Unless you follow consulting-industry media, you probably haven’t heard of Pariveda Solutions, Inc., a Dallas, Texas based management and IT consultancy. But if you have had similar needs as their current customers, you would likely be inclined to give them a call. The bulk of their business, about 85%, says cofounder and CEO Bruce Ballengee, is from referrals or repeat clients.
The company name reflects its philosophy, which in Sanskrit, means “gaining the benefits of complete knowledge.”
Growing organically, adding on new clients is not something that Pariveda Solutions worries about much. Since its founding in 2003, Pariveda has grown from an office in Texas to having over 500 employees spread over offices across North America.
What is Pariveda Solutions’ Secret to Sustainable Growth?
“In general, Pariveda is supportive and innovative. It operates with integrity. Mentorship is always provided and there is a clear career path laid out for you. I love working here and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.”LA Employee on Glassdoor
One point of differentiation from other consultancies is that Pariveda Solutions, Inc., has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) that owns 48% of the company, with the goal of having the ESOP owing 100% of its stock. The company believes the ESOP helps their vested staff become more client-focused. Employees have the option to join the ESOP from the get-go, on their date of hire.
Another factor that contributes to its success is being close to their markets. With offices located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., and an office in Toronto, Canada, one might guess Pariveda has intentionally located its offices in large, competitive markets. Locating in large, metro areas is part of their strategy. As an additional bonus, having a geographic focus means Pariveda is not deeply tied to any particular industry, which could slow its growth in the event of either a business cycle or economic slowdown affecting its clients. “One of our company’s goals is to become sustainable in 40 of the largest metropolitan markets in the world,” said Ballengee.
Another unique aspect of Pariveda are its “Findamentals” or values and “behaviors that show who we are and how to act.” Having adopted the dolphin as its mascot, the company employees refer to themselves as ‘Fins,’ referring to both the mammal’s intelligence and how it lives in pods (representing its tendency for teamwork). A strong culture is the foundation of the founders’ goal for the institution to thrive for at least a hundred years and beyond.
The biggest factor in Pariveda’s success is perhaps its focus on developing talent. The key thing, says Ballengee, is not to focus on developing clients, as all clients will have some needs, whether they are aware of their needs or not, but to develop its internal staff. And not any staff. In vetting candidates, Pariveda is looking for what Ballengee calls the one-in-100 candidate he terms the “effective executive,” or, in the case of a recent college grad, the “proto-executive.”
“In my experience, the most impactful development happens not through formal programs, but smaller moments that occur within the workplace: on-the-job learning opportunities that are wholeheartedly catered to the worker’s unique needs and challenges.Margaret Rogers
Insights into Pariveda training approach were shared by Margaret Rogers, a vice president at Pariveda. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Rogers laid out five recommendations for better staff development:
- Start by asking more questions to gain insights on employees
- Create more on-the-job opportunities
- Vary learning experiences
- Provide regular feedback
- Manage your time (by delegation, if feasible)
Although well over a $1 million is budgeted for training, time will tell, if Pariveda’s staffing development approach is enough to carry it forward in meeting its expansion goals. Talent development is essential today, especially in the fast-moving technology niche. For example, in researching Gibson Consulting, I found Gibson trains each consultant for at least 140 hours per year. There is much to be gained by not only advanced technical training, but in upskilling consultants in soft skills like active listening, questioning, presenting, speaking, and writing.
Summary of Pariveda Solutions’ Success Factors
Pariveda Solutions is poised for future growth. Their success is based on such factors as:
- Referrals, based on customer satisfaction and delight
- Employees having the option to become shareholders
- A strong culture
- The consultancy staying close to its customers
- Making staff development a key priority
Pariveda Solutions’ challenge, like many other management and technology-focused consultancies, will be in trying to fill its talent pipeline to meet current and future needs. ■