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Monday 20 April 2015

Institute of Consulting's 'Management Consultancy Market Update'

ESCP Europe Business School hosted an 'Industry Update' talk for the Institute of Consulting in London, addressed by its own Dr Davide Sola and specialist recruiter Richard Stewart, Founder of Mindbench.

Some 35 members of the UK consultancy industry joined staff, students and alumni from ESCP Europe to hear about the latest trends and structural shifts in the market, and their implications for recruitment.

Dr Sola talked about key reasons why the consultancy sector is experiencing new levels of disruption bringing new challenges:

  • Very high pressure on fees - many clients call for "beauty contexts" and competitive bidding before awarding projects
  • Increased transparency - many former strategic consultants and MBAs are now working on the client-side, bringing insider understanding of consultancy and removing the mystery element
  • Software able to perform complex analysis, automating the work teams of consultants used to be hired to perform
  • New competitors are appearing - small boutiques, in-house consultancy departments, new players from adjacent markets such as IT, suppliers of activities required to solve a strategic issue

Mr Stewart talked about his background as a consultant and his founding of Mindbench, matching the needs of consultancy firms with available talent.
He updated the audience on the current scale and trends in the sector, including that:

  • 40% of consultants' work is still commissioned from the finance industry
  • The public sector is very strong: NHS spend has doubled since 2010
  • There has been a 115% increase in consultants hired for 'digital' projects - some through new recruitment and others redeployed from within firms

In terms of current and medium-term recruitment opportunities, following Dr Sola's point about consultants moving into industry, there is some evidence of ex-consultants in returning to consultancy firms, especially from finance.
In terms of skills, digital skills are highly sought after - there is a major shortage of people with current experience in consulting firms and business in general.
Another opportunity is to fill a gap in the management structure in consultancy firms:  many aspiring managers left during the recession, leaving a gap in succession planning. This is resulting in new opportunities now, especially for individuals who can match their technical skills with strong 'people' ones. "It's a good time for consultants in their 30s with good interpersonal skills," said Mr Stewart.
Mr Stewart went on to describe the recruitment processes the major consultancy firms are now using, and to offer advice on CVs and covering letters.

After a highly engaging Q&A session with both speakers, Graham Kennedy, Court Assistant at Worshipful Company of Management Consultants, wrapped up the discussion and provided information on the Institute of Consulting and its umbrella organisation, the Chartered Management Institute.
ESCP Europe's new UK Director, Dr Simon Mercado, offered thanks to the organisers and participants and invited all to continue discussions in the student lounge over drinks and nibbles.

ESCP Europe would like to thank alumnus and Institute of Consulting member Michele Cuccovillo (MEB 2010) for offering the opportunity to host this event.

Davide Sola is professor of Strategy and Management at ESCP Europe and visiting faculty at Business Schools in Finland, India and Italy. He is also Principal at 3H Partners, who work with multinational organisations and governments in Europe, US and Africa.

Richard Stewart is an entrepreneur with a background in international management consultancy services and financial services. Richard is regularly quoted by the leading consulting press including Management Consulting International and Consulting-News.  Richard is also the founder of Mindbench, an award winning and values driven, specialist recruitment firm that was awarded runner up in the 2010 and 2009 Top-Consultant Best Recruitment Firm survey.

To see tweets about the event, please search #ESCPeurIC / @m_cuccovillo / @consultingUK @ESCPeurope / @Mindbench / @dsola / @SAMERCADOUK

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