Self-Awareness and Its Place at AMEND

by Ruby Cimmarusti

Modern HR practices are the worst.”

Bobby Smyth, Partner at AMEND, ardently believes this statement. “The modern HR practices for training employees are all about being ‘equal’. It’s about setting up a checklist and going down, checking off boxes when people complete the same exact training. ‘Equal’ does not mean ‘fair.’ Fair is based on the individual, allowing for growth. That’s a crusade that Paul [Delaney] and I have been on for a long time.”

Smyth has been running leadership training sessions for the AMEND team, as well as AMEND’s clients, for seven years. “A lot of people use that phrase, ‘Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.’ But if you flip that around and treat them the way they’d like to be treated, you’d get my view on individualized leadership. We all work differently, and we are all motivated differently.”

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Developing Young Talent  

When training new employees, AMEND places a large focus on self-awareness and self-development. The idea is that when someone has conscious knowledge of their own character, motives, and desires, then that person develops an emotional intelligence that allows them to connect with almost anybody. “I have held roles that I was very young for, and I don’t think I would have been put into them without showing maturity, self-awareness and emotional intelligence,” Smyth reflected.

He credits what he’s learned about self-awareness to his years of experience, as well as those who have taught him along the way, including Tom Hattersley, his long-time business coach from Pathway Guidance. “It takes time to develop these skills, but people really trust others who work on themselves. If you don’t have the exact experience, but you’re always working on yourself to get better, then I trust you to try something new.”


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The Toolbox of Self-Development

In order to encourage this awareness, AMEND has a “toolbox” of different personality and strength assessments used to encourage self-development. An employee favorite, the DISC assessment, has been taken by every team member. DISC is a behavioral assessment tool that centers on four main personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Once the traits are established, the test digs into self, others, and situational awareness and management. Businesses use the assessment to encourage work productivity, teamwork and communication.

Smyth holds a DISC session with every group of analysts that comes through AMEND. “This type of training isn’t pushed at anyone though,” Smyth explained, “It’s requested, we want them to own their development.” Within the session, Smyth works with the analysts to discover each of their own natural and adaptive behavioral styles, as well as the behavioral styles of other AMEND team members.

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Analyst Cameron Cofskey taking part in the AMEND DISC Training

DISC in Action

Cameron Cofskey, an analyst since this past fall, has taken the DISC assessment twice. When asked how the DISC assessment played a part in his experience at AMEND, he brought up his interactions with past project leaders. “At the time I was struggling to speak confidently when presenting my projects, and because my project leader was so self-aware and aware of others, he was able to say, ‘What can I do that would be helpful for you to grow in that area?’” Cofskey explained that in that simple gesture, he felt that someone was taking the time to understand him and how he works.

“He didn’t use DISC to do that. No one uses DISC daily to analyze each other, but I think having that training and the conversations that surround it allows for a change in the culture. Instead of making it a ‘one size fits all’ environment, everyone makes an effort to understand how people work best.”

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The Team Mentality

A picture frame hangs on a wall in the AMEND office, containing the DISC results of every team member. Individual development has a definite presence in the company, and for good reason. Smyth explained, “When it comes to company culture, we’re placed in a difficult spot. Our culture has to be one of working hard and doing anything for the client, being flexible to their needs, as well as communicating and being the way they want you to be. That’s a critical success driver for being a consultant. But our challenge is to also offer a release from that, so our team can come back and be accepted without judgment, so they can grow and develop as individuals knowing that we support them.”

With an emphasis on individual development and awareness of self and others, AMEND team members are able to be flexible and work in a variety of environments. They connect with new people every day and adapt quickly to the needs of others. They maintain the AMEND culture while supporting everyone else’s culture as well. Smyth concluded: “It takes special people to do this work.”

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How AMEND Invested in Me

By: Alaina Monroe

For companies that aren’t Fortune 500 giants, pouring time and effort into employee development can sometimes be a hard sell. With limited resources, the logical solution is to get the job done and cut all the extra stuff.

But that’s not how AMEND rolls. In the three months that I’ve been here, I’ve noticed a few amazing things AMEND does to invest in their people.

People First

Two weeks into my co-op, I was in the weeds of working through a data problem with my project leader when Craig Todd (CEO at AMEND) asked me, “Do you have a minute to talk when you’re done with that?”

I thought he must be talking to my project leader. When no one replied, I pointed to myself with a confused face. 

“Yes, you” Craig laughed. “Nothing scary, I just want to get to know you better.”

Fifteen minutes later, we sat down in a conference room and talked about life.

Going forward, I knew that this was a place that would treat me like family, not just an “intern.”

Teaching at the Core

Each week of the Analysts’ rotation, there is an “Analyst Call” in which we learn something new from subject matter experts at AMEND. Partners and project leaders take time out of their day to teach us about topics ranging from SQL to personal finance, to lean manufacturing. We even take tests to delve into our personality type and increase self-awareness.

Is it worth the extra time and effort? Absolutely. 

These calls set me up with skills that prepared me for life, not just for the job. The fact that AMEND values our personal development enough to spend time teaching us about life skills that go above and beyond a work setting is truly a game changer.

The Sky’s the Limit

On our first day at AMEND, Paul Delaney (Partner at AMEND) explained what he calls the “cone concept” to us incoming analysts. The dilemma a small firm attracting top-talent is faced with is how to structure itself to best utilize and incentivize this talent. AMEND solved this problem with the cone concept. 

Rather than force young, talented people to wait in their roles for years before “climbing the ladder,” they threw corporate hierarchy out the window and created a relatively flat organizational structure. While people do have general titles such as “Analyst” or “Partner,” positions are specialized to match each person’s unique talents and interests. These specializations are each person’s “cone.”

Just because there isn’t a specific title on the “ladder,” doesn’t mean that the position doesn’t exist. It just means that you need to forge your own path to make it one.

Each person can have more than one area of interest, and frequently people’s interests overlap, but everyone’s “cone” is unique. 

This approach is incredibly appealing. Even if I don’t know exactly what I want to do in my career, I know that my options at AMEND aren’t confined by a rigid structure.

So What?

My time at AMEND has shown me that people are the most valuable asset in any organization. And working at a company that recognizes this is absolutely priceless. 

The Golden Co-op: How I Paved My Own Path at AMEND

by Quinn Villarreal

Coffee meetings, networking events, luncheons, cold emails, job applications, and a whole lot of emails. I had been doing everything right in the networking schema, along with pushing myself in school. But as October neared, I had no leads for a Spring co-op.

My classmates seemed to be parading around with their new positions, and I started to question my own validity.

Why didn’t I have a Spring position secured? Was this bad? I had great past co-op experiences, coursework, extracurricular activities, and a solid skill set. But why wasn’t I getting a response

Well, once I talked to more people, I realized that maybe I wasn’t doing the right things. While I was taking the advantageous networking steps, I was waiting for the perfect co-op to land in my lap. In reality, I was being extremely selective and had only applied for a handful of positions.

Where was that golden “content marketing-videography-photography-social media-writing- consulting-advertising-design” co-op? The quick answer: nowhere.

I was waiting for a position that didn’t exist anywhere.

With the clock ticking, and I needed to find my co-op for the next semester FAST. I decided it was time that I make my own co-op position. Two of my roommates had accepted positions at AMEND for the Spring semester, and Paul Delaney had given a presentation during one of my classes. I remember Paul mentioning that “self-starters” were the type of people that fit the culture at AMEND. I knew the company had a good reputation, so I reached out, set up a meeting, and decided to pitch a new position to Paul.

How many Cincinnati manufacturing consultant companies do you know with an in-house videography team? None to my knowledge. But that was my leverage. At AMEND, videography and photography had not been a primary focus, and I saw an opportunity to incorporate it into their business strategy. And just like that, I had a co-op.

During the first week at AMEND, I was thrown into situations where I wasn’t versed and really had to shift gears. I wasn’t alone though.

I saw the capabilities of what a room full of brilliant individuals could achieve with a culture centered around challenges and growth. I immediately knew I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and I welcomed that atmosphere.

Now, I’m learning how to think more analytically about problem-solving. But it’s not a one-way stream of knowledge. I’ve been given an opportunity to teach my colleagues ways to creatively and aesthetically develop solutions. For example, I am using my visual skills to help illustrate advanced analytics solutions, bring a new value-add to the company.

Still don’t know why I work at AMEND? It’s because they give me the freedom to create and innovate in a role that I am passionate about. I came in with knowledge in my craft, but I have the space and resources to expand it into a true mastery.

Think this is up your alley? Pitch yourself, pitch your talents, and show why you are valuable. Once you’re here, be prepared to work hard in a fulfilling environment.

The Small Company That Is Taking World-class Talent Away From Big Firms

by Danny Keating

In the spring of 2016, I was listening to an introduction of UC student in his last year of college. The host outlined some of the incredible accomplishments he had achieved while in college, ending the introduction with his current co-op at AMEND Consulting.

I was intrigued to learn more about a company that was able to attract such an accomplished student away from top tier firms, and filed away the company name until it came time for myself to co-op.

Flash forward to the fall of my freshman year of college, I decided to take up business analytics as a major and my advisor insisted that I meet with a man by the name of Paul Bessire, our most accomplished alumni in the analytical field. Before I met with him, I did some research to find out more about Paul, and I learned that at the time he was working part-time at AMEND Consulting.

There it was again, the company AMEND was back, and I once more found myself wondering how a small company is attracting world-class talent away from the big firms.

After learning that Paul Bessire had decided to join the AMEND team with the opportunity to go to nearly any company, I was determined to meet more people working at AMEND.

I was set up to meet with a partner from AMEND Consulting by the name of Paul Delaney. Before this, every encounter I have had with a potential employer has had a similar feel to that of an interview, and as such, I came in expecting just that. The second he sat down at the table the atmosphere of the meeting relaxed, and I felt at ease. We had a pleasant conversation about everything from the founding of AMEND to Cincinnati’s strange love for high schools and even talking about when he lived in South Africa. It was the most genuine conversation I have had with a possible employer, and I began to understand why AMEND was so appealing.

A week later I met more of the AMEND team and was once again blown away by the talent that AMEND had been able to attract, from Marines to those who graduated at the top of their class, each seemed more impressive than the last.

During my first co-op at a large CPA firm, I was talking to older UC students in my program about the work they have been doing at AMEND as analysts. They told me how, as analysts, they were interacting directly with clients, using cutting edge technology, developing and applying analytical tools to problems, and working to solve the unique challenges that each client presents. I was astonished by the difference in their experience versus mine and knew I wanted something like that.

I decided that instead of going to a renowned company, I would go to the company that I thought would value me the most and provide me with the best work as an individual: AMEND. I knew, in the long run, the experience I would gain at AMEND in one short semester was more valuable than having a well-known name on my resume. I was given the remarkable opportunity to join the AMEND team this past January, and I haven’t looked back since.

Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

by Spencer Niehaus

“Who Am I And Why Am I Here?”

I was first hit with this question on day one of Mr. Ploehs’s English class my junior year.

I wish I could tell you that answering this question has gotten easier in the decade that has passed.

The reality is, it hasn’t.

I still spend a lot of time mulling this over. When I really think about this question, I spend most my time thinking through my own identity. To know why I am here, requires a lot of self-reflection into who I really am.

The Past Predicts The Future

Growing up on the Westside of Cincinnati in a giant Catholic family provided an excellent foundation for me to begin to build out my identity.

My high school (Elder), my college (University of Cincinnati), and my incredible home city have all provided additional structure. Pieces of me built around pillars like integrity, selflessness, and hope.

My deep roots here keeps me excited and engaged in growing Cincinnati and its incredible identity. I love this place and will always serve as an advocate for the incredible purpose Cincinnati serves in this world.

The Intersection of AMEND and My Future

AMEND exists for one reason – to change lives and transform businesses.

I exist for one reason – to make my home better every day.

The intersection of these two paths allows me to fulfill my mission at hyper speed. I’m able to combine forces with other like-minded warriors, ready to suit up and battle the resistance to change and forward progress wherever we find it.

AMEND makes if easy for me to take care of my neighbors. Every day I have – and take advantage of – the opportunity to give back…to change people’s lives.

Being hands on with a client and seeing the change first hand is a once in a lifetime experience for most people. AMEND allows me to wake up every day and drive this change.

What about you? How many times have you answered this question? Have your answers evolved over time – as your experiences have shaped you into a different version of yourself? What other questions do you use to challenge your thinking? 

A Team Built to Succeed

By Chris McCleary

My journey into the world of consulting began as some journeys do – without a final destination.

I started college without knowing where I wanted to go. My interests lead me to explore many different paths: investing, marketing, political campaigning, economic development, and law, among many others.

What did all this exploring help me discover? I love solving problems – the more complex, unique, and challenging the better.

Consulting offers the opportunity to dive into new, complex, and challenging problems every day while also giving me plenty of opportunities to develop my skills and  grow as a person.

I had found my what. Next was my where.

Searching for my where is what led me to AMEND.

AMEND caught my attention for one reason – the way they treat their people. From the first meeting you are welcomed. Treated as equal to, not lesser than.

You’re part of the team from the moment you’re hired. Not a new person, an errand runner or grunt worker. A team member who is equally capable of adding value, perspective, and fresh thinking.

“From the first day, even as an analyst, I was a valuable member of the team. My opinions were heard and no less significant than any other team member’s.”

No matter your title you are expected to step in, step up, and perform. At AMEND, you are never assigned a mindless, meaningless task: everything you do has a purpose.

It’s exciting to me that your position on the org chart isn’t a barrier. One day I’m working with other analysts. Another day I’m in the board room with company leaders and executives.

I have little interest working for a company where the executives are mythical creatures whose names appear in emails and in the rants of managers. Leader you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of when they make their annual visit to your office.

Working for a company where every member of the organization knows my name and my story is exciting. Meeting and interviewing with a partner showed me that AMEND valued who I was and what I brought to the table. It showed that they took me seriously and expected me to deliver tangible results.

My presence is felt at every level of the organization at AMEND. It’s a position that comes with much responsibility and one I don’t take lightly.

I’m honored to be part of the AMEND team – a team built for success.

Use Your Why To Change Your Ways

by Kelsey Sucher

Have you ever thought about your why? It is reason you get out of bed each morning, the basis of your most important decisions, and the path to maximize your personal happiness.

I discovered mine a couple years ago, and it has completely changed the way I do things, and ultimately has led me to a company which I believe has a similar why: AMEND.

1. I must exist outside my comfort zone. The times in my life when I experienced the most explosive, radical change in myself, learned the most, and felt the most accomplished were the times when I pushed myself further than I was necessarily comfortable with.

2. I’m not here to get an A. I would much rather be learning and gaining a deep understanding of a concept than memorizing all the right answers on a test, checking all the boxes, and doing everything perfectly.

3. I want to make a difference. I need to know that I am using my skills to better other people’s lives.

These are my why. These are the reasons why I dive headfirst into everything I do—why when I made the switch to business after freshman year, I went ahead and jumped in to the top business honors program at UC. Why when I’m in an organization, I want to be part of the top leadership. Why when my advisor told me about AMEND, I knew I needed to work there.

AMEND is different. It’s a place where I’ll be able to not only to get out of my comfort zone, but to expand it. As an analyst, I’ll be given responsibilities I had never even dreamed of receiving at other companies. It’s impossible to be complacent when you are in a place as dynamic as AMEND, on client sites, constantly learning new strategies and becoming a better employee and person.

AMEND isn’t a place where you can easily check all the boxes, hypothetically “get an A,” and go home early every day—it’s so much better than that.

It’s a place where I will learn and grow and ignite real change through my work.

Will I make mistakes? Probably. Do I love the idea of that? No, but I know that it’ll be okay, because I’ll be gaining real experiences and real knowledge. And through this, I’ll be making a difference with our clients and, ultimately, leaving them better off than when I arrived. To me, there is nothing more fulfilling.

At AMEND, I’ll get to learn more, do more, and grow more.

Why AMEND? Because I am ready be tossed out of my comfort zone and into a whole new way of thinking. Because I know that I will gain more knowledge than I would anywhere else. Because I can’t wait to change lives and transform businesses.

Is It Time For You To Branch Out?

by Matt Baryluk

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

If there’s one thing I’ve been told since I began college, it’s that now’s the chance for me to leave my comfort zone – to branch out and discover new opportunities that may otherwise have gone undetected. Along with “find your passion,” it’s probably the one piece of advice I’ve received most frequently.

Despite this, I didn’t really take the advice to heart. I kept doing what I knew, because it was comfortable and it had worked for me thus far. Even worse, however, was the fact that I wanted change, and even expected it, although I wasn’t changing anything myself. I mistakenly believed I could broaden my horizons without ever leaving my comfort zone.

This was a problem because I knew I could never grow as an individual or a professional so long as this was the case. What’s more, no one has ever done great things by sticking to what they know. I had to take steps to make real changes.

I joined new organizations and took on leadership roles, but it still wasn’t quite enough. I was doing many of these activities with the same people and I rarely got out of my comfort zone.

I was still limiting myself. I needed to surround myself with people who would challenge and enable me to do more than I thought possible. This led me to AMEND.

AMEND offers me new challenges and experiences. They give me the opportunity to take on responsibilities – to make a real difference in the outcomes our clients achieve. This kind of hands-on and meaningful work simply isn’t possible in most other places.

My previous posts, many  8-to-5 office jobs, simply offer a different experience like filing, computer work, running errands, and sitting in meetings. Crazy as it sounds, I’m now looking forward to early mornings on factory floors – sometimes in the freezing cold. I’m excited to see what new things each day holds…to learning new skills…from experts and leaders in their fields.

Despite the environment and the often very hard work, diving in each day with a group of individuals similarly committed to pushing their boundaries and exceeding expectations is exhilarating.

I can say thus far that AMEND has been everything I hoped it would be.

I was on-site in safety glasses and steel-toed boots ON MY THIRD DAY!

I’ve been sent on overnight trips on two days notice.

I’ve worked all hours, in all kinds of interesting environments.

I’ve been forced to change. To adapt. To find a new kind of strength I didn’t know existed within me.

I was recently asked whether the rapid change was overwhelming? I replied, without hesitation, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

I’ve already grown more at AMEND than I have in most all my previous experience combined and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

My work at AMEND has taught me plenty. Most importantly, it has reinforced one important, life-long lesson…if you’re looking to make some real changes, to learn new skills, and maybe even surprise yourself…it’s time to branch out!

Can You Be Independent AND Connected?

by Martin Manevski

By the end of 2017 I had gotten the chance to run my own business and taste what it’s like to be my own boss. Making my business a success was a difficult and rewarding process.

I learned how critical communication, planning, and teamwork are for the success of a business. I realized it’s much easier and faster to move alone than it is to constantly be checking back in with a team.

This experience led me to an interesting place. Independence is part of my DNA. Running a business requires BOTH independence AND interdependence. I couldn’t find success as a business leader without my team also being successful.

I was struggling – should I be independent and do my own thing without being tied down by others or should I try to find a place where I could have it all?

Does a place like this even exist? A place where I can be both independent AND a team player. A place where I can be recognized for my skills and contributions AND add value to other’s efforts. A place where I can make decisions and feel ownership over the work I’m doing while also learning from people with more experience than me?

Once I got introduced to AMEND, the answer became clear – YES! This place does exist… AMEND offered all I was looking for and more.

AMEND Is A Collection of AMAZING Individuals That Work As One

I get inspired by other entrepreneurially minded individuals and I found a whole collection of them at AMEND. Everybody on the team is a rock star who not only wants to do well but wants to see their teammates and clients do well too.

This was a big factor in my decision to join the AMEND team. I saw a way to be an independent player on a team invested in other’s success. (And, as hard working as everybody is, they also know how to kick back and have a good time after a day full of improving businesses. Another important factor for me!)

Transparency That Inspires Action

No matter the size, AMEND will never have layers and layers of managers, directors, and executives. They hire leaders who want to work with other leaders. This means I get to learn from and receive immediate feedback from experienced leaders on my performance. Their visibility and accessibility serves to make me stronger. Their feedback encourages me to improve – it inspires me to expand my thinking around what’s possible and what I’m capable of achieving.

I, in turn, get to do this for others. I get to do this with our clients, with my fellow volunteers, with my friends and family. It’s an action that inspires more action. It’s how progress is truly made.

Continual Learning. Continual Improvement. Continual Growth.

I try to learn something from everything. My time at AMEND is a unique chance for me to get involved and experience different work cultures and environments. And, the best thing is, I get to make a positive difference in both our business and our client’s business’s through my own actions and decisions.

This diversity of environment and people is critical to my success.

Around here we believe that iron does indeed sharpen iron. “As iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” [Proverbs 27:17] We each work to make ourselves, our team members, and our clients the best they can possibly be.

Coming to AMEND helped me realize it’s possible to be both independent and connected. Working here connected all the dots for me so that I now see just how important these two pieces are to my success. I must have the ability to think and act and make a positive impact while also being surrounded by people who want to make me (and the world) better.

AMEND Takes You Out Of Your Comfort Zone

by Ally Gormley

When you think of living abroad, I would hope that the first word coming to your mind wouldn’t be “isolating.” I would hope your mind instantaneously races with ideas of incredible food, funky hostels, vibrant music, beautiful cultures, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures. Not the frustration that comes with drastic language barriers. Not the challenges of having to tackle almost everything on your own. Not the reality of living in near total isolation from your friends and family.

The latter became my reality about halfway through my time working abroad in both Spain and Sweden. The glitz and glamour of a global lifestyle wore off and I was stuck in a world alone – a world of isolation.

I spent a lot of time in office buildings; more specifically, in cubicles and conference rooms, running coffee errands, and tediously picking through spreadsheets. My coworkers spoke little to no English and I spent a lot of time working individually or occasionally within a small team.

All this being said, I never really had the opportunity to experience the power of people in the workplace. My hopes of working in an environment where everyone operates as a hugely talented, successful, and supportive team were fading…

And then I met AMEND.

It was immediately clear to me – AMEND had what I wanted.

Eric Vinson, a Project Leader at AMEND, shared some almost unimaginable truths about what it was like to work with and for AMEND. “We are a family at AMEND – point blank. We will throw you out of your comfort zone but you have an entire support system throughout the organization that not only has your back but wants to actively help you succeed.”

My mind was blown.

And it only got better from there.

My positive impression of AMEND grew with each interaction I had.

I was able to easily connect with team members along every rung of the AMEND hierarchy – partners, project leaders, analysts – even though I had yet to apply for a job. I was an interested, prospective employee – at best.

The fact I was granted access to people so high up in the organization that early on spoke volumes.

Many people ask me why I chose to work for AMEND and my answer is simple. AMEND offers me a place where I can work with a hugely talented, incredibly supportive, competitive yet collaborative community of people that pour their heart into everything they do. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that?