The Future is Flexible
When it comes to work trends, one thing is clear: the future is all about flexibility – but what does that really mean? Like many things, it tends to mean something different to just about everyone, as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ when it comes to applying it to the workplace. As many companies seek to craft their definition of adaptable work policies, CC Pace is in the middle of the crosscurrents in deciphering the right balance of flexibility, both for our staff and our team of consultants who are navigating various clients’ policies and expectations.
While we can’t tell you what policies are right for your organization, we can share some of the impacts we’ve seen these decisions have when it comes to recruiting. It should come as no surprise that companies with the strictest remote work policies are having the hardest time finding, and retaining, top talent. They’re having to dig deeper into their pockets to make a hire and are losing good employees to their competition at unprecedented rates. In fact, according to a recent poll, 54% of workers said they’d leave their current job for one that provided more flexibility.
Employers with varying ranges of flexibility (hybrid to fully remote options) attract up to an average of seven times more applicants than fully onsite positions (CareerBuilder). Job seekers have spoken, and they want flexible work options. So much so that, on average, they are willing to take a 14% salary decrease to work remotely, according to a recent survey by ZipRecruiter. Companies with flexible options are less likely to roll out the red carpet to get top talent and go into high-stakes salary negotiations compared to their inflexible competitors.
While employees mostly adjusted well to the changing landscape of this new work environment, companies (read: management), have had mixed results. We see continued refinements as hiring managers try to balance where the future is headed with how their positions stack up relative to the competitive alternatives that job seekers have. This often leads to misaligned expectations – job requirements that say, “completely remote,” to maintain a competitive edge, while managers casually mention to the recruiters that they’d ‘really like it if the candidate was within driving distance to the office’ so that they could ‘occasionally meet up.’ In other cases, all positions are hybrid roles, with no exceptions (although exceptions are made for the ideal candidate). This behavior is confusing and can contribute to a costly increase in turnover as current staff asks, “but what about me?”.
In our experience as a consulting firm, this newfound ability of clients to work with a hybrid/distributed workforce has allowed us to expand with clients that we would not have previously been able to support. Take a manufacturer who is located far from a major city; working with them to transform their IT department would have been cost-prohibitive in terms of sustained travel expenses. The happy middle ground here is spending some time face-to-face up front to establish the basic bonds necessary to be successful throughout the engagement. In this case, we need an employee who can ‘travel a little’ and would rule out anyone who cannot. Surprisingly, there are plenty of job seekers that remain adamant on being ‘fully remote’.
These observations don’t appear to be post-pandemic trends that will die out when the market shifts. In the world of technology services, we have seen that when the C-suite mandates ‘no remote work,’ it pushes away the top talent. After all, these are the same people logging in from home on the weekend when the system goes down, aren’t they? Beyond location, Europe’s 4-day workweek trial run in 2022 caught the attention of both employees and employers alike (albeit maybe for different reasons) and has inspired a lot of chatter stateside. Currently, Maryland has a bill on the table that, if passed, would offer major tax incentives to any businesses that scale back to a 4-day (32-hour) work week without employees losing any pay or benefits. It would be a major shakeup to the US workforce. But that’s for another post…
The bottom line is flexibility isn’t just good for your employee morale. It’s good for your bottom line. Companies with the right balance of flexibility save on upfront recruiting costs, employee turnover and can find higher-quality resources than their less-flexible counterparts. The haves and the have-nots have turned into the flexible and the inflexible.
All sides point to flexibility as a work trend that’s here to stay. In response to this trend, we’re creating an ease of coworking index offering to help organizations measure how easy it is for employees and teams to work together – particularly in remote and hybrid environments. Keep an eye out for this service to be released later in the year!
“Our people are our most important asset” is one of the phrases you will not only hear CC Pace CEO Mike Gordon emphasize frequently but is a belief that he has cultivated a corporate culture around. With that philosophy in mind, the Superior Performance Award (SPA) was created. This special award is a way for employees to recognize fellow employees, by nominating a team member who they feel has had a pivotal positive impact towards the success of CC Pace. For the recent performance period, the peer-to-peer SPA honorees are Laura Campbell and Jon Buckhout for their outstanding contributions.
LAURA CAMPBELL has had the lead role in developing our Client Success Program. The program is designed to increase engagement with our consultants and clients and has proven to be highly effective in producing additional value for both the client and CC Pace. Laura was praised by her peers for being a team player extraordinaire, who has made CC Pace better as result of her efforts contributions, and the immense value she brings to so many areas of the company.
JON BUCKHOUT has been a consistent top-performing consultant for CC Pace since joining us in 2008. A key player at a major client, Jon is a sought-after subject matter expert in the mortgage loan arena educating lenders across the country on addressing standards in the mortgage industry. He exemplifies the attributes we look for in consultants with his ability to convey this information in a cohesive manner and form so many lasting connections.
In addition to our SPA recipients, a Service Award was presented to LAUREN IEZZONI for celebrating her 10 Year Anniversary with CC Pace. Lauren is our Graphics Manager with the Midas touch where everything she produces turns to gold when it comes to CC Pace’s branding. Her sense of design and visual elements have taken our corporate branding to a new level. Lauren’s talents, willingness to help at a moment’s notice and constant enthusiasm are extremely appreciated by the entire CC Pace team.
Cheers and a big thank you to our award winners!
With the World Cup taking over the headlines, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to bring two of our favorite topics at CC Pace together: sports and Agile. As Team USA gears up to take on the Netherlands, here’s a little history on the unique style of soccer the Dutch created and what Agile teams can learn from their success.
In the 1970s, the Dutch dominated their international counterparts by using a style of soccer they called totaalvoetbal or total football. Total football requires each player on the team to be comfortable and adept enough to switch positions with any other player on the field at any time. The Dutch required the goalkeeper to remain in a fixed position, but everyone else was fluid and able to become an attacker, defender, or midfield player when the play dictated it. Whenever a player moved out of his position, they were replaced by another player. Successively, all other players on the team shifted their positions to maintain their team structure. In modern soccer, we call this collective team behavior compensatory movement. All teammates compensate and adjust to each other’s actions.
This philosophy helped create teams without points of weakness that their opponents could exploit.
Totaalvoetbal only worked because players trained to develop the skills needed to play all positions. Each player was a specialist in a certain position or role, such as striker or center defense, but was also quite competent playing other roles on the team.
In the Agile world, this can be applied to the makeup of scrum teams. Scrum teams that are self-sufficient because of their fluidity are always the most productive and dependable. If scrum teams are comprised of team members with “T-shaped” skills, then there will always be team members that can fill in for others when needed.
People with T-shaped skills have a deep level of skill and expertise in one area and a lower level of expertise across many other areas. When scrum teams are comprised of team members with T-shaped skills, it helps to ensure that all work can be completed within the team. It also means that productivity is less likely to drop when a team member is out of the office because others can roll up their sleeves and help get the job done.
Cross-training and pair programming are great ways to help develop team members with T-shaped skills. Pair programming is an Agile software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently.
T-shaped skills are not developed by accident but rather intentionally. Careful planning and a thoughtful, proactive approach by the individual and their manager are crucial. A manager must understand the value of investing in the development of people. Cross-training, stretch assignments, training opportunities, shadowing, and pair programming are all excellent methods for developing additional skills that allow for compensatory movement and fluid teams, yet, in some ways, represent short-term reductions in individual productivity. Managers must make this short-term investment to see the long-term value and score more goals.
Always in the Race, this is the Team Stallions motto! The pandemic hit in 2020, it shut down many activities worldwide including cricket. Cricket was affected at both the international and local recreational levels, so the CC Pace sponsored Stallions had to hunker down too! Luckily those days are behind us, and we can get everyone caught up on all things to do with the Stallions!
Happily, the Washington Metro Cricket League (WMCL) re-opened for the Spring 2021 season. Opening the season against a tough team, the Herndon Hawks, the Stallions got off to a fantastic start. Except for losing two games in the league stage of the season, the Stallions steamrolled into the play-off games and won every game. After a drought period of 6+ years and despite reaching the playoff stage in almost every season, in presumably the toughest division of the DMV area, the Stallions went on to win the championship!
While many would think the team should have been more than satisfied and content with their championship season, they are wrong. Not the Stallions – Always in the Race! The Fall 2021 season started with a loss, but the team never looked back and reached the play-off stage with impressive wins in the league stage. The play-off games were played with once-in-a-lifetime intensity. The quarterfinals and final games were each pushed into the last over and the Stallions prevailed. Winning the final by ONE run – lots of nerve-wracking stuff for the folks watching from the sidelines! Proudly, the Stallions won another championship! This was a historic moment as it was the first time any team had won back-to-back championships!
The Spring 2022 season started well, but the Team Stallions fell short of winning the championship. The Fall 2022 season has had a rough start, with many players having conflicts. Despite all this the Stallions have still put up some amazing fights and brought home the wins. All eyes are on the Stallions as they march onwards into the fall semi-finals – will they repeat the glory and go all the way? Only time will tell.
No matter what happens, the Stallions are no longer just a team, but more like a brand! One thing you can count on is that this team is Always in the Race!
Are you building the right product? Are product discovery team members sharing what they’re learning with the rest of the development team? If you’re not sure, then maybe Dual Track is for you.
So, what is Dual Track? Simply put, Dual Track is about bringing light to product discovery by focusing on generating and validating product ideas for the team’s delivery backlog. It does this by bringing the product Discovery work into visibility.
You may be thinking like me, what’s the big deal? When we practice Scrum, we have the Product Owner work with stakeholders, including UX, to build a backlog. The problem is that they often do this work in a silo and only share their stories with delivery team members at Sprint Planning. If your team sees stories for the first time at Sprint Planning, it’s too late. So, in Dual Track, we have visibility into the work the PO and the discovery team members are doing, and this work is shared on a regular cadence with the rest of the team in refinement, or through team members working together.
Dual Track is nothing new. The original idea was published in 2007 by Desiree Sy, and Marty Cagan wrote about it in 2012. While there are many instances of writings about Dual Track, Jeff Patton and Marty Cagan are two of the most well-known advocates for what Marty has coined Dual Track Scrum. In its simplest form, Dual Track provides visibility and best practices to the discovery work that must occur before a team ever sees a user story. A good article to read more by Jeff Patton can be found here.
While researching Dual Track, I found that it fits nicely with what I believe the Product Owner, Business Analyst, and UX people on the team should be doing anyway. That is working with stakeholders and the team to discover the best product. Dual Track emphasizes team engagement and focuses on not letting people work in silos. It provides guidance and structure to ensure the entire team builds the right products at the right time, together as one team. So here is one of the first things I discovered about Dual Track – the team performs as one team. Read on to see what else I discovered.
One Team, One Backlog, One set of Scrum events
According to Jeff Patton, Dual Track is “just two parts of one process”. It focuses on maximizing the value delivery of your entire team by having discovery team members working a Sprint ahead of the development (delivery) team members and including them in the work.
This approach to embracing one team is important; as Jeff Patton says, “the whole team is responsible for product outcomes, not just on-time delivery”. When we keep the entire team engaged in product discovery, the developers, and testers will have more context, and they may also surprise us in ideation with great problem solutions. Finally, not all ideas in the backlog should be implemented, and developers can help Product Owners see where ideas will be problematic.
Jeff outlines how to incorporate the product design team members into each Scrum event without disruption. The team works as one, from the Daily Standup to the Sprint Retrospective. A benefit of following a Dual Track is better engagement from developers and faster learning.
Below is a good video link I found on how to set up a single backlog in Jira for Dual Track boards that enables teams to visualize the work they are doing in the two tracks:
Progress on both tracks happens simultaneously
The Discovery Track represents teamwork through product ideation via stakeholder interviews, developing personas and stories, and market research. Once complete, the discovery team members share their findings with the rest of the team. The design team members utilize design sprints to make progress on stories for Sprint N+1, while the development team members are working on Sprint N in delivery sprints. The output from product discovery becomes the input for product delivery. At the same time, feedback from product delivery informs product discovery.
Benefits of Dual Track
The Discovery Track is always a few steps ahead of the delivery team. This approach leads to:
- Better Products – Allowing only validated product ideas into the backlog leads to better products for your customers.
- Less Wasted Time – Breaking the barrier between product design and development means the whole team better understands what they are building, reducing the back-and-forth conversations that occur.
- Lower Development Costs- Teams will not pursue product features that haven’t been validated or are well-thought-out.
Dual Track increases the odds that you will deliver high-quality products that your customers will love. It does this by bringing visibility to what Product Owners are doing to prepare for a Sprint. It requires high collaboration between the people responsible for ideation and the people responsible for development. If you decide to incorporate Dual Track and design Sprints, you’ll be in good company. Jake Knapp wrote about Google Ventures utilizing design Sprints, and now we have the likes of Uber, Slack, and Facebook embracing this way of working.
I like what I’ve read about Dual Track and hope I have piqued your curiosity. I would love to hear about your experience with Dual Track if you have tried it. Please feel free to share in the comments!
Are you new to Agile testing?
I’ve been reading Agile Testing, by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory. If you are new to Agile testing, this book is for you. It provides a comprehensive guide for any organization moving from waterfall to Agile testing practices. The “Key Success Factors” outlined in the book are important when implementing Agile testing practices, and I would like to share them with you.
Success Factor 1: Use the Whole Team Approach
Success Factor 2: Adopt an Agile Testing Mind-Set
Success Factor 3: Automate Regression Testing
Success Factor 4: Provide and Obtain Feedback
Success Factor 5: Build a Foundation of Core Practices
Success Factor 6: Collaborate with Customers
Success Factor 7: Look at the big picture
Success Factor 1: Use the Whole Team Approach
In Agile, we like to take a team approach to testing. Developers are just as responsible for the quality of a product as any tester; they embrace practices like Test-Driven Development (TDD) and ensure good Unit testing is in place before moving code to test. Agile Testers participate in the refinement process, helping Product Owners write better User Stories by asking powerful questions and adding test scenarios to stories. Everyone works together to build quality into the product development process. This approach is very different from a waterfall environment where the QA/Test team is responsible for ensuring quality software/products are delivered.
Success Factor 2: Adopt an Agile Testing Mind-Set
Adopting Agile starts with changing how we think about the work and embracing Agile Values and Principles. In addition to the Agile Manifesto’s 12 Principles, Lisa and Janet define 10 Principles for Agile Testing. Testers adopt and demonstrate an Agile testing mindset by keeping these principles top of mind. They ask, “How can we do a better job of delivering real value?”
10 Principles for Agile Testing
- Provide Continuous Feedback
- Deliver Value to the Customer
- Enable Face-to-Face Communication
- Have Courage
- Keep it Simple
- Practice Continuous Improvement
- Respond to Change
- Focus on People
Success Factor 3: Automate Regression Testing
Automate tests where you can and continuously improve. As seen in the Agile Testing Quadrants, automation is an essential part of the process. If you’re not automating Regression tests, you’re wasting valuable time on Manual testing, which could be beneficial elsewhere. Test automation is a team effort, start small and experiment.
Success Factor 4: Provide and Obtain Feedback
Testers provide a lot of feedback, from the beginning of refinement through to testing acceptance. But keep in mind – feedback is a two-way street, and testers should be encouraged to ask for their own feedback. There are two groups where testers should look for feedback. The first is from the developers. Ask them for feedback about the test cases you are writing. Test cases should inform development, so they need to make sense to the developers. A second place to get feedback is from the PO or customer. Ask them if your tests cover the acceptance criteria satisfactorily and confirm you’re meeting their expectations around quality.
Success Factor 5: Build a Foundation of Core Practices
The following core practices are integral to Agile development.
- Continuous Integration: One of the first priorities is to have automated builds that happen at least daily.
- Test Environments: Every team needs a proper test environment to deploy to where all automated and manual tests can be run.
- Manage Technical Debt: Don’t let technical debt get away from you; instead make it part of every iteration.
- Working Incrementally: Don’t be tempted to take on large stories; instead break down the work into small stories and test incrementally.
- Coding and Testing Are Part of One Process: Testers write tests, and developers write code to make the test pass.
- Synergy between Practices: Incorporating any one practice will get you started. A combination of these practices, which to work together, is needed to gain the advantage of Agile development fully.
Success Factor 6: Collaborate with Customers
Collaboration is key, and it isn’t just with the developers. Collaboration with Product Owners and customers helps clarify the acceptance criteria. Testers make good collaborators as they understand the business domain and can speak technically. The “Power of Three” is an important concept – developers, testers, and a business representative form a powerful triad. When we work to understand what our customers value, we include them to answer our questions and clear up misunderstandings; then, we are truly collaborating to deliver value.
Success Factor 7: Look at the Big Picture
The big picture is important for the entire team. Developers may focus on the implementation details, while testers and the Product Owners have the view into the big picture. Aside from sharing the big picture with the team, the four quadrants can help you to guide development so developers don’t miss anything.
In addition, you’ll want to ensure your test environments are as similar as possible to production. Test with production-like data to make the test as close to the real world as possible. Help developers take a step back and see the big picture.
At the end of the day, developers and testers form a strong partnership. They both have their area of expertise. However, the entire team is the first line of defense against poor quality. The focus is not on how many defects are found; the focus is on delivering real value after each iteration.
LinkedIn is the #1 business networking channel right at your fingertips and is a must in the virtual world we are living in today. The love affair that CC Pace has with LinkedIn grows each day because it offers users so much each time you log in.
LinkedIn makes it so easy to follow colleagues, companies, and influencers to learn about new topics, industries, and brands daily. You can find a new career opportunity, reconnect with an old colleague, or learn about all the latest and greatest business news instantaneously. Looking for others who share your professional passion, no problem, simply join a LinkedIn Group featuring others who want to share their knowledge and know-how in that area. We could go on and on with our list, so we narrowed it down to share the Top 5 Things CC Pace Loves about LinkedIn:
Did you know that by spending just 5 minutes a day on LinkedIn you can easily stay relevant and connected – how great is that? We are curious what it is that you love about LinkedIn, take a moment, and please share with us what you enjoy most from this network? And, while you are logged in be sure to connect with CC Pace on LinkedIn.
Banking is continually evolving, and lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the need for community banks to embrace digital transformation. How do Community Banks create an omnichannel model while maintaining their hometown appeal? As I was thinking about this question and the growing call for change, it made me reflect on the community bank that was central to the small town where I grew up. This brought back a lot of nostalgia and memories that I wanted to share about my community bank’s role in my life.
I grew up in Damascus, a small town in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our local bank, Damascus Community Bank, opened when I was a sophomore in high school by two pillars in the local community, and it grew very quickly. In a short amount of time, the bank had six locations. It was instrumental in supporting many local businesses, and also offered programs to teach kids about savings and checking. In Damascus, it was the “Cheers” of banking; everyone knew your name. And, of course, lollipops were plentiful!
Although my high school was part of a wealthy county, our athletic facilities were dated, and we were last on the list to have lights installed on our football field. Friday night football games were the social glue of a small town back then. Football games were where everyone would catch up after a long week before going to the bank Saturday morning. Unfortunately for the Damascus community, “Friday Night Lights” didn’t exist because of a funding issue. While the community frequently petitioned the county for assistance, they only offered a portion of the required funding. But when Damascus Community Bank opened, they set a plan in motion to help us raise the money necessary to close the gap so we could finally get lights for our football field and have Friday night games. This commitment to the community is still visible today; the lights are still on every Friday night. This local support was second nature for Damascus Community Bank and allowed them to become fully entrenched and accepted as a vital part of the community.
When I graduated high school, I needed a reliable car to drive back and forth to college. I didn’t have much money saved, so the first place I turned to for help was Damascus Community Bank. I knew the loan officer well; they had helped me open my first checking account. So, when I needed a car loan, they sat down with me to explain how much I could borrow, my monthly payments, and approved me for my first loan, even though I had no credit. At this point, I still hadn’t found a car to buy, but I had the loan to get the process started. Eventually, I found a great Burgundy Chrysler LeBaron, just what every 18-year-old girl dreams of driving. But there was an issue. The down payment I needed was not covered in my approved loan amount. When I went back to the bank, they agreed to issue another loan for half of the down payment. This is the result of having a personal connection with the bank and the employee who worked there.
My experience of purchasing my first car is something I will never forget. It was significant for several reasons. For starters, it was a rite of passage to become an adult; I purchased the car without any help from my parents. But secondly, it was my first experience dealing directly with a financial organization. Damascus Community Bank recognized me as a person, not just an account holder. They extended credit even though I had no history of credit yet. They were willing to take a chance on me. This type of experience doesn’t typically occur outside the community bank structure. Something I came to realize when I started dealing with larger banks.
While attending college, I needed money to cover tuition and living expenses. My job at the local garden mart was seasonal, and it just wasn’t cutting it. I decided to try banking instead, and off I went to apply for a part-time bank teller position at Damascus Community Bank. Because they knew me, I was given my very first job in a professional setting. Through this experience, I realized that I truly enjoyed serving and helping other people. Damascus Bank was the heart of the community, and every week, I would see neighbors and friends when they stopped by to cash a check or make a deposit. The bank impacted me as well as the people it served.
The Damascus Community Bank doesn’t exist today. Like so many community banks, it was acquired by a larger financial institution. When I drive back to visit my hometown, it always feels a little sad not to see the bank sign that had been there for so many years. But time marches on, and through mergers and acquisitions, community banks are being swallowed up; they are no longer the hub of the community. And I can’t help but wonder if other people miss that connection the local bank provided.
There is no question that continual enhancements with current banking technology and omnichannel banking strategies have created more services and options for customers. Change is a necessary part of growth, and today’s banks provide a vast array of services, from opening a bank account to restructuring a mortgage. These offerings provide numerous benefits and advantages. So how does a community bank progress with technology while maintaining their connection with the customers they serve? I still believe that the community bank is a vital business needed in every small town across America.
Do you have a community bank story?
If we asked you to list the three best parts of your job, most of you would have the relationships you have formed with your co-workers on that short list. The people who are by your side each day, (yes, even remote they are just a quick Teams call away), the ones who you collaborate with and work closely with day in and day out. At CC Pace we say, our people are our most important asset, so what better way to instill that than creating a peer-to-peer recognition program!
The CC Pace Superior Performance Award (SPA) is an award meant for CC Pacer’s to recognize fellow employees for their significant and lasting impact on CC Pace. This nomination platform allows employees across the board to acknowledge their peers’ accomplishments and call out their outstanding contributions. We are happy to announce the winners of the inaugural SPAs, congratulations to Jannette Brace and Lauren Iezzoni!
JANNETTE BRACE has stepped up to lead a new client’s Agile Transformation project that began last year. From the onset of the engagement, Jannette has demonstrated her customer relations skillset by developing a genuine trust and line of open communications with both the client’s leadership and project teams. Jannette’s leadership, exceptional consulting skills, in-depth Agile experience, and ability to build and grow client relationships have been integral to CC Pace’s recent success.
LAUREN IEZZONI routinely demonstrates her commitment to elevating our corporate branding efforts to new heights. She possesses a positive attitude and consistently produces agency-quality designs. Lauren is constantly striving to take her skills to the next level, while her contributions are highly visible and greatly received across the organization. One of Lauren’s greatest attributes is her commitment to being a team player, where she not only pushes herself to do her best but inspires that same level from those around her.
Please join us in a round of applause for these two exceptional team members!
Good Morning – Yes, it is time to brace ourselves it’s Monday, again! I think I can hear the communal groan from here. What is it about Mondays anyway? Perhaps it’s because they are the first hint of responsibility after two glorious days of fun, maybe it’s that annoying buzz at way-too-early o’clock that you haven’t heard in two days, or it’s because it marks the beginning of the week, and all beginnings are challenging at best – but Mondays sure get a bad rap. Songs such as I Don’t Like Mondays, Manic Monday, and Rainy Days and Mondays are only more proof that we all have some angst towards Mondays.
Trying to tackle a change of perspective regarding Mondays may seem like a fool’s errand but hear me out. What if, along with the not-so-positive aspects about Monday, we also consider that they provide an opportunity for a fresh start and a clean slate? The ultimate reset button if you will. Perhaps, this Monday is THE day that everything falls into place for you. Consider that trying to start the new week off with a positive outlook may be the key to unlocking your inner #MondayMotivation. At the very least, you know that the first cup of coffee tastes better on Monday morning.
Still, no? Ok well, maybe we can offer some help to get you through the 52 Mondays each year: here is a link to some Monday motivational quotes for inspiration, or how about some ways to beat the Monday blues. Opting for easy dinner ideas may be the answer to making Monday more bearable. In any case, here we are this Monday morning, so grab your coffee, open the shades, and let’s kickstart the day!
Happy holidays from CC Pace! Take a look at our digital holiday card below!
In the push to be able to conduct business during the pandemic, companies sought out new technology to improve their digital capabilities for both internal employee and external customer-facing work. There was a noted rush to select, implement and integrate new technology into the existing infrastructure to keep business moving along. For the most part, the purchase decision was compressed and triggered by the immediate need. As such, there are some decisions in hindsight that may cause regret and others whose terms are not as attractive as expected for a long-term relationship. Also, the selected technology could be a perfect fit, but the implementation may have taken shortcuts in the rush to deliver, and additional work may be desired to further refine the integration or customization to better meet the business needs. Even if no new technology was introduced, regular maintenance tasks were postponed during the pandemic, and training sessions canceled that were needed then but are imperative now.
As we move to the next stage of the pandemic, defining the work arrangements, returning in some way to a physical office location or just settling into a long-term remote work arrangement, it is a good time to take a breath and assess where your applications and infrastructure are today, and take a step back to prioritize key projects and next steps to move forward in whatever the new “normal” may be.
Starting with vendor management and contract review, most organizations do a great job of vetting vendors during the purchase/selection process but fail to follow up on a regular basis to ensure the vendor and its practices maintain the necessary controls to keep their systems supported and your data protected. Given that your vendors had similar stressors maintaining business practices through the pandemic, it is a good time to re-assess their activities to ensure the expected levels of control and security are still in place.
This is also a great time to review your contractual agreements. Identify any agreements that will expire in the near term and start planning for the next steps which could be a replacement or re-negotiation for renewal. Identify any contractual terms that no longer meet your needs, e.g., on-site support with a remote workforce, and layout a new path and desired outcome before approaching your vendors. Ensure any needed or expected vendor certification/licensing is also up-to-date during your review process.
Your infrastructure and its support should be assessed to ensure it is protected, sized, and supporting the organization. Are both hardware and software patches being applied timely? Are there are any components that need to be retired or are no longer supported? Assess whether changes are needed for growth or contraction. Are controls in place to ensure a secure environment for the data and organization? What has changed during COVID-19, and how has that impacted the operation?
There has been a move towards the cloud for a number of years, but the pandemic brought that shift to the forefront for many organizations. Questions to ask include: Is your selected cloud provider providing the service and support you and your organization expect and need? If outsourced, are you getting regular (and useful) reports about the health and security of the environment? Are any identified or contractual service-level agreements (SLAs) being met? Are there SLAs that weren’t defined but should be? Address deficiencies with your internal/external vendors or select new ones, as appropriate.
Software Technology and Documentation
Your software technology is critical to your success. During COVID-19, a lot of projects were put aside for more immediate “keep the lights on” activities. A review of what is listed in your backlog is needed to identify where (and if) issues with key functionality exist. Points of integration should be reviewed to ensure the exchange of data is being completed in a secure manner, seamless to the end-user. In general, complete an assessment to ensure you have the best combination of systems supporting your business operation. This process will ensure awareness of not only immediate needs but those that are just over the horizon. If software was selected in a rush during COVID-19, it’s a good time to look at the industry for alternatives to identify a better fitting solution or to identify enhancements to request of your vendor.
Documentation is an area that was frequently ignored during the pandemic (and other times). There is value to the organization maintaining documentation of your systems and practices. The application architecture diagram is a simpler diagram to create, but is critical to understanding the systems in (and out of) your environment and their interactions. Many organizations have graphical representations of their network, but not of their applications, interactions, and uses. The application architecture and other documentation facilitates communication and understanding within the organization and with your vendors.
The last area that needs attention is one that should be foremost in everyone’s mind and that is security. Security encompasses people, processes, and technology. Attacks can come through any of these areas and vigilance is needed to stay protected. For people, it is important that any training sessions that were postponed during COVID-19 be re-scheduled to educate employees on such things as identifying spam emails and phishing schemes. Processes should be reviewed to ensure that information is being properly protected whether it is paper or digital throughout the process, and only appropriate data is being shared. Finally, the technology needs to be assessed. This can include a review of users and the level of access granted, ensure that anyone that has left the company has had their access revoked, that security levels are commensurate with the roles, etc. Identify any users that haven’t logged in for extended periods and determine if their access is required. Security surrounding applications should be reviewed to ensure that the current protocols are being followed, the complexity of passwords, the number of days between password changes, etc. Administration passwords should also be updated on a regular basis.
While all of the above would normally be considered business as usual, COVID-19 has irreparably changed what normal is. Work that has been postponed, canceled, or set aside should be revisited to identify what is still applicable to maintain a secure and functional operation for the organization and its user community.
Interest rates are on the rise and affordability is tightening. New and old methods will need to be tapped to continue to put borrowers into homes, are you and your platform ready?
For many, it has been a very long time since anything beyond a straightforward fixed-rate product guideline was added to the LOS platform. In some cases, adjustable-rate (ARM) or other more complicated guidelines have never been entered into the current platforms, as the LOS was replaced with new technology more recently.
It’s time to check your systems to make sure everything is ready for when those new guidelines are needed. Whether it’s an ARM with a SOFR index rate, a piggyback, or some other product, you need a refresher on the data that needs to be collected to define the product. What about documents that may be needed and information the system needs to define new product guidelines. Processes and procedures also need to be reviewed to ensure they address any additional or different steps needed during the origination. Also, the points of integration should be assessed to ensure that the requisite data to support an expanded list of products is fully supported. The last step is particularly important given the addition of technology to support all aspects of digital lending throughout the pandemic.
If you’re ready, CC Pace can help. We have a proven track record of working with our clients to revitalize technology infrastructure, update systems to conform to current practices and implement organizational/process best practices.
Who says Halloween is just for kids? At CC Pace, we have always relished the opportunity to dress up, eat candy and create a spooky ambiance. Through the years, the hallmark CC Pace creativity has run amok when it comes to costumes! The American Flag gang, the Pink Ladies, and President Mike Gordon as Waldo are memorable standouts. We can also proudly boast that our cauldron has bubbled some toil and trouble with all the festive Halloween parties we have had!
In that same ghoulish spirit, and with another Halloween upon us where we will not be able to celebrate together, we decided to memorialize this year’s Happy Hauntings by asking our CC Pace team to send in photos of their Halloween spirit.
So, with a big “Boo!” to you from our crew, we present to you CC Pace Halloween, past and present! Enjoy!
We would like to introduce Deepak Palanivelu to you. Due to Deepak’s positive experience with CC Pace as a contractor, he approached us regarding his desire for a permanent position. We jumped at the chance to bring him on as a full-time team member. Here Deepak shares his story of the whole transitioning and on-boarding process that took place for him to become a CC Pace employee.
Welcome to the CC Pace family Deepak!
It is pretty safe to say that, as we enter our 12th month of quarantining and the pandemic lifestyle, we are all experiencing COVID fatigue. So, rather than evoke a collective groan with yet another “here’s how to navigate the quarantine lifestyle” post, we have decided to try and lighten up the COVID experience a little with an entertaining review of how things have changed. So, without further ado, here is CC Pace’s What’s In and What’s Out list! Take a look and please let us know if there is anything we missed on our list – enjoy!
|Conference calls||Teams meeting with fun together modes|
|Short emails with one question||Slack or DMs|
|Team lunches||Door Dashed lunch|
|Phone calls||Video Calls|
|Lengthy in-person meetings||Emails with bullet points and lists|
|Book Clubs||Netflix recommendation discussions|
|Company outings||Online Trivia games|
|Commuting to work||Signing into Teams app or Zoom|
|Printer jamming||Internet connection issues|
|Office inside jokes||Company memes|
|Alcohol shots||Vaccine shots|
|Starbucks||Expanding your Keurig coffee selection|
|“You’re on Mute”||Awesome virtual backgrounds and cameo family member sightings during virtual meetings|
|Juggling kids activities to keep them entertained||Juggling kids online class schedules|
|Happy Hour at the local bar||Personal booze stockpiles|
|Business attire||Sweats, yoga pants and pjs|
|Workplace status quo||Angling your camera just right to ensure your PJ pants are not visible during your Teams meeting|
|Dry Cleaners||Never ending laundry piles|
|Lunch hour errands||Walking your dog 4 times a day|
|Hanging out at the water cooler||Never ending group chats|
|Picking up something for dinner||Cooking at home and getting your Micheline star rated Chef groove on|
|Airpods||Noise Canceling Headphones|
|High Heels and dress shoes||What are shoes?|
|Talking over a cube wall||Stalking co-worker’s availability status on Teams|
|Office floorplan||Makeshift home offices on kitchen counters|
|Grabbing something from the vending machine||Rummaging the fridge and/or pantry|
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/
Welcome to our last blog in our 40 Years and Forward series, where we introduce you to 40 Fun Facts about CC Pace! In this blog series we have taken a stroll down memory lane looking at how CC Pace started and has evolved, as well as what makes our corporate culture unique. Now we ask you to discover 40 Fun Facts about us from the last 4 decades as we share some fond memories, interesting tidbits, and laughs!
We would like to say to all our clients, friends and colleagues who have worked with and supported CC Pace over the years a heartfelt Thank You! We are very excited to what the future holds as we move forward on our journey!
As 2020 has unfolded, our development team has been working on a brand new app: Pass2Play! Check out the video below to see all of its features and capabilities!
To learn more about Pass2Play click here!
Are you a seasoned Agile Practitioner interested in expanding services beyond yourself while providing strategic guidance to a variety of clients?
CC Pace is currently looking for a dynamic Agile Thought Leader who is ready to make an immediate impact and drive our Agile transformation services. The ideal candidate is local to the DC metro area, is comfortable making decisions and implementing innovative ideas. CC Pace will provide a flexible working environment and support interest in growing a personal reputation in the global Agile community, in addition to a competitive, comprehensive suite of benefits.
What will an Agile Thought Leader at CC Pace do?
- Set the direction for our Agile transformation services, drive strategic imperatives, define Agile offerings, establish priorities and grow our Agile business
- Represent CC Pace at conferences, through independently orchestrated thought leadership and by guiding client engagements
- Provide strategic guidance to clients through enhancing, producing and delivering Agile training and coaching both in person and via alternative delivery modes
- Build and mentor a team of consultants to deliver the services both with internal staff and business partners
- Define and brand CC Pace while developing new relationships in the Agile community
- Current certified Agile credentials or equivalent level of experience
- Strong communication and presentation skills – must be versed at public speaking and a capable writer
- Proven experience leading Agile engagements, including developing training materials and coaching at both the enterprise and team level
- Ability to demonstrate leadership experience in IT delivery, including building and sustaining high-performing teams
- Strong leadership skills that will support setting the direction for our Agile practice, managing a team of resources and driving the Agile offering and delivery strategies
- Ability to provide ample thought leadership to further our footprint in the Agile community
- Strong business acumen that will assist in supporting the sales & marketing efforts involving Agile transformation services
At CC Pace we have a strong referral program and encourage not only our employees but even those who don’t work for us to take advantage of it – so if you know someone who would be a fit for this position please refer them!
For more information regarding this Agile Thought Leader position, please contact Rechelle Card, email@example.com
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:
We conclude our three-part 35th Anniversary blog series about our past, present and future by talking with Mike Gordon, President of CC Pace, on his vision for the future of CC Pace. Mike has built and led a company that has grown by attracting people with a common set of beliefs that focus on quality, integrity and keeping customers’ best interests in mind while delivering results. As our leader, learn how he plans to drive the company forward.
What are you most excited about when you think of CC Pace’s future?
A new set of leaders who will set their own vision and their own path to get there. We have a lot of very talented people here who, combined with some people we will bring in from the outside, will become our new leaders. It is these new leaders who will bring new ideas and approaches to help us provide innovative solutions to be delivered to our clients in the future.
What one goal for CC Pace tops your list when you think about the next 3-5 years?
One goal that stands out when I think about the future is leadership development and transition. We are focused on grooming and mentoring our leadership from the inside, receiving outside leadership training, and the opportunity to try (and sometimes fail) as we pursue new business opportunities and models for execution. We are in a people-based business and we need to be spending sufficient time developing our current and future leaders, while still delivering on our current day-to-day business and the needs of our clients.
In what areas do you see CC Pace growing in the next 5 years?
From a revenue standpoint, the federal market will likely see the most growth. We have made a committed investment there that we are just now starting to reap the rewards. On average, the projects for the federal space tend to be larger and longer-term than private sector projects. That being said, I also anticipate growth in all of our practice areas. The Financial Services industry is starting to turn around and rebound, and new opportunities are developing there. For Staffing, I see us continuing to stay in the high end of the value-oriented staffing arena versus commodity-based staffing, and I see increased demand for this type of service. Our Agile practice, which includes training, coaching and software development, will expand as a result of our marketing strategies and as we introduce new offerings to the market.
From a corporate perspective, it’s in marketing. Finding new, quality clients is fundamental to sustaining and growing any vibrant business. We’ve long lacked a dedicated strategy and commitment to marketing and let repeat/referral business drive revenues. Today, under our Corporate Marketing Manager, Jenna Bayer’s leadership, we’ve made tremendous strides to change that, and I expect that this marketing initiative will continue to grow and develop.
How does CC Pace’s current focus prepare us for the future?
Two things that prepare CC Pace for our future is the type of people we hire, and our business model. The people we hire are adaptable, creative and solutions-oriented. They are good at solving problems and are very customer-focused, which is key for a B2B business. Our people have strong values; you can teach people a lot of things, but values is often not one of them. These values are important because individual values need to be in alignment with our company values.
The market is constantly changing and our business model is designed to be very adaptable. We are able to look at what is going on in the market and determine what solutions will work for each unique situation. Part of this adaptability is the diversification of our three business units (Enterprise Solutions, Financial Services and IT Staffing) which complement each other. CC Pace’s business model focuses on delivering value to our clients and it is this outcome-driven business model that sets us up for long-term relationships with our clients.
When you think about the future of CC Pace, what is the biggest challenge you see for the company?
The biggest challenge I foresee is dealing with change. Change is good, but it can be a challenge. While we deal with change management frequently with initiatives at our clients, it’s often difficult to apply those lessons ourselves. In order to be successful in the future and move to a new leadership team with new vision ideas, we will need to change and grow as a company and as individuals.
How will CC Pace continue to be successful in the Agile space in response to Agile methodologies that are constantly evolving?
The methods will continue to advance and change. We want to be on the forefront both for when we are using the methods to deliver solutions, and when we are training and coaching others to do so. We’re seeing a change right now with Kanban, DevOps, Scaling methods, advanced Agile engineering methods and tools. Ideally, we have a good balance of training/coaching vis-à-vis development – we are able to have our trainer practitioners vacillate between exploring new ways and gaining new experience, and then being able to share that knowledge with others.
What is the one bit of advice you’d like to bestow upon the next generation of CC Pace?
My advice would be this: be clear about your goals and be patient to get there. Make sure that you have people who are aligned with what you are trying to achieve. Most importantly, recognize that it is less about the speed by which you get there and more about staying focused to arrive at your desired target.
The future of CC Pace is in the hands of our leadership team; a team that Mike Gordon has successfully led and mentored for three-and-a-half decades. As CC Pace continues to grow and evolve in the years to come, we will remain a committed partner, whose goal is creating value-added results and solutions for our clients. Stay tuned for the next 35 years!
Today, join us for an inside look at CC Pace present day as we continue our three part blog series about our past, present and future in celebration of our 35th Anniversary. When it comes to learning more about CC Pace’s culture and what makes us unique, we’re not just talking about free coffee and whether or not you can wear jeans to work on Fridays (which you can). We gathered three employees from different business units within the company to give us their perspective of CC Pace.
Meet Seth Greenwood, Technical Recruiter in our Staffing division. Seth is a 2012 graduate of James Madison University and has been with CC Pace for 2 years.
How did you first hear about CC Pace?
I applied online through a job posting on Monster.com. Rechelle Card, Senior Technical Recruiter at CC Pace, then contacted me regarding the position. When we spoke, she piqued my interest in CC Pace by telling me about the clients they support and the opportunities for placements. The company I was working for at the time had a much smaller client base, so CC Pace sounded very attractive to me. I was seeking a greater exposure to both commercial and government clients and CC Pace clearly fit that model.
What at CC Pace motivates you about your job?
I truly enjoy helping people find their next place of employment. I also appreciate that CC Pace’s mission is different than many other staffing companies in the Washington DC area. We are very quality-centric here with an emphasis on finding the right person for the job; it’s not just a numbers game.
Do you feel CC Pace offers a good work-life balance?
Yes, in the sense that, while you’re expected to perform, you do not have extremely aggressive quotas and rapid turnover that is common in other staffing companies. I can go home at the end of the day and enjoy my personal time relatively stress-free. We also have flexibility with our personal schedules.
Seth, for these next three questions just tell us the first things that comes to your mind:
Describe CC Pace’s President Mike Gordon in three words?
Leader, affable, approachable
What are your three favorite things about CC Pace’s location?
- Being located in Fairfax Corner, we have a number of dining choices
- Plenty of parking
- Close proximity to Fair Oaks Mall
Describe CC Pace’s culture in three words?
Collaborative, Fun, Casual
Meet Cindy Bloomer, Managing Consultant and Agile Coach for our Enterprise Solutions practice. Cindy has been with CC Pace for 7 years. Based out of her home office in Salisbury, North Carolina, she spends the majority of her time at client sites as an instructor for in-house Agile Training and Coaching engagements.
What do you love best about the culture here? Why?
The work environment is very fun, supportive and engaging. We have many entertaining social events, activities, and company meetings throughout the year. These occasions give the employees a chance to reconnect since many of us may be on projects at client sites for extended periods of time. CC Pace also offers employees great support when dealing with personal issues or medical problems, and allows you to take the time you need to deal with the situation – and that says a lot!
How do you feel you have a voice in the direction of your future at CC Pace?
We work hard and have opportunities for growth via engagements that are challenging and rewarding. We often have a say in which assignments we get, and who we work with on a project. Everyone is assigned a “development manager” to help develop our skills, and I routinely interact with mine. CC Pace is very open and transparent internally. Personally, I participate in business planning and strategy for my business unit. I get to see and hear about our corporate state and business plans at our all hands company meetings.
While working at CC Pace, what is your favorite memory so far?
We had a party at the office where we played a series of games. Some games we broke into teams and some were played individually, even our leader Mike Gordon played along. There was one game in particular that was hysterical, I cannot recall all the details, but I do remember it involved Oreos! That was a great event where everyone companywide was able to interact with one another.
Cindy, for these next three questions just tell us the first thing that comes to your mind:
What are three words that Sum up your overall experience thus far at CC Pace?
Satisfying, Engaging, Supportive
What are three things you have learned while working at CC Pace?
- Recently, I took Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) courses and was able to get my SPC (SAFe Program Consultant) Certification. I’ve also been learning more about Kanban.
- By gaining experience as an instructor, I’ve learned many techniques and increased my comfort level speaking in front of a group. Now, public speaking is at a point where it’s just second nature.
- Working with colleagues at CC Pace has opened my eyes to various tactics for solving problems and approaching tasks. By observing and working with colleagues, I’m constantly being exposed to new ways to accomplish the same things using a different approach.
Name three characteristics of CC Pace you credit to the company’s success?
Relationship oriented, Family-like culture, Adaptable
Meet Keith Kemph, Senior Consultant in our Financial Services division. Keith has been with CC Pace for 3 years. He is a seasoned management consultant who collaborates with our clients on numerous types of projects that include Business Transformation, Process Improvement, Reorganization, Vendor Selection Strategy, Program Management and much more.
How do you rate CC Pace’s expertise in your industry?
Unparalleled. Bottom line, our financial services consultants are actually mortgage banking experts. The average consultant has been in the mortgage banking industry for twenty three years. As mortgage banking experts we are unmatched in our ability to efficiently design, build, implement and execute on projects. We measure success by successfully completing projects, driving results and ROI. As evidenced by 80% of our projects coming from prior clients, for the last 35 years.
Working remotely, what steps do you and your CC Pace team take to stay connected?
Great question for someone who lives in Denver, Colorado works on-site at our clients’ office (currently Columbus, Ohio) and whose corporate office is in Fairfax, Virginia. Bottom line, it’s tricky. I have to rely on three key things; weekly team calls, daily emails and several visits to corporate each year. I only wish it was as easy as it sounds on the surface (lol).
How do you feel that the work you are doing is aligned with your professional goals and interests? Frankly, I feel like the luckiest guy on earth! While most people ‘fall’ into consulting, I have always known I wanted to be a consultant. I’ve always had a desire to help solve a company’s biggest and most complex challenges in order to help increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve their bottom line. Pace’s boutique approach ensures that we remain client and quality focused while rich with knowledge and experience that I continue to learn from. All of which is in direct alignment with my professional goals.
Keith, for these next three questions just tell us the first three things that comes to your mind:
Tell us three things that attracted you to CC Pace?
Simply said: Experience, Reliability and Integrity.
What three things would you want a prospective client to know about CC Pace?
- We are all about solving our client’s greatest challenges, project, or issue, efficiently and effectively.
- We are truly our client’s partner. It’s easy to say you’re a partner, but to truly be an effective business partner it requires listening intently to our client needs, asking the right questions, collaborating with them to design and implement effective solutions.
- The most important aspect of or culture, is the relationship. Regardless if you’re a colleague or a client we place significant value on having a relationship with everyone we engage. Through these relationships we build a level of trust that allows us to truly accomplish astonishing results.
Describe CC Pace in three words?
Focused, fun and friendly.
This year CC Pace will celebrate 35 years of business! CC Pace’s corporate office has been located in Fairfax, Virginia since 1983, and while our address has changed over the years, the foundation in which we built our consulting business on has remained the same.
To share some insight on CC Pace we are presenting a three part blog series about the past, present and future of our company. To learn more about the early years of CC Pace, we interviewed three of our executives: Mike Gordon, our President, Craig Hughes, the Managing Director of Financial Services Consulting and George Perkins, Director of Staffing. Here is what they shared with us:
What led you to CC Pace?
Mike: In the mid-1970s, there was a company called R. Shriver Associates. Shriver was out of northern New Jersey and they were a financial services technology consulting firm. In the early mid-70s Shriver decided to open up branches in the East and Midwest, including an office in DC. In 1978, I was hired right out of college as Shriver’s first full time IT person, their initial hires were more business and management consultants. My plan out of college was to work for a couple of years and then get my MBA, as my long-term goal was to run my own business. I took the job at Shriver, thinking working for a very small consulting firm would provide me with a broad range of experiences and business insights that I would not get at a larger firm. By 1980, Shriver decided that the whole branch strategy wasn’t working, so they decided to sell off the DC branch. The branch manager asked myself and one other person at the company if we wanted to purchase the branch which we did, and that was the beginnings of CC Pace.
Craig: I was solicited by Rich Lichvar, who I had worked with at Freddie Mac (a client of CC Pace’s since 1980). Rich was at CC Pace (then Cabot Consulting) for a while before returning to Freddie Mac. He called me one day while I was working for Riggs Bank, he asked me to come talk to Mike Gordon and his partners. Ironically, I already knew Mike from playing poker at Barry Krone’s, who was another Freddie Mac contact.
George: I was working with a recruiter at my job that also supported CC Pace. The position I was in at the time was high stress, poorly managed and very numbers driven, looking for quantity over quality. I had told the recruiter I was looking to leave my current position. He had worked with Mike Gordon in the past, and knew the culture and environment. He told me he felt CC Pace would be a good fit for me.
20+ years is a long time, describe what CC Pace was like when you started.
George: I actually started in Business Development, but within a few months was recruiting full time. In those days, CC Pace didn’t have a recruiter and Freddie Mac was really heating up from a staff augmentation perspective. Mike Gordon asked if I would help out for a while on the recruiting side. Joanie Cassens was running the Freddie Mac account, and I was supporting her in filling their requirements. At the same time, our Mortgage and Enterprise Solutions groups were beginning to grow, so the need for someone to focus solely on recruiting and finding candidates increased. It was a great time to be at CC Pace, the company was growing and business was expanding. There was a real element of excitement and pride. We had a great mix of a young, energetic and seasoned team members to take us to the next level. The office was very lively, the culture and environment was great.
Can you recall a major client/project from your early years with CC Pace that you feel has had a great impact on our success?
Craig: Sometime around 1989, Bill Lehman and Mike Gordon selected an accounting system for Commonwealth Mortgage in Boston. That was the start of our work in the primary mortgage industry. Our client there was Mark Thompson, who remains a source of business for us today.
George: Freddie Mac. They have been a client since our beginning; they were the primary influence for the creation of our staffing division, and we have been a Tier 1 vendor with them for the past 35 years. The relationship we have cultivated with Freddie Mac continues to evolve and remains strong today. As a result of this relationship many former Freddie Mac employees have referred us to their new organizations.
What was your toughest challenge on a client engagement?
Craig: I arrived at Fannie Mae to start a project somewhere around 1987, only to learn that the project I had been hired for had been cancelled. The manager, Karen Milan, said she was committed to using me for a project and looked over my resume. She said “it says you know SAS, I need someone to develop some reports for me.” I barely knew SAS, having used it only for simple data extraction tasks. I had to learn SAS on the fly, but went on to develop Fannie Mae’s first consolidated reporting system (pulling data from both the IBM and Data General platforms), their statistics-based approach to selecting loans for post-purchase QC and several other cool things. After my contract was up, Fannie Mae went on to create an entire department to continue doing the things I had started.
What has been some of the biggest changes in your industry since you started at CC Pace?
Mike: When I started, PCs did not exist. We were a mini computer company so our development work and any corporate computing was done on our Data General (DG) minicomputer, which doesn’t even exist anymore. It cost us over a quarter of a million dollars for the DG and it only provided a fraction of the computing that you get when you can buy a PC or laptop today. The internet wasn’t around for commercial use, so the connectivity and the access to information and applications that the internet brings was not available. The notion of mobile and other personal devices for communicating didn’t exist. If you were on the road and had to make an important call, you’d go find a phone booth. From a software development standpoint, the adoption of Agile methods has drastically changed how we go about delivering software.
Craig: Constant regulatory change, but the growth of network services integrated into the Loan Origination System LOS has been a huge change to technology.
What do you feel are the biggest technology advancements in the last 35 years?
Mike: I’ll go with the Internet. It has completely changed how business processes can work, with some changes having wholesale effects on some industries, e.g., travel agencies, book stores. The application systems that we build now are all web-based with the Internet connectivity providing ubiquitous system access. The rise of social media, enabled by the Internet, has changed how we think and go about marketing. When we are trying to answer a business question or find a certain type of provider, we are disappointed when the answer doesn’t pop up quickly from our Internet search.
What about the culture at CC Pace has influenced you to stay here for 20+ years?
George: In the beginning, it was the people, some of my family’s closest friends are people from those early years at CC Pace. As CC Pace grew, being a part of a growing, vibrant company made it a very exciting and engaging environment. Over the years the culture has evolved, but having the ability to make a difference, maintain a work life balance, having a say in where the company is going and how it was going to get there, has remained the same. Mike Gordon has developed a culture where everyone is working towards a common goal. He has done this by sharing information, having an open door policy, and offering constant support to his team.
What, if anything, do you miss about the old days at CC Pace?
Mike: I miss being downtown, although I don’t necessarily miss the commute to get there. There are so many interesting places to eat, socialize, and explore, and back then, I had plenty of free time on my hands to do all of those things. Our original office was a brown stone town house that was on 16th Street, about a block from the White House. The former home of some rich Washingtonian, it was 4 stories high and the various rooms were converted into offices. As the newest employee, my office was in the basement. What was most interesting about this room is that it had a boarded up doorway that led to a tunnel underneath 16th Street, it went from the old Russian embassy to my office. During the Cold War, this was the escape route for the Russians if the embassy was ever under siege. If you ask me what I least miss about those days, I’d probably have to say the lack of office tools. I can’t imagine trying to write a proposal without a word processor, but we used to write proposals on a typewriter and make corrections using White Out (feel free to do a Google search on White Out if you’re young and have never heard of the product).
We hope that you have enjoyed an inside look on how members of our leadership team found their way here and how CC Pace began. As you can see this is a company that has and continues to evolve. Stay tuned for part two of our blog series highlighting our 35th Anniversary, where we will be sharing the perspectives of current employees on present day life here at CC Pace.
In a business world where people are always moving on to new opportunities, what makes someone stay with one company? What makes you say, ‘I think I want to learn and grow with this company’?
This year CC Pace celebrates the 5 year anniversary of two employees, Jenna Bayer and Ashok Komaragiri. Jenna is our Corporate Marketing Manager and Ashok is a Technical Consultant in our Enterprise Solutions practice. CC Pace President, Mike Gordon, recognized both at our Staff Meeting in March 2015. He spoke about each regarding their accomplishments and how they have grown over their tenure with the company. Mike then presented them each a service award and the traditional CC Pace gag gift. We wanted to find out from Jenna and Ashok what drew them to our organization, what have they learned here and what do they see in their futures at CC Pace.
Why did you chose to join CC Pace?
JENNA: Ultimately, I was drawn to the culture of CC Pace. I liked the work-life balance they offered and the fact that there were a number of employees who had been there for a decade or longer. At the time of my hiring, I believe the average tenure was around 11 years. To me, that said there were opportunities for growth and indicated that CC Pace must be a great place to work to have such a low level of turnover.
ASHOK: I first heard of CC Pace from a friend of mine who had worked with them very closely on one of their earlier projects. He spoke very highly about the standards set by CC Pace on that project, and the technical skill set they brought with them to the table. My friend mentioned how without ever losing focus on the client’s needs, the CC Pace team always delivered efficient solutions to complex problems. The fact that they were also at the forefront in using Agile Software Development Methodologies greatly caught my attention. When I was looking for a new opportunity, I was very fortunate that my friend could refer me to CC Pace.
What have you learned while at CC Pace?
JENNA: I’ve learned so much in my 5 years, but I think the most impactful lesson I’ve learned is to not be afraid to take risks or make mistakes. Having the freedom and support from upper management to try things out and really be able to figure out what works, (along with what doesn’t) has taught me more than if I had it all spelled out for me.
ASHOK: The most valuable skills I have learned are the practical application of Agile Methodologies combined with Engineering Practices like Test Driven Development (TDD) and Extreme Programing (XP).
What is one of your most memorable moments?
JENNA: It’s hard to pick just one, but October 2013 when our new website launched was definitely a highlight. It was my first time working on a large marketing project and I was so excited to be a part of it. It was a much larger project than anticipated, but I learned a great deal and it was a lot of fun to see the final product!
ASHOK: The most memorable moment for me so far has to be when we went live with both the Student Tracker for High Schools Rewrite, and the Student Matching applications at the National Student Clearinghouse. It was very gratifying to hear from a client how we greatly improved their productivity and what used to take them a month to process now takes only a few hours. In our world that is a huge success!
What are one or two of your future professional goals that you would like to achieve while working at CC Pace?
JENNA: I’d definitely like to see our blog readership take off (shameless plug: if you haven’t subscribed, now would be a great time to do so!) and I am looking forward to being a part of increasing our marketing efforts.
ASHOK: Personally, I look forward to continue to deliver quality projects by always focusing on clients’ needs and adhering to Agile Principles.
As we look forward to seeing what these two accomplished individuals bring to their futures here at CC Pace, we see that having a work environment that encourages growth and learning are strong factors in why employees make the decision to stay.