Opening Bell

Purpose Before Profit

Campbell & Co. thrives as an egalitarian workplace

By Rob Smith November 3, 2023

Campbell Copresident Kate Roosevelt (center) solicits input from employees before making decisions

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Being employee owned, everyone at Campbell & Co. has a stake in the consulting firm’s financial performance. But copresidents Julia McGuire and Kate Roosevelt realize the company can’t function as a democracy.

One of the first initiatives they launched after creating their unique organizational structure two years ago was a leadership council consisting of about a dozen employees. McGuire and Roosevelt rely on the council to help them identify problems and gather input from employees affected by decisions.

“We understand, at the end of the day, that we have to make a decision,” says Roosevelt, who notes that her management philosophy revolves around transparency, openness, and setting expectations. “We make them with the best information we have and input from as many stakeholders as we could engage. That’s how we think about it.”

The Seattle-based consulting firm is one of Seattle Business magazine’s 100 Best Companies To Work For for the second consecutive year. It helps nonprofit organizations with fundraising, executive search functions, communications, and strategic information services such as data analytics. It was also named one of the top search firms in 2021 by Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy, and one of America’s Best Recruiting Firms in 2020.

Campbell’s Talent FWD program, known as “Talent Forward,” seeks to create clear pathways for professional development within the firm. It’s peer-based, but also engages with outside trainers and consultants.

“No. 1, we want everybody to have a picture of opportunities that are available to grow and develop,” Roosevelt says. “No. 2, that framework then becomes essentially a discussion tool between the manager and the employee.”

The company places less organizational emphasis on “fun” and “perks.” Those things tend to happen organically. It’s not unusual for staffers to walk together or grab coffee or enjoy happy hour. If employees as a group want to do something, and it’s a “reasonable request,” it generally happens, Roosevelt adds.

That’s even more impressive considering that the firm’s 70 employees are scattered in about 10 states around the country. Campbell also has offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Many employees who don’t work in Seattle or Chicago were hired during the pandemic.

“Because of the nature of our work, which is consulting with nonprofits and mission-driven organizations, there’s a sense of purpose that exists among employees that I don’t think you find everywhere,” Roosevelt notes. “We have really embraced and developed that mindset that if we hire the best people (and) we create an environment for them to do their best work, they’re going to stick around and we’re going to have a healthy, thriving company.”

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