#Avanade20Years: Employees draw in their own family members, strengthening Avanade’s tight-knit culture
- Posted on February 27, 2020
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
We continue our #Avanade20Years special series on the blog in celebration of our 20th Anniversary on April 4, 2020. This week, we interviewed Avanade employees who are also family members to see how we’ve grown as a “family” over the course of 20 years.
A few months ago, the first employee Avanade ever hired, Linh Nguyen, shared a reflection about his two decades at the company. Among his favorite Avanade memories is actually something that happened more recently: His son Jalin joined Avanade last summer, having chosen to follow in his dad’s footsteps after growing up “seeing firsthand the inspiring client work and innovative technology we bring to life every day.”
It’s not unusual for people to reference “the Avanade family,” as our culture is one where employees care for one another. But it is, as Linh said, a “full circle moment” to see the son of our first employee – someone who used to visit the office as a child – join that family as a professional himself.
“He could have gotten a job anywhere and I would have been proud,” Linh said. “But the fact that he decided he wanted to work at Avanade, that’s even more exciting. Whether or not he stays here for 20 years like me, that’s up to him. But I knew that would be a good start for him to build his experience and skills.”
Not even a year into his job based in Seattle and on a project in Houston, Jalin said he already feels like Avanade is more tight-knit than he expected.
“It feels like everyone eventually hears about or knows everybody else,” Jalin said. “Even across regions, when I’m talking about people, people just seem to know each other. I find it really funny that in a company of 38,000, people are so well-connected.”
Of course, Linh and Jalin’s story isn’t unusual; across Avanade, so many employees are parent and child, spouses, cousins and siblings. What is it about Avanade that makes people want to bring in their family?
In 2018, Stat Chew had been working in the Avanade Singapore office for a little over a year in business development when his sister, Stella Pasca, mentioned she was looking for her next career move. Stella had built a career in banking over the course of 17 years and felt like she had started coasting and needed a change. He suggested she look into Avanade.
“There is a school of thought that says, ‘do not work with family members’ because it’s a conflict of interest,” Stat said. “But my experience tells me otherwise. Stella brought a wealth of experience from banks, insurance and fintech – and Avanade was trying to grow in the Financial Services and Insurance space, so bringing her on was a plus. Stella has always been looking out for new adventures and exposure, and I wanted more time with family. It was a ‘triple win,’ and we don’t get that opportunity every day.”
The siblings said that people are often surprised when they find out they’re related and enjoy working together, which gives them both a laugh. Stat says they used to see each other infrequently, but now are able to catch up over lunch. As a bonus, the trust they’ve built as siblings help them navigate career challenges together.
“Aside from it being a lot of fun and having someone to look forward to seeing at the office, there are times when I am in doubt about certain solutions or decisions,” Stella explained. “Having a family member whom I trust completely to sound things out definitely helps to ensure things go in the right direction.”
The benefits of having a family member who understands what you’re going through at work isn’t lost on Devin Mercado, who works in finance out of the Chicago office. His mother, Michelle Mercado, has been with Avanade for 11 years, and through his college internship with Avanade to his full-time position now, they’ve been able to bond over talking about what’s happening at Avanade.
Devin said that the idea of a “family business” is already a part of their family’s background, as his grandfather owned a family construction business at which he worked, along with friends, cousins and uncles.
“Having family and business tied together was a value that already existed in my family,” Devin said. “Relatives working together at Avanade only makes it more of a family experience and culture, whether you’re going to that family member for career advice or to just catch up on life.”
Michelle agreed that having Devin at Avanade only heightens the idea of a family feel.
“You spend so much time with the people you work with, so I think that’s why the term ‘feels like a family’ is thrown around quite a bit. Having my son work for the same company extends that even more meaning,” she said.
For Linh, being around for 20 years and serving as executive of the Gulf Coast region has led to employees in Houston referring to him as “the office dad.” He says he tries to promote that feeling of support and inclusivity that genuinely makes Avanade feel like family.
“When I’m the executive who speaks at onboarding, part of what I like to say is that Avanade is a family and we want to operate as such. We may not all have the same thoughts or ideas, but we’re always going to be there for you and support you in terms of what you want from a career,” he said. “We want to take care of you and hear your voice. We want people to feel that this is a place they belong and want to build a career. With Jalin here, I can say that with even greater conviction: I love Avanade so much that I wanted my own son to build his career here.”