Propeller successfully navigated 2020, a challenging year for many, by upholding an impressive roster of clients with a clutch level of adaptability and partnership that prompted several Propeller leadership promotions. Each promotion underscores the firm’s confidence in its people growth and client expansion.
Propeller's Upward Evolution to Guide Future Growth
Jeff Foley, COO, Board Member and Co-founder with CEO Amy Weeden, will move fully to a Propeller board position where he’ll continue to advise and guide the firm’s expansion. Sunil Kasturi, current Managing Director for the firm’s San Francisco office, will assume the new role of Chief Growth Officer for Propeller. And Bryan Rogers, current Director of the San Francisco office, will move into the promoted role of Managing Director.
These strategic changes mark an upward evolution for Propeller, launched in 2012 and already a highly awarded business consultancy firm recognized by leading publications including Fortune, Inc., Consulting Magazine, and Portland Business Journal. Jeff credits the firm’s success to all the people they’ve hired, especially the consultants—whom he calls the “bedrock” of the firm.
From the very beginning, we created a firm that put our consultants first. It’s the idea that if you really treat your people well and model the behavior you want them to emulate—they’ll do that for the client.
— Jeff Foley
“Amy used to say that hiring is like curating an art collection,” said Jeff. “At Propeller, we don’t hire cookie-cutter consultants, the same type of individual over and over. We hire consultants with really diverse backgrounds, interesting and smart people who are intellectually curious and accomplished both professionally and personally. They all exemplify integrity, a good work ethic, grit, and perseverance.”
2020—A Test for Everyone
This past year proved a test for Propeller and their clients—introducing business, market, and work-from-home variables outside anyone’s control. Jeff explained the intentional approaches he and the leadership team took in the early months of the pandemic to prioritize their people and clients.
“We decided that everything we could control—scaling back the costs of the business—we’d tilt it in favor of keeping our firm whole. That we’d communicate honestly and transparently, and if things got really tough and cuts needed to happen, we’d start first with Amy’s and my salary.”
At the same time, the leadership team prioritized honest and transparent communication with every client to make sure business situations were clearly relayed and understood—so both could openly address any concerns or fears. This commitment to open and transparent conversations proved a mainstay for Propeller and our clients and were critical during those early months of the pandemic.
“Thankfully, we were able to keep the firm whole. Those were tough months. Our consultants and clients showed a level of adaptability and resilience that was impressive,” said Jeff. “I’m humbled to say we finished 2020 strong, we’re hiring, and 2021 looks brighter for everyone.”
An Original Blueprint Holds True
“In the eight-plus years I’ve served in this role, I’d say what’s probably surprised me the most is that all the mental exercises Amy and I went through from the very beginning—from creating a business model that assumed growth rates and financial performance—to developing a hiring plan and go-to-market strategy—all that MBA and real-world application of what we both knew, it’s like, wow—it worked,” said Jeff. “We built something that has resonance and momentum. We’re helping our clients improve their businesses. At the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do.”
“This change fully to a board position is a natural progression for me,” said Jeff.
To have watched Propeller grow and be at this point, with fantastic people, a great client list, the right leadership team to continue to grow the firm—that really feels great.
— Jeff Foley
Sunil started with Propeller seven years ago when the Portland office was small. In that time, he’s helped build a successful Portland consultancy team, moved into the Managing Director role for the San Francisco office, helped grow the Silicon Valley and Denver offices, and has mentored leaders across the firm to help up-level their roles and careers. Propeller is now 120 people strong and continues to hire.
Jeff credits Sunil’s executive leadership skillset and ability to quickly understand client needs and frame up their business problems as a key driver in Propeller’s success to date. In his new role, Sunil will continue to build out leadership capabilities across all offices, assist in the acquisition of new clients, pursue new geographic opportunities for the firm, and evolve and grow practice areas for Propeller.
“Sunil is the epitome of what we want the Propeller culture to embody: high integrity, grit, drive, being good to the core, fair, and putting others and the firm first, before himself.” -- Jeff
“He exemplifies all those core leadership and personal attributes,” said Jeff. “You’d like to think there are a lot of people out there that have those, but it's hard to find that fantastic combination and someone who is so good at the business, so good at leading, so good at building the capabilities of the firm—all of that rolled into one individual.”
“I look at this new role as an opportunity,” said Sunil. “What keeps me excited about each new day is the feeling that I’ve never arrived: there are new leaders to grow, new clients to serve, new partnerships to build. And right now, there’s opportunity and demand for Propeller’s expertise in people and change, experience design, technology transformation, and data and analytics. Our gifted consultants continue to show a passion and drive that—at the end of the day—is focused solely on the success and satisfaction of our clients.”
What keeps me excited about each new day is the feeling that I’ve never arrived—there are new leaders to grow, new clients to serve, new partnerships to build.
— Sunil Kasturi
Bryan Rogers, who moves from the role of Director to Managing Director of the San Francisco office, also exhibits what senior leadership attributes to the Propeller’s ethos. “Bryan is masterful at distilling client strategy approaches that help take their businesses to the next level,” said Amy Weeden. “He’s
also an exceptional people leader who knows how to lift up teams of consultants to challenge, coach and champion them in a way that drives sustained results for our clients.”
I’m excited to continue building the great team we have in San Francisco as we work with our clients on their most complex and strategic priorities. High-performing people are core to our DNA and are critical to ensuring that our clients can move forward with speed and agility in this new 2021 landscape. — Bryan Rogers
Sticking to the Basics
With a dynamic 2020 just ended, one thing is clear: companies are investing in accelerated transformations to meet changing consumer and market challenges. The demand for exceptional consultancy firms that can drive this speed and level of change has never been more critical. And yet, Propeller has a clear-eyed and confident take on all of it.
“We are a professional services firm. We solve business problems. That is the core of what we do," said Jeff. "Moving forward, market dynamics will change, business problems will change, the industries we work with will change, and our client base will grow and change. But I don’t see the core of who we are and how we serve our clients ever changing. Our clients trust who we are and what we do for them, and I can’t imagine moving fully to a board role for the firm with more confidence and excitement about what the future holds for Propeller.”