care Kits were comprised of items such as tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and a tooth brush. These items will go to the families and individuals in need at the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter.
KHFS opened in 2007 and was the first emergency shelter in Fairfax County to adopt a rapid re-housing approach – an approach that was so successful, it has been incorporated into all emergency shelters in Fairfax County. Currently, KHFS houses 72 people, 45 of which are children. KHFS is part of the Shelter House organization.
Shelter House is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention, safe housing, and supportive services to homeless families and victims of domestic violence in our community. Shelter House was formed in 1981 as a grassroots responder to the homelessness crisis in Fairfax County. Shelter House is comprised of 3 emergency shelters: the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter, Artemis House and the Patrick Henry Family Shelter.
In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served over 2,300 individuals, more than half of which were children. Of the families that exit Shelter House, nearly 70% move to permanent housing.
Thank you to everyone for your support and participation!
If you would like to learn more about Katherine K. Hanley or Shelter House, follow the link below:
There is a great team of people who work at CC Pace. We took a few minutes to get up close and personal with George Perkins, Ron Peterson and Suzie Wheeler, three of the people whose roles are front and center with our clients and candidates.
George is a Practice Manager who has just celebrated his 25th anniversary with CC Pace. George is responsible for the management of several of our client accounts and staff augmentation services. His primary focus in on the financial services and healthcare industries. Always the jokester, George is never one to miss the opportunity for a good one-liner during a meeting! Connect with George on LinkedIn.
We asked George some questions, and here’s what he had to say:
- Do you participate in some community outreach you would like to highlight? At CC Pace we believe in giving back to the community and participate in multiple events each year. Over the past few years I’ve been involved with the Ronald McDonald house, Homestretch’s backpacks for school kids, and sponsoring local families for Christmas. Also, I enjoy helping out with the local animal shelter.
- What professional groups do you belong to and what professional events do you attend? I attend NVTC events, Agile DC, and belong to WARN (Washington areas recruiters’ network) and ASA (American Staffing Association). I also represent CC Pace at job fairs and other IT conferences.
- What is your favorite…
- Food? Almost anything Asian, love the spices.
- Movie? Pulp Fiction and American Beauty
- Book? On the Road
- Team? Redskins
- Quote? “It’s just a flesh wound”
- Dog or Cat? Dog
- If you could do Carpool Karaoke with any singer living or dead, who would it be and why? Neil Young, I love his music and would be interested in talking to him about the days living in Laurel Canyon in the mid/late 60’s when all the great music/musicians were hanging out there.
Ron is our Senior Practice Manager for Federal Business Development. He focuses on building relationships and networking with government agencies on the local, state and federal level. Ron is probably one of the most easy-going people in the office. His calm demeanor and willingness to help out make working with him a true pleasure. Connect with Ron on LinkedIn.
So, Ron, tell us …
- Do you participate in some community outreach you would like to highlight? For 30 years, I have been volunteering in Federal and State prisons and local jails. Currently I am volunteering at Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
- What professional groups do you belong to and what professional events do you attend? I belong to ACT-IAC and National Contract Management Association (NCMA). I also attend various conferences and industry events representing CC Pace.
- What is your favorite…
- Food? Seafood
- Movie? The Invisible Guest
- Book? The Bible
- Team? Yankees, Giants, and Golden State Warriors
- What is your hidden talent? Chess and Bid Whist (Bid Whist is an exciting, popular partnership trick-taking game. It is played with a standard 52 card deck plus 2 jokers, for a total of 54 cards).
Suzie is our Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Manager. She is responsible for the on-going strategy to find employees for the company with specific skillsets and recruiting for our clients’ technical positions. Suzie is always smiling, happy and has a pep to her step. She brings her positive attitude and enthusiasm to the entire CC Pace team. Connect with Suzie on LinkedIn.
Other fun facts about Suzie are:
- What professional groups do you belong to and what professional events do you attend? I belong to Women in Technology, SourceCon, and Project Save. I attend multiple events for various technical meet-up groups in the DC area, technical job fairs and agile conferences.
- What is your favorite…
- Food? Mexican, Maryland Blue Crabs, Spicy foods
- Movie? It’s hard to say just one, The Bucket List, Pay it Forward, The Notebook, Green Book
- Book? Disclosure by Michael Crichton, and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- Team? Dallas Cowboys and University of South Carolina teams
- Quote? “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you” ~ Deepak Chopra
- Dog or Cat? Definitely dog
- If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see? Probably witnessing the life of Jesus, I have so many questions about the events of this timeframe.
Our recent quarterly meeting made for a fun afternoon and evening for everyone. We had a lively staff meeting with presentations, service awards and team building activities, followed by a festive gathering at Dave & Busters.
At CC Pace, we’re lucky to have so many tenured employees. As our team members celebrate their CC Pace anniversaries, they are recognized by their colleagues and leadership team for their contributions throughout the years. We kicked off our service awards recognizing Chris Soule, Technical Consultant, for his 5 year anniversary with CC Pace. Chris was hired for an opening we had on our development team for MSRB. His success with this client continues today, where he has become a key leader on the EMMA project working not only on the data base side, but also helping to revamp the user interface. Per our client, Chris is the epitome of a team player! Chris, may you continue to inspire us for many years to come!
George Perkins, Practice Manager, was recognized for celebrating his 25th anniversary with us! George was hired as our first full-time recruiter. Over the years, as the staffing area of the business has evolved, he moved into the role of an Account Manager for some of our major clients. George’s philosophy has always been work hard towards success and have fun while you’re doing so – and he does just that! George, we thank you for your energy, enthusiasm and corporate commitment!
To take advantage of the rare moments our people are actually all together, we used this time to engage in some team building activities that were facilitated by Debbie Shatz, Sudhindra Shetty and the “always up for a good time”, George Perkins. Divided into 5 teams with red Solo cups in hand, our staff took aim at various building and stacking tasks (and, did we mention there were prizes)! Lots of cheering and yelling lead to some pretty hilarious bragging rights by the winners!
EAT. DRINK. PLAY. We kept the party going and had everyone move over to the new Dave & Buster’s in Fair Oaks Mall for an entertaining evening! There was food, drinks, billiards and of course lots more games and plenty of, should we say friendly competition. Together everyone enjoyed some good old fashioned laugh-out-loud fun!
Living in the digital age, it is not difficult to be familiar with a company’s name, reputation or logo – but do you really know what they do, and what they are all about? That got us thinking about our own company and we asked, what is it that people really want to know about CC Pace? So, we did some research with our team and came up with the Top 5 Most Asked Questions About CC Pace from our clients:
- Where does the name CC Pace come from? (this is actually quite the story – so here we go…)
In the early 1970s, a financial services technology consulting firm headquartered in New Jersey named R. Shriver Associates (RSA) opened a Washington, DC branch as part of its growth strategy. In 1980, RSA management decided to sell the DC branch. Mike Gordon (current President of CC Pace) and several other employees bought the assets of the branch, and one of the immediate tasks was to come up with a name for the new company. A naming contest was initiated and the name that was selected was Cabot Consulting (we clearly didn’t hire a naming consultant). No person in the company was named Cabot, but, at the time, it conveyed a positive image as the Cabots were a prominent New England family.
In the 1980s, the vertical market that the company most served was Oil & Gas. Unfortunately, a Fortune 500 oil and gas company was named Cabot Corporation and they weren’t keen on sharing the Cabot name. So, in 1988, we went through a similar naming process as we did at the outset of the company. The result was a decision to call ourselves ‘Pace’. We thought it would convey us being forward thinking, and we also believed that we would be able to play on the word “pace” for marketing purposes. However, after finding conflicts with the Cabot name, we quickly realized that there would be 10 times more conflicts with the name of ‘Pace’. It was recommended that we add either a word or prefix/suffix that would distinguish us from all the other Paces out there. We were looking for a way to transition from our old name to the new name and someone suggested the prefix of C.C. from Cabot Consulting. Yes, it’s fairly convoluted, but that is how we ended up with our name being C.C. Pace (aka CC Pace).
- Wait, we thought you are a training company?
While we have trained over 35,000 people in Lean-Agile disciplines over the last 15+ years, we actually got our roots in financial services consulting. Dating back to 1980, some of our earliest projects were in Loan Origination System Section and Technology Due Diligence for some of the leading players in the mortgage space (many of whom are still clients today).
Over the years, we grew our technical capabilities and were an early adopter of the Agile methodology. So, while we have dozens of training offerings under the Agile umbrella today – everything from Scrum Certification Courses, Kanban, SAFe, etc. – our sweet spot is actually Agile development. We launched our first Agile xP project in 1999, and four years later, adopted Scrum. In addition to our business and Agile transformation services, we also have a well-established IT Staffing team that works with a variety of clients in the DC area to find the right fit to help organizations meet their business objectives.
- What kind of clients do you work with?
Our clients tend to be industry leaders who are looking for strategic business solutions that will enable them to focus on taking their business objectives to the next level. We generally align best with clients who view us as a partner and trust that we have a shared interest in success and doing what’s best – not just the fastest or cheapest option. We focus on long-term results and really try to look at what will be the best option(s) for both today and tomorrow, so clients that share that vision typically result in a dynamic partnership. With four decades of experience in the Financial Services sector, we clearly have a wealth of understanding in that arena, but we also have an array of knowledge and experience in the Healthcare industry. Many of our services can be applied across any industry, and our client base extends from Fortune 500 to start ups across a multitude of disciplines. You can learn more about our clients here.
- Where are your offices located?
Our office is located in Fairfax, Virginia; however, our consultants work at client sites nationwide and we have employees who are based throughout the United States. We even have relationships with consultants in other countries to support some of our clients’ global offices and are well versed in supporting projects remotely as well.
- What is it that makes CC Pace different than other consulting firms?
That’s a great question! CC Pace is a boutique consulting firm that is committed to providing top quality service to our clients and building long-term, strategic partnerships with them. We’ve been working with many of our clients for four decades, and we believe that these long-term client relationships clearly reflect our work ethic and our commitment to providing top-rate solutions. Over 80% of our new business is based on referrals, which tells us that we’re doing something right. We truly care about both our clients and our employees, and as a result, we don’t see a lot of turnover with either. In fact, our average tenure for our employees is around 13 years. Clients appreciate seeing familiar faces mixed in with the new ones as we continue to grow.
Still have questions about CC Pace?
Reach out to us today to learn more about CC Pace and what we can do for your business!
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2019? The most common resolutions people make on a personal level are to exercise more, lose weight, get organized and save money. The start of a new year is also the ideal time of year to define and set your business goals as well.
Why set business goals? Business goals can determine the direction of your career, motivate you to keep moving forward and measure your success. Setting business goals may be something you decide to do individually as personal career goals, with others as a team, or even on a company level. First and foremost, your personal business goals should focus on moving you forward professionally and expanding your skills development.
Examples of personal business goals may include:
- To grow your network
- Learn a new skill
- Become a thought leader in your field
- Set aside time on your calendar each week to manage your emails
- Research business solutions
- Become a better listener
Write down your goals and specific action steps so you can see them and keep track of your success. Don’t rush and try to tackle them all at once. Take your time and focus on only one or two at a time. At the end of the year, take a moment to review all that you have accomplished – you will be surprised by what you can do once you set a goal.
At CC Pace, we have helped over 35,000 people reach their professional goals through our training offerings. We have a variety of resources available to help further your learning on our website including: articles, white papers and blogs posts; as well as our training offerings, to help you further your knowledge and skills.
Happy New Year – Here’s to making 2019 your most successful year yet!
Last week we had our quarterly staff meeting and the room was full of company spirit as our employees were all sporting CC Pace apparel. We also had a new twist when it came to discussing company business as some of our consulting teams made project videos to highlight their work – it was an entertaining way to learn about their current assignments and the clients they support. Once we got all the serious business out of the way, we had some fun as we recognized 3 employees who had reached milestone anniversaries.
First, we have Deepti Agarwal, Senior Technical Recruiter who is celebrating 5 years as a member of our recruiting team. Deepti was recognized for her exceptional record of having a 95% retention rate for her placements. Her colleagues are quick to point out that her attention to detail gives her the ability to find the perfect match for both the candidate and the client. Deepti received the traditional gag gift presented by President, Mike Gordon and a service award. Way to go Deepti!
Second, we celebrated Clay Everhart our Facilities Manager for 20 years of service. Clay has a big fan club here at CC Pace as he is always the first to lend a helping hand, volunteer or assist with a project (and of course make a joke). Most importantly, he does everything with a smile and always provides a funny quote of the day for our staff to enjoy! Mike presented Clay with a service award and, of course, a gag gift! But, the highlight of honoring Clay came next. For those who are not familiar with Clay, he also plays the guitar and is a songwriter and he performs his original pieces for everyone at CC Pace when there is a milestone anniversary or retirement. While they are often hilarious, they can also be very sweet and touching. To celebrate his anniversary, the entire CC Pace team wrote and performed a song for him to the tune of Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs! A classic moment for sure and one we will all remember for a long time. Thanks Clay for everything you do and all the laughs you bring to CC Pace!
Third, we had the honor to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Mike Gordon, CC Pace President. Mike started for a company named R. Shriver Associates in the late 70’s. In 1980, Mike and one other person purchased the branch and that was the beginnings of CC Pace. For 40 years Mike has led CC Pace with the highest integrity and ethics and through his strategic vision, he has built the company where it is today – a known leader in our market place. Mike was honored with a service award presented by Dawne Ward, COO. Dawne also had the special privilege of giving Mike a taste of his own medicine and presenting him with some gag gifts, and we have to admit he looked a little nervous when that part came around! The team also presented him with a golf outing to enjoy. Cheers to you Mike and thank you for your outstanding leadership of CC Pace!
The staff meeting also marked the last day of our Toys for Tots drive! Toys for Tots was started in 1947 and has distributed over 548 million toys since it began. We were able to fill two very large boxes with toys for our local community. The donations we received included something for everyone with baby dolls, cars, board games, craft sets, Legos and much more! Who doesn’t love the chance to make a child happy?!
A big shout out to all our employees for participating in this event!
This year marked the 32nd Annual Gala and Silent Auction held by SOME (So Other Might Eat). SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization led by Father John Adams, to help the homeless and poor of our nation’s capital. They provide basic needs of food, clothing, and health care to those in need on a daily basis, as well as job training, addiction treatment, and temporary housing to assist in long-term needs geared towards eliminating their current homeless situation.
The Gala and Silent Auction funds for the last 32 years have helped to ensure that SOME is able to sustain their services for another year. Suzanne Clark, a member of our Corporate Advisory Board, was this year’s Silent Auction Chair. Suzanne has been a part of the Silent Auction committee for the past 15 years and her support and leadership has been critical to SOME.
The Silent Auction consists solely of generous donations by businesses and individuals. Auction items this year did not disappoint the nearly 700 guests who attended the Gala. So many wonderful items to bid on were available, with highlights including: Ambassador-hosted embassy dinners, tickets to top concerts, grand getaways, fine wines, family activities and spa packages. CC Pace President and SOME Corporate Advisory Board Member, Mike Gordon and his wife Tracy donated a New England Clambake for 20 guests that brought in a winning bid of $1,100 to help the homeless. The total amount raised from this year’s Gala and Silent Auction was approximately $1.1M.
Each year, SOME presents the Father Horace McKenna Humanitarian of the Year Award to individuals who have performed outstanding work to benefit the poor and homeless in Washington DC. This year Allison and Matthew Shay were the honorees and were highlighted for their volunteerism as event chairs and committee members, their in-kind donations, their fundraising and their own generous financial contributions.
Each year CC Pace is proud to be a supporter of SOME and the services they provide to those less fortunate in our community. Visit SOME.org to learn more about this organization and how you can help.
Now that you have hired millennials, this last blog in our millennials series discusses integrating them to become part of your team, and making changes to your organization to fit their professional needs. As with any new employee, it takes time for that person to become acclimated to your organization.
This article, 2018 Millennials at Work Report, touches on managing this generation, millennials in leadership and long-term change. Making small changes across the board to create a more relaxed work environment seems to be a key starting point. Even employees outside of this generation will welcome change as they too seek more flexible schedules, cutting edge technology, professional development and management feedback.
If leaders are willing to take the time to invest in this generation of workers, it will surely make a difference to not only their teams, but their business.
Congratulations to Dawne Ward, our Chief Operating Officer (COO) who is celebrating her 20 Year Anniversary with CC Pace! Prior to CC Pace, Dawne worked at Citibank in their mortgage department for many years. She started with us as a consultant at Freddie Mac before taking over as our Account Manager. Her relationship with Freddie Mac helped to orchestrate the partnership we still have with them to this day.
As COO, Dawne is responsible in overseeing marketing, contracting, HR, Payroll, 401K Administration and so much more. Mike Gordon, President of CC Pace, stated, “Dawne works extremely hard, she always has the company’s best interest at the forefront and all of us have been the beneficiaries.”
At our Quarterly Staff Meeting, Dawne was not only honored with a Service Award and the traditional CC Pace gag gift from Mike, but also a very special performance by Clay with a humorous song written just for her!
We recognize that 20 years is a huge commitment to a company, so thank you, Dawne, for all you do for CC Pace!
CC Pace would like to introduce you to Donna Kenney, our new Controller who recently joined our Accounting team. She started her accounting career working for public accounting firms, and prior to joining CC Pace, she worked at Seneca Corporation for 20 years as a Controller. In her role, Donna is responsible for leading our Accounting operations and financial analysis/reporting functions. She is extremely customer-focused and has already hit the ground running.
- What made you want to work for CC Pace? The Controller position described in the online job posting sounded like the mix I was looking for; it involved all financial aspects, plus a good mix of hands-on and oversight activities. It was a smaller company and a tech company, which is the industry I’ve enjoyed working in since leaving public accounting. I checked out the CC Pace website and learned a little more about the company, and I really felt that this was the place I had been waiting for to make my next move. One reason was the mix of business lines and client types. However, the huge draw for me was the employee friendly feel that I got initially from the website, and then it was reinforced again during the interview process. Having worked at a company for almost 20 years where a number of employees had also been there 10+ years, the personality and corporate culture of my next company was very important to me. A company that could boast a similar retention rate was a big plus when deciding to submit my resume, and then ultimately saying yes to an offer.
- In terms of moving to a new company, what has been your biggest challenge? Getting used to all the different processes and details. Luckily, I have a great staff that has helped with the transition, and everyone else here at CC Pace has been very supportive. It has actually been relatively smooth so far. (Hopefully I didn’t jinx anything just now!)
- What is your initial impression of the culture at CC Pace? As I mentioned, the atmosphere has been friendly and supportive, a true team working toward the same goals, where professionalism and respect are just a natural part of the package.
- What 3 words best describe CC Pace? Probably not what you’re looking for, but what comes to my mind is simply “the right fit!”
- If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet? Why? That’s a hard question to answer, but I’ll say my Aunt Ann. I am actually named after her (Ann was actually her middle name though she went by it, as it is mine). She passed away a few years before I was born, but growing up I was often told how much I resembled her. I think it would be interesting to meet her for both of those reasons.
- What was the last book you read? Awaken the Darkness by Dianne Duvall
- What was the first job you had where you earned a real paycheck? At GC Murphy’s a 5&10. My mom worked there for many years, when I was young we would stop in the store and I always wanted to “help!” Particularly, using the pricing gun to put the price stickers on new merchandise. I will admit actually getting paid and having to use the pricing gun took some of the pleasure out of it, versus when I wasn’t actually supposed to be using it and was just “helping” mom.
- Do you have a favorite quote? My dad always said, and I always try to keep in mind: Everything happens for a reason and in the end works out for the best whether we understand it (or the hows/whys of it) or not.
CC Pace had the pleasure of celebrating two very special service awards at our quarterly staff meeting. The first one went to Lee Minai, Senior Accountant, who was recognized for 10 years of service with CC Pace. Over the years Lee has managed the Account Payable/Accounts Receivable function, interfacing with our clients, subcontractors, and account managers with great precision and care. This was a bittersweet celebration for everyone as Lee is retiring to have more time to spend with her growing family, including five grandchildren under the age of 4! Her positive attitude, customer service and warm smile will be greatly missed by everyone – we wish you all the best, Lee!
Philippa (Phil) Fewell, Managing Director of our Lean Agile Practice, joined us back in 1983 when we were known as Cabot Consulting. Over the last 35 years, she came up through the technical ranks managing and delivering financial and technology projects for a wide range of clients, from Fortune 500 to start-ups. CC Pace has had the privilege to be the beneficiary of the wealth of incredible skills and traits that are so admired by Phil’s clients and colleagues. Her versatile Agile experience includes serving as a trainer, coach, consultant, and project manager. Phil has been a role model for demonstrating integrity and excellence by looking out for both our clients and our best interest. And, we think everyone would agree that Phil’s contagious laugh and wit always seem to lighten things up around the office!
To kick off summer in style, at the end of our staff meeting we held a barbeque! This event was not only attended by our current employees, but by several CC Pace alumni as well. We enjoy staying in touch with our alumni and in many cases, have had the opportunity to work with them again. It’s always a good time to catch up with old friends, share some laughs and see what everyone is up to now.
The menu included delicious summer favorites from Dickey’s Barbeque, festive drinks and desserts. And, of course no barbeque would be complete without some corn hole. We also had another game, and while you had to be here to fully enjoy it, all we can tell you is that it involved tattoos and a blindfold!
Wishing everyone a happy summer!
CC Pace recently partnered with The Stallions, a highly regarded team in the Washington Metro Cricket League (WMCL), as a corporate sponsor. Ashok Komaragiri, Lead Technology Consultant at CC Pace, is a member of the team and presented this opportunity to CC Pace.
We sat down and had a conversation with Srinivas Mallapuram, captain and co-founder of The Stallions Cricket Team, to learn more about cricket and what this partnership means for both The Stallions and CC Pace.
Can you explain the basics of Cricket to us?
Cricket traces its origins to the late 16th century in England; it is now played in more than 125 countries. In terms of popularity, it is second only to soccer. A Cricket match is played between two teams of 11 players on a cricket field. Both teams take turns ‘batting’ and ‘bowling’. The objective of the batting team is to score as many runs as possible during their turn, while the bowling team tries to limit the number of runs scored by the batting team. In the second part of the game, the two teams switch roles and the team that formerly batted must ensure their opponents do not score as many or more runs as they did. Now, I don’t want to go too deep in explaining the rules of cricket here—there’s always Google for that, right?
Tell us about cricket in the DMV area.
Cricket has become a very popular sport in the DC Metro area, as evidenced by the number of different leagues in this area. Cricket is typically played with a leather ball at the professional level, but most leagues in the DMV area substitute the leather ball with a hard-tennis ball (looks like a regular tennis ball but is heavier). There are many different cricket leagues in this area; WMCL is one of the most prominent leagues.
The Stallions are in the WMCL – can you tell us more about that league?
The WMCL was formed in 2009. As of this year, there are 34 teams across two divisions (16 in Div1 and 18 in Div2). This league enjoys more popularity and participation as compared to other hard-tennis ball leagues, having close to 1,000 active players. The league has three cricket fields: one in Herndon, Centreville, and Reston. The games are played using the T20 format and are played over the weekend. I am proud to say that our team, The Stallions, are always considered one of the top contenders for the upper division title.
How did the Stallions team get started?
Our team was formed in 2010 by myself and a few other cricket enthusiasts. We now participate in 3 different hard-tennis ball leagues in the DMV area. We have a common pool of players, who play in these 3 different leagues, however some players only play in one of the 3 leagues. Our combined pool is comprised of 75 players. We are a highly successful team, and are generally considered one of the top teams in all 3 leagues. We were the runners-up in the 2017 Spring Season championship.
How’s this WMCL 2018 Spring season been so far for Stallions?
Of the 4 matches we have played so far this season, we won two. The two matches we lost were closely contested games right up to the very end. Overall, I am happy with the team’s performance, we would have liked more wins under our belt considering we have some tough games coming up. We are focused on winning our upcoming matches to secure a place in the playoffs.
How do the Stallions feel about their partnership with CC Pace?
Over the past several years, the different counties in the DMV area have tremendously encouraged and promoted Cricket in every way they can. Recently, some corporate companies have also extended their support by either sponsoring the leagues themselves, or individual teams. We are fortunate and thrilled that CC Pace has decided to sponsor our team in the WMCL for this year. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I think, fundamentally, our team’s principles align with those of CC Pace, in that we both strive for excellence, and I believe that makes a sound foundation for a good partnership. CC Pace, along with offering technology and business consulting services, also participates in a variety of community outreach programs; in true partnership, The Stallions have already joined in and started to participate with the company in these community events.
Interested in catching a match and cheering on the Stallions?
You can view the Stallions schedule and game results on the WMCL’s website - http://wmcl.net
Last month at CC Pace’s staff meeting we had the privilege to honor Lauren Iezzoni with a Service Award marking her 5 Year Anniversary with the company. Lauren performs dual roles, working with our Enterprise Solutions group as an Agile Training Coordinator, and with our Marketing team as a Graphic Designer. Over her time at CC Pace, her keen organizational and customer service skills have resulted in her ability to manage our training clients and vendors, while increasing our public training offerings. In addition, she has used her artistic creativity to work with Marketing to revamp the look and feel of not only our collateral, but our office environment as well! Thank you, Lauren!
Coinciding in celebration last month, we held our Annual Party at Ruth’s Chris, which marked the 38th Anniversary of the company. Team members from across the country were in attendance and having everyone together, although it was brief is always a festive time for the company.
As part of our celebration of 38 years, we held a food drive to benefit the Lorton Community Action Center’s food bank, a local non-profit organization that supports the community in southern Fairfax County. We set a goal to collect 380 pounds of food, 10 pounds for every year CC Pace was in business, and included a competitive element breaking the company into teams. The friendly competition between our 4 teams created a lot of enthusiasm, energy and corporate spirit. It was a close race right up to the end, with our winning team contributing more than 300 lbs. of food! We are proud to report that all together, we far exceeded our goal and collected over 800 lbs of food! A big shout out to the winning team – congratulations to our Financial Services and Government groups!
Recently, we attended the SOME Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. SOME (So Others Might Eat) is an interfaith, community-based organization that was founded in 1970 by Father Horace McKenna, to help the poor and homeless of our nation’s capital. They work to meet the immediate daily needs of the people they serve with food, clothing, and health care.
Each year, SOME’s Corporate Advisory Board hosts the annual Harvest Gala to raise funds for SOME’s programs, which include their job training program, residential addiction treatment program and to support their affordable housing initiatives. The event is sponsored and supported by many businesses and individuals. To date, this annual event has raised over $10 million dollars to support their programs.
This year’s gala consisted of a silent auction, dinner and the presentation of the SOME McKenna Humanitarian award. This award is given each year to an individual(s) for their dedication and hard work on behalf of SOME.
The SOME community is looking forward to the 2018 grand opening of the Conway Center on Benning Road in DC. This center will include housing, job training, a medical clinic, offices and retail. In memory of Elizabeth Donohue, who was a compassionate advocate and benefactor of SOME, the Corporate Advisory Board named the family housing complex on Spring Road The Liz Donohue House.
Mike Gordon, President of CC Pace, has been on the Corporate Advisory Board of SOME for the last 19 years and CC Pace has been a proud supporter of this outstanding organization that has given so much to the community. Visit SOME.ORG to learn more about this organization and what you can do to get involved.
Each year the Fairfax Animal Shelter helps four to five thousand animals by providing a safe environment and adoption services. CC Pace employees and friends volunteered here last week to support this great organization and did a great job of cleaning the facility, folding towels, and organizing supplies.
While our employees did not interact with the animals, they were able to walk through the facility and see the dogs, cats, and other smaller furry and feathered creatures and their environment. You can see by the smiles in the pictures of our people, that this was a very rewarding event for everyone!
Thanks to Deb Young, our account manager, for coordinating with Debbie Shatz, a Director in our Financial Services practice, to set up this event. Debbie is a long-time volunteer at the shelter and she organized and directed our activities for the evening. We would like to give a special shout-out to Tracy Gordon, Bobby Pantall, Jason Kellenbenz, and everyone else who donated the vast amount of toys and essentials needed by the shelter. They were well received and very much appreciated!
Want to get involved? Contact the Fairfax Animal Shelter, they can always use volunteers!
CC Pace recognized four employees who were celebrating their 15th and 35th anniversaries at our quarterly meeting earlier this month. CC Pace President, Mike Gordon, had the pleasure of recognizing Bill Lehman (35 years), Laura Campbell (15 years), Bobby Pantall (15 years) and Deb Young (15 years) for their service. Each were recognized for their dedication, contributions and hard work, and were presented with a service award and the always hilarious CC Pace gag gift!
In reflecting on these significant milestones, we decided to do a little research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average tenure for employees with their current employers in the United States is 4.2 years. At CC Pace our employees’ average tenure is 12.7 years, that’s 3 times the national average!
So, why is the average tenure at CC Pace so high? Well, we decided that we would ask some of the service award recipients what it is that makes CC Pace such a desirable place to work. They agreed on several common elements, which include:
- The dedicated people they work with
- The supportive environment received from their leadership
- The work/life balance offered by CC Pace
In addition, Deb appreciates the feeling that she is “making a contribution”, Bobby highlighted “the interesting work” he gets to be part of, while Laura pointed out “the variety of opportunities that employees are given to help the organization grow”.
Or, could the reason the tenure is high be something else, like those world-famous gag gifts given on milestone anniversaries? The free bagels and donuts? The happy hours? The company parties? We may never really know the exact answer – but, it’s apparent that all these things together have created a unique culture where employees choose to stay and succeed in for many years.
Whatever the reason, we are grateful for these employees. Congratulations and thank you!
CC Pace would like to introduce you to Deepti Agarwal a Senior Technical Recruiter who has been part of our Staffing team since 2013. Prior to CC Pace, Deepti worked as a full life cycle, technical recruiter supporting both commercial and federal government clients. In addition, she worked with the account managers to strategize in acquiring new and building existing accounts.
What attracted you to CC Pace?
I first learned of CC Pace through my husband who had been working with the company. He spoke highly of CC Pace and felt they never compromised with the quality of candidates submitted to them. He had known them to be very fair when it came to all aspects of the recruiting process and in all, CC Pace was a very reputable organization to work with.
When the time came for me to a make a move to a new recruiting position, I immediately thought of CC Pace. The interview process went very well and I knew that it was the perfect fit as I learned more about the CC Pace clients and the recruiting process they followed. It reflected that the recruiting group worked as a team and had a very strong value-based system. The environment was friendly and welcoming from the very beginning.
What is the biggest challenge in your current role?
There are actually two challenges. The first one is that we are in a very demanding and competitive marketplace, there is a lot of competition that we are up against every day from both a client and a resource perspective. The second is closing candidates with multiple offers at the end of the recruiting process. This process can take some time to complete as candidates are often interviewing with several companies.
How would you describe CC Pace’s culture?
First and foremost, CC Pace has a very value-based culture and provides a high quality of service to all our clients and candidates. In Staffing, we have a strong team environment and our Staffing group’s management truly respects our opinions and supports us. CC Pace also offers me the perfect work life balance, having flexible working hours makes things much easier for me and my family.
During your time here at CC Pace, can you share with us something you have learned?
Because of the values we uphold we never compromise on the quality of our service.
What do you like to do outside of CC Pace?
I love to spend time with my daughters. I cherish our time together, we enjoy taking dance classes together and of course, they are always up for a shopping trip!
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
Cancun! My family and I went there last year and it was absolutely gorgeous! It was so relaxing and peaceful and there were so many activities and watersports available to participate in – my favorite was snorkeling by a reef, it was just beautiful.
Who inspires you and why?
My father – he is a doctor a heart specialist and he is truly my inspiration. His strong work ethic and sincerity taught me the meaning of what being a hard working individual was all about.
CC Pace moved into our current offices in September of 2003. At that time, Fairfax Corner was just being built, and we were one of the first tenants to occupy our building.
Over the years, our space on the 4th floor has changed as the company has evolved. Late last year, we began to pull together the vision to update our facilities. After plans were finalized with our designer and contractor, construction began in early January.
These updates include creating a modern look throughout the office with new carpet, paint and wall coverings and new lighting, plus pops of CC Pace orange to brighten things up! We have updated our training room to include floor to ceiling white board paint and some new, more comfortable furniture to improve the learning environment. A major change to our interior offices area, we now have an open space breakout area, where our employees will have the opportunity to collaborate in a comfortable and casual setting with various technology tools at their disposal.
We have made additional improvements throughout the office with the goal of creating an open, comfortable and more collaborative environment. It’s amazing what a difference the slightest changes can make, and these renovations have certainly given us a new look and perspective to start off the New Year!
CC Pace joined Cornerstones in December for their annual winter coat event. CC Pace’s corporate contribution in conjunction with employee donations provided 20 coats for this important drive. Cornerstones offers the donated coats to those in need from November through March.
Cornerstones is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services.
CC Pace takes pride in supporting our community by offering corporate contributions and participating in various events throughout the year.
We held our last quarterly staff meeting for 2016 recently. In addition to sharing a variety of information about the company during these meetings, we also celebrate significant employee milestones.
President, Mike Gordon, recognized our CTO, Kuryan Thomas, who just celebrated his 15th Anniversary with CC Pace. As with each Service Award presentation, success is celebrated and hard work is praised with a certificate of recognition, a gift, and there is also the traditional gag gift. For Kuryan, an avid photographer, that gift played off his photography talents.
Thank you, Kuryan, for your contributions over the past 15 years.
Do you ever think about why there are some things in your life that that you do year in and year out, while others fall by the wayside? For me, I’ve played in a Thanksgiving neighborhood football game every year since we moved into our house in 1994 and I’ve gone on a golfing trip to Las Vegas with some high school and college buddies since my wife arranged the first one for my 40th birthday (she might have re-thought the idea had she known it would become an annual event). While you likely don’t know early on what will have staying power, certain events become meaningful in the tradition they become, the camaraderie they build, and the enjoyment they create both during the event and throughout the year telling stories about it.
While these examples cited above have limited to no societal significance, one tradition of mine that does is my attendance at the annual gala for So Others Might Eat (SOME) which just recently occurred. I’ve been on SOME’s Corporate Advisory Board for the past 18 years and I’ve attended every one of their annual galas during that time except for one (I hope one unavoidable personal conflict in 18 years is excusable).
A little about SOME: SOME was founded by Father Horace McKenna in 1970 as a soup kitchen to feed DC’s homeless. Under the extraordinary vision and leadership of Father John Adams, SOME expanded its purpose and has taken a more holistic approach to address this critical issue. On top of serving nearly 400,000 meals per year, SOME now offers a comprehensive set of programs to meet the needs of the homeless and to directly address some of the root causes that keep one homeless. These include: medical and dental clinics; a drug rehabilitation facility; behavioral health services; temporary, transitional, and permanent affordable housing; and a center for employment training. As best expressed in its Mission Statement, SOME is “restoring hope and dignity one person at a time”.
Notwithstanding the enormous number of volunteers who donate their time to the organization, these programs require money to operate. As its major fundraising event, SOME holds its annual Gala to celebrate its work, to present the SOME McKenna Humanitarian award (this year’s honorees were Raul Fernandez, CEO, Object Video and Vice Chairman, Monumental Sports and Linda Jo Smith, Chair, SOME Board of Directors), and to support their programs. Many of this year’s proceeds are earmarked towards development of a brand-new facility on Benning Road in DC that will include housing, job training, a medical clinic, offices and retail. This building will greatly expand on SOME’s ability to serve the needy.
As soon as the gala date is announced, I block it off on my calendar. So why do I attend every year?
It is a tradition that I look forward to and an event that I enjoy attending. I love the camaraderie among SOME’s Corporate Advisory Board who, like me, religiously attend and support the event. And I get immense enjoyment and personal satisfaction, in this case from hearing about the impacts that we are making in helping to address this significant societal problem that would only get worse if not for organizations like SOME.
Somewhat the same reasons as my annual football game and golf trip, but with a whole lot more purpose.
CC Pace was ready when we hosted our Thursday Night Football Tailgate Party, which included both current employees and CC Pace alumni! The evening was filled with a festive BBQ menu, drinks, fun and fabulous door prizes! We were happy to have a number of CC Pace Alumni join us as we gathered and watched the Virginia Tech vs Pittsburgh game on the big screen. Luckily, for all the Hokies we had in attendance, Virginia Tech was able to bring home the win in a tight game with a final score of 39-36.
To make the evening even more entertaining, we held a cornhole tournament with single elimination rounds. Champions George Perkins, CC Pace Staffing Director and Tracy Gordon, wife of President, Mike Gordon were the last team standing after a score in the game of 0-14. They pulled off a huge comeback to claim the title and win the grand prize – Congratulations George and Tracy!
All in all it was a win-win evening for everyone!
Recently, several employees gathered together to help out the local Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald house is a place where families of patients who are in the hospital can go to spend the night, have a meal, and rest while they are visiting their family members in the hospital. The house, located in Falls Church, supports all of the local hospitals and can house up to 8 families at a time. See more information here.
CC Pace employees prepared a delicious meal for the families and staff including: vegetable beef soup, garden salad, cornbread, cookies and brownies. In addition, our employees collected a variety of supplies, arts and crafts, and puzzles to go into activity bags for the patients in the hospitals, as well as the family members taking care of them.
Thank you to Beverly, the house night manager, for her help and giving us a tour of this wonderful house.
Well, actually, let’s go watch a baseball game! After our recent staff meeting, many CC Pacers climbed aboard a bus and we headed downtown to Nationals Park to watch the Washington Nationals play the Colorado Rockies. Upon arrival, we were rewarded with our very own Max Scherzer Bobblehead.
Although it was a hot and humid day, there was an abundance of refreshing beverages available. We also enjoyed lots of the traditional ball park food including; hot dogs, pretzels in the shape of a W, peanuts and cracker jacks! But let’s not forget dessert, the delicious Breyers’ ice cream that helped us cool down a bit.
Despite the hot day, it was a great event and we enjoyed spending time together, having fun and rooting for the Nationals. Our efforts paid off and the Nationals beat the Rockies 8 – 5, including a home run from one of our favorite players, Jayson Werth. What a great way to end the evening!
Yoga Pants? Sweats? Shorts? Pajamas? Working from home full-time is more than just having the option of turning on your laptop in comfortable lounge wear. It is learning how to be and remain an effective and productive contributor to your company.
Technology advances have made working remotely easier for workers. In the United States, the percentage of work-at-home employees, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Approximately 10% of CC Pace’s workforce is distributed across the country and work remotely. In addition, a high percentage of other staff members have the option to telecommute at least one day a week.
How does a home-based employee stay both productive and connected? This article presenting 3 Tips for Productive Remote Work from the Huffington Post gives some sound advice for those workers to follow. It discusses working through shared/cloud based documents with your team; regular calls, emails and open tasks boards; and when the opportunity arises, getting in that all important face-to-face time. CC Pace Senior Consultant, Greg Self, home-based in Dallas, Texas, says to stay relevant and in touch, “Our Financial Services Consulting practice has a weekly meeting to get caught up on current and upcoming client work. Along with those calls, we communicate through regular emails during the week to management on status updates and engagement happenings.”
Another area that plays a key role in successfully working remotely is the infrastructure and support provided by the employer. CC Pace Agile Consultant, Jannette Brace, based in the Seattle, Washington area says, “CC Pace is very good at providing the necessary tools for working remotely. They also budget for trips for remote employees to visit the home office multiple times throughout the year, including the Annual Party which is always a great event!”
Forecasts currently show that by the year 2020 more than 30% of the workforce will be working remotely on a full-time basis – wonder where your desk will be?
Fairfax Corner offers more than just outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment it is also the place CC Pace has called home for the past 13 years. As one of Fairfax Corner’s first tenants, we moved into our suite located on the fourth floor in the office building at the top of the plaza in October 2003, and had the opportunity to put our name on the side the building. CC Pace found being based in Fairfax Corner would offer employees close proximity to I-66, Fairfax County Parkway and Route 50, a variety of restaurants, free parking, shopping, personal services and a picturesque setting to greet them on a daily basis.
Over our time in this location, we have all come to enjoy the many offerings that Fairfax Corner provides from the splash fountain and free summer activities that include Concerts at the Corner, Little Tots, Yoga on the Plaza to the year-round variety of holiday activities and festivals. We are also conveniently located near the Fairfax County Government Center, Wegman’s and Fair Oaks Mall. Want to catch an event or game at George Mason University after work? No problem as it’s only about 10 minutes away.
Fairfax Corner is growing and is currently expanding its’ presence with the addition of a 950 space parking garage and a new 5 story office building. The garage is opening this summer and the office building is scheduled to open next year.
As you can see, our employees have much to enjoy and many endless options that are always evolving around here at Fairfax Corner. It’s a great place to work!
Well, it wasn’t actually a food fight with people throwing food at each other in a cafeteria, but rather a Food Fight to Battle Hunger! Last Friday, May 13th, CC Pacers joined hundreds of other volunteers to help package meals to be sent to starving children around the world. We participated in a mobile food-packing event sponsored by Feed My Starving Children that provides meals to children in over 40 countries. The event was held at the Dulles Expo Center located in Chantilly, VA, over the weekend of May 13th through May 15th. The goal of the event was to pack 5.1 million meals that would feed over 19,000 starving children worldwide for a year.
We started our session with lots of cheerleading from the event coordinators, donning very attractive hair nets, and energizing music to create lots of fun and excitement as we went to our packing stations. We all had a good time doing our jobs while dancing and singing to “Up Town Funk”, “YMCA”, “Twist and Shout” and lots of other great tunes.
By the end of our session, the CC Pace team had packed 1316 meals and all of the volunteers for that session, packed over 146,000 meals that will feed 402 children for a year!
Thanks to all the volunteers for helping out at this very worthwhile event. Already looking forward to the Food Fight next year!
CC Pace President, Mike Gordon held a corporate staff meeting to review our previous year’s results and successes and introduce our business plans and initiatives for 2016. This meeting provided a great opportunity for employees to understand CC Pace’s strategic imperatives and the direction on where CC Pace is headed this year. In addition, the corporate staff meeting allowed all of our employees to gather together and have some valuable face to face time with one another. On a daily basis, a large number of our staff are working remotely or at client sites and it is a rare opportunity when we can all be in one place.
A highlight of the meeting was the celebration of Rechelle Card’s 10 year anniversary with CC Pace. Rechelle, a Senior Technical Recruiter in our Staffing group, was recognized by Mike Gordon for the high value of service she has added to both the recruiting team and the company as a whole. Mike presented her with a service award and the traditional CC Pace gag gift – which was the development of her own TV show “The Recruiter”, a spinoff of “The Bachelor” – it was quite a humorous skit which included several staff members in the roles of candidates and a rose presented to the “winner”. It was a “show” that is sure to be talked about for years to come!
Once the meeting concluded, we moved downstairs to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, here in Fairfax Corner, to enjoy our annual party. The food was excellent as always at Ruth’s Chris, from the beef tenderloin, crab cakes and shrimp to the delicious desserts! There was something there for everyone to enjoy while reconnecting with fellow employees and getting to know some new ones! All our employees and their guests had a wonderful time and we all look forward to next year’s celebration!
Do you want to be more successful this year? Do you want to improve your relationships, your health, and your life? Well, the New Year is a common time for people to evaluate where they are in life, where they want to be, and to look at making a fresh start. Once someone does this, they often turn to setting goals. Goal setting is an important process that starts with considering and deciding just want you want to achieve.
Who really sets goals? Everyone from business professionals, students, parents, and athletes to entertainers and politicians. People set goals for all types of things, the most common categories are:
- Public Service/Volunteerism
Experts advise that you:
- Write down your goal(s) to make the end result more real and obtainable.
- Once you have written down your goals, be sure to put the paper in a visible place (your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, your desk, the dashboard of your car or even taped to your cellphone!) to remind yourself everyday of these goals.
- Come up with your action plan, listing the steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals.
- Stay focused and on track, and remember it is a process so take it day by day.
Once you start to see progress as you accomplish the steps you have outlined, this will help to keep you motivated and achieve your goal in no time!
Have you set goals for this year yet? If not, it is time to get going. This article, Golden Rules of Goal Setting, can help you get the process started. Now is the time to reflect, take action and move forward – Good Luck!
This past year as CC Pace celebrates our 35th anniversary, it has caused us many moments to pause and reflect on our good fortune. Now, as we celebrate the holidays we have asked our employees to help us create a list of 35 Things they are thankful for this year. Enjoy!
I am thankful for…
- Good Health
- The wonderful opportunity offered to me by CC Pace.
- CC Pace’s flexibility and support that allows me the ability to fulfill my volunteer commitments.
- Working within walking distance to Coastal Flats.
- Clients who appreciate the high quality of our work and people.
- The new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”!
- Our great company reputation built by previous and current employees.
- Our Fairfax Corner office complex.
- Phil’s laugh (Philippa Fewell is the Managing Director of our Enterprise Solutions practice)
- CC Pace’s family friendly policies and atmosphere
- The Thanksgiving Pie I received from Mike Gordon!
- Fantasy Baseball Championship (or runner up!).
- The Client to whom/which I was assigned – I love this client, my team and my role on the team!
- My children’s smiles that I see every day!
- A great work Culture at CC Pace.
- The Cloud.
- The queso at Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande – yum!
- My life, my love, my family (including our four footed creatures) and my work.
- I am thankful for our great team here at CC Pace.
- Family and good friends!
- Online shopping
- Staffing’s Holiday Breakfast!
- Being able to spend the holidays with my family!
- Today’s technology – after traveling for a week without access to a cell phone, I have a new appreciation for Google, text messaging and internet access!
- Free parking at work!
- Any day that 66 is not backed up!
- Clay’s joke of the day – they never cease to put a smile on my face in the mornings.
- My furbaby, despite the fact that when I rescued her, I did so under the belief that she was mute and calm. She is neither.
- Amazon Prime for catering to my procrastination.
- Bagel and Donut day as well as the fresh fruit provided by CC Pace.
- Being in a great location that minimizes my commute and affords many places to shop, eat and catch up on errands.
- Moral victories in Fantasy Football.
- The U. S. service men and women that protect our freedoms.
In America there are an estimated 50 million pumpkin pies served on Thanksgiving Day each year! After all, pie is the traditional dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, and that is something each employee at CC Pace knows very well. Since the 1980s, CC Pace President, Mike Gordon has given each employee a pie for Thanksgiving to enjoy – and, not just any pie, but a pie from Mom’s Apple Pie Company.
Mom’s Apple Pie Company, based in Leesburg and Occoquan, Virginia is owned by Avis Renshaw and has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, Fox News, Chowhound.com and many other news outlets bringing the spotlight to their famous pies. Mike Gordon came upon Mom’s Apple Pie Company, many years ago when both businesses were located in the same complex. Since then, Mike has made it a tradition to provide a pie for each employee during the holiday season.
Over the years, it is estimated that CC Pace has purchased over 1,000 pies from Mom’s for our employees. While pumpkin pie is the most popular pie across the nation, at our offices the Top 5 Pie Selections are:
- Wild Blueberry Crumb
- Butter Pecan Apple Crumb
- Chocolate Meringue
- Bourbon Walnut
So it appears, the taste buds at CC Pace are quite a bit sweeter than what a pumpkin pie delivers. Although, maybe the question we should be asking is, why aren’t CC Pace employees ordering this Thanksgiving staple? How many employees are choosing to bake their own pumpkin pies? Those are some questions we will need to explore for next year’s Thanksgiving blog!
It is said that the President of the United States is the most sought-after interview subject in the world. However, there’s another president just outside of the DC border (in Fairfax, Virginia to be exact) who may feel like a close second, as he’s had quite the interview agenda recently. Earlier this month, the #1 business radio show in the country, Executive Leaders Radio, sat down with CC Pace’s President, Mike Gordon, for an exclusive interview. We recently did the same, and while we may have asked different questions, both interviews unveiled unique and surprising facts about Mike and what it takes to be president… of CC Pace.
So, who is Mike Gordon, really? We asked Mike for 10 minutes where we threw random and fun questions his way to help us gain some insight on our leader. Always a good sport, here are his responses:
How old were you when you got your first real paying job? What was the job? I was about 10 years old, and I took over a friend’s paper route delivering the Wilmington Morning News.
Who is CC Pace and how often do people ask you that? Occasionally someone asks me who CC Pace is, but more often the question I get (at least a couple of times a month) is where did the name CC Pace come from. There is no person named CC Pace. I am happy to share the evolutionary story of how the name CC Pace came to being with anyone who has the time.
Describe your first sale/customer? The first customer that I supported coming out of college was the Department of Energy (DOE), which was our largest client at the time. The country had recently gone through an energy crisis with gasoline shortages and the DOE wanted to be better equipped to handle a similar situation, should it occur in the future. I built a very small system that allowed the federal government to capture gasoline inventories that would be reported by the states in the event that rationing was needed. To the best of my knowledge, the system was never actually used.
Describe the first customer you lost and why? Ironically, I would say that the first customer that I lost was Freddie Mac. I had been part of a CC Pace team that had worked on building MIDAS, Freddie Mac’s legacy system. Over time, I was the only CC Pace person remaining on the project and I communicated to Freddie Mac that this was a sustainable model for us. When nothing changed, a former director from Freddie Mac who had joined Fannie Mae asked me to bring a team over there to help redevelop Fannie’s systems which is what we did (Like MacArthur, I returned 4 years later).
Who was the first employee you ever hired? I’m not sure. Philippa Fewell (the current Managing Director of our Enterprise Solutions group) is the first person who I remember interviewing, but I was not the ultimate decision maker. Jane (Abdunnur) Dwight is the first person who I remember hiring to a management position, but I suspect that there may have been others who I hired before that.
How many hours of sleep do you get on average each night? 7 (I like to get 8 hours when I can), but invariably there are some nights I only get 5 hours or less.
What is the last book you read? The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
What is the last movie you saw in the theater? American Sniper
How would you describe yourself in one word? Practical
Golf or Tennis? If golf, what’s your best score? Tennis in my youth, golf now. Best golf score on a legitimate course is 78.
What is your favorite restaurant? Villagio in Clifton, Virginia
What is the best piece of advice you ever got from one of your children? Don’t sing in public!
Have you ever met anyone famous? I have met a number of famous people, with the most impressive being Maya Angelou. She was a long-time supporter of SOME (So Others Might Eat) and I met her at a private reception during one of their annual galas. When she spoke, her words were so full of imagery, her messages were always so powerful, and her voice was more commanding than anyone else who I have ever heard in my life.
What is your favorite band? Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Thanks Mike, now we know the boss likes The Boss, can hold his own on the golf course, and has had a great work ethic since the young age of 10!
Want to learn more about Mike Gordon? You can check out Mike’s segment on Executive Leaders Radio and hear how at the age of 16, he and his brother took over his family’s business – not realizing how much impact that one decision would have on shaping him into the leader he is today. Executive Leaders Radio is the #1 business weekly radio show in the country and is broadcast nationally to an audience of 7 million listeners.
The warm weather is upon us and if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to plan your summer vacation. We surveyed the CC Pace staff about their favorite vacation destinations. The results range from the Jersey Shore to all the way across the pond. Here, in no particular order, is a list of the “Top 11 Favorite Vacation Spots for the CC Pace Team” (10 just wasn’t enough):
- Ocean City, NJ – Two of our teammates enjoy the beach and boardwalk of the Jersey Shore. This beach offers so much to do from golfing to boating, and is also known to have great seafood!
- Newport Beach, CA – With West Coast roots, we have one employee who tries to make it back to this beautiful beach at least once a year.
- Hatteras, NC – With its gorgeous beaches and laid back feel, Hatteras is a great place to chill with family and friends.
- Block Island, RI – This small little island off the coast of Rhode Island is purely a hidden treasure. It has that charming New England feel along with great beaches, this gem is a must see!
- Tampa, FL – If you like to fish, this may be the perfect destination for you! Tampa also offers great food and the opportunity to experience some Cuban and Haitian culture.
- Virginia Beach, VA – Just a short drive away from life in Northern Virginia is Virginia Beach! This coastline city offers a great boardwalk and some wonderful restaurants.
- Home, Staycation – That’s right, those who travel during the week enjoy relaxing at home to decompress. But, if they had to jump on a plane, they would head straight to San Francisco, California – a fascinating city with something for everyone!
- Riviera Maya, Mexico – This adventurer likes to explore the Mayan ruins, zip line over the jungles, and do some underground kayaking!
- Lake Washington, WA – In the summer, this beautiful lake offers the perfect environment for relaxation. In the cold winter months, this employee likes to soak up some rays in Mexico. Not only is it a nice break from the cold but you can land some great deals.
- Anywhere International – This world traveler likes to hit different places as much as possible. One favorite is Italy…Rome, Venice, Tuscany, truly a magnificent place worth visiting more than once!
- Bethany Beach, DE – Sun, surf, and pure relaxation. The sights and sounds of the beach offer a truly calming experience that is much needed during a vacation.
Whether your ideal vacation is full of action and adventure or total relaxation by the water, it is important to take time to de-stress and recharge. Proven studies have shown that individuals who do not take vacation are less productive and can burnout much quicker than those employees that take a break. So, now is the time to go explore, relax and make some memories!
CC Pace employees took a break from their busy schedules for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! This “holiday” is not Mexican Independence Day as most Americans think. Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16th.
It just wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo without Margaritas and luckily our Staffing Director had a spare Margarita machine we were able to use. The fiesta included authentic Mexican goodies brought in by our staff, including homemade Salsa Verde and Tres Leches Cake!
The event also incorporated some friendly competition during a Wii bowling challenge. The winner will remain nameless, but their victory may be short lived as there is talk of a rematch in the near future.
Hard to believe we are almost through the first quarter of 2015! Since CC Pace likes to participate in at least one charitable event a quarter we have decided to give back to our four-legged friends. Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization that provides adoption in the Virginia, DC, and Maryland area. They find homes for dogs and cats that were rescued from high-kill animal shelters or whose owners could no longer care for them.
Meet Branson, he is 6 months old and amazingly sweet, he will roll over on his side and show you his belly at first meeting. He is a young boy who will melt your heart and wants nothing more than to find his forever home. Branson is just one of many adorable animals that Homeward Trails has available for adoption.
The CC Pace team pulled together and we were able to gather various items to help support this organization’s efforts. There was even talk of a possible adoption.
For more information about Homeward Trails and their mission you can go to http://www.homewardtrails.org/.
Before heading down to Ruth’s Chris for our Annual Winter Party, CC Pace President Mike Gordon spoke at our corporate staff meeting and rolled out our business plan and new initiatives for 2015. Our corporate staff meetings give us an opportunity to bring employees together from our main office and various client sites to share what is going on with CC Pace and provides a great time to catch up with colleagues.
Immediately following our Staff Meeting, we headed downstairs to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, conveniently located on the first floor of our building. Our Annual Winter Party is a rich tradition that began at CC Pace years ago. We once held our parties in December, renting out ballrooms at local hotels and other venues for the event. One year, a hotel lost our reservation and we had to hold the party in later months. The holidays are a very busy time of year and we found that having the party in the first quarter of the New Year actually served us well. Generally, there is less going on during this time of year and things are less hectic and we found that people enjoyed the new timeframe and we had higher attendance as a result.
Big hits at this year’s party included seared tuna, beef tenderloin, sliders, and a great selection of decadent desserts! It was a great evening to share with employees and their spouses. The planning was done by our very own Staffing Manager, Laura Campbell, who did a great job of organizing the event. We are already counting the days until next year’s party!
Mike Gordon addresses the company during our staff meeting
Jason and Clay kicking off our annual party!
Everyone enjoyed great food and conversation!
This is typically the time of year that everyone is recovering from the holidays, not only financially but physically. On average individuals can gain from 1-3 lbs. over the holiday season. That might not seem like much but over time this can add up quickly and is considered a major contributor to obesity later in life. Making even the smallest adjustments can make a huge impact when you are trying to get back into shape, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from your destination, both can help you get in a few extra steps. Eating breakfast is also an important step you can take to maximize your weight loss. Researchers at The National Weight Control Registry found that individuals who ate breakfast every morning were not only able to lose weight quicker but also able to maintain the loss for at least a year and some as long as six years.
As part of the CC Pace Health and Wellness initiative we have started offering our employees healthy snacks and fruit to enjoy throughout the day. We have also put up a Health and Wellness bulletin board in our kitchen that lists some helpful tips about staying healthy, eating right and reducing stress. The HR department is busy looking into many possible events for the upcoming year such as, guest speakers, healthy pot lucks, and some contests to inspire some friendly competition.
We want to make it fun and easy for our employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Making just a few adjustments can help you get back on track; after all, summer is right around the corner!