Credera’s CEO on Building a Family-Like Culture
Despite his busy schedule, Rob Borrego, president and CEO of Credera, was quick to make time to discuss Credera’s culture. I know from my own personal experience that Borrego’s prioritization of the firm’s people and culture is intentional and consistent. As an employee of the firm for the past two years, I believe my personal experience “on the inside” makes me uniquely qualified to tell this story— and I wouldn’t tell it if I didn’t believe it to be true.
Credera is a full-service management consulting, design, and technology solutions firm headquartered in Dallas. With capabilities in strategy, organization, process, analytics, user experience, and technology, Credera partners with clients to help improve their performance and solve their toughest challenges. This year marks Rob Borrego’s 10th year as president and CEO of the firm.
A Family-Like Culture
When Borrego was asked to serve as president and CEO in 2004 he was excited about the opportunity to take the firm to the next level. He had always been passionate about building an excellent, others-focused culture. In 2004, Credera was a small, four-year-old firm with 12 employees. Borrego saw the opportunity to “embed a values-driven, family-like culture into the DNA of the firm.”
What’s a family-like culture? “It’s a place where we have a ‘one-another’ focus—meaning we love one another, care for one another, forgive one another, and sharpen one another,” Borrego said. “It’s a place where employees are genuinely focused on serving each other; not just doing whatever it takes to get to the next level. Most importantly it’s a company that cares for its people. We don’t look at our people as just money-making units.”
Many companies devalue underperformers and over-value the high achievers. But not Credera: “Our job as a family is to value everyone equally by the way we treat one another,” Borrego said. “However, a family-like culture is not one that avoids hard conversations or sugar-coats poor performance. Rather it is a group of people who care enough about one another to have frank conversations.”
“Sometimes the most kind and loving thing we can do is to be honest with someone about their performance,” Borrego explained. “We have a responsibility to our employees and our clients to encourage our people toward excellence in all areas of their lives. As a leadership team, we recognize this as a stewardship responsibility for as long as someone is employed at Credera.”
Communication Is Key
Creating a healthy culture requires effective communication. To build a firm that “lives out” a specific set of core values the leadership must “walk the walk.” Credera’s leaders do their best to communicate by example, modeling the values of humility, integrity, excellence, and professionalism.
“Leaders must model the values,” Borrego explained passionately. “As often as we can, we must create forums where we can communicate and model our values.”
“Many times our people come through our door having lived in a very different culture. Their worldview might be completely different from mine, but our shared values bring us together.”
“When I see one of our leaders modeling our values and inspiring our people by the quality of their work, I know we are doing something right. That leader is teaching our up-and-coming leaders what it looks like to lead here,” said Borrego.
“You might call this a discipleship culture,” Borrego continued. “Every company trains their employees by the behavior they reward or by what they refuse to correct. We want to correct bad behavior and thinking as quickly as possible and reward the right behavior and thinking. We do this by trying to communicate and model the right things.”
At Credera there are several opportunities for firm-wide interaction to further illustrate what we value. As an example, the regularly scheduled lunches with the partner team and newly hired employees provide an immediate opportunity for college graduates to develop a relationship with leaders in our firm. Our firm-wide “fireside chats” and bi-annual state of the office meetings provide visibility and transparency into the details of the business.
In-person meetings are “an opportunity for us to get together and share information, like a family in front of a fireplace,” explained Borrego.
During firm-wide meetings, Borrego and his leadership team share important updates—even if they are negative—celebrate individual and group wins, and openly answer questions from the Credera family.
“We strive to be an open book,” Borrego said, “from financials, to new hires, to exits, to futures plans and strategy.”
Borrego believes an unrestrained flow of information with the broader employee base impacts the way each individual works. The organization is more engaged because employees are deeply involved and aware of the strategy and financial state of the firm.
Get Away Together
Getting away together promotes a healthy culture and encourages relationship building. It is not unusual for the firm, the management team, or the partner team to go on trips together.
“We like each other, so we enjoy spending time together.” Borrego explains. In previous years Credera has rewarded its employees and spouses with all-expense paid company trips. The company has taken trips to the Bahamas, the Mexican Riviera, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco.
“Spending time together is always a huge culture boost for us,” said Borrego. “The opportunity to celebrate together and build deeper relationships is worth every penny we spend.”
Trips away inevitably create stories that are retold year after year. The memories made during these trips build lasting friendships that help to perpetuate the family-like organization that Borrego and his team strive to create.
A Bigger Purpose
While vacations are fun, unifying a group of people involves sharing a greater purpose. Borrego mentioned his favorite part about his job is “getting to lead, motivate, and encourage people to help build something bigger than they could by themselves.”
“When our work has purpose beyond the temporary, we give our people something to rally around,” Borrego said. “I want Credera to be a city on a hill that lives out biblical principles. My hope is that our light is shining and encouraging to everyone who interacts with us.”The Credera Service Day has been established as a yearly tradition that embodies that greater purpose. Every year the company takes one full workday to serve the local community. Last year, Credera offered their time and resources to complete a host of service projects in the under-resourced area of West Dallas. From cleaning and repainting schools to building an entire baseball field, the impact was awesome.
“When we serve together, the community wins. As a by-product, the impact on our firm culture is immeasurable,” added Borrego.
Advice for Building a Great Culture
When wrapping up our interview, I asked Borrego to share any advice he would give other leaders seeking to build and maintain a healthy company culture. He encouraged other organizations to:
- Choose great partners
- Hire people consistent with the culture you are trying to build
- Model the values and culture you hope to maintain. And when you don’t, own it
Credera is a management consulting, design, and technology solutions firm with offices in Dallas, Houston, and Denver. We work with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging industry leaders, and provide expert, objective advice to help solve complex business and technology challenges. Our deep capabilities in strategy, organization, process, analytics, user experience, and technology help our clients improve their performance. Clients depend on our ability to anticipate, recognize, and address their specific needs. Credera’s consultants work with some of the world’s best known brands in a variety of industries, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Interstate Batteries, The National Geographic Society, Neiman Marcus, Pep Boys, The Container Store, and many more emerging industry leaders around the country. More information is available at www.credera.com.