Featured CLIMBER:
Stephanie Rankin

CLIMBERS at A-LIGN come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. But they’re unified in their commitment to quality, teamwork and innovation and celebrated through our annual value awards at CLIMB

We spoke to Stephanie Rankin, this year’s Todd Skinner Award recipient, about her journey from staff consultant to practice lead, how she’s reinventing the SOC practice and how it felt to be recognized at CLIMB.

How long have you worked at A-LIGN? What has changed during your tenure?

I joined A-LIGN in 2014, so I just passed my six-year anniversary. I’ve grown from a staff consultant to senior consultant, to a manager, to a senior manager, and now I’m a practice lead. The growth rate of the company has always been consistent, but the size of the company is probably the greatest difference from when I began at A-LIGN. It’s exciting because with that growth, comes a multitude of opportunities for our employees as well!

One of the initiatives I am working on as a practice leader now is to break the SOC practice into smaller groups called PODs to enhance our engagement execution tactics, as well as build a small-firm feel for our employees and customers. This change will be one of the more notable changes during my tenure leading into 2021.

What attracted you to A-LIGN?

The competitiveness of the company within the market attracted me to A-LIGN. Since it was a smaller firm, I felt that I could have a bigger impact and make tight-knit relationships with the people I met when I was interviewing for the job. The company and the people are very goal-driven, and that keeps me excited about what I do at A-LIGN.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work each day?

My current role allows me to make impactful decisions on the way we deliver services while keeping our employees’ and clients’ best interests in mind. It is fulfilling to drive decisions that positively affect our clients, employees, and the firm’s goals overall.

How has A-LIGN helped you with your career development?

I’ve been exposed to many different projects, thought processes and executives that have shaped me into the professional that I am today. A few years ago, I was asked to participate in a thought exploration process to find business growth solutions. The planning, research and delivery of that project to the executive team yielded great feedback and a unique learning experience as a mid-tier manager.

The mentorship I’ve received at A-LIGN has impacted my career development as well. Not only can I expect honest, straightforward feedback, but I also am encouraged to critically think for myself. The opportunity to drive my own thought process to find solutions, and work through any pitfalls of those solutions, has certainly made me a stronger decision-maker and leader.

What is your biggest accomplishment at A-LIGN?

My biggest accomplishment at A-LIGN is the PODs concept. Because of the open feedback regarding the hurdles experienced within our working group, we were able to design a solution that will positively impact our culture, employee engagement, retention rates, client experiences, and quality of work we deliver. I am extremely proud to work with a group of senior managers and managers that are excited to implement the practice concept and begin reaping the benefits of working in consistent, dedicated small groups.

What is the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at A-LIGN?

Composure is key. Having a calm presence and being the steady, dependable hand that guides people without too much emotion is very important. People generally reflect or consume the energy that you give, so staying composed in moments of hardship, obstacles or challenging situations is one of the most important characteristics of a leader.

If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would that be?

Energetic!

The way we do business and grow is energetic. It’s in our company culture, and I feel like people are excited about the things we do here. A-LIGN’s people are go-getters, and they don’t sit around and wait for things to happen. They create their own destiny, and that takes energy!

Which of our values — Be All In, Commit to Quality, Do the Right Thing Always, Innovate Constantly — do you identify the most with? Why?

Be all in.

All the core values are intertwined, but I think it starts with “Be All In.” In my current role, all our core values must be important to me, or I’m not an effective leader. When I’m all in, I am energetic and I give all my spirit to my day-to-day tasks and overall career.

What was it like to win the Todd Skinner award at CLIMB? What does that award mean to you?

I was taken by surprise; I do not consider the work I do to be award-winning! I was honored to know the people around me thought that I was an honest and influential leader at A-LIGN that guides people in the right direction and makes decisions for the greater good. That’s what my role comes down to – making decisions that are in the best interest of everyone in the SOC practice. There can be difficult decisions sometimes, and something might not be beneficial to one person, but beneficial to most of the group. I was humbled that people felt that I was making those decisions in the right way and they were being perceived in a positive light.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I played ice hockey on an all-boys team until I was 17 years old!

What do you like to do outside of work?

My kids are old enough that their hobbies are now my hobbies, so I enjoy spending time with them and watching them play hockey, baseball and gymnastics. I also enjoy quiet time working out at the gym to decompress.

What is your motto?

You get what you give.

What you put into something is generally reflective of what you get out. So, if you pour positive energy into something, you’ll typically reap a positive reward. If you have a poor attitude, you’ll generally receive a negative outcome. I try to put my best foot forward in all things.

Why do you think cybersecurity is important?

Almost everything we do as individuals is done electronically or virtually. The volume of personal data processed is larger than ever before, and the rate at which technology is developed is as well. The combination of these results in greater vulnerabilities and growing risks for cyber attacks.

What’s the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry?

The best advice I can give is to find the right work environment that parallels your driving passions, which is why I’ve been successful at A-LIGN. When you find that, your job becomes energizing and an investment. Any time you pick a career path, you could have a very different experience depending on where you choose to pursue that career path, and finding the right fit for your personality is the key to success.

Have questions about Stephanie Rankin or joining the A-LIGN team? Contact us at [email protected] for more information!