In 2013, when Jacob Sweeney was a college student at James Madison University anticipating his next step, a job posting from Veris Consulting caught his eye. He grew confident that this firm would become a formative place to start his career and a new professional home through several rounds of meetings and interviews. During Sweeney’s tenure with the firm, Vault Consulting became its own entity, and he has grown individually alongside the firm.
Sweeney works on the Research side and has grown into a Research Manager role during his seven years with the firm. He primarily works with trade organizations to collect various data types and analyze them for outliers and quality issues. Sweeney and his team also publish reports on the data while ensuring there is enough participation to avoid any antitrust concerns and that the research meets all the applicable disclosure rules. As he has taken on more responsibility and leadership role as a manager, Sweeney sees the data and the research process from many different levels. In some cases, he digs into data and quality assurance at granular levels while also ensuring that the client partners achieve their strategic objectives through the research process.
“As a manager, you span a lot of the breadth of the work—sometimes working on the actual data collection and analysis, or you’ll be overseeing an analyst who does that and making sure the final output aligns,” explains Sweeney. “Or, you may be working more directly with the client to gather the requirements and relay them to the team.”
Sweeney says that the drive to improve continuously and productive collaboration with his teammates are critical to successfully meeting these objectives. These qualities that come naturally to him are part of what he loves most about Vault’s team culture.
“We have a lot of clients and teams we work with, and so we have to develop our ability to move between different projects and engagements and be productive and efficient in that. It’s fun because you’re always doing a new thing. You can’t fall into a routine. You have to stay fresh and be ready for a new thing every day,” says Sweeney.
He recalls a team-building experience early in his tenure at Vault that cemented the competitive, team-first atmosphere. Each year in the Reston Corporate Challenge, many different firms compete in a friendly field day of games and competitions. During a dodgeball game, one of Sweeney’s colleagues was the last person standing for the Vault side, facing four opponents on his own. Cheered on by his teammates, the lone Vaulter tagged players on the other side one-by-one and earned teammates back. Vault eventually came back from behind to win the game and even went on to win the Challenge that day. For Sweeney, this moment illustrated Vault’s culture—what he describes as an “active spirit.” Sweeney loves Vault’s refusal to give up, the team atmosphere, and the tenacity that is a signature Vault personality trait.
“No one is complacent with how things are,” says Sweeney. “We are always looking for new and better ways—even small things. There is a constant dynamism at Vault. Over the last few years, we’ve been looking again at how we do things and made big improvements.”
Sweeney works to improve himself by taking part in Vault’s mentorship program, both as a mentor and mentee. In his relationship with his mentor, he applauds her focus and follow-up regarding goal setting and being accountable for personal growth. “She’s deliberate. She’s helping me be pragmatic and focus on execution,” Sweeney explains.
When speaking of his mentee, Sweeney praises her as one of the most reliable and accountable people he has ever worked with: “She’s very much dialed into the details, very responsive, and goes the extra step.”
Sweeney also applies that drive to grow in his hobbies too. Over the last two years, Sweeney has sharpened his strategic thinking and competitive edge through chess. He enjoys that the game can be as straightforward or complex as the players make it, and there is always something new to learn.
“It’s something where you can learn to compete at all levels,” says Sweeney.
Professionally, Sweeney is investing in learning many new skills right now with Python, SQL, agile workflows, and how to improve project processes overall. For Sweeney, this is not only an individual goal to continue growing, but part of how he sees his future and the firm’s future growth.
“We’re ramping up how we can deliver more dynamically, with online dashboards and how we configure data sets. We’re thinking about how to learn the skills we need to develop and become very strong in those areas so that we are strong five, ten, or twenty years from now,” Sweeney explains. As he takes on more leadership responsibility with Vault, Sweeney thinks increasingly about the future of the firm and how the nature of innovation may change the research process down the road.
“Focusing on newer approaches to our work could eventually lead to new types of work—leveraging data in new ways and working with new kinds of clients. It’s a very dynamic space to be in, and you have to embrace that,” says Sweeney.
For Sweeney, his professional growth and what he loves most about his job all come back to the team mentality he has found at Vault. Though it can be instinctive to try to take on everything individually, sharing, learning, and doing as a team is more beneficial and rewarding. His advice to fellow and future Vaulters is to “think about how you and the whole team can be moving forward together. There are exponential compounding benefits. Think about how you can make the team better.”
Are you interested in joining the Vault team? Learn more about opportunities to grow your career in a dynamic atmosphere on our Careers page.