The Power of Values: How Experience Shaped Our Firm

“Every step in your journey leads you to exactly where you are today.” – Unknown

Last November, I went to my reunion with the Class of 1993 from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. It was fun to see and reconnect with friends from b-school, catch up on life, and hear about some of the amazing things my classmates have done since we graduated. But it also means I have been in the world of consulting for 30 years!

Three decades in the industry have given me a variety of experiences in different organizations and the privilege of working alongside and learning from many different people. These experiences and people played crucial roles not only in my own journey but in The Gunter Group’s as well, because they formed the foundation for the values and philosophy that are core to our company.

As a newly minted M.B.A. in 1993, I started my consulting career at Deloitte Consulting. What a great place to start! I had the privilege to work with incredibly smart and talented people, many of whom are still friends and mentors. It was hard work, but it taught me how much I loved consulting… solving difficult problems, working with great teams, and most of all, serving clients. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Deloitte for anything because it built the foundation for the rest of my career.

But after seven years with Deloitte, the road warrior lifestyle of a consultant started to become draining. I met my wife, Ashleigh, at Deloitte, and we both made the difficult decision to leave the firm soon after we got married in order to start our life together. We left a lot of friends and colleagues, and work that we enjoyed, but it was the first of many decisions Ashleigh and I made over time to put our lives and values first. At that time, what mattered was starting our newly married life together.

I ended up at two different startups in Atlanta, leading teams focused on delivering high-quality client service. The second startup, Rubbernetwork (now Elemica), was a great experience and gave me lifelong friends all over the world. What I learned in a startup of 65 people was how amazing it was to be part of a small, tight-knit team, and how much I valued being able to work alongside people that I considered friends. I still carry that lesson with me today.

At Rubbernetwork, I led the part of the organization focused on our clients in Europe. Given I was based in Atlanta, it meant a lot of time away. With a two-year-old at home and another one on the way, Ashleigh and I realized we needed a change and decided to move to Portland, Oregon (Ashleigh’s hometown), to raise our family. It was another hard decision because it meant leaving friends and family in Atlanta, but we knew it was the right decision.

To enable the move to Portland, I went back into consulting and joined a small (at the time) firm called Point B. It reminded me of how much I loved client service and also what it was like to be part of a small, growing firm that was really starting to build.

The point of all this is not to “walk through the highlights of Mike’s career”. The different organizations of which I have been part and the people with whom I worked had a profound impact on me and led directly to Ashleigh’s and my decision to start The Gunter Group in 2011. Exposure to different types of organizations gave us the foundation to develop our own perspective of what kind of organization we would like to create and build, and the values we would want to incorporate into it.

We’re now thirteen years in with The Gunter Group. We have an amazing team, many of whom have been with us since the very beginning, some of whom are new, and a bunch that fall somewhere in between. We have an incredible set of clients that we are privileged to serve. We have incorporated our values—our “Non-Negotiables”—into our organization, and our team reflects them every single day with how we work with each other and our client teams. We are building a sustainable organization that will be around for the long haul.

I am also proud to say that I still get to work alongside a bunch of my friends.

These days my role is a lot different. I am not as deeply involved anymore in day-to-day client delivery or in the operations of the firm. We have a talented team that does an amazing job of those things. I see my role as trying to think strategically about the direction of the firm and how to get there, and guiding, mentoring, coaching, and lifting up the emerging leaders in our company. That has been an evolution; one that has been challenging at times (I have a hard time not getting in the middle of things and almost always have an opinion 😀), but one that has and continues to be immensely rewarding. It has been a humbling experience to watch people start at TGG as brand new consultants and grow into incredible leaders and amazing professionals.

Back to my reunion. 30 years have gone by pretty fast. As smart as I’m sure I thought I was back then, I could not have predicted where the journey would take me. There were definitely a few turns we didn’t expect, but we embraced them and adapted to the change.

I couldn’t be happier to be where I am now. I am proud of our team and what we’re building. It has been incredibly rewarding to watch the company and my teammates grow, and see how TGG reflects our values and who we are as people. I am excited about where we are going as a firm and what the future holds for us, and I am also excited to continue writing about our (and my) journey along the way.

“Every step in your journey leads you to exactly where you are today.” – Unknown


TGG Ranked as One of Oregon’s Best Companies to Work For

Last month The Gunter Group (TGG) was recognized as one of Oregon’s 100 Best Companies to Work For by Oregon Business magazine. The honor marked the ninth time TGG has been named one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon.  

As part of the celebration and achievement, we visited with Ande Olson, Manager and Data Services Leader, and Laura Emily, People Leader at TGG to discuss and reflect on this special award.

What does TGG being named one of Oregon Business Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for mean to you?

Ande: It’s a validation of the work our leadership team has done to maintain our culture and it’s an endorsement of how we bring value to our clients that’s different from other companies. We show up differently because we care deeply about our culture and making TGG an enjoyable place to work. Being named one of Oregon Business Magazine’s 100 Best Companies is a wonderful reflection of that diligence. 

Laura: I’m thrilled we continue to be recognized as a best company to work for in Oregon. The Oregon Business Magazine list is actually how I first discovered TGG about seven years ago. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have experienced our culture in different capacities from my role as a Consultant, to various operational roles, to my current role as People Leader. Ensuring TGG remains an amazing place to work is incredibly important to me. 

This is the ninth time TGG has made the Oregon’s Best list. What do you think contributes to this consistency? 

Ande: Our culture and non-negotiables are at the center of everything we do, from internal, strategic planning to execution for our clients. That focus has allowed us to ensure we have a great workplace and work environment for everyone who decides to work for TGG. We’re fortunate that Oregon’s Best has been able to capture our culture-focused decision-making for the past nine years.

Laura: Our leaders have never strayed from our relentless dedication to preserving our culture. We don’t separate culture from strategy which means that we approach every decision across the firm with impact to culture in mind. In addition, as we grow, we place increasing importance on ways to ensure our employees feel connected, engaged, and empowered to grow with us. 

How would you describe TGG to people outside the organization?

Ande: TGG is a management consulting firm that focuses on pragmatism over dogmatism. We execute on that by focusing on partnering with our clients for the long-term, often requiring us to bend the boundaries of traditional approaches to ensure that we’re creating lasting value for our clients. Our team is dedicated to that mission and when you fold in the focus we have on our culture, we’ve been able to create and maintain a really special place to work.

Laura: TGG partners with our clients to help them solve their business challenges and support them in reaching their short- and long-term goals. We are dedicated to providing exceptional client service by holding ourselves to high standards in the work we deliver and the way we partner. Our non-negotiable values guide all of our interactions, both internally across the team and externally with our clients. 

What elements of TGG’s culture do you appreciate and enjoy the most?

Ande: Two things come to mind: our leadership team’s commitment to transparency and the entire organization’s willingness to collaborate. Our Partners and Principals ensure that everyone understands the direction we’re moving and keeps everyone apprised of major decisions that are being made. It feels good to be included in those big conversations, especially during a tumultuous few COVID years! Additionally, in five years I haven’t once been turned down by someone when asking for help. In the workplace, there isn’t a much better feeling than walking into a difficult situation knowing that you’re fully supported by everyone you work with and that they’re willing to put down their own deliverables to help you out if you need it.

Laura: I most appreciate the amazing people I get to call my teammates. We hire people who are not only exceptional consultants but also great humans. We learn from each other, encourage each other to improve and develop, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. When you combine that with a love for consulting and serving our clients, you get the magic that is TGG. I feel very grateful to have found TGG and to be in a role dedicated to ensuring we remain an outstanding place to be. 

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon is an annual showcase that recognizes top Small, Medium, and Large businesses in the state. More than 9,000 employees across a wide range of industries complete an employee engagement survey that encompasses areas such as: management & communications, decision-making & trust, career development & learning, benefits & compensation, and work environment. 

To learn more about a career at The Gunter Group visit:


At the beginning of 2023, we implemented a new paid holiday policy at The Gunter Group: we changed all our paid holidays to “floating holidays” so that our team can choose to celebrate the holidays that mean the most to them.

The genesis of our decision started last year when a team of our consultants came forward to the leadership team with an idea for a “Day of Service” for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. At the time, our holiday policy included 7 paid company-defined holidays plus one “floating” holiday, which could be used on any day during the year. 

The team that brought forward the idea about the Day of Service also asked the question of whether the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday should be one of our “official” holidays. This led to a much deeper discussion about not only our holiday policy, but also Inclusion. In other words, how could we make it so that our policy on holidays would be fully inclusive and reflect our core values and Culture as an organization? Why should the company dictate that employees take off Christmas Day versus Yom Kippur, Diwali or days during Ramadan? Or New Year’s Day instead of Chinese New Year? Maybe the discussion about whether to observe a particular holiday was missing the point.  

Our point of view is that Inclusion is not about a particular holiday, it’s about all of them. This is what led us to change our company policy so that TGGers can decide which days to observe based on what is most meaningful to them and their families.

Back to the Day of Service on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday: a large team of TGGers and their families came together to assemble and deliver 35 Sack Lunches, 20 Winter Kits, and 44 Hygiene Kits to the Blanchet House in Portland, an organization that supports people experiencing homelessness and that is “On a mission to alleviate suffering and offer hope for a better life by serving essential aid with dignity”. I am super proud of the team and the support they provided to such an amazing organization.

At The Gunter Group, we strive to create an environment to support our consultants, clients, and communities such that each can achieve excellence, realize their full potential, and thrive. We live by our Non-Negotiables:  Collaborative, Integrity, Intellectual Curiosity, Thrives in Ambiguity, Emotional Intelligence and Grounded Confidence. Our Non-Negotiables reflect who we are and who we will continue striving to be. We value engagement and creative ideas from our team, and we are always working to make TGG a better and better place to work!