I became a consultant because I thought I would develop my knowledge and skills faster working with a broad variety of individuals from different backgrounds. I wanted the variety of making change happen on a broader scale rather than in one organisation.
My background was initially working in the public sector in local government. I trained as an accountant where I worked with a number of local authorities across the country, getting involved in strategic financial planning.
Part of my role was also creating outsourcing deals between the public and private sector and through that experience, and with my skills and expertise I was approached by KPMG to move to an advisory consultant position within their firm.
The appeal was to work across a variety of local authorities, working with like-minded, energetic people who were committed to improving the public sector.
What is a typical day like for you?
My typical day is very much about managing people and trying to support and build relationship with clients; a mix of coaching my staff and operationally understanding where our market is and how we develop our services to meet the challenges facing our clients. Pivotal to that is continually articulating how we are different from other consultancies that we compete with.
A lot of the day is spent thinking about the future of the public sector and how we can help to sustain support to the vulnerable rather than simply cut services and staff.
Specifically I am trying to create momentum around a new theory of change, that the public sector is about people delivering services to people, and therefore we must put the change of behaviour and culture at the top of our agenda. Systems and processes are easy; it’s the people stuff that’s the hard stuff!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with my people; I am very lucky, I have an enormously talented, vibrant and committed group of staff which continues to grow.
Consulting is a people business. We sell the capabilities and intelligence of our people, and therefore it is critical that I provide an environment where they can contribute and succeed.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I want iMPOWER to be seen as the go to organisation for the most ambitious public sector organisations that really want to reform public service. I want iMPOWER to shake up public services, as we are starting to do.
What are the current challenges the industry faces?
One of delivering value. I think all professional industries are being challenged now for the value they deliver relative to the price they charge. Clearly we need to reshape our consultant services in the public sector and charge appropriately for the services we provide.
Secondly the consulting industry needs to work out how to inspire and develop talent. I feel that we currently have a model where we are asking newcomers to the sector to jump in at the deep end without the right level of support – pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. Reputationally sooner or later we will get caught out.
What is your advice for anyone in their early years in the industry?
I would say do your research and learn more about consulting. Think hard about what you want to achieve, what’s your reason for getting involved in consultancy? Do you have a sense of purpose? The people who are most successful actually have a purpose in what they want to achieve.