I attended the “Strategy Talk: The Strategies in Consulting” which was put on by the Business Strategy and Decision-making Program within DePaul’s Economics department. The panel consisted of two management consultants from Illumia Consulting, an attorney from Winston and Strawn, an HR consultant from Vista Capital Partners, and an economic consultant from the Berkley Research Group.
Each Panelist had a unique perspective on consulting, and I would love to share just a few of those perspectives. Both Sanel Kostic and Admira Ibisevic from Illumia Consulting have a wealth of knowledge and experience within consulting, specifically when it comes to People Advisory and Change Management. They work alongside C-suite executives to help coach them through cultural or structural change. Sanel and Admira emphasized the importance of partnering with Clients not as a consultant who is forcing frameworks or solutions onto the Client, but as a trusted thought partner whose intention is not to stick around forever. I connected with Sanel after the panel as my recent project dealt with Change Management and wanted to discuss this topic further. He went on to discuss that at the highest of levels, when partnering with Clients undergoing change, our job should be to help develop the team, transfer knowledge, and step back while leaving behind the necessary tools and structure for the team to succeed.
Matthew Del Santo had an especially unique perspective on consulting as he leverages economic consultants to provide expert testimony during litigation. One example of such a consultant is Kate Moberg from the Berkley Research Group. It has an interesting and wildly different dynamic than typical management consultants as they assist prosecutors or defense attorneys to convince the jury. Kate spoke to the group and said it’s the same as being a subject matter expert (SME), but in a different context. One tricky thing about being a consultant in the courtroom is that one has to balance serving their Client with providing truthful testimony that the consultant wholeheartedly believes.
I think all the speakers had insightful opinions and anecdotes that everyone can take back to their personal and professional lives. First, how we engage and strategically partner with Clients is crucial to building trust and paving a path which allows for a successful and healthy engagement. Being seen as thought partners as opposed to sales-driven consultants will allow Clients to rely on us to have their best interest in mind which will hopefully lead to repeat business and referrals. Second, ensuring the work we do as consultants lives on past the engagement is a critical step to ensuring your firm comes to mind again and again when the need for external support resurfaces. Lastly, making sure our moral compass is aligned with that of our Clients’ and not accepting work that compromises our principles should be something kept in the back of our minds at all times. Whether it’s dealing in bad faith, compliance/legal issues, inappropriate comments and behavior, or something just simply doesn’t feel right – consultants should put their values and ethics above all else when picking which Clients we work with or choose not to.