Large Company Headquartered Outside of Washington Winner

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First Place: CELEBRATING ACCOMPLISHMENT

“No fat cats here,” reads one comment in the Best Companies survey of employees at West Monroe Partners. “Everyone contributes and works hard for our clients and for the company.”

If there were any fat cats at the downtown Seattle branch of the Chicago-based business and technology consulting firm, they’d be hard to spot. There are no private offices in the 5,000-square-foot space, where the open floor plan encourages interaction and cross-discipline teamwork among the 30 employees.

The managers lead by example here, running projects and working with clients as rigorously as everyone else. The company’s focus is on the execution of large-scale transformational projects in seven different industries. One of the group’s most ambitious current projects is coordination of the merger between Addison Avenue Federal and First Tech credit unions, the largest such merger in the country.

Employees work as a team to create an annual strategy articulation map of objectives and initiatives, and the map stays on display in the employee conference room. Unlike many companies’ goals or mission statements that are laminated but never followed, West Monroe Partners’ map serves as a guide for success and is a constant point of reference. Included in this guide is a model for social responsibility, by which employees have agreed to give 1 percent of their time, one percent of their services (pro bono) and 1 percent of their profits to nonprofit and charitable causes.

Accomplishments both professional and personal are celebrated at West Monroe Partners. One employee recently returned from a two-week vacation in Tanzania, expressly to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and Managing Director Tom Bolger crested Mount Rainier last year, fulfilling a decades-long personal goal.

“We celebrate this kind of stuff,” says Thomas Ewers, director of private equity and alternative investments. Indeed, the bulletin board in the company kitchen is a collage of photos highlighting office snowshoeing excursions, a trip to Emerald Downs and a summer barbecue at Ewers’ house.

The cohesiveness among employees is exhibited across the board, says Bolger, pointing out the 100 percent participation in last fall’s all-staff trip to Leavenworth to celebrate Oktoberfest.

“The culture here today,” says Ewers, “is the best it’s ever been.” —S.B.C.

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