Everyone has a story. A story that has been influenced by experiences, community, and people. Our stories shape who we are and who we are becoming. We want to celebrate all of the unique stories and different experiences that have shaped our people and build the fabric of our firm. With that in mind, we’re excited to introduce you to leaders across all levels at Credera and their unique stories and perspectives through a blog series called, My Credera Story.
This week you’ll get to know Andrew Warden, Managing Partner at Credera.
I’m an accidental consultant. Sometimes I look back at a rewarding career spanning over 25 years and wonder how I got here. While it was not part of a master plan, I wouldn’t trade the experiences, triumphs, and trials—yes, there have been quite a few of those—for anything.
Diving Into the First Job
At the end of my college days, I knew I didn’t want a traditional career in finance (my major in college), and I thought consulting would give me the best chance to experience a wide variety of industries, companies, and roles and ultimately decide what was best for the long term. I joined a great firm out of college, with a bit of a reputation for working hard hours and being on the road all the time, but I committed myself to two years no matter how difficult or challenging I found it to be. I viewed it as part ‘Army hitch,’ part ‘working man’s MBA.’ No quitting allowed.
To my surprise, I found I really liked it. Everyone in consulting says that it’s the people who make it remarkable, and I certainly found that to be true. I even married a consultant—more on that later. The people I encountered were incredible professionals and even better people. Instead of ending at two years to jump into industry and begin my career in earnest, I decided to stay in consulting as long as I was learning, growing, and enjoying the experience.
As I mentioned, along the way I got married. Life was good. My wife, Wendy, and I met on a mutual project and dated while we were both employees of the firm, and then she left to pursue a different career. I stayed on in consulting, and I stayed busy. Very busy. Eighty-hour work weeks were a norm. Changing flights to leave for the week on Sundays and staying late on Fridays became more common. Yes, I was still growing, but balance between community and family and work was becoming hard to find. They were competing with one another. My career was going ‘up and to the right,’ and my relationship with anything outside of work wasn’t just going down, it was in free fall.
Time for a Change
This came to a head in 2003 during a conversation with my wife at the IHOP restaurant on Spring Valley road in Dallas. Wendy and I went to eat breakfast and talk about the state of things—our work and our marriage. I carried with me a draft of divorce papers, which I had asked my father, an attorney, to draft. I was not optimistic. Neither Wendy nor I were happy with the other’s working situation, so we talked about the options of either firing each other from our jobs and choosing to work on our relationship or ending the marriage and going our separate ways. There was a dog to deal with, but otherwise, it would have been pretty easy. It’s crazy to look back on that day and realize that it had been a hard decision at the time. In hindsight, it should have been so easy. But even as hard as it was at the time, we decided to commit to the relationship, and I knew I had to find a new career. Not just a new job—the entire industry I had accidentally fallen into now seemed prohibitively incompatible with the life I wanted and needed to lead.
I found a position at a local company as an internal consultant. I know what you’re thinking, but it was the only position I was remotely excited about. The next three years were a bit of an inverse from the previous experience. Work was OK. It wasn’t the most challenging, and it wasn’t the best culture or work environment. But it was stable, and it provided the perfect backdrop for working on my relationship and realizing what I had been missing in my community. Most importantly, we had two kids out of the deal. Nick was born in 2005 and Joe came along 22 months later in 2007. Life was much improved, but workwise, I was getting restless.
A Different Way
So I started looking for something new. How I found Credera is too long of a story to tell, but if you heard it you might call it providence, karma, or the biggest coincidence in the world. I choose providence. I found a company that did what I loved—true management and technology consulting in a partnership model, comprised of leaders who wanted to do consulting in a different way.
I still remember the call I received from Matt Levy, our founding partner, about possibly joining Credera. Keep in mind, my mental model for consulting was 100% travel and long hours, and we had a 22-month-old and Wendy was eight and a half months pregnant with Joe. When Matt started talking with me about interviewing at Credera and being a consultant again, I immediately was thinking of ways to put the brakes on the conversation. Then I listened to him describe the type of firm the partners wanted to build, how they wanted to make an impact on clients, and it sounded totally different than the consulting model in my mind. They wanted to do outstanding work, but they didn’t want to sacrifice their families and communities in the process. I was skeptical, but I decided to go through the interview process. By the end, I already envisioned life as a different kind of consultant and what it might be like to be a partner and owner at Credera one day. After talking it through with Wendy, I joined our Management Consulting Practice in April 2007 as a senior manager. We were about 30 people back then.
Best Professional Decision
It’s been over 13 years, and Credera now has over 400 people and offices in multiple cities. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, but the promises Matt made back when I interviewed have held true, and the decision to join Credera has been my best professional decision yet (staying married to my wife was my best decision overall).
Did I travel some? Yes. I was never promised an absence of travel, but I was promised I would always get a say in how much would be manageable for my family. I saw the firm put its money where its mouth was when leadership allowed me to gracefully and professionally end a client project to prevent my team from needing to travel anymore. The client had just guaranteed us a big project extension, and the professional fees and income were much needed. I wasn’t a partner at this point, but I made the case that ending the engagement was the best thing for my family and for my team. It couldn’t have been an easy decision for the partners to make. They made it anyway. I’ve never forgotten that loyalty.
The firm has continued to provide me opportunities personally and professionally through the years. I’ve enjoyed being a soccer coach for my youngest son—clients and Credera folks became used to Mondays after 4:30 p.m. being off limits so I could transition from consultant to soccer coach. I’ve been reminded to pack up if I was going to make it through traffic to do story time with my kids. I’ve had the time to see my kids perform in music numbers and talent shows at schools. I’ve been a true partner to my wife in raising our kids through it all, and I’m a better dad and husband, as well as a better consultant, because of it.
My Credera Story So Far
My hope for Credera is that we will always stay true to the principles that made it possible for me to go back to consulting and have the career I’ve had. My confidence is high that we will. Every person’s story is different, and we want a firm that not only allows those differences but celebrates them.
There are so many stories and examples I could tell: lessons I’ve learned, how I’ve grown as a person and a professional thanks to so many of our team members at Credera—from our CEO to our newest college hires. Those can wait for another time. This is my Credera story … so far.
Working at Credera
At Credera, we have a culture that values the many unique perspectives, backgrounds, and histories that our employees represent. If you’re interested in a career at Credera and beginning your journey, please visit our careers page.