WashingtonExec reached out to leading GovCon communications and media executives about the latest trends in a post-pandemic world. These interviews highlight success stories that resonate, discuss how organizations are navigating current challenges and provide insight into lessons learned.
As chief marketing officer for Guidehouse, Joy Jarrett brings more than 25 years of business and communications experience to her role. We caught up with her below.
What were you and your team heavily focused on this year?
This has been an incredible year for Guidehouse, and working alongside our CEO Scott McIntyre and the entire leadership team continues to be the most rewarding, inspiring and exciting work I have had the opportunity to be a part of in my career.
We are just beginning to see the results of our work and the foundation laid in support of the firm’s tremendous growth and transformation, and how our platform is driving change in what the market wants from a modern, collaborative, innovative consulting partner.
Most recently, my focus and that of the marketing team has been on spearheading efforts promoting the new Guidehouse brand, building employee engagement programs, supporting culture design and activation of our people through meaningful and purposeful work.
We have also actively teamed with our sales and account management teams to deliver focused efforts against our strategic growth priorities (organically, regionally and via account-based integrated campaigns) as aligned to sector and enterprise priorities.
I am extremely proud of our work last year in collaboration with Guidehouse execs and the board of directors to introduce our new brand positioning and new tagline as well as launching new creative through a broad yet targeted media campaign that on average drove 300 to 700 times greater awareness, increased organic website traffic and account-based targeting for lead generation to the business.
This year, we have introduced new pursuit and account-based strategies and are seeing the positive impact of that relationship building in two times proposal volume and increased revenues within our core account base.
I am grateful to be able to truly contribute and make a difference both personally and professionally, at a firm I love, with an ability to mentor and coach others as we grow. With 15,000-plus employees in more than 55 locations, Guidehouse has quickly grown to a top 10 consulting firm in the U.S. and the largest consulting firm equally focused on serving the commercial clients operating in highly regulated industries and the public sector clients that regulate those industries.
Looking ahead, my team and I remain focused on positioning the company for further growth, greater brand and leadership awareness, and strengthened global market presence through multi-touch, omni-channel, highly targeted digital and other channel strategies externally while also celebrating our unique, People-First culture internally.
This formula helps us support the mission of Guidehouse as we redefine the consulting model of the future through work that inspires, impacts and builds trust in society.
What were some of the lessons your team learned as you addressed the pandemic?
In early 2020, our organization, like so many others, was struck by the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a matter of days, we went from more subtle measures like encouraging employees to constantly wash their hands to closing all of our offices globally and seamlessly migrating colleagues to a virtual work model. Given that we are a cloud-first platform, this transition was seamless for both our people and our clients who needed us more than ever.
For Guidehouse, our situation was even more unique. In October 2019, just months prior to the pandemic shutdown, we had completed the acquisition of Navigant Consulting adding 6,000-plus employees to the Guidehouse platform globally.
While focusing on an aggressive integration timeline, the leadership team quickly responded to the pandemic and focused efforts on the safety and well-being of our people balanced by seamless business continuity for our clients that were also feeling the stress of the pandemic across their markets.
Just a few examples include:
- We immediately created our COVID-19 crisis response team, which met daily for 2020 and bi-weekly into 2021 to discuss and coordinate efforts to support our employees, clients and communities during the pandemic.
- We had to innovate quickly in how we operated as well. Many of our employees previously traveled 75% of the time pre-pandemic. Additionally, we had team members who had to work in a physical and designated office due to the sensitivity of their work. And while we had been supportive of remote working pre-pandemic, we had to work with our clients to transform parts of our business to ensure continuity of operations. We successfully pivoted, supporting our employees while continuing to deliver to our clients.
- We also committed to ensuring we wouldn’t have any pandemic-related layoffs. We wanted to be stewards for our people by offering them peace of mind that they would have job security, even when our competitors and clients had to make these tough calls.
- Furthermore, we maintained our commitment to the importance of internship programs for cultivating the talent of the future and supported a full intern class, offering them a real-world, remote work experience. Over 70% of that intern class was offered full-time employment with Guidehouse and we have warmly welcomed them all into the firm following their graduations.
- We initiated a virtual knowledge sharing series ⏤ Guidehouse to Guidehouse ⏤ for our leaders and Communities of Practice to collaborate and team real-time with remote colleagues with specific capabilities and opportunities for further collaboration and professional growth, thus fostering a community of inclusion and belonging as well as career advancement and new leadership behaviors for remote support.
- During racial distress, we implemented enterprise and segment-specific listening sessions to hear first-hand what our colleagues and their families are feeling and have endured, and we actively expanded our DEI programs and learning and development curriculum to further foster a sense of inclusion and belonging for all.
Through these and many other activities and communications, we observed and heard our employees share their personal struggles, battling with work/life balance, mental health concerns, caregiving challenges and much more. We provided guides for people leaders/managers on how to get to know, work with and support their teams with tactics like respectfully managing schedules, exploring any competing priorities and offering support for general health and well-being.
Through multiple global employee surveys, we also quickly established new programs to foster collaboration and a sense of community, like our Study Hall program to support our working parents struggling when schools went completely virtual. And we offered our offices as an option to allow employees with older children to bring their kids into the offices (where applicable and safe) for a sense of community and relief.
Our employees’ health and well-being have always been, and remain, a top priority for our firm, and we continue this diligent focus even now as the challenges from this pandemic persist. To date, we have responded with over 2,000 wellness and care packages shipped globally to our colleagues, offering support during their recovery period. Packages included chicken soup and other comforting food items along with a snuggly blanket and even age-appropriate gifts for any children in the home as appropriate.
How did you/your team approach a post-pandemic world? What does that look like in your organization?
We all can agree that this “new normal” has had different impacts depending on an individual’s point in life, responsibilities, location, health state and so much more. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to combat the emotional, physical and mental strain of the pandemic.
However, that did not stop our leadership team from trying to identify as many personas as possible and the actionable, appropriate and scalable solutions that could best support each. We focused on offering solutions that all could gain benefit from while being sensitive not to set up scenarios for “the haves and have-nots.”
If there could be a silver lining through a pandemic, Guidehouse may have found it. Our leadership team has grown through this crisis, and our focus on our people, our clients and the communities we serve has never wavered. Sometimes, it’s the behind-the-scenes decisions that go unnoticed, and that would be true here as well.
A few key aspects include:
- As working during a pandemic became the new normal, the business continued to evolve and adapt once again. As our people became more comfortable with this new way of working through virtual meetings and webcam calls, our client demands expanded and we shifted the communications to focus on current issues to give employees balance and space to stay connected on their terms while ensuring employees remained informed and engaged through other communication channels. We regularly looked at the utilization rates of our people, identifying those who potentially could be experiencing burnout due to high workloads and offered them additional support and mental health check-ins from their human capital business partner or team leader.
- The pandemic also drove a shift in many areas of how we enable our sales teams and the traditions we had for face-to-face collaboration and teaming. We needed to leverage our innovative spirit and approach to update a key longstanding in-person event ⏤ our Solutions Expo. This is an annual event that historically convened colleagues via a tradeshow type setting to display capabilities from across the firm where we have delivered innovative client solutions. With the pandemic and all in-person events canceled, we made the decision early on that we should plan for a virtual experience and expand to two days with expanded hours to accommodate our global colleagues. Our annual Solutions Expo is an exciting internal event to showcase the ingenuity of our people who are working to solve big problems in real time with our clients that also reflect our mission to build trust in society and empower our clients to shape the future.
Despite the current economic climate, leadership decided early on that we would do everything in our power to keep our people employed while supporting their health and well-being. Costs were cut, underutilized talent was upskilled or trained for other areas of the business that were expanding, expenses were closely monitored, services were expanded based on client needs, new solutions were deployed – and all with the focus to keep ALL our people employed. This may be one of our greatest achievements in the ability to provide employment peace of mind while the world around us often felt turbulent and unrecognizable.
We are very proud to not have had any reduction in force due to the pandemic. This is a decision that shows the caliber of our leadership team, commitment to our people-first culture, and what makes Guidehouse a great place to work for all.
How do you hope current or ongoing media and communications initiatives positively impact the organization and its workforce?
To the market, we are a relatively new brand name experiencing accelerated growth as we see clients looking for new partners to help them address their toughest challenges. We see this growth as validation that our purpose-built platform to accelerate public/private partnerships and target the most complex issues of our day is also resonating with the markets we serve and their toughest challenges.
We are in the early stages of our evolution as a disruptor within traditional consultancies, and our maturity as a new platform is exciting to share. The potential at Guidehouse is unbound, inspired by our work and extremely talented people.
I love the fact that our team is moving closer to establishing Guidehouse as a new global brand and within just four years, we have been recognized among the largest consultancies in the world. This is a tribute to our dedicated and talented people, our agility to outpace change, and the innovative approach we bring to delivering distinctive client value while also creating the next-generation consultancy for the new generation consultant.
It’s exciting to be a part of a relatively young firm that stands shoulder to shoulder with other global professional service firms that have a hundred year or so head start on us. We believe what we are building is meaningful, valued and unique, and I am honored to be a part of our journey.
What are you most passionate about enhancing communications-wide in your organization going forward?
We have so much to celebrate as a firm, both internally and externally and share a few of our priorities:
Focusing on Our People + Our Growth
From our inception, Guidehouse was uniquely built NOT to be like other consultancies. We understand that most other firms (whether commercial or public sector) are dealing with complexity, in some form, to pursue their missions in today’s world. And while many consultancies solve complex problems for their clients, Guidehouse is the only consultancy uniquely built to address complexity differently. We understand the “map” of how to address the challenge as well as the intricacies of an often uncharted “terrain” of the journey ahead ⏤ a landscape unique to each client. It is through understanding the map and terrain that we orient our purpose and philosophy for success.
Continuing to build our brand as the consultancy of the future with a focus on our people and importance of our client engagements.
Looking ahead, our vision for sustaining Guidehouse’s growth remains the expansion of the business both organically and through targeted acquisitions where there is alignment of culture, leadership, values, common industries and markets served, and where collaborative teaming practices consistently deliver exceptional client value and results that matter across all engagements. Guidehouse remains focused on creating a culture that embraces our RIISE (Respect, Integrity, Innovation, Stewardship and Excellence) values, diversity and inclusion.
Guidehouse continues to emerge as a top respected professional services firm and a multi-generational business platform that remains focused on consulting on key, market-critical complex matters that build trust in society.