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  1. 1. Planning for profit and success The business end The business end 46| Physician heal thyself Consultants brace for the downturn. 47 | Leo D’angelo Fisher Time to reconsider consultancy role. Emerging companies 48 | Here comes the grooming A sticky business goes international. 49 | management update Trends, issues and ideas. 49 | neil Shoebridge Turn on the advertising tap. The BRW list management 50 | Hotels and serviced apartments Rooms to boom in spite of the gloom. physician heal thyself the organisation and to innovate,” he says. With just two employees – himself and business partner Kev Babakian – Epstein Professions Management consultants must demonstrate they believes 360i is nimble and flexible can add value if they are to survive the downturn. enough to weather the storm ahead. 52 | gilt by association Report: Leo D’Angelo Fisher As is fashionable in management Accounting merger a happy union. consulting, the firm has a range of proprietary programs and processes. 54 | What women want Paul Epstein ran his first consulting “We do it because clients expect Change of status will reap rewards. business, a marketing firm, 10 years and respect good, solid processes and ago. After four years, he went corporate frameworks,” Epstein says. “We’re 55 | ethics of service and worked as a brand and product offering more than our collective A step beyond simple commercial ties. development executive. Then the experience. We have upfront products business bug bit again and in 2007 this is a – that’s our intellectual property.” Epstein decided to hang out his Although confident about the wonderful Lifecycle shingle as an innovation consultant. opportunity firm’s prospects, Babakian, whose Two years later, Epstein, founder and advertising-agency background is 56 | adjustment chief executive of Sydney consultancy to focus on in brand strategy and design, adds Mark Sheldon, Group GSA. 360 Innovation, is staring at the prospect what is the that nothing is taken for granted. of the deepest recession in living memory. The firm generally targets 57 | Commitment But as agent 86 Maxwell Smart would value offer multinational companies such as Rangan Srikhanta, say: “And loving it!” of using a former clients Asteron, Kimberly-Clark One Laptop per Child Australia. Epstein is not fazed by the downturn. management and Pfizer but its business strategy A healthy client list including Tourism consultant also ensures that it has exposure Australia, brewer Lion Nathan and to potential success stories. biotechnology company Novogen Peter Fuda, “I work with a lot of online business Nic Walker bodes well for 2009. alignment start-ups with the scope and potential “We believe now’s the time to reinvent Partnership to make it big and it may as well be 46 February 12–18 2009 |
  2. 2. the business end management pro bono work,” Babakian says. “The Peter Fuda, founder and principal pay-off for us is that we learn a lot of Sydney management consulting about new industries and we have the relationship with these businesses before they make their impact. firm The Alignment Partnership, was 29 and a former Westpac Banking Corporation executive when he set d’angelo fisher “If we stuck to one particular direction up his firm in 2001. and one industry, we’d be starving.” He describes TAP, which has a staff Contact Leo D’Angelo Fisher: The management consulting sector of 10, as a boutique firm, “which is is in a conundrum. While some firms another way of saying we’re small, but can expect to play an important role our impact is big.” His clients include assisting businesses to steer through Telstra, Suncorp and Foster’s Group. a farewell to hams the current maelstrom, others will Fuda sheds no tears for competitors find themselves as susceptible to the unlikely to survive the downturn. He It has been a golden era for consultants. Flatter organisations downturn as any other business. believes it is an ideal time for consultants riding the crest of unprecedented prosperity have merrily doled out It is an irony not lost on the national and their clients to review the role lucrative consulting contracts for work that once would have been president of the Institute of Management of management consultants, and for done internally, if at all. Fees were no object. Neither were quality Consultants, Martin Farley. He consultants to adjust to a new market. or relevance, in most cases. acknowledges that some of his member “There is a far greater imperative for Addled by its own success, the hard-nosed yet gullible corporate firms will be hit by the downturn. great consulting,” he says. sector, while monitoring costs in the tea room assiduously and doing “If clients see expenditure [on “This is a wonderful opportunity away with receptionists, has frittered away unspeakable amounts on consultants] as highly discretionary and to focus on what is the value offer of pointless workshops based on the latest management fad, irrelevant take the view that they can do without it using a management consultant. Those “training” and nebulous strategy documents too dense in every – for example, expenditure on training consultants who can’t do that are the sense to have any applicability. – then that will be the case,” Farley says. ones who are going to get annihilated.” Government departments have also been big spenders. Like “What we’ve seen as recently as six Fuda sees changes in the way their private enterprise counterparts, they have been open houses months ago is businesses succeeding companies use consultants. for facilitators, moderators and other assorted hams for hire. at a rapid rate of growth as a result “One big shift that I’m seeing is Radically denuded of internal expertise of increases in price and demand, that in times of prosperity, scrutiny and corporate memory, government and these businesses have been able can be relatively low. But in this departments have also been prodigious to demonstrate the attributes of environment, consultants are going users of consultants to write reports, successful businesses. But it’s when to be scrutinised very heavily.” usually of such appalling quality and rigour times are tough that the relationship He expects chief executives to that they are either filed away quietly, never Radically between companies and management become more involved in the use to be seen again, or are knocked into denuded consultants really bears fruit.” of consultants. Human resources shape internally or by other consultants. of internal The prospect of management managers and general managers of Speak to demoralised public servants consultants succumbing to the downturn business units who previously had in moments of candour and they will expertise, is not good news for the IMC, which is the authority to engage consultants admit that not only are tens of thousands government already seeing a decline in membership. may find chief executives taking of dollars spent on these useless reports, departments With 700 members, compared with a responsibility. but the offending consultants will go on have been high of 1150 in 1997, the IMC is losing Fuda believes the use of management to write others. members who became consultants in consultants will favour direct It is no different in the private sector, prodigious the 1980s and 1990s and are reaching outcomes rather than “activities” where parades of “passionate” consultants users of retirement age. such as training and development. in management, human resources, consultants “A lot of the management consultant Some “analytical” work such as organisational and personal development, population that came into the industry strategy development, which has been marketing, innovation and branding during previous periods of recession farmed out routinely to consultants, are greeted with open arms. Perhaps it is the hypnotic effect of and downsizing are retiring and they’re is likely to be taken in-house. interminable PowerPoint presentations of slide after slide of circles not being replaced at the same rate,” “In the main, right now my clients and arrows, multi-coloured pyramids and other dynamic graphics that Farley says. are saying they’re not paying for compels organisations to sign on the dotted line. Concerned about his sector’s strategy work,” he says. “They have Or is it the persuasive pitches offered by these purveyors of pap, prospects over the next few years, the experience in-house and they’re such as one currently doing the rounds from a well-known consulting partly because many businesses doing it themselves, which I think group that promises that its proprietary product “acts as a starting point that should be looking to external is a good trend. for a strategic conversation amongst your leadership team and helps expertise aren’t, he believes the “The CEOs I’m dealing with at the them prioritise the key challenges facing your business”. federal government has a role to play. moment want to hear about alignment Let us hope the downturn gives organisations the breathing He would like to see federally funded [of strategy, structure and company space to reconsider the role of consultants. If organisations become programs that provide small and resources], execution and returns. more judicious in their use of consultants, more demanding in their medium enterprises with free access to “Hand-to-mouth consultancies that expectations and less susceptible to fads, this will be a plus to arise from management consultants. The IMC is specialise in things like leadership the coming business catastrophe. Another will be the weeding out of preparing a submission to the federal and culture, who are dealing at two the dross from the sector, one hopes to be replaced by a new breed of government calling for such a scheme. or three levels from the CEO, are very professional proud of the contribution they can make as consultants. (See ‘Consultants seek lifeline’, page 9.) vulnerable in this environment.” | February 12–18 2009 47