Q&A With The Nerdery’s New CEO Adrian Slobin

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The Nerdery announced last week the appointment of Adrian Slobin as CEO  after nearly a year of interim leadership since predecessor Tom O’Neill abruptly left the post in August of 2017.

We connected with Slobin to hear more about what’s in store at The Nerdery now:

Why did you decide to become CEO of The Nerdery?

I was excited to take up the opportunity that was presented to me for a few reasons:

I continue to see the opportunity for disruption in the consulting marketplace with a different look, feel, and way of executing and partnering. The Nerdery has the requisite ingredients to participate and even catalyze that disruption with the talent, capabilities and client base we have.

The other reason is that although we are a national firm, I’m very passionate about the Minnesota technology community and have a personal interest in playing our little part in helping that community be successful.   The third reason is that our clients are in need of the work that we do, so the ability for us to help them at the helm of this organization is just a tough thing to turn down.

Prior to CEO, you were the Chief Strategy and Operating Officer for about a year; what have you learned about the company since you joined?

The first thing I learned is that some of my initial hypothesis and reasons for joining in the first place were confirmed. The talent and smarts here, the way we are positioned in the markets we serve, and the raw ingredients that we can bring to bear such as technology, design thinking, and strategy are things our clients need.

The second thing I learned is that joining mid stream a company undergoing its own evolution, like many companies out there, has been challenging. I feel like I’m in the middle of the action; we’re in it and evolving just like our peers and clients…being thrown into that has been exciting.

How will The Nerdery change with Adrian Slobin as CEO?

That’s a tough question to answer on day 1.5 of the job, but I’ll take a swing! I think you’re going to see a continued and accelerated move into the digital business transformation space. That isn’t much of a change for us, but the speed is.  I also think that we’re going to be really focused on our talent and making sure that we’re doing right by our talent and teams here.

There’s a whole set of things coming up in the near term that I’m not prepared to talk about just yet, but those aspects above are certainly what people can expect to see from my tenure.

Where do you see broader industry challenges and specific opportunities for improvement at The Nerdery?

I’ll speak in broad terms here, as this all comes with caveat.

We see a lot of opportunity with the clients we’re working with and talking to about applying digital to the core of their business. There continues to be a lot of interesting developments in the experiential domain and customer/consumer engagement, but where I see more opportunities is to apply technology to the innards of the operation and customer service.

Using new tools like artificial intelligence and internet of things with a data-driven strategy applied to internal enterprise strategy is where I think there’s going to be some massive opportunity.   The other opportunity set I see is in bringing some of the industry verticals that may not have been at the forefront of digital business transformation, such as manufacturing, that are very interested in transforming their business.

How many full time employees does the Nerdery count overall by office right now?

In total we have 377 Nerds — with 256 based out of our Bloomington headquarters, 63 in Chicago, 33 in Kansas City, 12 in Phoenix and thirteen who work from home.

Do you portend a growth in headcount over the next 6-12 months?

Yes, we have some open positions right now.

The Nerdery peaked out around 500 employees and nowadays is under 400 on a steady decline by about 25% by headcount over the past few years.  Do you see a future where The Nerdery grows back to that level once again, or higher under your leadership?

Yes, I do see a future involving a higher headcount. The overall reduction in size by people has been in response to the type of work that we are doing now vs. then. We were built for a different set of clients and purposes, but the aforementioned transition we are in means that we are retooling and refocusing. Unfortunately that involves some people leaving, but we’re also hiring others in new roles. We’ll move as quickly as possible via expansion of clients and regions to achieve the level we were once at.

Do you have plans to open additional offices?

Not right now, but it’s never off the table.

How many different customers does the Nerdery currently serve?

188

Is the former CEO Tom O’Neill still affiliated with The Nerdery?

He is on the advisory board.

Which is different than the board of directors, who is on that board?

On our board of directors currently is our two owners, Mike Schmidt and Mike Derheim.

The company was growing revenues for a number of years 2010-2015, then suddenly stopped disclosing…what happened in 2016 and 2017 fiscal year with top line revenues?

I’m going to decline to talk about revenues before my time here. We are growing now and are in a strong financial position.

Can you confirm if the company has grown at all above the last reported figure of $64m in 2015 year end gross revenue?

Yes we have topped that.

Are you considering or seeking a sale of the company?

Not at this time.

Thank you for the time and conversation Adrian, is there anything else you would like to add?

I couldn’t be more excited and humbled to be the CEO of The Nerdery, it’s a good time to be alive in the space we are in.

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