- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

With U.S. Federal Government spending on IT products and services expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 6.6% from $59 billion in fiscal year 2004 to $81 billion in FY 2009, according to the annual Federal IT Market Forecast released by INPUT, the source for government market intelligence. So, it is not a surprise that companies like Vienna, VA-based Appian Corporation are becoming more and more important in the IT community. As IT outsourcing grows and privatization is increasing, we wanted to address your many emails on the choices in an IT career. Last week, I sat down with Kathleen O’Neil from Appian Corporation (www.appiancorp.com). for her insights on the job market. Since 1999, Appian has grown from 4 to 170 employees, with plans to grow to 200 by the year’s end. I asked Kathleen what’s the one thing that prospective beltway IT bandits could do to improve their job seeking situation. Her answer — though seemingly simple — makes too much sense and is often overlooked.

What do you look for in a prospective candidate?

Talented, skilled and committed employees who understand the importance of world-class deliverables. Government agencies are demanding more from their software vendors. They want reliable IT partners that deliver high quality business solutions and great customer service. To meet these demands, a

prospective Appian candidate must be committed and focused on both the end-product and exceptional

customer service. They must also have to candidates who show a dedication to continuous improvement.

How do you define “continuous improvement?”

Appian is a business process management company - our solutions help customers heighten business performance. Towards that end, we seek individuals who are constantly striving to excel - not only in

business, but also in every area of their life. We look for individuals with a solid track record of continuously seeking new challenges and opportunities, year after year, despite obstacles. After all, if you don’t approach your personal interests and hobbies with the ultimate goal of succeeding or knowing everything you can about them, then why would we believe that you would approach your professional responsibilities and goals with the same passion and zeal.

In what ways can companies encourage excellence?

By hiring talented people who are motivated by making sure both they and their organization succeeds. At Appian, we teach every employee how to actualize that talent through a true meritocratic system. This is designed to have titles reflect actual accomplishment and ingenuity is rewarded. Our culture and strong ethic comes from the top and is fostered with each individual’s personal ethic.

How can a job seeker know if a company will both challenge and encourage them?

A number of companies in the DC area have managed to survive by not only cutting employee rosters, but also by cutting benefits. Candidates should look into whether the benefits provided will help them grow as an employee. They should find if employees are supported and encouraged to attend seminars and training sessions. And, with certification and changes in technology, every candidate should find out about company support for continuing education opportunities.

What unique ways does your company support the employess?

Each year, the company hosts “Appian Business School” in an untraditional location.. The fact that the business school takes place on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean makes it a motivating environment but not an easy one. Every Appian employees is required to attend courses on a variety of technical, consulting, business, and personal development topics. The courses are designed to keep Appian employees up-to-date on emerging technologies and current industry trends, and focus on developing the whole person.

What final tips can you offer job seekers about finding the right company for them. It’s quite simple. Study the company and gage their forward momentum. Are they growing? What are their customers saying about them? Search out articles and trades to see how the company has been covered in the media and by their industry. In addition, try and talk to as many people at the company as possible. Find out if they are satisfied with the culture, mission and ability for the company to create and build an environment needed to succeed. If they are happy, it might be the right place for you too.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles. Email your questions to jayworkstyles@aol.com.

Listen to Jay Whitehead on web-radio every Tuesday 5pm to 6pm EST when he hosts Won on Won with Whitehead on www.businessamericaradio.com . This Tuesday, the guests will include two magazine editors, a freelance writer and a telecom entrepreneur discussing their careers and offering insights into each profession. Email questions in advance to Jay Whitehead at jayradioshow@aol.com.

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