Join us each month for a series highlighting the unique career journey of employees. This month, we talk to a Senior Consultant and Project Manager.
1. When did you start with Centric? Tell me about your career path (prior to coming to Centric).
I started with Centric as an intern in June 2015 while finishing my MBA at the University of Cincinnati. My undergraduate degrees are in English Literature and Teaching English as a Second Language. So prior to joining Centric, I was a high school English teacher for six years, first in Virginia public schools, then with the Network of International Christian Schools in Caracas, Venezuela and Accra, Ghana.
I absolutely loved my students and living overseas, but felt quite the opposite about teaching itself! I did a little research to find out what other Americans were doing to live overseas and found that business seemed to be a common thread and many Christian organizations needed help from people with business backgrounds.
Knowing nothing about the business world, I decided I would get my MBA through UC’s accelerated MBA program and then quickly get back out into the developing world using business as a platform to improve and change lives.
Obviously that did not happen, and instead I found myself working for Centric – still on mission to change lives, inspire hope, and love people where they are!
2. What are some unique/funny/interesting stories you can share about your journey?
- Centric found me through a case competition that I joined as a last-minute decision when a friend asked me to join his team since they were short an MBA team member.
- After the case competition, I met with Christy Burns for an interview. I told her I had none of the skills that a consultant requires, to which she responded with “Would you like a job or an internship?” I wasn’t sure if that was a trick question, nor was I really sure what consulting was, so I opted for the internship!
- Before I was hired, I organized a networking event for MBA students that was attended by some Centric folks. I played cornhole against some of the Centric people, and at the end of the night Jeff Lloyd pulled me aside and very seriously told me that he could tell by the way I play cornhole that I was going to be a great fit at Centric.
- Teaching high school English and living in Venezuela and Ghana was some of the best preparation for this job. Teachers constantly manage projects and change on an hourly basis. My time living in developing countries and working with teenagers has also given me extreme patience and the ability to deal with very ambiguous situations.
3. If you had to pinpoint a definitive moment in your career, what would that be?
Certainly the moment I decided to leave education and move into business. I love change, and the radical difference in the two worlds was extremely revitalizing. I highly recommend that you do not continue to work in an environment or industry that is not positively influencing the world around you.
And if you are unhappy in your present situation, you are most likely not positively impacting the world around you. Take action to alter something in your current career that will activate change, or look around to find what else is out there that will allow you to come alive.
4. What motivates you and drives you to keep going?
Jesus Christ. He is my passion, my drive, my motivation, my everything. No matter what is going on in my personal or professional life, it is nothing in comparison to the joy of being loved by the creator of the world. He offers that love to everyone, and each day my focus is on sharing that love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, and generosity with everyone around me. I want everyone to experience the beauty of being in a relationship with Jesus that frees you from the weight of this world.
When you take your focus off of yourself, it is easier to concentrate on the important things in life, and worry has a lot less room to take root in your heart. All of that makes it much easier to get up each day and look toward the future with confidence and anticipation of good things to come!
5. How does your current role fit into your career path/goals?
Ultimately I would like to go back out to developing countries to assist in whatever way seems most needed, though I am open to staying in the United States if that’s what God wants! I consider my role as a senior consultant a training ground where I am being mentored and built up by people far more intelligent and discerning than myself.
Every day is a chance to learn, grow, and then give back to Centric and the client. I am gaining the technical and interpersonal skills that I will need to be successful whether I stay at Centric until I retire or I head to Pakistan to serve as a consultant to entrepreneurs there.
No matter what my career is, I want it to involve giving back to the community and loving the people around me. I am so thankful that my current role allows me to do both of those things because of the amazing culture that Centric has developed.
6. Please describe consulting at Centric. What is this job like? Describe what your typical day looks like.
Consulting at Centric is different every day. I love that. My current client role is with a large financial services company, where I am an implementations project manager who works very closely with financial institutions who are my client’s client.
A typical day for me revolves around communication. Clear communication is king! I am in constant dialogue with my internal team as well as the financial institutions, making sure that our project goes as planned. I am often interacting with others remotely through email, phone calls, or webinars, though much of what I do during the day is also conducted face-to-face at the client site.
When I am not gathering or sharing information, I am creating diagrams, PowerPoints, and summaries to synthesize the information so that it is easily understood by others who have not been working so closely with the project. I work with some Centric folks and the rest are client coworkers.
The work I do is a balance of discovering and creating new processes as well as following tried and true project plans. I enjoy the environment I am in where every day I have the chance to represent Centric and my client in a role that is never the same two days in a row.
7. How did you find Centric? Or, did we find you? What did your recruiting process look like?
I like to jokingly say that I accidentally got hired by Centric because I was not looking for a job at Centric, in consulting, or even in the United States!
In fact, prior to the competition, I did not know consulting was an occupation, let alone who Centric was! However, Centric reached out to me after a case competition at the University of Cincinnati to tell me that they were very impressed with my performance.
I soon met with Christy Burns who offered me a position with the company, at which point I opted for an internship since I still wasn’t really keen on the whole consulting thing. She then set up dates for me to meet with several other people from the Cincinnati office. I prayed about the opportunity and found myself very attracted to the amazing people I met through this process.
Centric has a gift for hiring people who are not only really good at what they do, but they are people you want to hang out with after work! Within about four months, I was an intern turned FTE and the experience has been nothing that I would have ever chosen for myself, but it has been a joy.
8. Is your practice currently hiring? Or, is the company currently hiring for roles like yours? If so, what positions are open?
The company is currently hiring for a couple roles that would potentially look similar to my job. I would advise you to check out our website for current positions available.
As of July, Cincinnati was hiring an Agile Project Manager, Business Analyst, Project Manager, Change Management Consultants, and Java Architect.
9. What mix of skills, personality, and values do you find most important for a consulting role like yours?
The most important trait is flexibility. You must also know your stuff, be teachable, have a sense of humor and a strong emotional IQ. Here’s more on that:
- The reality of working as a project manager is that no matter how well you plan, each day brings with it unforeseen challenges because we work in a real world with real people who are often unpredictable. That’s why flexibility is key. You must be creative and think on your feet!
- Part of being flexible is knowing your stuff. Make it a point to understand your client’s business and where you play into that so you know what choices you have when things do not go as planned. People who know their stuff are well-respected and viewed as leaders.
- You must also have a teachable, humble spirit that is quick to learn and not retreat when you make mistakes. Mistakes happen. It’s all good. The world will go on. Learn from those and incorporate those learnings into your next steps. Don’t let pride be a barrier from being the best version of yourself.
- You must also keep a sense of humor. Not to devalue your role, or the importance of your project, but it is only a job. Do that job with absolute excellence all the time, always finding the bright side to challenges that arise. Learn to smile in the face of adversity.
- Be the person that others want to be around because you take the positive, proactive approach to situations that are otherwise stressful. This leads to the final personality trait that is a strong emotional IQ. Without an awareness of others around you and how you are affecting them, you will find it very hard to motivate a team to work for you or with you.
You must have compassion on others and remember that they are just like you, trying to make it through another work week. See every interaction as a chance to show love to someone else who may really need it that day. Remember: You don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives outside of work.
As a project manager, make it a point to develop a strong IQ so that as you are interacting with many types of people, you can have the greatest success.
10. What tips would you share with future Centric recruits?
Be patient. The recruiting process takes a long time! Centric is a fabulous company that truly values its employees and tries to do the best by them.
Assess if you are good at working alone as well as good at working with a team – you’ll need both at Centric. Centric is not for everyone, but if you value integrity, want to be involved in the community you live in, and enjoy the thought of a little ambiguity in your work life, it might be the place for you!
- Read our Career Journey series.
- Learn more about our recruiting team and technology careers.
- Learn more about Centric Cincinnati.
About Natalie Bullock
Natalie Bullock is a Senior Consultant with a focus on project management. She is based in our Cincinnati office. A 2015 Carl H. Lindner College of Business graduate, Natalie has a passion for entrepreneurship and world travel. Before completing her MBA, she had visited more than 50 countries.[gravityform id=”20″ title=”true” description=”true”]