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Managing Partners Q&A: Reflections on Rapid Growth and Our Future

More exciting news! This week, RedCloud was recognized twice for our rapid growth, landing for the fourth straight year on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Fastest Growing list (subscription required) and the #26 spot on Consulting Magazine’s Fastest Growing list. Earlier this year, RedCloud was also named to the list of America’s fastest-growing private companies by the esteemed Inc. Magazine this month as part of the annual Inc. 5000. With all of the award season buzz, we can’t help but wonder what lies ahead for the future. The year-over-year rapid growth (and multiple years of recognition by these publications) for RedCloud makes for a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, but all with an impressively strong and unified team. We wanted to hear straight from the top, so we sat down with Managing Partners Brett Clifton and Brett Alston to reflect and look ahead.

RC: While most young companies see rapid growth plateau out, RedCloud has again been recognized for its fast growth by local and industry publications – what is the secret to this sustained growth?

BA: We often talk about being long term greedy (not short term).  There are too many firms that focus on maximizing revenue for today, sadly this comes at the cost of the clients and as a result is often in conflict with their goals. The only way that you can ensure that you’re not flaming out is consistently focusing on your core principles (for us growth, integrity, transparency, and long-term curiosity).   I recently had a strange opportunity over the period of three weeks to hear a number of influential people speaking (Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, President of Microsoft Brad Smith, Actor Will Smith, and Director Ang Lee). Every single one of them had a consistent message – do not embrace the status quo. Hearing that, it was so reassuring to know that we too are always striving to constantly improve what we have every single day, across three facets – employees, clients, and operational execution to enable us to scale.

RC: Beyond rapid growth, what are your other goals as managing partner of RedCloud? What is next? 

BC: Growth will certainly continue to be a primary goal, but it’s really the byproducts of growth we’re pursuing.  Growth allows us to continually reinvest in the firm across our people, processes, and technologies. These in turn deepen and broaden our solutions and capabilities which is critical for our clients, but also important to our employees in terms of training opportunities and diverse client engagements.  The real key is to maintain a healthy and positive culture while growing. We’ve stayed very true to our values through the last few years of rapid growth and will continue to keep our culture and values front and center.

RC: What are you most proud of when looking back at the last 4+ years of RedCloud?  

BA: Wow, so many things spring to mind, it’s hard to narrow down to just one;

Living integrity and transparency in everything we do. With our employees, clients, and all our stakeholders. Not only is this good business sense, but it’s the right thing to do! I also have an amazing unintended consequence of helping significantly retain our clients, employees, and aid with renewals.

Building such a robust ecosystem of clients within the PNW, from large Fortune 500 to mid-market and smaller.  This helps create well-rounded learnings and economies of scale in terms of what we’re able to offer both employees and clients alike.  In addition, having a well-rounded portfolio of clients is just plain fun to work on!

Our commitment to giving back and specifically focusing on the intersection of youth and education within the PNW region.  We’re actively engaged in this cross section with amazing organizations such as Big Brother, Big Sister of Puget Sound, Toys for Kids, Junior Achievement of Washington,  and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to name just a few.

RC: What makes RedCloud a special team to be part of?

BC: We’re a very people-first company.  We spend a lot of time thinking about and implementing structures to create a strong community and culture.  There are lots of ways we do this, for example through social events like summer BBQs and holiday parties, all-hands town halls, training classes on a variety of solution areas, mentor/mentee pairings, collaborations across teams, and so on.  We also believe in supporting our local community. For the last few years we’ve been really focused on improving children’s lives and education. We do this through in-kind services, volunteering, board membership and financial support. Some of these community events are the most highly rated events we participate in and we’re super proud of that.

RC: How do the next 5 years look as you plan for the future of the firm?

BC: This is an exciting time for RedCloud.  The PNW is one of the fastest growing regions economically and we’re seeing more companies moving into the region bringing plenty of opportunities to our backyard.  Clients here are on the leading edge of technology, life sciences, research, travel, philanthropy and so many other fronts. We have to continually retool to not only remain relevant but to help our clients advance to the next levels.  We’ll continue to build on our leadership team with specialized knowledge to lead new client service areas, as well as drive excellence in our core functions.

RC: What does the future of consulting look like in your industry? What opportunities will that open for RedCloud? 

BC: Companies large and small are turning to firms like ours to provide specialized, on-demand resources.  Sometimes that is an individual SME, sometimes it’s a tailor-made team to drive an initiative from concept to realization.  But companies have become clearer about their core expertise and marketplace value and what is not core to their business. It continues to be our mission to have a talent base of highly skilled professionals with diverse backgrounds to help our clients by providing subject matter expertise and/or capacity to their existing teams. 

RC: How do you consider growth in the overall health and forecast for the firm?

BA: Growth is really just the tip of any iceberg.  There’s a colossal amount of work that goes on under the surface ensure that the outcome of growth happens. It’s the little things that cumulatively amount to the outcome of growth. Thank you to everyone at RedCloud who has made that possible!