Andesa’s John Walker Award Winner Reflections

Written by: Andesa Services

National Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of March every year.  At Andesa, we appreciate our employee-owners every day. One of the highest recognitions we bestow upon an individual at Andesa is the John Walker Award.   This recognition pays tribute to our founder and honors an employee-owner who operates with an Andesa Forever ownership mindset and exemplifies our values in their daily interactions.

Senior Systems Architect Bob Webber and Senior Information Security Auditor Ryan Scanlan received this recognition in 2021 and 2022 respectively.  We asked each to reflect on what it means to work at Andesa.  Bob addressed the personal perspective of belonging at Andesa and Ryan the collaborative viewpoint of Andesa belonging to its employee-owners.

Bob Webber began his career at Andesa in May of 1999.  He has made a steadfast, positive influence on our culture every day since.  Bob chose some quotes from the top-grossing film Top Gun Maverick to inspire his reflections about employee ownership.  To borrow a famous quote from the film “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot,” Andesa has been fortunate to have Bob at the controls for nearly a quarter-century.

I Am Where I Belong – by Bob Webber

Being an Andesa Employee-Owner goes much deeper than just being an employee.  To steal a quote from Pete Mitchell in Top Gun Maverick, “It’s not WHAT I am, it’s WHO I am.”

I’m an Andesa Employee-Owner.  It is at the root of who I am.  It isn’t about putting in hours to collect a paycheck.  It is about contributing to the success of something that we collectively share. It’s about considering how to leave the company in better shape for those that will follow.

Andesa is defined by its people.  Those individuals trying to do the right thing the right way.  Not because of recognition, not because of individual accolades, but because doing the right thing is….well….the right thing to do.

Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest solution.  Nor is it always the most popular.  But knowing that everyone is making decisions and taking actions with positive intent is paramount to a successful Andesa Forever vision.

At the core of that vision are our values.  Respect, Integrity, Courage, Honesty, Initiative, Responsibility.  Frankly, my specific interpretation of our values is not what is important.  The fact that Andesa supports and encourages an environment where we can all apply our values is what is important.  We are all unique human beings with unique experiences that have shaped us.  We all have a level of dignity that should be fostered by our work environment and those around us.  Being understanding and supportive of each other’s needs and points of view allows for a more robust and rewarding Andesa experience.

“You’re where you belong”.  Yes, another quote from Top Gun Maverick.

The Andesa Forever vision certainly encourages a sense of belonging.  Andesa is the combined strength of a supportive organizational structure and individual talents constantly reinforcing and empowering each other. Andesa is far stronger than the sum of its parts. It is a company making such a positive impact that it has an anticipated FOREVER life span.  And the support goes way beyond the normal workday. From the outpouring of care during personal crises, and family tragedies, to plain old “pick me ups” during regular down days.  It is those times that solidify our belonging.

So, yes, I am where I belong.

Ryan Scanlan started his Andesa journey in 2019 and has earned numerous security industry certifications during his tenure.  He dedicates his efforts to helping promote an information security mindset across our culture.  In 2022, Ryan was added to Andesa’s Strategic Leadership Group, a group of employee-owners who engage in strategic discussions with the CEO in advancing Andesa’s strategic planning process.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – by Ryan Scanlan

Andesa is currently in the process of crafting our Five-Year Strategic Plan for 2024 – 2028.  While many other organizations draft business plans that consider the future direction and potential challenges to their firm, the process of creating the Strategic Plan at Andesa is one that is unlikely to be found elsewhere.

To ensure the plan is informed by diverse perspectives across the company, “a small but influential group of employee-owners from various disciplines” was assembled to develop the plan.  This group, referred to as the Strategic Leadership Group, includes members not only from various disciplines but consists of senior management, department managers, and, predominantly, non-management employee-owners.  This, I believe, is where the biggest difference between Andesa’s planning process and that of other companies is most visible.

Before the planning sessions began, Andesa invested several hours into training the Strategic Leadership Group in a Sustained Growth Model.  This framework is designed to guide businesses in evaluating their decisions and activities against a series of variables that other sustained growth companies do well.  A sustained growth company is defined as an organization that has shown five consecutive years of employment growth.  This metric doesn’t sound particularly impressive until you learn that only 1% of companies achieve this in any 5-year period.

The Strategic Leadership Group is not a group that convenes once, gives non-management employee-owners an opportunity to voice ideas about the future direction of the company, and is followed by senior management sitting down to craft a plan on their own.  During our planning sessions, this is a group made up of peers whose input and opinions are valued equally.  The group has a formal team charter, a clear mission and vision statement, and meets routinely throughout the course of the year to develop the strategic plan.  The team respects the contributions of each team member and holds them in esteem as subject matter experts in their respective parts of the business. The creation of the plan is a collaborative effort.

The strategic planning process is a testament to Andesa’s commitment not only to employee ownership and the role that employee-owners play in the future of the organization but also to Andesa’s Forever Vision.  The Forever Vision prioritizes a sustainable growth mindset over short-term thinking that can plague the long-term growth of organizations.  Our vision is of an Andesa that will last forever.

Andesa Services belongs to all its employees.  That statement is intended to be literal.  That’s the power of ESOP and employee ownership; all of us are personally invested in this organization’s success, or failure.  For that reason, employee-owners at all levels of the organization have been empowered to help shape the direction of our company. Involving employees in the strategic planning for Andesa’s future is a process that reinforces itself. Employee-owners that are invested in the success of the company and lend their ideas and talents to its future direction can see their contributions take shape in the Andesa of tomorrow.

Employee appreciation is about recognition, yes.  But it is also about valuing the person for who they are and what they can contribute and how we can learn from each other. Thanks Bob and Ryan for your reflections and your contributions to Andesa.

Ryan Scanlan

Bob Webber

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