"I saw an opportunity and started the ball rolling"
Meet Zarina Naqvi, one member of the outstanding new Chartered Management Consultant cohort
For the recent edition of CMI’s magazine, we spoke to Zarina Naqvi at Maxima Associates, who recently earned Chartered status for her management consultation work. Curious to know more about her motivations for pursuing this CMI accolade, we reached out to her.
We hear you were in the first cohort of Chartered Management Consultants and were the first woman to achieve ChMC status...
Yes, that’s right!
Nice. And you’re now also an assessor for other management consultants who want to become Chartered...
How many management consultants have so far achieved Chartered status?
The first Chartered Management Consultant awards were presented in January. As of late February, more than 100 have registered for assessment, and 28 have achieved ChMC status. From the first ten pilot firms, we have more than 1,500 consultants joining the programme.
Let’s rewind a bit. How did the idea of Chartered Management Consultants come about?
Well, the Chartered Management Consultant status (ChMC) is a collaboration between CMI and the Management Consultancies Association. The purpose is to set and maintain the highest standard you can achieve in the management consulting profession.
Why do you think it’s important to do this?
The world is evolving into knowledge-based economies, and management consultancy underpins the best use of that knowledge. Bear in mind that there are roughly 200,000 people in the UK operating as consultants. Up until now, there has been no accredited consultant status. The Chartered award, which is measured against a competency framework, will give clients confidence that they’re engaging with someone who has been assessed as strategic, competent and ethical.
So how did a one-time CFO-turned-entrepreneur become one of the UK’s first Chartered Management Consultants?
Ha! Yes, I spent the first part of my career in finance, working for the blue chips. When I left investment banking, I started a niche corporate and retail business. It was not long after the law changed to allow venues to hold wedding services. I saw an opportunity and started the ball rolling to develop that as a niche business, which grew very quickly. I sold that business in 2001 and went into the internet, advising some of the companies building its technological infrastructure. These were all owner-led businesses – big companies but still owner-led. To this day, my consultancy business only advises established owner-managed companies. That’s our sweet spot.
Why did you want to become Chartered?
For me, it was about differentiating myself. Clients want to know they’re working with someone who’s intelligent, who’s engaged with the world as it is, and whose ethical and academic credentials are approved by an external source. I had done a master’s at UCL a few years previously, and Chartered status provides further evidence that my services are at the top of the pyramid.
You sound very positive about the future…
I am! You have to think about the context here. Everyone’s talking about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on business and society, but the thing is, AI can’t develop strategy or come up with blue-sky thinking. It can only do what it’s told – it mimics human beings. The best management consultancy, on the other hand, is all about finding new ways of doing things. And that’s vital right now because businesses are having to adapt constantly, and technology is evolving faster than ever. Management consultancy can make a huge positive difference to UK plc.