The Catalyst team is honored to announce we have been awarded this year’s Salesforce Partner Innovation Award for the “Education (Consulting)” category. Our team is being recognized for its research-driven implementation of Salesforce Marketing Cloud for the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). The award will be presented at Dreamforce in San Francisco, California on September 11, 2023.
This marks Catalyst’s fourth Partner Innovation Award win, previously taking home honors in the Public Sector category in 2019 and 2022, and Transportation in 2020.
This award-winning engagement exemplifies Catalyst and Salesforce’s shared commitment to driving innovation in education. Focused on Arkansas’ statewide Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (R.I.S.E.) campaign, Catalyst leveraged Marketing Cloud to deploy customized emails and text messages to nearly 170,000 Arkansas families. This mass outreach aimed to direct parents and caregivers to the R.I.S.E. website for early literacy resources.
In partnership with the ADE and academic researchers, Catalyst systematically tested how different communication strategies influenced family engagement with the R.I.S.E. website. Key findings showed adding text messaging, beyond just email outreach, increased click rates to the website by over 6 percentage points. The research also revealed gaps in digital access correlated to economic disadvantages, underscoring the importance of accessible means of communication, like texting.
“Government technology takes many shape, and our various Partner Innovation Award wins over the years reflect such possibilities.” said Arvin Talwar, Founder and CEO of Catalyst. “It’s an honor to contribute to an initiative centered around something as critical as early literacy and sparking a love for reading.”
We thank the ADE for the opportunity to work together, and we send our gratitude to Salesforce for the recognition. This win speaks to the nimbleness and innovation we as a small business bring to the Salesforce Partner ecosystem!
In May 2023, Catalyst Consulting Group celebrated 31 years in business. Officially over 3 decades of revolutionizing organizations’ abilities to best serve their operations and their constituencies, our 31 years of experience has taught us a thing or two. We sat down with our founder and CEO, Arvin Talwar, to recap what the 31st anniversary has meant to him, specifically during May’s observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As an Asian-Indian American, Talwar’s heritage classifies Catalyst Consulting Group as a minority-owned enterprise. However, the minority-owned-business categorization was never Talwar’s leading value proposition or opening selling point. In fact, he prefers the contrary – that the diverse identities of those at Catalyst, including his own, are of latter consideration to their qualifications, work ethic, and character.
Our conversation took us back in time – pre-Y2K, when Catalyst was awaiting the technology boom, a time when Talwar had multiple ongoing business ventures.
When considering his heritage and its place in the identity of his business, he provided, “When I started out in business 30 odd years ago, everybody was trying to do the right thing. But they were driven by business value and not just by what I believe would be to pander to a certain community. They would really say, let me get the best of breed. If it happens to be with a minority business, better yet.”
However, the tone shifted in the mid-90s, when Corporate America was compelled to take the public sector’s lead in developing viable minority and women-owned enterprise supplier programs. Large companies realized benefit in highlighting their strong cadre of suppliers that were owned by minorities and women entrepreneurs. Quickly, such supplier programs became a priority for the boardroom, purchasing departments, as well as marketing.
Talwar recalls the first opportunity in which establishing his business as a minority business enterprise was of interest. He had developed a strong relationship with a large consulting firm, and Catalyst was included in one of their proposals. After our team won and had landed the opportunity, a question was posed. “Aren’t you a minority business enterprise?” And Talwar recalls saying, “John, what’s that?”
It was a bonus for the partnering firm to partner with minority business enterprises. Talwar said that the experience led him to a sales channel that he hadn’t previously realized.
He recalls, “We then started seeing an aggressive transformation in Corporate America. Back in the late-90s and even early-2000s, Corporate America figured out that having a thriving minority and women-owned business supplier program was good for business.”
It was then that Talwar was inspired to develop an idea of his, one that would merge several components of his background and expertise. This business idea became Castlerock Group. With Corporate America more focused on viable minority suppliers and the trend toward strategic sourcing, Castlerock Group identified suppliers that competitively “made the cut” of strategic sourcing and were potential acquisition targets. Castlerock Group was equipped to acquire non-minority suppliers as well as support minority professionals with their expertise and capital. With this endeavor, Castlerock Group was able to support suppliers in contracts with large companies of Corporate America, such as Ford Motor Company, Ameritech, Eli Lilly, among others.
As time progressed, Talwar decided to direct all his attention to Catalyst Consulting Group, but the experience with his other endeavors provided him with perspective and wisdom as it relates to consideration of heritage in the workplace. Being a minority-owned business provided an advantage to Catalyst without our leadership initially realizing or recognizing its significance, which ultimately is very
telling of the core values at Catalyst. What is most important to our team is not based on what you identify with, but the qualifications you possess and the quality of your work.
While being categorized as a minority owned business, Talwar did not want this to be the reason his company received work. The hard work and dedication of our team is what gets the jobs and builds the strong reputation we have today. Talwar went on record to say, “I would shy away from even saying Catalyst was an MBE until it was absolutely necessary to say so. And my thinking was, if they’re going to hire my firm based on credentials, qualifications, references, the fact that we were an MBE was a collateral benefit.”
Respectfully, this month does hold quite a bit of significance for our team. Throughout his career and since founding Catalyst, Talwar has noticed changes in the business environment and has found new ways for his heritage to have an impact on his work.
It is with this respect that we wish to acknowledge and reflect upon the history and celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. We hope you join Catalyst in honoring the rich heritage, resilience, and contributions of the community throughout history. Let us celebrate those of AAPI heritage who have overcome adversity to make such a lasting impact in society.
Ultimately, the pride with which Talwar speaks about his company and what he has built with his team is rooted in the dedicated and hard-working individuals of the past and present at Catalyst. It is the merit and integrity of our work and those who make our team what it is – not filling quotas or percentages – that fuels his pride. At Catalyst diversity and inclusion are not buzz words and quotas to meet, but instead the celebration of differences beyond heritage. Differences in voices and perspectives, experiences and ideas – it is what enhances the melting pot that we’ve achieved at Catalyst.
Many look forward to the fresh start of a new year as the time to set new goals and start new habits. While this socially embraced, forward-thinking tradition is productive, it sometimes takes the attention away from reflection on the passing year. As we approach the year’s end, we feel it’s important to pause and dive into our most memorable Catalyst moments of 2022!
Introducing Catalyst Wrapped, our highlight reel of reached milestones, celebrating a successful year of challenge met with determination, growth and new heights! Check out the video recap here, and learn more about each milestone below.
A milestone birthday! Catalyst celebrated 30 years in business in May!
Since our beginnings in the basement of our CEO’s first home, we have grown to serve over 500 clients with elegant solutions. We have spearheaded award-winning work for the public sector, guiding governments along their paths to modernization. The last 3 decades have been defined with much success. Our birthday wish? We know we shouldn’t tell, but we hope the next 30 years are as sweet as the first 30 years!
We were in the Salesforce spotlight! Tim, our Managing Principal and COO, discussed our Toronto 311 implementation on a Salesforce webinar with Toronto!
Our trailblazing work with the City of Toronto didn’t go unnoticed. Of the several highlights, Catalyst’s very own, Tim Smith, Managing Principal and COO, discussed the implementation with the City of Toronto and Salesforce on The Salesforce Trailblazer Community Meeting Series.
And the award goes to…. Catalyst Consulting Group! We won our third Salesforce Partner Innovation Award for Public Sector!
Our team’s implementation of the City of Toronto’s 311 non-emergency services center, “Toronto At Your Service”, was recognized with Salesforce’s 2022 Partner Innovation Award for Public Sector. The award marks our third, having earned the PIA for Public Sector in 2019 and for Transportation in 2020.
This year, we’ve flown to new heights…and new places! Catalyst resumed on-site travel in Q3 and Q4!
We are excited to be visiting clients once again, as well as attending industry events, in-person! This year, some of our travel included trips to: Washington State, Houston, South Carolina, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. We feel our client relationships are strengthened when meeting beyond our computer screens, and we are grateful we had the opportunity to travel.
Our team members celebrated double-digit work anniversaries! Those who have been with us the longest celebrated 17 years!
We celebrate all of our team members’ work anniversaries, but 17 years calls for a special highlight. We want to thank Tim Smith and Mo Khan, Managing Director, for their dedication and hard work ethic throughout nearly 2 decades with us. Team members like Mo and Tim are what define
the Catalyst difference.
Hello, fellow government technologists! Catalyst sponsors the Engage311 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2022.
This conference convenes annually to talk about the power of non-emergency services to help cities and counties thrive. We were thrilled to spend time with leaders across North America to discuss how technology can boost internal efficiencies among staff, while deepening the relationship between public sector and people.
We’ve expanded our footprint! We now have contracts in 14 states, as well as in 2 cities and 1 region in Canada!
In 2022, we had the privilege of completing projects in American states we hadn’t worked in before, including Texas and Massachusetts. Beyond just the USA, we’re proud to share our Canadian presence has extended throughout Ontario, as we undertake 311 projects with the Region of York and Town of Oakville.
Hey, NYC! We’re especially excited to say we signed our first contract in New York City for system integrator services, which will go into effect January 2023.
We’re taking a bite out of the Big Apple, too! Our first New York City contract is slated to begin in January as we’ve been accepted into a Task Order pool as an approved vendor to provide support and enhancements to New York City’s technology ecosystem.
Sweet Home Chicago! We deepened our long-term partnership with the City of Chicago, launching a significant Salesforce CRM solution for the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.
There’s no place like home! We are excited to continually serve the City of Chicago, expanding to their Department of Family and Support Services. As always, we are aiming for this project to set precedent for how we could best serve other cities in the modernization of their departments’ systems.
Welcome to the team! We’ve hired 27 team members this year, with 60% of them filling new roles.
Our Catalyst team has welcomed 27 new faces this year, and we are evolving as a company in the functions that we cover, internally and externally! This growth is testimony to the dedication and effort that each team member has brought and continues to bring to their work here at Catalyst and for our clients.
Thank you all for a great 2022! We like to think of Catalyst as a firm that belongs to its team, and we hope that you all celebrate these milestones as part of your personal achievements for the year. These accomplishments couldn’t have been achieved without you. We are looking forward to 2023 and are excited for what the future holds!
I love this time of year: food, football, family, and friends. It is everything I love, packaged in a nice long weekend.
It is also a great time to reflect and for all of us to take a pause and be grateful. No matter what you are dealing with, take a moment or more to look around your world and appreciate all the things that make you – you.
Me? I always try to focus on “the Journey.” Life is complicated and messy. There is always something that dominates your mind and cycles: family, work, health
Life happens when you are planning other stuff. This will never change. In my own life experiences, I focus on how to best deal with my challenges versus, “Why do I have to deal with them?” Not easy, but it works.
Part of the recipe to enjoying the Journey is being grateful.
We are all an amalgamation of our experiences. Our experiences are formed by all of those that we relate to or with. Think about that. There are 8 billion people in this world, and your journey and experiences are likely formed and driven by a handful.
If you spend time with these people, you probably like or love them. Otherwise, why are you spending time with them? I get we can’t ONLY spend time with people that positively affect our Journey. But, for those that do positively affect your Journey, be grateful and thank them.
For me, my family is my MapQuest for my Journey. They set my life route. It is what I try to follow…every day. Detours happen almost every day, but I usually always get where I want to go, guided by their love and support.
My Catalyst Family is critical to my Journey. I love and am proud of what we have built here at Catalyst. I get very excited as we welcome new family members. I want to thank all of you for being part of my Journey. I miss seeing our office full of energy, laughter, and, yes, tension. It was invigorating and exhilarating. I hope we continue our onsite office visits in to 2023. I am so grateful and so lucky to have you all in my 360.
I wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving. And please tell them how much you appreciate them and how cool it is to be on your Journey — with them.
Happy Holidays, Arvin K. Talwar Founder and CEO of Catalyst Consulting Group
Catalyst Consulting, a proud Salesforce Partner, has been awarded this year’s Salesforce Partner Innovation Award for the Public Sector category. The team has been recognized for the implementation of the City of Toronto’s non-emergency service center, “Toronto At Your Service,” built on Salesforce. The award will be presented at Dreamforce on September 19-21, 2022, in San Francisco, California.
The Partner Innovation Award for the Public Sector recognizes Catalyst and the City’s innovative use of the Salesforce Ecosystem and dedication to enhancing the constituent service experience.
As part of this “Toronto At Your Service” modernization, constituents can now access Toronto 311’s nearly 600 service offerings through various convenient channels online. The deployment of Salesforce’s Social Studio tool will also enable the City to meet constituents where they are at – on Twitter – and enhance its ability to deliver customer service via social channels. As a result of our collaboration and revamp, there is now truly “no wrong door” through which constituents can receive service, and they can reliably expect a response from the City each time, regardless of how they initially reach out. In the name of transparency, constituents can track the status of requests from start to finish and receive regular updates on the request’s progress via email and text. Constituents and staff alike will benefit from a Knowledge Base for easier access to City information, while more advanced reporting will support data-driven decision making that boosts staff productivity and constituent satisfaction.
Catalyst Consulting has been empowering governments by providing elegant solutions and implementations to complex issues since 1990. This marks the team’s third win, also taking the Partner Innovation Award for the Public Sector in 2019 and Transportation in 2020.
Reflecting on what contributed to the award win, Catalyst’s Founder and CEO Arvin Talwar noted, “We strive to treat every client like they are our only client.” The Salesforce Partner Innovation award highlights this approach and drive for elegant solutions within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Catalyst is both humbled and honored to win the Partner Innovation Award for the Public Sector, and the team thanks the innovative leaders at the City of Toronto for their partnership.
The Catalyst team mourns the loss of our colleague and friend, Bill Brandstatt, who passed away on May 22, 2022.
Bill gave ten years of hard work and dedication to our team and will be greatly missed. He will be remembered as a great mentor to all of us at Catalyst, and more importantly, a beloved father, fiancée, son, and brother.
We will always cherish the time we had with him.
Please keep Bill’s family in your thoughts. Your support is deeply appreciated as his family and friends go through this difficult time.
After 18 months of development, the Catalyst team is humbled and honored to announce our latest addition to our Salesforce 311 portfolio – the City of Toronto.
As part of this “Toronto At Your Service” modernization, constituents can now access Toronto 311’s nearly 600 service offerings through various convenient channels online. The deployment of Salesforce’s Social Studio tool will also enable the City to meet constituents where they are at – on Twitter – and enhance its ability to deliver customer service via social channels. As a result of our collaboration and revamp, there is now truly “no wrong door” through which constituents can receive service, and they can reliably expect a response from the City each time, regardless of how they initially reach out.
In the name of transparency, constituents can track the status of requests from start to finish and receive regular updates on the request’s progress via email and text. Constituents and staff alike will benefit from a Knowledge Base for easier access to City information, while more advanced reporting will support data-driven decision making that boosts staff productivity and constituent satisfaction.
The excitement will continue through the remainder of 2021, as our custom-developed 311 mobile app will launch in the near future to enable constituents to reach their local government with a few swipes and taps on their smartphone.
In celebration of the launch, Catalyst Founder and CEO Arvin Talwar noted, “Being able to provide Canada with a Catalyst 311 solution is incredible, not only because we get to show our commitment to our northern neighbors, but also because Toronto will see a great rise in their internal efficiencies and stronger relationships with constituents. Thank you to the Catalyst team for creating such an amazing solution for Toronto. We are grateful for the Toronto team’s partnership and look forward to nurturing the future of constituent engagement with them.”
In developing 311 solutions, the Catalyst team can fully demonstrate our passion for deploying transformative solutions that fully encompass how great public sector technology can, and should, operate for internal and external users.
We express our deepest thanks to the City of Toronto and Salesforce for their partnership.
We offer a full-time summer intern program for college students to loop young people into the government technology space as budding software engineers, digital media strategists, and business analysts. Real-world, professional experience is critical for students to succeed outside of college. Here at Catalyst, we recognize our duty for the next generation of government technologists and hope to provide them with this experience. Below, our interns – Katherine Buddenhagen, Ola Chmiel, Patricija Miskinyte, Jim Lizzio, and David Ostman – reflect on their summer internship and lessons learned from working in the government technology space.
Katherine worked on our Salesforce implementation for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. She remarked on the sheer impact of government technology, having worked first-hand with this agency holding the awesome responsibility of delivering clean water to a population of almost 2 million people.
The activities of our daily lives are increasingly based on technology-driven processes, and the activities of local, state, and federal government entities are no exception. The implementation of technology assets at any government level can help to increase public service efficiency, provide data-driven insights to inform process improvement, improve communication with the public, and more.
The result? Better quality governmental service and in turn, citizen welfare.
After developing a complete understanding of a client’s processes and pain points through conversation and observation, CCG teams prescribe and execute actionable solutions driven by innovative technology solutions to fit a client’s needs. By observing and participating in these processes, I have learned that, for technology solutions to realize their potential positive impact, the implementation must be purposeful, well-executed, and above all, client-driven.”
Ola, our Salesforce Business Analyst Intern working on the Toronto 311 project, echoes Katherine’s sentiment on the power government technology has. Through her work with Toronto 311, Ola has seen first-hand not only the extraordinary amount of people government technology can reach, but also the importance of a good public sector technologist.
Attributes that make someone a good public sector technologist are those that make up any reliable job candidate. The technologist must be creative and flexible, adapting to changes wherever necessary and coming up with ideas outside of the norm. Deadlines are also important, so it is imperative that the technologist is efficient with their time management and can make secure decisions under stress. They must be able to work well with others, communicate their needs, and show a certain level of leadership among the myriad of people they will be working with. Most importantly the employee needs to be driven. Technologists must have enthusiasm for the sector in which they are working, in this case, an obvious interest in government, politics, or current affairs. Throughout my internship with Catalyst Consulting Group, I have seen these attributes and more put to the test, positively impacting all of CCG’s many projects.”
As many of our interns are new to the government technology space, Catalyst often offers a new perspective on government agencies and ways technology can improve them. Patricija, our Digital Marketing intern, reflected on her broadened view of social media, government, and technology.
As a communication and political science major, I am minimally exposed to technology for anything more than writing or research. My responsibilities this summer were geared toward social media and marketing, which I learned are important for not just us here in the private sector, but governments too for tasks such as constituent engagement or distributing information. My time here has increased my understanding of the capabilities of technological tools and the way governments can utilize them.
Catalyst Consulting Group has exposed me to the complexities of government agencies and the technologies needed to serve them. Both entities house much more information than I could have imagined. I am grateful this position has given me a glimpse of tools like chatbots, low code development, and other aspects that go into creating any modern, seamless system.”
As the internship program comes to an end, not all our interns will continue to work in the government technology space, but the impact of our work will inspire many to return. Jim, a software engineer intern, observed the difference his work can make for improving people’s lives and changing the future.
Working in this space allows you to deploy larger public-facing projects that affect more people on a wider scale than creating internal private solutions. Some of the work that I have done has already affected thousands of people and grows every day. The government technology space allows me to help change society for the better and can be a great place for me to work with as I continue my career.”
And as our intern class takes the next steps in their careers, the biggest takeaways are the lessons learned from the mentors at Catalyst, as David emphasized:
My favorite part is meeting up with and talking to my mentor Alec. He has shown me how to do my job, and he has helped me whenever I needed it.”
As technology grows in each sector of our lives, we must mentor the next generation of technologists that could change the lives of thousands of people all over the world. Thank you to our interns for a great summer at Catalyst! Our intern program could not exist without motivated, bright young students like you.
Catalyst Consulting Group is pleased to announce our partnership with Manhattan-based investment bank Jahani and Associates as we bring our technology development and consulting services to the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Guided by regional connections held by the Jahani team, Catalyst is exploring opportunities with stakeholders in utility, transportation, and tourism verticals in several target countries.
This exciting new reach comes on the heels of our expansion into Canada and formation of our Canadian subsidiary.
“We are thrilled to work with Jahani and Associates to continue our international growth that started with Canada two years ago,” remarked Arvin Talwar, Catalyst’s Founder and CEO, “This partnership will allow Catalyst to leverage this momentum and penetrate new markets. Stellar customer service and improved efficiencies are universally valued.” Speaking on the partnership, Talwar continued, “We are grateful for the Jahani team’s guidance and look forward to the future.”
Joshua Jahani, Managing Director of Jahani and Associates explained, “We are seeing significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and growth in these regions. Catalyst is uniquely positioned to enter these markets to provide our clients with the most innovative and valuable strategic advice possible.” Jahani concluded, “We are looking forward to collaborating with Catalyst while deepening our existing relationships and fostering new ones with important stakeholders.”
In late 2020, Catalyst was honored and humbled to receive a Salesforce Partner Innovation Award for our work with the Port of Seattle! We took home the prize in the “Travel, Transportation, and Hospitality” category. The Port of Seattle oversees Seattle’s seaport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and we had the pleasure of delivering a core Salesforce CRM and Marketing Cloud implementation for their team.
To celebrate, the Catalyst and Salesforce teams chatted about our work with the Port, as well as diversity in technology and innovation at Catalyst. Tune into the video interview with our Director of Solution Engineering, Alissa Ahn, right here, and be sure to read the blog post about our win published in honor of Asian American Heritage Month.
We send our deepest thanks to the Port of Seattle for their partnership since 2019. We also thank Salesforce for their work fostering this creative community, and we congratulate our fellow award recipients on their success.