For three years running Kelley Drye & Warren legal secretary Alicia Hunter has organized a holiday choir among the members of the office. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)

Few organizations can acheive success without employees who are willing to go above and beyond their daily roles.

Here’s three stories.

Choir leader

As an assistant to managing partner Lew Rose at Kelley Drye & Warren, Alicia Hunter helps with the day-to-day administration of a big law firm. But she’s also a talented singer who graduated from local music academy Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

So in 2013, her boss gave her a challenge: Why not form a choir to sing at the firm’s holiday party?

She recruited the best voices from around the office, and the rest is history. The choir has become a celebrated fixture of the firm’s annual festivities, and it’s always gaining new members. Though the group only comes together once a year, Hunter says she relishes the opportunity.

Paul Smith went from security guard to owning a cybersecurity company. (Nick Otto/For The Washington Post)

“I’m a shy person, so I’m usually in the background of things,” she said. “To have people come up to me and say, ‘You are wonderful; the chorale was wonderful,’ makes me feel really good.”

Rising star

Paul Smith joined the Manassas security firm Falken Industries in 2009 as a confused 19-year-old looking for something new, and chief executive Rob Ord saw something in him. Ord put the National Guardsman to work as a building security guard at a big defense contractor in Northern Virginia.

One day, Ord pulled the young man aside: “Two years from now, you’re not going to be working for me. You’re going to be doing something big.”

Ord held Smith’s job for him when he was deployed to Iraq, and Smith returned eight months later with a dream of working in cybersecurity. Smith started pursuing an online degree in information security, and his military security clearance meant he could shadow the client’s cyber-professionals while they were engaged in classified work. He learned the ropes through a constant stream of questions.The training paid off. In 2015, he landed a job as a cybersecurity analyst for another company and is now starting his own firm.

“There’ s been no looking back since,” Smith said.

Now he’s almost done with his degree, and he’s starting his own cybersecurity company, C3 Security. The company has already attracted $300,000 from investors, and Smith says he’s close to sealing a deal with his first paying client.

Walter Layton, vice president at Mark G. Anderson Consultants, has been bringing in bagels and donuts to the firm’s corporate office early each morning for more than a decade. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)

Smith’s experience is not abnormal at Falken. Ord sees his company as a pivot point for veterans making the big transition back to the 9-to-5 life.

“Do you want a security guard where that’s all they want to do in life, like Paul Bart in [the movie] ‘Mall Cop?’ ” Ord asked.

Bagel man

Walter Layton does not see much of the corporate office at Mark G. Anderson Consultants. His company counsels construction firms with a mix of financial advice and on-the-ground expertise, and Layton prefers the field to the office.

“I like seeing stuff being built, and I like seeing it on a daily basis,” he said.

But he has made a mark on the company’s office culture nonetheless: Each Friday, he shows up in the wee hours of the morning with a load of bagels and doughnuts, and in 11 years, he’s missed only one week.

He says it is just a nice thing to give something people appreciate and look forward to: “Part of it’s my upbringing, and part of it’s the people I work with.”

He said he knows there are other people at work who go out of the way to help him, as well.

“There’s a lot of benefits in our office that go unwritten and unrecognized,” he said.

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