As consultants, big results are great and exciting. But just as important is the continual, every day persistent work toward a goal — and a refusal to deliver anything but the best — that is the hallmark of a great consultant. While we usually focus on the work of independent consultants and small consulting firms, we thought it would be a good idea to share what some of the larger companies are up to.
I suppose my work reflects who I am. I am naturally curious, and I like to ask questions, look at things from many angles and to constantly learn new things.
Consulting Magazine’s annual consultant issue profiles consultants at the top of their game. Below are 20 of the top consultants and their advice for success, as quoted in The Top 25 Consultants, 2013.
Johan Aurik, A.T. Kearney: Aurik is the Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board at A.T. Kearney, a firm that has grown both its revenue and its network by more than a third in the past five years. He also is the European leader of the consumer industries and retail practice, as well as unit lead of A.T. Kearney’s operation in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Kearney has used his nearly 25 years of consulting experience in the energy, transportation, consumer and retail industries to assist the firm’s growth — a growth he says is about collaboration and culture.
“We are so collaborative and clients love that about us,” he says. “Everyone has smart people and everyone has a global network,” he says. “Ultimately, it comes down to how you can use your culture to attract and keep the best people and achieve high-impact result for clients. Culture is a key strategic driver for us.”
Scott Claus, Capco: Claus is Partner at Capco and leader of its Technology Group in North America. In his role, he helps leaders assess, rebuild and streamline their IT processes. Capco has 20 offices on four continents and has worked with or is currently working with nearly three-quarters of the world’s global financial service institutions.
Claus has over 18 years of consulting experience with leading financial organizations. His experience and Capco’s client-oriented philosophy are what keeps clients satisfied. “We’re capable of rolling up our sleeves to deliver complex technology work to our clients. I really enjoy the leadership aspect of my role within the practice, working with a client on an engagement and leading them through troubled times. I find I’m at my best guiding people in the most difficult situations, bringing a level of creativity to solving challenging problems.”
Carl Carande, KPMG: Carande is the National Managing Partner of KPMG Advisory Practice, which saw over $23 billion revenue in 2012. He has over 25 years of regional and global commercial and retail banking experience in a variety of areas, including merger integration, productivity modeling and internal control best practices. This experience has led to philosophy of being a true leader.
“You need to lead by example and to inspire people to high performance so everyone works together to provide best-in-class service,” Carande says. “On a more personal level, mentoring has been an invaluable and rewarding experience. It’s not only an opportunity to help others, but in many ways it can help us learn about ourselves and reflect on our own strengths and weakness.”
George Cogan, Bain & Company: As a Partner with Bain & Company and leader of Bain’s Global Technology Practice, Cogan’s primary focus is on the client. Namely client service and building multi-year enduring client relationships in the technology sector. His long experience with the nearly $2-billion-in-revenue firm includes leading and growing the company’s Technology Practice and founding the Semiconductor Practice and the Silicon Valley Office. His vast experience with the company is owed to a philosophy of continual learning.
“I suppose my work reflects who I am. I am naturally curious, and I like to ask questions, look at things from many angles and to constantly learn new things. I consider myself to be a good strategist, but also to have good practical ‘street smarts’ and good listening skills,” he says.
Monica Croy, Point B: Croy is able to draw on her 20-years of organizational design and change management to her Healthcare Practice Director position with Point B. Point B has several times been named a best firm to work for by a variety of publications. Croy and her team focus on help clients build and implement strategies for a wide variety of Healthcare processes, such as IT systems, insurance exchanges, administration challenges and more.
“My hope is that the highlight of the work I do is how other people are better for it—be that my team, a client organization, the community or my family. Rather than achievement being ‘mine,’ I do my work in a way that helps those around me feel more capable and gives them the direction to learn and grow.”
Sharon Cunninghis, Mercer: Sharon Cunninghis, Senior Partner with Mercer, a company with an annual revenue of nearly $4 billion, has translated 20 years of experience into helping the firm’s clients set strategy for their healthcare and welfare programs. She has been appointed leader of the firm’s North America Health and Benefits business to help lead clients through the ever-changing landscape of healthcare. Cunninghis points to leadership and innovation to key influences in her work.
“We are only as good as the people that surround us, and I’ve had the good fortune to have a number of mentors throughout my career from whom I’ve learned a variety of important leadership skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with several truly diverse teams that have brought fresh thinking and creativity, enabling our success.”
Jim Folds, Carlisle and Gallagher: Folds is Senior Vice President with the firm, which pulls in over $120 million in revenue and has seen significant growth in recent years. He performs the roles of account relationship building, business development, consulting services performance and operational management of the firm’s client portfolio.
This industry veteran has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services sector and has worked a variety of firms. In his years as a consultant, the one constant has been teamwork. “The consulting profession offers variety in terms of client environments, engagements and challenges. But one ‘constant’ is evident—multiple people are required to create big client impact—it requires working together,” he says. “And team success is most rewarding.”
Jerry Friedman, Accenture: Veteran consultant Friedman brings over 40 years of experience in human services leadership at every level to his Global Director of Strategic Initiatives position at Accenture. The firm generates over $25 billion in annual revenue. Friedman has success in his position because of his passion for human services work and his focus on the client.
“I continually ask myself that if I was on the other side of the desk, would this product, tool or solution be something that I would want to employ to improve my efficiency, accountability and services delivery,” he says. “I am encouraged by Accenture to maintain this public human service administrative focus, put the client first and invest the time to really understand their needs.”
Barry Jaruzelski, Booz & Company: Senior Partner Jaruzelski leads the firm’s Global Engineered Products & Services Practice. He is also a member of the North American Management Team. Jaruzelski focuses on R&D portfolio and product growth strategy, product development efficiency and effectiveness and more.
Jaruzelski is the 10th-longest tenured partner at the firm, several times recognized for his client services. The key to his success has been his leadership approach. “I practically grew up in this partnership, so I learned a long time ago that it never works to try to dictate to your fellow owners,” he says. “We simply can’t manage things too centrally, because as a global partnership we are inherently distributed.”
The biggest factors in my success include having been able to develop a cohesive team of superb and committed people who support each other worldwide…
Jessica Kosmowski, Deloitte Consulting: Kosmowski, Principal at Deloitte, a firm that has experienced an 8% growth over the past year, wears a lot of hats. She is Chief Marketing Officer for Deloitte’s Strategy & Operation, oversees the Innovation Center, is a leader in Deloitte’s Mergers & Acquisitions, mentors several female professionals and helps to develop the careers of her clients.
She and her team work hard, but she has learned through her 12 years of professional services experience to keep it light.
“My teams are high performance and achieve great levels of success in a very demanding and fast-paced environment, but I encourage the people around me to have fun and maintain a sense of humor along the way. This approach helps build stronger bonds and also helps maintain perspective and achieve high levels of success even when things get very tense.”
Jim Lewis, Cumberland Consulting: Jim Lewis is Co-Founder, Managing Partner and CEO of Cumberland Consulting Group. He career spans 26 years of consulting experience and more than 30 years of technology implementation experience. Cumberland helps providers improve healthcare through innovative information processes. In 2012, Cumberland revenue exceeded $36 million, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.
The secret to the success, Lewis relates, is focus. “Excellent client service and exceeding client expectations are our top priorities. We believe our company’s success lies in being true to that principle and not allowing competing priorities to distract us. We work very hard to maintain a strong identity and stay focused on what we do (and what we don’t do). Sometimes that means saying no to a tempting opportunity, but in the long run, the market recognizes top-quality delivery. We also recruit and retain the best talent. Any consulting firm is only as good as its consultants. We embrace that concept – it is a driver for everything we do.”
Iván Martén, The Boston Consulting Group: A 25-year veteran in the energy and environment industry, Marten serves as the Global Leader of The Boston Consulting Group’s Energy practice. Boston Consulting is a $3.55 billion revenue firm. He previously successfully led the practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In his role, he advises leaders on defining and executing large-scale change programs.
Under his leadership, he has been able to transform the Energy practice into a well-balanced portfolio by focusing on people and clear priorities. “The biggest factors in my success include having been able to develop a cohesive team of superb and committed people who support each other worldwide to bring the best of BCG to our clients; making sure that all of our Energy partners make career and personal growth a priority for their case team members; building very strong client relationships, in many cases spanning a decade or more at the CEO or board level; and helping build deep expertise in topics that are highly relevant to our clients.”
Kevin McCarty, West Monroe Partners: McCarty co-founded West Monroe Partners in 2002. He currently serves as President and sits on the Executive board. West Monroe Partners specializes in IT and operational consulting related to mergers and acquisitions, which McCarty has played a large role in since the beginning. The firm drew in over $56 million in 2012.
For McCarty, key to his firm’s services is thinking outside of the box. “There’s a fine line to walk between being antagonistic and being contrarian in a positive way,” he says. “I find it motivating to help our clients think beyond the traditional ways of doing things and create new ways to fuel their success.”
Rob McKay, Capgemini: McKay’s career spans 28 years of designing and implementing system solutions with a focus on maintenance, operations and logistics. In his current role, McKay is a Senior Vice President at Capgemini. He leads the Energy, Utilities and Chemicals sectors within the U.S. and is also involved in several other initiatives.
Over the past two years, McKay’s team has more than doubled the revenue of the practice. The secret to success? “Collaboration,” he says. “Which means working with our clients but also challenging them—and ourselves—when merited.”
Andy Moose, North Highland: Moose’s 18-year career has seen him lead numerous business and technology projects with retailers and branded apparel companies in North America. He now uses his experience in his position of Vice President at North Highland, which generates more than $300 million in annual revenue.
Moose focuses on developing holistic approaches to drive integration and customer value across channels, all with a client-first philosophy.
“I never want to push my own agenda when working with a client; instead, my goal is to be committed to the process and to be there shoulder-to-shoulder with my client for the long term. I’m most proud of my commitment and my firm’s commitment to meet our clients on their terms. As a consultant, I am there to be a facilitator, coach and confidant for my client. That starts with respect and building trust on a genuine level. No one succeeds alone, and that couldn’t be truer in consulting.”
James Pajakowski, Protiviti: Pajakowski is an Executive Vice President with Protiviti and was instrumental in the formation of the firm, which brought in over $450 million in 2012. Pajakowski oversees the delivery of Protiviti’s services in the areas of finance and transactions, operations, technology, litigation, governance, risk and compliance. He has over 25 years of professional services consulting experience with clients in a variety of areas business process improvement, financial reporting process improvement and the execution of internal and external audits. His experience has taught him that problem solving is an invaluable skill.
“As many consultants can say, it is the ability to solve problems in a manner that brings people together to take collective action and embrace positive change,” he says. “So often, projects start with very diverse views, but it is rewarding to see everyone operating with a common purpose in the end.”
“Jill Puleri, IBM: Puleri is a Vice President and the Global Leader for IBM’s Global Business Services retail consulting practice. IBM pulled in over $104 billion in 2012. Puleri is able to translate over 20 years of experience into her roles of determining vision, strategy and financial growth of the retail industry.
“Retail, like many industries, is saturated with data and bringing data elements together and being able to glean valuable insight about consumers is what’s causing the need for speed, immediacy and reliance on advanced technology. If clients miss the major shifts now, they’re at serious risk. I’ve spent my entire career in retail, focusing on solving my clients’ most important business challenges, and showing them the next big possibility at the intersection of their business and advanced technology.”
Ronald Ray, PwC: Ray brings a vast experience in military and veteran affairs to his position as Managing Director in PwC’s Public Sector practice. He served 20 years in the military and is a several-times decorated soldier for his service. Following his military service, he worked tirelessly for veterans in several positions and is also the founder of what was Ray Group International (RGI), a consulting firm acquired by PwC late last year. RGI focused on supporting the government to deliver health and benefit services to veterans. Ray takes that experience and his military training of perseverance into his consulting work.
“I’ve always approached work by analyzing how I can do it better going forward. In any situation, I always want to know how my team can make a difference and what I can do to help them make that difference. I found I can best make a difference by pulling together highly energetic people committed to getting the job done, and getting it done right. Just “checking the box” has never appealed to me or the people with whom I like to work. I want my team’s impact to be profound on every project or task we tackle.”
Maureen Scholl, Aon Hewitt: Maureen Scholl is CEO for the Health Care Exchanges at Aon Hewitt, a company that earned over $3 billion in 2012. She has a leadership role in developing and operating a host of exchange solutions designed to help employers find innovative approaches to their healthcare future. Scholl is motivated in her consultancy practice by the future of healthcare, and says success lies in teamwork.
“The biggest factor to my success is—hands down—my team. I am privileged to work with brilliant people who helped bring these exchange models to life.”
Paul Schur, Slalom Consulting: Schur, Managing Director and Slalom Consulting, feels a main responsibility of his is to build and maintain positive relationships with clients. And this philosophy has had success: the firm’s Atlanta office has experienced double-digit growth for a sixth consecutive year. Schur brings over 15 years of consulting experience in a variety of roles to his position, including strategic product launches, new technology business solutions and more. Through his work he has comes to appreciate working with strong teams and developing leaders.
“Leaders building leaders is a critical component for establishing an ongoing legacy for growth … The biggest factor to my success is being surrounded by phenomenal teams of consultants and industry leaders who continue to challenge me and each other every day. When you have the right people around you the results become multiplicative. Indicative of my success is not only having the right people, but also working with the right clients. I have been very fortunate to have had both.”
These consultants are at the top of their game because of a focus on clients and top quality service. However, many of them spoke to common themes of leadership development, cultivating a quality team and really listening to the client’s needs. These are all goals that every consultant firm can aspire to achieve for success.