A LITTLE HISTORY
Back in 2008, CTA constructed a vision statement to help govern firm goals in the following five years. The effort was driven — and much of the verbiage was crafted — by principal and project manager/architect Gene Kolstad out of CTA’s Billings office. The list of seven goals dealt largely with issues of integrity, character, and client service. With visions of the Academy Awards and Oscar statuettes dancing in their heads, that year, the ratifying committee dreamed up an annual award to present to the CTA employee most exemplifying these ideals.
Per Missoula’s Ken Richardson, who sat on that committee, the accompanying trophy, “The Geno” (after Kolstad, who is noted for his commitment to the principles the award celebrates) was inspired by one of Kolstad’s passions, masonry. Hence, the large, heavy, traveling trophy features Montana-sourced travertine (from the original installation at Billings Clinic) with one of Kolstad’s trowels partially embedded (an homage to the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone). Staff in the Great Falls office built a “mini Fort Knox” (exceptionally secure) traveling case that safely moves the award from recipient to recipient each year.
“Half the fun of bestowing the award is discretely delivering the award case, early, to the respective office, and keeping it under wraps!” Richardson describes.
The Geno is now presented each December to the winner of the Integrity and Client Service (ICS) Award, alongside a cash prize. A selection committee (dubbed “the Posse”), which always includes the previous year’s recipient, convenes annually to select the winner. Nominees from across the company are listed in an evaluation tabulation spreadsheet, and graded in three categories: honesty, compassion, and responsiveness. The highest score for each category is 30, 50, and 40, respectively, with a total possible high score of 120. Employees of CTA complete ICS nomination forms, some with attached letters of appreciation from internal and external clients — and send them to the Posse. Their spreadsheet is then populated and the scoring begins.
“It is TOUGH because each person is so deserving,” Cheryl Peak of Austin admits.
THE 2014 RECIPIENT
The most recent ICS recipient was announced during December’s CTA all-staff meeting. This year’s winner: Carol Mansfield, office administrator for the Cushing Terrell Seattle office. Mike O’Leary, Seattle’s principal-in-charge, passed along a snippet of the nomination form he submitted on her behalf:
Almost every individual within CTA is Carol’s client … or at least it seems that way. She receives endless phone calls each day asking for assistance and she is always very helpful in her response. However, the most marked example of her compassion is shown every time someone new is hired in the Seattle office. She takes time away from her regular work day (which later equals many hours of overtime) to make sure each new employee is comfortable in the office, with their commute routes, and within the community in which they have chosen to live. As the only true local within the Seattle office, she is an incredible helpful resource to all Seattle newbies. It only takes a few days of working with Carol to know she takes pride in her work and always puts her best foot forward. Regardless of the task, be it billing, executing a lease, or coordinating Canadian licensing, her work is always thorough, complete, and of the highest quality.
One of many reasons Mansfield makes a compelling recipient is her selflessness. On being asked to describe her feelings after winning the award, she admittedly struggled, not wanting to sound boastful. She then attributed her success to the teamwork prevalent throughout CTA:
I have to admit, I was surprised to see [CTA President] Scott Wilson in our office that Friday morning. I usually know ahead of time when he is heading to Seattle and his “excuse” was a little suspect. Honestly, the ICS award did not cross my mind. When my name was announced, I was genuinely surprised and immediately overwhelmed. I can’t express how surprised and honored I am.
When asked to describe what I do, I laughed. I just want to include a snapshot of my email subject lines which typically read, “Help,” “I’m in trouble here,” “Something is wrong,” “Stuck,” “Need your help,” or my recent favorite, “Billing hairball du jour.” In general, I work with project managers and others across the organization on billing issues, project reporting, and assisting with answers, training, and research on the financial side of projects. By providing timely information and assistance to my internal clients, I support those that deal directly with our external clients. Honesty, compassion, and responsiveness are components of the ICS award. I suspect Mike O’Leary would like a little less honesty from me!
The service we provide our clients is a team effort. I consider my work to be just one small part of the CTA team, so to be singled out for the Integrity and Client Service Award seems extraordinary to me. I am truly grateful.
A FINAL NOTE
“Carol: Each year, we receive nominations from throughout the firm identifying team members who continually strive to make our clients, both internal and external, more successful. These team members also set an example for all of us to follow by Doing Business by the Golden Rule (a central CTA tenet).
Congrats on being selected for CTA’s 2014 Integrity & Client Service Award. You and earlier ICS Award recipients have set a high bar for all of us to strive for — thanks for leading the way!”