Written by Julie Flora, Employee Relations Manager
Starting out with Valente six months ago was a leap into the unknown for me. After years of working in non-profits, I decided to enter into the consulting world and try something new.
Before I found Valente, I expected a whole different culture from consulting: fast paced, cutthroat, insensitive and money-driven. I worried this could be the case, but believed that the right company could make all the difference.
Valente stood out immediately.
From the initial job description to all 4 interviews, I sensed a welcoming environment that was quite different from my preconceived notions. I observed an empathetic culture and progressive mindset all around. I wondered if this was normal.
As time went on, I realized I had found a diamond in the rough.
The culture at Valente is like nothing I have ever experienced before. In one word I would describe it as healthy. Each individual lives his or her life with a true work/life balance. People care about one another and teamwork happens naturally.
Concepts such as enjoying life, living ethically, being inspired and growing constantly matter to everyone. In fact, those are core values at Valente!
Lately I have started to reflect on what Valente has truly taught me over the past 6 months. I can’t ignore the invaluable life lessons that I have learned. So here are the most important ones to me:
1. Flexibility will take you far.
My first day on the job corresponded with Microsoft announcing the 18/6 policy, which meant that after 18 months consultants cannot have access to internal Microsoft networks for 6 months.
I observed as the Valente members handled this potentially detrimental policy with no fear. They dove into solution based thinking, “we will work around this”, was stated as the brainstorming began.
Flexibility has gotten Valente far. I have learned how important this is when wanting to grow and succeed. As one of my colleagues often says “change is the only constant”, and as I see daily, flexibility is a must.
2. Self-start is the best-start.
Many people ask me how I could possibly work from home. (As you may know, Valente works partially remote).
The thought of being your own biggest motivator can be scary. Scheduling for yourself, planning out your own week, reaching out to people because you WANT to – it can seem like a lot. And it is.
Valente has taught me that the key to success is to be self sufficient and independent in my work.
Of course, I have guidance from those who have been with the company longer, and I am allowed to ask questions, but by giving me the opportunity to be my own motivator, I have learned to make each day worthwhile. So, instead of waiting to be told to do so, I self start. It’s gratifying, effective and reminds me to always take initiative.
3. Be kind to yourself… No if, ands or buts.
Life can be tough. This month alone, I had a bad ski accident, suffered from a concussion, had my computer hacked, had all credit card info stolen and my car broke down. As I relayed these events to my colleagues, their exact response was “Julie, be gentle with yourself”.
Valente has taught me it is okay to slow down in these moments and give yourself what you need. I used to think this was impossible in a work environment. I figured that you needed to go, go, go and nobody would care what you were going through. That is not the case here. Every single person at Valente cares.
When the CEO called me after my ski accident and said: “I want you to know I fully support whatever you need for recovery”, I couldn’t help but stop and absorb how special of a place Valente is. I feel so blessed.
4. Teamwork means give and receive support.
If I didn’t make it clear in #3, the internal team at Valente is endlessly supportive. Our culture is built on it. We want one another to succeed; therefore we support one another’s ideas and offer to help. I see it in every meeting.
The funny thing is it’s contagious. I offer to help because I know it is reciprocated without fail. In a predominantly woman-run company, I was surprised to see there is no competition, no dog eat dog, not fight to be the best, or gossip behind one another’s back. Just genuine support.
5. Identify a great leader when you see one.
Thanks to Patricia, I have identified the key traits that I will always look for in a leader.
Patricia has a way of making everything positive. Even the negative, she makes positive. It’s true! I have watched her over the past months as she feeds what she wants in her life and doesn’t give power to anything she doesn’t.
Not only that, but she trusts her employees. She trusts us, and has faith in us. It’s a unique feeling to have the owner, founder and CEO of a company believe in you and trust you to do your best.
What I have learned most from Patricia is that it is possible to go against the grain and create a positive, giving and real culture in your business. She knew that the cutthroat, insensitive, money hungry was not for her, so she decided, as she often tells us to do, to “take the high road”. How cool is that?
If it isn’t obvious, things worked out. I jumped from one field to the next and my uncertainty was answered with sheer gratitude. Things are moving fast now at Valente and we are growing both locally and internationally. We are even working on expanding into Singapore, Sydney and Germany. I know it is going to be busy but I am excited for growth and the lessons to come.