by Andy Langdon, Associate Principal.
As a new Associate Principal, I’m happy to be a part of our gratitude series. When I started thinking about what I’m grateful for, it all seems to tie back to one of our company values; “We are Family.”
When I first joined the leadership team as an Associate, one of the first things I did was ask the rest of the team to add, “We are family,” to our values statement. This has been true for me since the first time I talked to Rob.
I was interviewing for an engineering position. But instead of putting me at a white board to solve equations like some of the big firms do, he just engaged me in conversation. We talked about the joys of college football rivalry games. We talked about golf, beer, family, and everything except engineering. Rob says that our business is people, not math, and over the years, I’ve found I agree with him.
When I started at FSi, all I wanted to do was sit at a desk and do calculations. To put it bluntly, I thought people were annoying and that I could do without all that interaction. Then, one day I got a tap on my shoulder. Michael Eshelman, one of our founders, was standing there saying, “Come with me.” He put me in charge of a project at Boeing, and as I spread my wings as a project manager, I found out I was really good at it. It changed my view of myself and others. I saw that people were pretty great to work with after all, and that I had more skills in that area than I knew.
Family shows up as a value in other ways, too. We have a lot of parents of young children, and we swap hand-me-downs and parenting advice amongst the group. When fundraising opportunities come up for MS, we all pitch in, because we have a colleague who lives with that condition. Every Monday morning at our company meeting, we each have an opportunity to acknowledge the colleagues who have recently gone over and above. Some weeks, that might be 5 or more minutes of our half hour meeting, because we really like to talk about our appreciation of our colleagues. We share our causes and passions, and we bring our whole selves to the office.
Being on the leadership team has also broadened me in many ways. The team has a lot of different opinions, and our impassioned and respectful discussions have led me to change some of my long-held positions. And I’ve seen others change their ideas as they listened to me, too. Our commitment to our values means we listen to each other for what we can learn. It’s always as important to maintain the relationships as it is to arrive at the right decisions.
I’ve brought these lessons into all areas of my life. My career at FSi is making me a better person – a better husband, father, friend, and engineer. I know I’m not the only one to benefit from FSi’s culture. I see changes in my colleagues as we work together over the years. The company changes, too, growing and expanding our culture and business practices to include the strengths and interests of the people who join us. We support each other as we grow, because that’s what families do. I think this is what makes us successful, and for all of it, I am truly grateful.