Climbing the Consulting Ranks with the Ascend Program

June 8, 2015 Appirio


Ninety-one percent of today’s college grads across the nation expect to leave their first job within 3 years — a staggering departure from generations past. But perhaps as a testament to our unique Ascend program, all 10 people from the 2013 group are still with Appirio 2 years later. Ascend is dedicated to bringing in top-notch talent from the college ranks and putting them on a path from raw talent to tomorrow’s leaders at Appirio. Our new consultants’ loyalty is a testament to the strides we’ve made with Ascend since it began.

Originally founded by Lori Asburry and Mike Hitch — and since adopted by new committee members Doug Surfleet and Susan Arford in the fall of 2014 — Ascend began as a formal way of onboarding associates straight out of college. The program focused primarily on the Workday practice when it was formalized roughly one year ago. Under Doug and Susan’s leadership, Ascend now spans multiple practices, with many of them going on to find success as Workday consultants for Appirio.

Through the Ascend program, 11 hires fresh out of college go on to spend an intensive 3 months in our Indianapolis office fine-tuning their skills and learning the consulting business. They’re immersed in consulting work, which entails introductions to different practices and on-sites with clients. During these 3 months, each associate is given the time and tools to figure out what interests them most and hone practice-specific skills. By the time they leave Ascend, they’re prepared to join the ranks of our expert consultants. With the Workday practice in particular, associates become certified as soon as they graduate from Ascend.

Workday consultant Chris Lombardi says of his experience in Ascend, “[It] provided me with strong foundational knowledge of how to be a consultant in the first place, Appirio’s culture, and how to become an expert in my specific practice. The Ascend activities I participated in were also crucial to equipping me with the confidence I needed to propel my career forward at Appirio.” Ascend has made great strides in helping promote associates like Chris into consultant roles through hands-on, client-facing work.

On specializing in the Workday practice, Chris says, “Consulting on a flexible cloud product like Workday makes my job so much more enjoyable. I can work from anywhere and on any device with an internet connection. These are some of the same reasons — flexibility, ease of access, and usability — clients switch to Workday.” The Ascend program has produced many invested, insightful consultants since it began — a success we intend to keep building on.

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