Is it possible to build a cybersecurity consulting company with top talent AND make a difference in the lives of others?
According to Jamie Miller, CEO and President of Mission Multiplier, the answer is simply, “Yes!” Miller, who has worked in the cybersecurity industry for 12 years, launched Mission Multiplier in 2014. He was interested in assembling a sophisticated and stellar team to deliver innovative and smart cybersecurity solutions to clients. But he was equally motivated to launch a business destined to provide a meaningful connection to the community and clients he served.
We recently caught up with Jamie to learn more about his innovative approach to recruiting and retaining talented employees.
What’s unique about your business model?
A percentage of our profit is directed to a local charity of each employee’s choice. In essence, our employees are not just working for me. They are working for something bigger than themselves, something personally important to them. In this way, each employee is incentivized to not only support their client’s mission, but also their own personal mission.
The mission of our local community in Huntsville, AL is further served through the convergence of missions – Multiplying the positive impact a person and organization can have on the community. In this way, each person and organization involved becomes a Mission Multiplier.
How did you decide to make giving back part of your business?
When I was newly married I was working 80 hours a week for a large consulting company. Soon after our first son was born, my boss appointed me to take the lead on a very high profile project which would require coming in on most Saturdays and Sundays. I was flattered. But I was also exhausted caring for our newborn. I told my boss I just could not commit to this type of project right now. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer which resulted in my feeling overwhelmed with work and disconnected from my family and my community. In fact, I wasn’t inspired to do my best because my company was not supporting me in my quest for work-life balance. I told myself that if I ever started my own company, I would value my employees both inside and outside of the office.
Has offering a personal charitable component enhanced your talent pool or hiring process?
At first I didn’t realize the impact this altruistic aspect of our business would have on recruiting new hires and elevating employee morale. Giving back was just something I believed in and wanted to do for my community. The first time I realized this unique feature of our business raised the stakes in our recruiting was when two or three of our new hires told me they had turned down higher paying offers from bigger companies. They cited the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives as being a key factor in choosing between job offers. It’s humbling to know A+ talent is choosing to join Mission Multiplier over well-established and higher paying companies.
How do you identify job candidates who share your values?
I believe recruiting sets the tone of our corporate culture. When I share our story with prospective hires and emphasize how giving back is woven into our company’s culture, it’s very easy to determine if our philosophy resonates. Facial expressions and body language speak volumes. Also quite revealing is the first thing a candidate says or asks after I relay our story.
And I always probe candidates about their personal passions and pursuits to discover how they spend their time outside of work. Why? It’s more important to me to hire a critical thinker who is passionate about something outside of work. Cybersecurity changes very fast. If I hire someone to write a particular code, the language may be obsolete in a year. I need to know if the person can think on his/her feet and find solutions to complex problems. And if a person is fervent about an activity or a cause, I believe their passion fuels them on and off the job.
Why should employees care about identifying their personal values and working for a company which aligns with those values?
You spend a good part of your life working. And the company you work for inevitably becomes an extension of yourself, or a multiplier of who you are. If your values and your company’s values do not align then you will disengage from your work and feel resentment towards your employer. Chances are your performance will suffer. On the other hand, when you feel valued as a professional and as a person you will strive to succeed on and off the job and deliver your best.
Once someone figures out their personal values, how do they determine if my his or her prospective employer shares those same values?
Do your research before, during and after the interview to garner different perspectives about what it’s like to work for the company in question. Before the interview, visit sites such as Glassdoor, Career Bliss and Vault to determine how current (and past) employees feel about working for the company.
During the interview, ask thoughtful questions to ascertain the corporate culture.
- What makes you proud to work at this company?
- How does the organization support your professional development and career growth?
- How are decisions made when there’s disagreement and stakes are high?
- Titles aside, who in the organization has the power to gets things done?
- What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
- How do you as a manager—or, if more appropriate, how does your manager—support and motivate your team?
After the interview, identify if anyone in your LinkedIn network works for or has worked for the company and if your connections can introduce you to a current or former employee. Grab a cup a coffee with them to hear their perspective on working for the company.