Best place to work in data
Who are they?
Analytics consultancy Aquila Insight was founded in Edinburgh in 2012. It has expanded rapidly, more than doubling its turnover between 2014 and 2016, while opening offices in London and Derby. Last year, it reported hiring analysts at a rate of 12 every quarter.
Recognising that its most important asset is its people, Aquila Insight saw the need to create a place that people were excited to go to work in, where challenges and development would be a constant, while building a friendly, open, collaborative, supportive and career-defining business culture. This has led to a range of initiatives, from its talent development strategy through to new values and enhanced benefits.
What do they do?
The consultancy’s approach starts with its talent acquisition strategy, which has moved from direct recruitment towards employee referrals - these now account for 60 per cent of recent hires. This reflects the idea that happy employees will willingly recommend their friends join them in the business. Career breaks are also supported as a way of bringing fresh ideas back into the company and a number of leavers have returned because they miss Aquila Insight’s way of working.
A refresh of the consultancy’s values this year, reflecting the increase in size and headcount, has embedded a new culture which was designed by its internal “value ambassadors”. These are reinforced by running values events alongside social events, harnessing innovation and specialist skills or knowledge.
Each staffer has a “personal strategy” that is supported by five dedicated resources - a career mentor, people person, skills mentor, project lead and senior manager - focused on the individual’s personal development. This gives many directions and opportunities for growth.
Aquila Insight has adopted a new, non-hierarchical structure which is flexible to allow for these different career paths. The consultancy has even recognised that more introverted workers do not thrive in an open plan office, so have created more breakout rooms, meeting rooms and quiet spaces, alongside hot desking facilities.
Creating an environment where people are able to experiment, without being judged, has been recognised as a better way to share ideas, encourage debate and challenge convention. This is not just the down to management to achieve - everybody takes responsibility not only for their clients, but also for themselves from day one at the consultancy.
A buddy scheme is in place to pair up individuals, while an enhanced benefits package has also been put in place. This focus on people led to Aquila Insight making the Times Top 100 SME Best Companies and achieving strong scores in employee surveys, while also continuing to attact diverse, smart and knowledgeable people to maintain its growth.
What did the judges say?
Judges were impressed by the breadth of initiatives which had been adopted to create a highly-positive working environment, including the focus on employee referral for talent acquisition and the recognition that different types of knowledge worker have different needs. The scores achieved in internal employee surveys were considered to be great evidence for why Aquila Insight should win this award.