For today’s blog, we’re sharing our February segment of the Acorio Spotlight, a monthly series focused on highlighting our spectacular team.
This month’s Spotlight shines on Sarah Wethington, a Project Analyst based in Austin, Texas. A recent new hire, Sarah joined our team near the end of 2020. Without giving too much away, this interview covers her journey to Acorio from start to finish: from her initial interviews getting put on pause due to COVID, to virtual onboarding and learning to work remotely during a pandemic.
The Elevator Pitch: Sarah in 30 Seconds
Sarah has over a decade of project management experience, and excels at project planning, resource allocation, maintaining tight budgets, and working with high end stakeholders. As a Project Analyst at Acorio, Sarah works with Engagement Managers to keep the ball rolling on client projects.
How did you find Acorio?
It’s a really fun story actually, I went with my partner to his holiday work party two years ago and the partner of one of his coworkers worked here. Her and I got to talking and eventually her work came up and she mentioned Acorio was hiring.
We ended up connecting the following week, and I started interviewing with Acorio in early 2020. Then COVID-19 put everything on pause and we decided to wait and pick up the conversation in the fall.
How would you describe your role in three words?
Collaborative, detailed, and agile. My role gives me the opportunity to work with multiple Engagement Managers across different projects, so collaboration is really important. This exposure to various project teams allows me to pull things I’ve learned from one Engagement Manager and use them on different projects when I think it beneficial.
It’s been nice getting to cross pollinate between projects and work with various teams because I feel like I’m getting the best from the best.
What does your typical workday look like?
I have my kids so I’m up early to get out the door before everything gets crazy. I usually try and either go for a run and or do yoga before logging on for work.
Then my official workday always starts by looking at my calendar. Right now, I’m on 4 or 5 projects so it’s a lot of time management, back-to-back meetings, and reminding myself to get up and move or go refill my water.
My days are really about staying on top of my meeting notes so that when I have that 30-minute break once or twice a day, I can actually get the tasks I need done.
What characteristics do you think are most important for Project Analysts to model?
Being an active listener, being clear in your communication, and being efficient.
There are so many balls in the air for Project Analysts, so efficiency is really key. Honestly, that’s been my biggest challenge with my new role: I haven’t been here long enough to become as efficient as I can be (yet!)
Sometimes when I’m working, I know there has to be a faster way to do something, or a better person to be working with, I just don’t know what or who that is yet. That’s why I really appreciate working with various project teams – everyone at the company gives me lots of tips and tricks on how to be providing the best value to our clients.
Based on your client work, do you have any insights or words of wisdom for clients to make the most of their projects in 2021, based on what you’ve seen since you joined the team?
One of the greatest gifts of this past year was seeing the human in the people that we work with. Moving forward, I think it’s important for companies to really hone in on the people that make their team so successful.
One of the things I really appreciate about Acorio is that people are very much themselves here. For example, people are really understanding during meetings if you have to turn your camera off so you can grab the groceries being delivered to your door.It’s really just the small things… people don’t have to apologize for their dog barking on a call, because the rest of the team understand we’re all at home, your dog is there too, and it’s okay. That empathy is really welcoming.
I had one client recently who would pet their dog in their lap during our meetings, and it was so comforting to me to see that on our calls. That’s just one example of how 2020 brought many of us back to the foundation of our humanity. I hope companies in 2021 focus on maintaining that priority and understanding that work-life balance isn’t just about the amount of time you spend away from work, but also the way you spend your time at work.
Did you work remotely prior to joining Acorio?
No, that was actually one of my biggest concerns when I first interviewed back in February of 2020. At that point, I was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do,” but when we picked the conversation back up in the fall, I had already gotten used to working remotely due to COVID-19.
That said, I desperately miss being able to pull a chair up to somebody and say “Hey, how’s it going?” in the morning before diving into work. I don’t feel like Slack really provides the same opportunity for a lot of catching up 1-1 before asking someone a work-related question.
Normally we have all new hires come to Boston for onboarding at our HQ, but COVID-19 has put that practice on pause. How would you describe your virtual onboarding process with Acorio?
I think it was fantastic! It was a lot of information packed into a week, but everyone recognized that which really helped. Personally, I think it was harder on the people running the training than it was for our onboarding class because the onboarding team was so used to being face to face.
In terms of networking during onboarding, it was sad not getting to meet everyone in person, but we still managed to find time to connect. People kept saying “Oh my gosh, if you were here, I would take you to this place where we could grab a drink and get to know each other,” so I really stepped up my game to say to people “when you have a minute, I want to get to know you” and then go on to find time to Zoom with them over coffee, a snack, or a drink. Overall the experience was fantastic, honestly five stars.
Was there anything that surprised you about Acorio after your onboarding?
No, I thought through this question before our call and really nothing has been surprising.
I would say the only thing is that when you’re being recruited, most places will claim that they’re a great place to work, and while interviewing in person, it can be easier to see any pitfalls. At Acorio, and I don’t know if it’s an in-person or a company thing, but I haven’t seen that yet. Everyone is genuinely helpful and quick to respond, and I feel very supported. It’s an extremely different work environment than anything I’ve seen before. So it’s been really good, just very different!
What is your favorite Acorio Slack channel thus far?
I love the family chat one. There are so many cute photos of people’s kids posted along with fun questions (especially in an age of virtual learning) and I like it because it’s either things I just walked through with my own family or something that I am sure I will be walking through with my family at some point.
Apart from COVID-19, Acorio has also saw large transitions in 2020 with our acquisition by NTT DATA Services. What are you looking forward to for our acquisition?
The pipeline! It’s going to be really cool to work on larger projects for our clients.
Coming from a large corporation previously, I’m also excited for the additional support and resources we’ll have access to. A lot of my favorite work that I did previously was with ERG’s, so it’s going to be fun to figure out how to get involved with those at NTT DATA Services. I’m sure things will be different, and I’m eager to see how we adapt, what we adopt, and how we make things work for our team.
What advice do you have for job applicants who are aiming to get the most honest sense of companies that they are applying to right now remotely?
It’s all about being yourself and asking questions. One of the things that I really liked about interviewing online was that it felt a lot more casual sitting in my living room or my office, instead of sitting in the waiting room and getting nervous before walking back to a conference room.
So I think it’s a mix of being really true to who you are and then asking questions to learn about the team. It’s easy to read a job description and learn about a company, but it’s most important to figure out who the people are that you’re going to be working with and what they’re like.
Do you have any resolutions for 2021?
Personally, I’m looking to adventure more. I’m going to be starting some aerial classes and I’m looking forward to camping, being outside, and taking some road trips and dreaming of a vacation.
For work, learning is the biggest thing for me. I was talking with a friend yesterday about how this job was a complete career change for me. Nothing is comfortable or easy, and it’s just a complete shift, but it’s been so good to challenge my brain. As I settle and figure out the lay of the land here, I want to continue finding new ways to challenge myself so that I’m not getting complacent in any area.
Acorio Spotlight is an ongoing series that highlights A-team members across platform areas who are doing extraordinary ServiceNow work. Stay tuned for our next piece to see which employee we’ll be covering next!