Why become a Chartered Management Consultant?Tuesday 02 March 2021
People often have a narrow view of management consultancy; people spouting meaningless corporate jargon or charging enormous fees for information that leaders could have got from their employees.
The truth, however, is much different. Good consultants are problem solvers, and no two are the same. They all come with their own experiences and specialisms. They care about bringing value to their clients.
It's why we created the Chartered Management Consultant (ChMC) award along with the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) – to create a badge that differentiates the well-qualified, professional consultants from those just playing the part.
We spoke to five of the first Chartered Management Consultants about their careers and the advice they'd offer for managers considering moving into consultancy.
The growth specialist
Many people get into consulting when they really shouldn't, says Zarina Naqvi, founder and director of Maxima Associates. It's why the new professionalisation of consultancy that the ChMC award brings is so essential. "They bring the profession into disrepute by not applying management consultancy processes and practices, which leads to frustration by the market."
Naqvi started her career in large international corporations and moved into management early in her career. She worked in senior finance roles with responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and in various high growth business sectors. But she wanted a bigger challenge, so became her own boss. She worked with fast-growing tech firms in the early 2000s; a stepping stone to management consultancy.
"A massive part of what I do is bring contacts and connections to my clients. I've just populated one client with five people."
Naqvi essentially works as an experienced CEO for growing companies, with owner-managers drawing on her knowledge to ensure they grow sustainably. As a result, it's crucial to understand different sectors, and in particular, how people tick. "If you can tap into the best of what people can do, you're there. The technical stuff is secondary."
It is an exciting but high-pressure and risky career. Some management consultants prefer to stick to a specific sector, but Naqvi likes to work across industries. "That, for me, is one of the best things; the variety." And the ChMC award offers a stamp of approval for all of these skills – no matter what sector.
The recruitment/people specialist
Tom Spence originally started his career in recruitment for the legal sector. Clients began asking him to do more than just recruitment, asking for market analysis and strategic advice. This developed into consulting work. He started his own business, Fides Search, in 2013. As the work became more consultancy-focused and the clients became international, he found CMI and the Institute of Consulting. He started getting some formal qualifications, culminating in his ChMC award.
Last year, he started Donoma Advisors, which is more focused on consulting than Fides. "Everything that we do now is around advice and consulting and making sure we're doing it in the right way. For me, the educational side of things – the awards and becoming chartered – supports everything we do on a day-to-day basis.
Spence enjoys the constant learning and development, both the formal qualifications and the learning on the job that is part of a consultant's work. "I started consulting when I was relatively young. I worked for big institutions and understood that I could bring them something that they do not have. There's a value attached to that."
As a consultant, you need to trust yourself, your skills and your instincts, Spence explains – and ChMC helps with that. "It's about being able to say to yourself and clients: I should know what I'm doing."
The behavioural expert
Peter Johnson's life took a very sudden turn 21 years ago. His wife became ill and died. Not long after, he had to deal with his own health issues. "Suddenly, life had changed shape."
From that tragic moment in his life came an opportunity to become an independent consultant. Johnson founded Project in Mind, working with various organisations, from large government departments and corporations to fast-growing SMEs.
"The thing that I've really enjoyed about it is the diversity. I've worked with a wide variety of different types of clients; some of them challenged me in a very significant way. But from each assignment, I learn more. It's been interesting."
Johnson is particularly passionate about lifelong learning and has picked up several qualifications along the way. He is a Chartered Manager, a qualified accountant, has an MBA from Henley, a qualified Executive Coach and a Master Practitioner in NLP, with an MSc in organisational development, and a psychology qualification from Yale. Behavioural psychology has become a specialism that Johnson weaves into his work as a consultant.
"The implementation is all down to the people that you take with you on the journey. So the work often requires an excellent understanding of behaviour."
Johnson particularly loves that he helps people to develop and realise their potential. He has written a book on the subject: The Mentor Within: Unleash Your Potential Into the World.
"When I'm working with a client, I'm looking to say: how can we get this new potential into the workplace? How can we bring out the latent talent in its people? That's the big thing for me."
The consultancy trainer
Tony Lavender has worked with governments worldwide, bringing his years of expertise from the Civil Service to his consultancy work. "I'm so lucky because I've got a good track record now," he says. "I'm not fazed by many problems that come up because I've faced most of them in the public sector anyway."
Lavender is a Chartered Management Consultant, Chartered Manager and Certified Management Consultant, which he says have been strong selling points for the international work he does and his career as a consultancy trainer, which has become a more significant part of his work in recent years. "It means a certain quality and status of approval, which I play on a lot."
To be a good management consultant, you need excellent interpersonal skills. You should also know the sector you're working in well. A creative mind helps to come up with solutions and options, and recommendations. Good presentation and selling skills are essential to get people to take on board your suggestions. “Getting a good rapport with people and building trust is vital. Overlaying that, you've got to give a professional aspect to it.”
"I've run over 200 courses, and each one is different. Many of the delegates have gone onto to become Chartered Management Consultants. The interaction you get from different people is amazing.”
The 'in firm' consultant
John Tibble has spent the last two decades working for Capita, CSC and Xansa, having started in business transformation in FMCG Supply Chain with Nestlé. His consultancy team works directly with government departments.
"The lifestyle and working environment are always varied," he says. "It's always stimulating, and there are always opportunities to share knowledge and learn."
At best, consultants are a force to accelerate and secure positive change. "It's all about making sure that the end result is delivering value."
The Chartered Management Consultant award can help tackle public perception, says Tibble. A great consultant, he says, doesn't need to sell themselves. Their clients will do that for them. "We help set the standards and put the bar high and give a very positive return on what we're doing."
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