Perspective

People & Purpose at Davis Pier

10 years of Davis Pier through the eyes of employee #1


I have the absolute privilege of being Davis Pier’s first employee. When I walked in on my first day ten years ago, I did not know what I was signing up for. To be honest…I was just happy to have a job and dive into the “real world.” There were a couple things I did not realize that day:

  1. It would be my last “first day” at a job ever. I found where I belong. 

  2. The people running the place (Mike and Darryl) were a lot less sure of themselves than I thought they were at the time (but we won’t harp on that…)

  3. Last, and most importantly—Davis Pier wouldn’t change who I am (my values are still the same), but it would enhance all my favourite parts of myself. 

My original Davis Pier headshot circa 2014

I am embarrassed to say how recently I learned that a workplace supporting personal and professional growth in a way that is authentic to the individual is not the norm. Given the nature of what Davis Pier does, the team cares deeply about people and wants to support community growth in a thoughtful, genuine way. Everyone who joins is good to the core—yet, throughout their time at the organization—they seem to become even better people who want to have even more impact. 

People grow here. 

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When people ask me why I love Davis Pier, I often default to talking about things that I get to experience on a day-to-day basis—our people, the culture, meaningful projects. But when I reflect on the last 10 years, I have realized my personal and professional growth journey and the opportunity to witness that in others is what stands out most.  

Being on the Davis Pier team has allowed me to grow in a way that is authentic to me—and I am motivated to support the impact we can have as a collective. I want to be challenged and pushed to think differently. I value other people more. I respect myself more. I want to learn more. And most importantly, I want to support others on their journey—whatever that looks like for them.

What is it about Davis Pier that enables good people to grow?

1. Trust your team to succeed (and fail well).

Often times, our teammates reflect on their week and are in awe of the problems they were able to solve. They sit in rooms with senior leaders refining recommendations or supporting important, complex decision-making.

How do they find themselves in these scenarios?

They are trusted.

They are trusted to act in a way that balances the needs of our clients and partners, the needs of the communities we work with, our firm values, and our mission to drive meaningful impact.

Just as importantly—they are trusted to fail. If things don’t go as planned, they are encouraged to problem solve, iterate, and try again. 

 

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2.  Show up for one another. Every day.

Compassion in the workplace takes a different form here. It is not about showing up when things go wrongit is about showing up on a day-to-day basis in a way that demonstrates genuine caring about individuals as well as project and firm success. 

I am inspired daily when I overhear teammates brainstorming or collaboratively problem solving—sometimes trying to improve outcomes on files they are not even assigned– solely because they see the value of showing up for one another.

3. We want the real, authentic you.

People who act in a way they think they are supposed to often realize that does not resonate with our team. The problems we solve are complex. They require quick thinking, focused energy, and diverse perspectives…which means there’s no time to filter a “professional version of you.” We need people to come as you are to lend unique perspectives to the challenge at hand. 

Taking away the expectations to show up in a certain way allows our team to put that energy into making an impact, collaborating, and growing in alignment with who they truly are.  

4. Collaboration not competition.  

We have a team of exceptional, driven people who want to develop and be successful. However, we believe competition between colleagues does not drive this—collaboration does.  

The people who value different opinions, inspire teams, build relationships with everyone, and encourage others on their journey are the ones who grow best here.

5. Think about the impact you want to have—that is your path.  

There is no standard pathway for growth here. Our team gets to choose their own adventure. This can be overwhelming, but inspiring.  

If someone wants to build an expertise in healthcare? Go for it. Want to become a respected service designer? The firm will absolutely support that. Want to make up a role that is focused on organizational success, maintaining our culture, supporting our team, and building meaningful relationships? Look at me! 

People can take initiative and accountability for their own journey—the firm supports our team to follow the path that brings passion and excitement to work. 

 

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It is hard not to grow when you are empowered in these ways 

Reflecting back to little Katie walking into her first day of work—I had little to no confidence in myself or the impact I could have, I didn’t really feel like I “belonged” anywhere, and I generally accepted the status quo. I wish I could help her fast forward to 2024—where she’s growing and thriving at Davis Pier while living true to her values.  

I’m passionate about our team and our culture. So passionate that I designed my current role to ensure everyone can have the exceptional experience “growing up” here that I’ve had.  

These are just our early years as an organization – many more people will grow and have impact they never could have fathomed when they walked in on their first day at Davis Pier. Today, I am feeling exceptionally lucky to get to witness them all.  

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