“Oh, my first impression was that everybody was having way too much fun.”
About three years ago, Rob Kneuper joined Infotech Consulting as an economic expert.
“In my years of working in large consulting firms, we would joke around a bit, but for the most part it was very serious – there were many millions of dollars on the line. There was a sense of intense focus that I was used to. So I thought there’s way too much laughing going on here, this is serious analytical work. I had to get used to that to relax and have fun.”
Even as a remote employee, the energy was contagious.
“Between Jim [McClave] and Jamie [McClave Baldwin], the leadership is amazing, just the vision that they have and the compassion. I tell people that Jamie’s the first female boss I’ve ever had and also the best boss I’ve ever had,” Rob chuckles.
Behind his ocean-themed Zoom background a child laughs and a dog’s paws skitter across the floor. For most people, this is a new normal. For Rob, it’s been normal for a while.
Rob has always worked remotely for Infotech Consulting from his home in Charleston, SC. With four children still at home and four others already gone, his career of expert consulting has been but one of many exciting adventures in his life.
The dog pops into view on screen – an 80 pound chocolate labrador retriever named Charlie, who is, as Rob puts it, “a very good boy.” One of the kids waves at the webcam and retreats to the living room.
“They’re doing electronics right now – TikTok or something,” Rob says. “They keep me on my toes. Energy is the biggest challenge, because they have it and I usually don’t by the end of the day.”
Even so, being with his family is the highlight of his day, he says, and bike rides and beach afternoons together are how he spends most of his down time – but not all of it.
“I recently bought what I call my Midlife Crisis Mobile, which is a BMW convertible,” he says. “When I need to escape from my children, or after a long day, I usually just go driving off in my BMW convertible and pretend that all of my responsibilities don’t exist for a while.”
Economic expert consulting is hard work. Part brainstorming, part reviewing information, part creative problem solving and part client interaction, it’s a recipe that looks different every day for a job that is never dull.
“It’s mostly a lot of geeky analytical stuff,” Rob says. “We don’t actually go to court very often.”
But when he does have the opportunity to testify in court, Rob says the experience is very dynamic.
“You don’t know where it’s going to go and you just have to have a deep confidence that wherever it goes, you’ll be able to deal with it,” he says.
Building that confidence is no easy feat. The ability to feel prepared on the stand primarily stems from the intensive research done by the consulting team, leaving no path untraveled and no stone unturned, but there’s an inner certainty that must be strengthened as well. Rob has found that one of his personal interests plays a role in this self-assurance.
“I’m fascinated by psychology, particularly dream therapy. I am not infrequently interpreting the direction of my dreams, which are fascinating. So from a dream therapy point of view, dreams help you become more conscious of the things you’re not aware of,” he says.
“I grew up as an athlete and my dad was a pro baseball player and so there was always a lot of performance anxiety and this one dream is helping to confirm that I’m beyond that, you know, not feeling the anxiety so much as the ability to adapt and be flexible.”
He thinks about the next question for a minute before answering: What’s his favorite thing about economics? Check out his latest article on the plight of small businesses in the COVID-19 economy.
“Right now, there’s this kind of business economics that I do feel pretty passionate about. I think about how we are going to adapt economically to what you might call a pandemic-prone economy going forward.”
Business models will need to change and become more flexible, he says. They will have to find ways to facilitate the ability to work remotely, but at the same time help people to develop relationships.
“One of the things we get out of work is being productive, but we also get a lot out of the relationships and friendships that we build,” Rob explains. “I mean, we work at Infotech because we feel satisfied in our work, but also because we really enjoy the people we’re working with. And I have to say, having worked for a number of different firms, it’s very rare that you have that kind of enthusiasm that people have here at Infotech. It’s a terrific atmosphere.”