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The Importance of Core Values

By Tony DeMartino

March 29, 2023

When Sally Donnelly and I started Pallas Advisors in 2018, we had a unique opportunity to set the culture of the firm. From my past experience leading mission-driven teams in the Army, I had learned the importance of establishing core values for your team in order to set a shared mentality and common mission for the team. The same lesson applies to any civilian workplace. The values that leadership prioritizes define the ethos of a company: how people work in a team, how they respond under pressure, how they lift their teammates up, and how they drive toward an objective. After much thought, Sally and I settled on seven core values that we believed best embodied the principles we wanted our company to reflect.

Pallas Advisors Core Values:

  • Strategic Mindset – Often, consultants risk getting dragged into the immediacy of the now, responding to urgent issues and problems for the companies we support. Our real value, however, lies in what we are able to achieve in the long term. We encourage our team members to think strategically and ask themselves: “Where do we/our client want to be in a year?” This framing question allows us to ensure we aren’t risking long-term success by focusing on short-term issues.

  • Responsiveness – We communicate early and often to answer the mail. We never leave a teammate or a partner in the dark. As a team, we understand the importance of timely communication and make this value a priority in our everyday actions.

  • 360-Degree Professionalism – Every single person that we interact with deserves the same respect. We are respectful and professional left, right, and under, meaning we are not only courteous to those who are senior to us but to everyone we interact with.

  • Empowered Decision-making – Here at Pallas we are not afraid to ask questions. We know if we understand the intent, we are more equipped to drive action.

  • Learning Organization – All of our work is an opportunity to improve. After Action Reviews (AARs), a common procedure in the military, are essential to our growth as a firm. We incorporated this process of identifying things we should sustain and improve into an everyday practice, because we believe we can always improve in every area—even down to the food we order for receptions!

  • Inclusive Environment – No matter your background or experience, we believe everyone’s perspective improves our efforts. Diversity of thought moves the firm forward.

  • We Do Windows – One of my favorite values is “we do windows!” Although some have wondered in the past if it meant we physically climb or jump through windows to achieve a goal, the saying actually comes from a 1960s ad campaign. For decades, the phrase “I don’t do windows” was meant as a reference to thankless jobs nobody wants to do. Here at Pallas, we like to cultivate an atmosphere where everyone helps out wherever they can be most useful.

Above: A page from the original brainstorming session that produced our core values!

As we look to our five-year anniversary of Pallas’ launch, the Pallas team has grown 500%, going from five employees to more than 30, all working to help expand the innovation base of the national security ecosystem. We have expanded our business to launch a nonprofit Pallas Foundation, dedicated to cultivating the next generation of national security leaders, and Pallas Ventures, an investment arm to resource the critical technologies of the future. This growth was only possible through the dedication of our team, which has bought into these core values and lives them every day of the week. I’m proud to say that our core values have remained consistent through this growth and helped to drive our business, our clients, and U.S. national security forward.

Tony DeMartino is a Founding Partner of Pallas Advisors with extensive experience across innovative technologies, strategic planning, dual-use companies, and government.


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