Human Resources Seminar to Examine Office Cultures

By Andy Meek

Russ Williams, CEO of Memphis-based marketing communications firm archer-malmo, doesn’t want to take credit for the creative vibe and culture found inside his firm – and, moreover, he doesn’t even think the firm has necessarily cracked any kind of secret code to put its own culture in place.

HR Challenges:
Creating a Strong Corporate Culture

Thursday, September 4
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Brooks Museum Auditorium
1934 Poplar Ave.


The phrase he uses often to talk about the way archer-malmo does things internally – from the way it treats employees to how it goes about the business of functioning as a dynamic agency in a creativity-oriented professional services field – is “common sense.” As in, the big and little things at the firm spring from a common sense way of looking at managing talent.

Said another way, it’s no accident when a company appears to have a smoothly operating internal dynamic in place. And the way Williams and archer-malmo have been proactive in that area is why he’ll be part of a panel this Thursday, Sept. 4, during the latest installment of The Daily News’ seminar series, which will take a look at company cultures and the variety of factors that influence them.

As an example of what Williams believes is archer-malmo’s common sense way of looking at the issue, he says the firm puts a premium on things such as investing in its employees.


“One of the things that’s critical to our corporate culture is we invest in the tools and training to give our people the room to do a good job,” he said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many thank-yous I’ve gotten for that, again, basic piece of common sense. It might be as simple as somebody gets a brand new computer. We also just made a big investment in our video team.”

Among his other insights related to building a strong corporate culture: Williams’ firm sees employees and potential talent almost as balance sheets of character traits. They are, in other words, the aggregate of assets and liabilities they bring to the firm.

But whereas most firms might seek out employees by focusing on only one side of that personality ledger – their assets – Williams says in his experience the liabilities side actually matters more. The best and brightest, he goes on, aren’t necessarily rare – but what also isn’t rare are employees who “come with baggage, maybe they get too emotional under stress. They aren’t dependable or they aren’t collaborative.”

Building a company culture, in other words, can be thought of as a game of inches, a one-by-one assemblage of progress toward the end goal.

These kinds of topics will form the core of Thursday’s seminar, “HR Challenges: Creating a Strong Corporate Culture,” which will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave. The event, sponsored by Jackson Lewis PC, will be followed by a wine and cheese reception.

Keynoting the event will be Meg Crosby, a co-founder of the organizational consulting firm PeopleCap Advisors, who’ll be sharing five steps to creating a strong business culture. She’ll be joined by a panel that, in addition to Williams, includes Jackson Lewis managing shareholder James Mulroy III and Rhodes College director of alumni relations Tracy Patterson.