Withum has 2,500 people in 26 offices. Yet, it maintains a One Withum culture. One of the reasons is the annual State of the Firm event. This was held Tuesday, Jan. 9 in the NJPAC Theatre in Newark, New Jersey, attended in person by 1,500 Withum’ers and virtually by almost 1,000 Withum team members. People from every office attended. There will be a second SOTF event in India for the 300 Withum members there and that will also celebrate that office’s fifth anniversary.
Managing the growth is helped by a strong culture that is built upon by every partner, manager and current staff member. The One Withum culture is worked on, supported in everything done by everyone and at every time. The SOTF is one such event and it kicked off Withum’s 50th anniversary year celebration of the firm, which was founded on March 21, 1974.
The meeting started with the newest Withum’s SOTF video, which was filmed in 15 offices in seven regions with over 250 team members participating. The theme was building on the past to move into the future. It opened with founders Len Smith and Ivan Brown reminiscing with Pat Walsh, our managing partner/CEO, joining them to share a look back into the great culture that grew throughout the past 50 years.
This was followed by a sit-down discussion of the three managing partners/CEOs in Withum’s history: Ivan Brown until the end of 2009, Bill Hagaman through 2022, and Pat Walsh, who is starting his second year as our leader. I personally found this very interesting, with Ivan describing where we came from and the initial concerns of the founders, some of which were establishing an identity, name recognition, a presence in the community, creating a culture for success, earning a reputation for great client service and the importance of focusing on people to keep turnover low. The founders also had a discussion every morning on growth, practice development and the direction they wanted to go in.
Bill joined Withum in 1980 and was made a partner in 1985 at age 27. His technical skills were evident, and they mentored him on superior client service, building a network and a source of referrals, looking for the right type of clients and staff, and getting involved in community organizations to get to know people, build a firm identity and also as a way to give back to the community. Bill took Withum from $70 million to $500 million in revenues. Pat had a great running start and has already grown Withum’s revenues and service offerings.
Interspersed throughout the SOTF meeting were presentations for nine strength, achievement, service and culture awards. Pat also shared Withum’s revenue growth numbers, which showed 50 straight years of consecutive growth and the year-to-year growth in each of our 15 industry specializations and the major service areas we provide.
Also presented were groupings of three or four firm and practice leaders discussing the innovations in each sector and how all our values were aligned. We were also provided with a glimpse of what we will look like in five years and I am very excited for our future. I enjoyed this fireside chat format and was fascinated by some of what is being planned.
The meeting was capped off by psychologist, popular science author and professor Angela Duckworth providing highlights from her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Every attendee was given a book, as well as a Withum 50th Anniversary gift box.
Maintaining a uniform firm culture for 2,500 team members spread over 26 offices does not happen without focus and attention and did not happen by accident — it was intentional! Withum has found the secret sauce to a strong culture and I suggest other firms take a lead from our success.
Happy anniversary to us!
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