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This Pearl-District-Based Company Is Proving that “People First” Policy Works

Propeller consulting firm just landed on Fortune’s Top 100 Places to Work list.

Presented by Propeller December 2, 2019

Propeller is the largest Portland-based management consulting firm—and it might also be the most thoughtful, at least where its corporate culture is concerned. With a guiding principle of “do good work,” the company purposely cultivates a working environment that allows each of its 130 employees to thrive professionally, grow personally, and connect with their clients on an individual basis. In short, Propeller puts their people first. And both their employees and their clients reap the benefits.

Propeller was founded in 2012 in Portland by Amy Weeden and Jeff Foley. Of course, both wanted to create a consulting firm that architected solutions to help clients adapt to today’s rapidly changing business environment—but Weeden and Foley set their bar even higher than that. They wanted to build a consultancy firm that provided extraordinary service to its clients by creating an extraordinary environment for its own consultants. 

“From the very beginning, Jeff and I believed in investing in people,” Weeden said. “We understood that people are looking for more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for community and purpose.”

Fast forward to seven years later, and Weeden and Foley’s vision is clearly paying off. Propeller has branched out to include offices in San Francisco, Denver, and Silicon Valley, and it partners with some of the biggest names in athletic apparel, health care, tech, and more. Propeller was also just named to Fortune’s Top 100 Best Workplaces list for medium-sized companies. It earned its latest badge of honor because 96 percent of its employees say it’s a great place to work, 99 percent enjoy their work, and a full 100 percent say their clients would rate their services as excellent. 

So, what are the ingredients in Propeller’s secret sauce? First, it spends a generous amount of resources on coaching, mentoring, and training its consultants. Propeller also encourages its employees to continue their training throughout their career—and it helps finance this training. Cross-team initiatives that benefit the firm, volunteering, and pro-bono work are integrated into corporate culture. One way that Propeller is doing thing differently: The company follows a local business model, meaning their consultants live and work in the same city as their clients. Propeller wants their Portland consultants to bump into their clients at Blazers games and it wants their employees to be home to eat dinner with their families at night. 

But perhaps one of the most important keys to Propeller’s success is the way it genuinely respects its consultants, both professionally and personally. “We strive to let everyone be authentically themselves,” said AJ Oberland, Managing Director of Propeller’s Portland headquarters. “We welcome different perspectives so that we can support our team in the best way possible and succeed as a company.”

Considering that it’s every Propeller consultant’s job to help their clients’ businesses grow in the healthiest way possible, it seems the consultants may already have a leg up on how to do just that. All they have to do is look at the way their own company operates and use it as a proven blueprint. 

For more information, visit propellerconsulting.com

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