S3: S3's Unparalleled Agility, The Era of the Boutique

Johanna Baum, Founder and CEO
2020 began with great enthusiasm, strategic planning, and an expectation for one of S3’s best years. Our clients were achieving success with their IAM initiatives and we were poised for record growth. In mid-March, however, the world came to a crashing halt. With a global shift, humankind found itself in an off-road race of unknown distance and destination. Seven months in, and new threats are emerging from all corners of every continent. Companies were forced to make widespread changes in their business operations, their security defenses are being challenged, and employees are struggling with the rapid transition and full scope of working from home.

As an organization, S3 spent fifteen years developing a culture of not only being the best in IDG, security, and eGRC services but one where we place a critical priority on listening to our clients and our people. We have instilled in our employees a nimble mindset and they are prepared to pivot when needed. Regardless of the environment, we support our clients and our people like no one else in the business.

I manage IAM delivery for S3. I know my firm stands behind me. I know I have the support of my leadership. If there are hiccups in a planned deployment or I have to shed my employee hat for a bit, I am confident they will throw me a life preserver. No shadows to look for as I move from a parent, security consultant, employee, manager, and everything else that this new working world brings. For S3, our ‘Put People First’ mantra has been a consistent heartbeat that complements the high bar we set for our level of delivery. We prioritize exceptional output and the human element. It is what keeps our compass firmly pointed in the right direction through these uncertain times. Our team members, clients, colleagues and partners, and families all feel that heartbeat. It is real and woven into our DNA. I am proud to be a part of it every time I get up to start a new day.

Fifteen years ago, when Johanna Baum founded S3, she envisioned a firm where providing exceptional professional services was only one part of our organizational commitment. S3 would also serve as an inclusive and supportive environment where our people were always treated with respect and care. We also extend that same respect and care to our clients for one reason only—when faced with challenges for our clients it is always about “doing the right thing.” Collectively, S3 never imagined operating through what 2020 has delivered. The transformation over the last five months has altered our world drastically. As a professional services firm, our employees, customers, and partners are in need. The acknowledgement and authentic response to these collective needs are critical.

Since March, in my weekly check-in calls with project sponsors and executives and every one-on-one call with members of my team, I ask the same three questions: “How are you feeling?” “What do you need?” “How can we help?” Johanna taught me this. Professional services firms that are adept at prioritizing people know it requires continued commitment and financial investment. On occasion, this means walking away from potential engagements in favor of their employees’ inclusion, health, and safety. These same organizations also know that the returns on those “people” investments are realized through engaged, loyal employees who love what they do. Those employees reciprocate by creating authentic and effective client experiences and long-lasting client relationships.

This is the era of the boutique. Only the adaptable will survive

Enter S3, the boutique services firm. As Johanna says, “This is the era of ‘the Boutique’. Only the adaptable will survive.” The boutique is agile. We ensure our clients’ strategic and tactical success while being mindful of their challenges. We identify real obstacles and create solutions to address them. As a boutique, S3 is uniquely positioned to do the right thing for our clients, because that is what you should do for your clients. Johanna adds, “Many services firms have lost sight of one of the most critical factors in their success. That is the relentless pursuit of delivery excellence while also caring about the people who will sustain the solutions we build for the long term.” S3 is able to quickly pivot to meet evolving needs in our delivery landscape. As our clients entered a massive and rapid shift to support their entire remote workforce, the f loodgates opened to new threats. Moving into 2021, they are challenged to sustain remote operations securely, cut costs, and keep employees focused and effective. As a result, leaders are less concerned with the next wave of hot technology. It’s no small feat.

S3 succeeds because we adapt the narrative and facilitate a detour on the strategic roadmap when necessary. It may seem counterintuitive, but in times of uncertainty, slowing forward progress so a client can regain more stable financial and operational footing is necessary. When the client is ready to move full speed ahead, we are at the ready!

S3 will continue to adapt, but our focus on delivery excellence and people will remain consistent. Our ability to adapt and the broad perspective we bring to every engagement ensures that we remain aligned to the unique needs, goals, and challenges our clients are facing at that very moment. This is how we have always operated…. this is our heartbeat. It is what differentiates us from conglomerate shops that are more focused on license sales and product go-lives.

Our way works. Period. Just ask our clients.


Alpharetta, GA

Johanna Baum, Founder and CEO and Carrie Bender, Manager, IAM Delivery

Founded in 2005, S3 is a leading provider of information security consulting services for identity and access management (IAM), governance, risk and compliance (GRC), and SAP security. S3 defines itself by the experience and strength of its consultants. The firm comprises CPA’s and certified auditors who not only understand business, but are also certified information security experts. As an agile boutique services firm, S3 ensures its clients’ strategic and tactical success while being mindful of their challenges. The organization identifies real obstacles and creates solutions to address them