The working world is experiencing a seismic shift. The tectonic plates of industry are moving and it is causing significant friction in the workforce. First, workers across the globe are coming to the harsh realization that work priorities need to make room for personal priorities; that career growth and leisure aren’t incompatible. Second, in the age of the digital economy, the pressure and demand for engineers is extremely high.In light of these forces, workers are more empowered to find a better work alternative; a place where the value they bring is more in line with the value they receive.
We have been lucky enough to capitalize on this change having founded our engineering services firm Victory Square Partners 3+ years ago. Since our inception, we’ve been re-imaging and seeking to disrupt our respective market. We’ve been slowly creating an alliance of engineers where the traditional org chart is flipped upside down, where value creators win and where our team can enjoy a vibrant personal and professional life. We’ve recently started to refer to it as our Victory Coalition.
But what exactly is this “Victory Coalition” we’re talking about? What does it entail and why should you, as an engineer, care to join it? As we celebrate 100 strong engineers in our short 3 year journey, we want to share our beliefs with you. In this article, we’ll explain what we mean by it and where we plan to take it — together.
Why Do We Call It a Coalition?
There’s no secret that the most successful companies unite people around a single, powerful mission. When driven by a common goal, we’re more willing to continue to invest our effort and direct our resources, even when the going gets tough. The word “coalition” highlights how we view our industry, how we aim to grow, how we plan to reinvest our resources, and how we build our teams.
Here are three different aspects of our strategy we’ve adopted in order to build our Victory Coalition:
1. Choose Owners Over Investors
This part of our strategy can be summed up in a few simple syntagms: people over profits, value over metrics, personal growth over business growth, team over self.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, this all sounds great, but how can you do that? Growth rates and high profit margins are essential for keeping the business moving and investors happy!”. And there lies the issue. Instead of supercharging the business with infused external capital and setting an inevitable pressure of answering to investors, our strategy is to grow at a steady pace, retain ownership and turn around to share our profits with the people who actually build our business: the engineers.
We understand a fundamental truth of business: that owners will reinvest their profits in what they value most. In our past, we have witnessed so many companies whose culture crumbled after profit and ownership was traded for investors. Our plan today is to avoid taking on capital without having full control of the company, our culture and our priorities. While an investor cares about ROI, an owner cares about the underlying asset; in our case: the engineering team.
This is why, from the moment of our founding, we have put in place a profit sharing program. Each year we set aside a percentage of our profits to share with employees based upon tenure and seniority. All other profits are reinvested back into the business. This puts our money where our values lie: in our teams and in creating a sustainable business not needing external capital.
2. Focus on the Engineering Team
Most services firms in our industry are driven by things that software engineers frankly just don’t care about. Due to their financial structure, these companies are focused on metrics that maximize return for investors: growth rates and gross margins trump all. It starts from the top and trickles down to the engineering team.
While the above are not bad things in and of themselves, a primary focus on these business metrics, ahead of other more worthy pursuits, communicates the wrong message. As a result, engineers end up taking a backseat to business results. But they shouldn’t. And they don’t have to. We believe there is a better way to work.
As a services company, we believe our product is our team. As such, all our energy, focus, and resources, are aligned towards creating the best possible teams ever. These teams are our value creators. Literally. They generate our revenue. They are the reason why clients select us. They are our most important asset. Thus, we are constantly seeking ways we can reinvest our resources back into the teams. We understand that by focusing and attending to the needs of our engineers we actually take care of our business. Simply put: we take care of our engineers, they take care of our clients, and our clients take care of our business. So long as we create that positive circular reference and we are growing, everyone wins.
3. Build an Alliance of Partners
Amongst our 100-strong team members, you’ll not only find Victory Square Partners employees, but also team members from our partner community with whom we’ve joined forces. These engineering-focused firms extend our reach, give us broader capabilities, and ultimately increase our value proposition to our clients.
Since our company’s inception, we had to be creative in how we met our objective of rapidly creating high performing teams that click well together. To that end, we leverage our strengths to make partnerships work: creativity in problem solving, our good reputation in the community, the willingness to put others before ourselves (in this case our clients and partners), and ability to move quickly. Ultimately our clients and partners have benefited from this model and this approach has been a key component within our strategy.
We owe so much to our partner community and we definitely wouldn’t be here without their contribution. There is a fine line between competition and partnership and we believe we’ve found a repeatable formula.
A Growing Coalition: 100+ And Counting
This month, our coalition achieved a crucial milestone: we’re over 100 team members and counting. It’s not the triple digits that excites us, but the validation that what we are doing is working. We are continually getting feedback from our teams and seeking ways to improve. Early results after 3 years are very positive: employees and partners are happy. Clients are buying more. The business is growing.
We are honored that so many talented engineers trust us to partner with us when they have so many choices in a competitive market. Our commitment to them and to anyone else deciding to join us is that we will never stop looking for ways to make their working lives better.
Why Should You Care About the Victory Coalition?
We are far from perfect and we know we have had team members who have left Victory Square Partners feeling like we didn’t live all the way up to the lofty ideals we have. But this is what drives us each day. We will never stop looking at ourselves and reexamining how we can be better for the teams.
That is the type of company we want to build. A workplace where leadership believes their primary job is to serve the engineer; where all team members look out for and care for each other; where we have the freedom to be creative.
If we can sustain this unique way of work and engrain this selfless mindset within our work culture, we will (hopefully) create a better way of working. Join us if this sounds like a team you’d like to be a part of.