Meet Nate Caskey, Pepper Foster Consulting’s newest member and our partner in charge of the Minneapolis–St. Paul office. To give a better sense of who Nate is, PFC sat down with him to learn about his journey, what led him to Pepper Foster, and his goals for the Minneapolis–St. Paul office.
Specializing in bringing the “people side” to strategy, Nate’s background, interests, and vision allow him to make impactful change for clients. Read below to find out more about Nate.
I grew up in Anderson Consulting/Accenture and I was there for 13 years. I then transitioned to industry at Target and worked in their enterprise strategy office for 4 years where I created and led their first enterprise change team. Through that experience, I learned that I really enjoyed consulting and decided to transition back. I got multiple offers and debated going to one of the big firms, but I have three small children and the idea of traveling wasn’t all that appealing. As a result, I ended up starting the Caskey Consulting Group, which eventually merged with another small consulting company to create Pioneer Management Consulting.
In 2020 right before the pandemic, Pepper Foster joined the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. At the time I remember thinking, who the heck is Pepper Foster because I saw them as just another competitor. Through my conversations with Melanie though, I began to learn about Pepper Foster's culture of humility which really stood out to me. This idea that Pepper Foster consultants understand they don’t need to be in the spotlight, and the understanding we are here to make our clients shine was different and unique for a consulting firm. Additionally, the way we treat our people was the biggest differentiator and is what initially attracted me to the firm. At the end of the day, people are our product and I can't work somewhere that doesn't treat our employees well.
Pepper Foster is a very well-oiled machine! Now, there is always room for process improvement, but for contrast purposes, one of my last employers, who has been around for 33 years still doesn't have an onboarding process and operates by “We don't have that, why don't you go build it?”. I was beyond impressed to find that all the basics from HR all the way to payroll were covered, allowing me to focus on what I came here to do, which is to grow the business in MSP. I told Damian [Pepper Foster’s Founder]I feel like I’m in a big, mature company that has it all together, and this enables me to truly focus on growing the MSP practice.
Oh, that's a good question. My professional goals are to develop a team that is passionate about what they do, good at what they do, deliver value and have fun while doing it. The word legacy keeps popping into my head, and that involves developing the team, people, and everything that goes with it, to grow the business. Ultimately, my dream aspiration is to grow the MSP practice to 100 consultants and to help Pepper Foster become a known name in the Twin Cities market. It’s a fun challenge and it's what I most look forward to.
Ha! Well, great loaded question. Long-term, I want Pepper Foster to be a known brand in the Twin Cities market. I want anyone in corporate America, in MSP, to know what we are, who we are, and what we do. That's the ultimate goal, 5, 10, 15 years. I don't know how far away that is.
Short-term, what I want to do is to listen. I’m focused on listening and learning from our people. There’s a lot of collective knowledge and a lot of collective expertise in the Twin Cities and Portland. I want to absorb and learn as much as I can so that I can focus on how we grow the business.
I'm gonna speak for the MSP practice, the biggest challenge that I see is a lack of brand awareness. We have a pipeline and it's growing, but it needs to be more robust because these two ideas are mutually related, not mutually exclusive. It’s a challenge, but the opportunities with that are immense. Coming out of Covid, we have a blank canvas to create a market, build it, and cultivate it because there is a lot of untapped potential here.
The other opportunity I see is building out our offerings and practices. We need to get more specific and make sure everyone knows what Pepper Foster does. Right now we approach our work as generalists, and there is an opportunity to define our expertise and go deep in either service areas or industries.
Great question and critically important. The first thing you should know about me is that I am an extrovert. I thrive being around people and I enjoy working with people that I know. I look forward to having one-on-ones with everybody in the office. I want to get to know them and learn what they are passionate about. Even though I hate video conferencing, this applies to the Portland office too.
I also want to attend all the team meetings to get to know the group as a whole. I want to fundamentally understand what is the PFC culture and learn how people are interacting. This applies to external events as well. For example, on my first day, I was invited to a tree-planting event for Earth Day. Through community impact events I am excited to get to know the team because I believe this is a critical component to our success both internally to who we attract, hire, and retain and also externally in the marketplace. Speaking of community, our commitment to the communities we serve is another reason I was attracted to Pepper Foster.
I've been thinking about this a lot. We have work to do, but we will get there. We need some anchor clients here in town that can support 5-10 consultants from now into perpetuity. Thankfully, the Twin Cities has a large client base that leverages a lot of consultants so I know this is possible. This is the only way that we are going to smooth our revenue cycle, which is my primary focus. What I am asking of everyone on my team is to have a relationship development mindset and look to your friends and families to talk to. I’m not asking folks to pitch Pepper Foster, I’m just asking them to have a conversation and develop their relationships. Connect with the individual because that is what is important. And in the end, building strong relationships will lead to opportunities and help us grow the “right” way.
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