Working at Empaxis: Lessons Learned from Our CEO

July 28, 2020 - Andrew Orr

Stephen at InvestCloud Conference

As I approach my 5th year back working at Empaxis (having interned a few years prior), I can’t help but reflect upon everything I have learned during this time. 

Also, as I think about the lessons learned, I feel they are important to share with prospective employees or clients. Through these lessons learned, you will have a better understanding of how your relationship with Empaxis, as a team member or a client, will be positive. 

Our CEO, Stephen Van de Wetering, recently posted about how we help RIAs save time and money, and that is possible because of Stephen’s vision, philosophy, and leadership.  

As part of the lessons learned, it gives you a chance to know Stephen and what makes Empaxis Empaxis. 

Working at Empaxis and Lessons Learned from Our CEO

“Read.”

Stephen is a reader. He has always emphasized the importance of reading, giving me recommendations based on valuable insights gained from books he’s read. 

Not to mention, his office is a treasure trove of books.  

From time to time, he would clean out his office, and his older books needed a new home. I was happy to provide that new home. 

Through these books, I have a better understanding and appreciation of what influences and motivates Stephen, and these books are helpful for my own development. 

In a previous post, Stephen shared his 5 best books for operations managers. These books are helpful to investment operations leaders, and they’re also from his library.  

From this very emphasis on reading and learning, you see Empaxis from our highest level always looking to improve. In addition, all other lessons learned from Stephen can be derived from this reading and learning focus. 

“There’s always a better way.”

Working at Empaxis and starting as an intern, Stephen would tell me “there’s always a better way.” 

At the beginning, I wasn’t sure how to find a better way because I was still learning a way. 

But after more time and familiarity with workflows, I understood what Stephen meant. He was conditioning me not to assume the one way I learned a task is the only way or the best way. 

“If you’re going to be closely involved in this process, you’ll know best how it improve it.” 

And he was right. As I did the work, I found myself saying: 

Stephen welcomes these findings. All team members, no matter their role, are encouraged to adopt a “there’s always a better way” mindset. 

Collectively, such improvements make our workflows more efficient and puts Empaxis in better position to serve the clients. 

“The only constant at Empaxis is change.”

The biggest mindset-changer that I learned from Stephen was how to view my relationship with change. 

In a work setting, there are times you learn new processes that pull you out of your comfort zone. Although you successfully learn the task, that whole time your mind is telling you to resist the change.  

I didn’t even have to tell Stephen how my mind felt about change; he already knew it. Maybe it was from all the books he read about workplace psychology. 

He had a few statements that stood out to me: 

“It’s not enough for us to take on a new challenge; we have to welcome the challenge. Think of these moments as opportunities that help us grow.” 

The only constant at Empaxis is change. The Empaxis you know today is because we’ve always changed. If we didn’t change, we wouldn’t be here. More changes will come, and the way we operate today will be different one year from now or five years from now. The only thing we control is how we react to changeIf we embrace new challenges, we’re better off for it.” 

After hearing this, it changed not only the way I think about change, but also my relationship with Empaxis. It was empowering to have a greater sense of agency: 

Stephen wants all Empaxis team members to embrace change, as it’s an opportunity for them to advance their skill sets. It’s also good for our clients to know we are adaptable and flexible. By making changes, we can continue serving our clients at a high level. 

“It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

Working at Empaxis as long as I have, I notice that Stephen is happiest when he sees our team find and implement new solutions on their own, often to his surprise and without waiting for his approval. 

Stephen wants Empaxis team members to take initiative, and one way he gets that point across is by saying “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.” 

As long as it doesn’t prevent us from completing mission-critical tasks, Stephen expects employees to use their good judgment for the best course of action. If they miss the mark, he still appreciates the attempt rather than no attempt. He understands that you learn more from mistakes than inaction. 

That’s why our team and our organization continue progressing. Employees are empowered to take initiative and learn from mistakes.  

Besides, Stephen has a lot going on. It’s impractical to micromanage and approve things when others on the team are more than capable of deciding. 

From Stephen’s library, I see he has read a lot about hiring best practices. One of those best practices is bringing on people you can trust to make decisions so you don’t have to.  

What that means is if you work for Empaxis, it’s with the understanding that Stephen and our executive team recognize your competencies, decision-making being one of them. 

Never Stop Progressing

Whether you’re a prospective employee or client, you now have a better understanding about how Empaxis works and leadership at our highest level. 

Progress through learning, experience, and initiative-taking is what Stephen expects from the Empaxis team. 

In the end, we all benefit, whether you work for Empaxis or are a client of Empaxis.