Seattle-based professional services and IT consultancy Slalom Consulting has now set foot in Toronto as part of an International expansion plan that saw the company establish its first non-American office in London, U.K.
Slalom was created only 14 years ago by John Tobin and Brad Jackson. Today, its a near $500 million business with more than 3,000 employees. The company is also consistently named one of the best companies to work for on several lists.
Toronto is the company’s first Canadian office, but Wayne Ingram, the country managing director, does not want it to be its only office. The plan is for Slalom to open a Vancouver office in 2016 and move east from there to Calgary, Ottawa and ultimately Montreal.
Ingram, a long-time executive at Accenture, told CDN Slalom will also open Cross Market centre in Toronto that can be used by all the other offices for technical expertise along with industry knowledge. This office will also support the London, U.K. branch as well as other U.S. cities.
“There logic behind the Cross Market centre is for it to be a place for talent and depth with a well-educated and successful entrepreneurial workforce. We want to leverage this for Canada and expose it to other parts of the Slalom global network,” Ingram said.
Slalom’s strategy is to work as a business advisory with a focus on improving the overall customer experience. This strategy is built on technical and analytical strength. “Our operations sweet spot is on emerging technology in areas such as cloud, mobile, and SaaS coupled with a full service offering for implementation that drives business value,” he said.
What Slalom does not do is business process outsourcing or legacy apps. Instead the team now at about 50 people at Slalom Canada work to drive change in the marketplace from a technical and human level.
“One of our biggest alliances is with Salesforce.com. We are a platinum partner of theirs. We implement Salesforce and tie it in with the data flows, while helping you think through the business process,” Ingram said.
Before joining Slalom Ingram also knew about the company’s reputation for being one of the best places to work. He told CDN when hired he expected to see this workplace culture right away, but it beat his own expectations. “This comes from the top leadership on down. Both the leaders and new people work to provide an environment that celebrates careers and is flexible, but also focused on clients and people,” he said.
Ingram has worked for and known many great companies with programs for coaching and mentoring, he said but at Slalom it feels like the people go out of their way for you.
“They also don’t do things because of the financials. Every decision is made with our core values in mind. And, one of those core values is smiling,” he said.
Slalom does have aggressive growth plans for the Toronto office. Ingram said he hopes to have 50 people by the end of the year. For 2016 the plan is to grow to 150 to 200 people.
Typically Slalom tends to attract people who have worked for other larger consultancies or have an industry expertise in areas such as design, marketing, branding and utilities. Ingram is also looking for people who have expertise in product areas from Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Tableau Software.
Ingram believes this is a good time to expand into Canada. “Canada is on the cusp of turning into more of an adopter of emerging technology. We are competitive on a global scale. It’s changing quickly and we are focused on the right stuff at the right time,” he said.
His analysis of the Canadian market is that there are bigger firms who are selective and smaller companies who do not have the scale or breadth. It’s one of the reasons why Canada does not measure as high on the Global 200 index, he said.
One of the many reasons for slow adoption in Canada, Ingram said, is these companies are not getting access to the skills necessary to grow or shift to tech-based economy.
“So at Slalom we like to think we are the smallest of the bigs and the biggest of the small and a perfect fit for Canada.”