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#InThisTogether: Delivering “FINRA in a Box”

Bob Morris

FINRA has been on a hiring spree, working to fill scores of open positions. But given that almost all employees are working remotely as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, how are these new hires getting the equipment to start work from home?

The solution: “FINRA in a Box.”

That’s what staff call the package FINRA sends to new hires, containing a laptop, onboarding instructions, introductory material, a little branded merch—and even a few pieces of candy to sweeten their first day.   

In normal times, the first day for a new employee includes a visit from Desktop Support to set up the staffer’s desktop, including access to any specialized systems or information they will need for their job. For example, an examiner in Member Supervision and an analyst in Market Regulation require different sets of tools and data. But with virtually everyone working remotely, that visit is not possible.

Enter Bob Morris and his team.

Morris, an Associate Director in Enterprise Technology Services who has been with FINRA since 2011, has moved that experience from the office into the virtual world. Instead of computers being set up in person, Morris and his colleagues—Akinyele Akinsanya and Craig Xavier—are shipping laptops to newcomers’ homes and arranging remote-control sessions to set up the machines, as well as videoconference sessions for additional support.

The goal is to ensure employees are up and running tech-wise even before the onboarding they will undergo with People Solutions and their own department. The same process applies for contractors brought in by the Vendor Management Office.

“It was only after we had started shipping the packages that we started to hear people refer to them as ‘FINRA in a Box,’” said Morris with a laugh. “I said, ‘Wow, if this is a thing, we’d better make sure we get it right!’”

The team has been delivering 20 boxes a week, and all the reactions show they have been getting it right indeed. Hiring managers and staffing vendors have been impressed that FINRA has quickly transitioned to shipping equipment quickly and with no issues.

Getting it right has required some innovation and collaboration. Morris, Akinsanya and Xavier coordinate the deliveries and onboarding process not only with Desktop Support, but also with People Solutions and Vendor Management. A small team meets weekly to orchestrate logistics of deliveries and timing of virtual sessions. Morris also consulted with Cyber and Information Security to ensure the new operation met security standards.

Morris, who previously worked at Lockheed Martin and Marriott, and was at a boutique infotech provider in New York City during 9/11, added, “Working here is an honor, and we’re all thrilled to help keep the company going at a very important time.” He noted that many companies have suspended hiring or onboarding, so keeping the process going puts FINRA at a competitive advantage for talent.   

Morris and his team are among the few working from a FINRA office. They occupy a large room on the Rockville campus, where the three team members can keep their distance from each other and follow other safety precautions, which include wiping down all incoming and outgoing materials. Morris takes it all in stride; when asked if there have been any dramatic moments along the way, he replied in his understated manner:

“Well, there was one day when we had trouble getting lunch delivered…”

FINRA In A Box, unboxed.

Social distancing at work: Morris, Akinsanya and Xavier in the office.

Bob Morris with his hands full, as usual.

And away we go.

Tiffany shares her unboxing experience.


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