Episode 39 - Lyndsey Oliver A.K.A The Chief MsChief Maker

Lyndsey Oliver Chief MsChief Maker

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Today’s guest is Lyndsey Oliver, AKA the Chief MsChief Maker

Lyndsey is the founder and director of M4 Coaching and creator of Back to Work without a Bump® and Making MsChief®, the groundbreaking programmes designed to help retain, support and unleash the true potential of all human beings regardless of their labels.

Lyndsey is a champion of working Mums and an advocate of gender balance in the workplace. She’s passionate about helping parents (both male and female), female leaders and female business owners become the best versions of themselves, both in and out of work.

I was introduced to Lyndsey by a former colleague and listener to the show who had worked with her through their parental leave and said that I had to get her on the show.

The challenges that Lyndsey helps Consultants with are ones that many people in our industry deal with every day but ones that rarely get the attention they deserve. Knowing the positive impact that Lyndsey had had on this listener and others in my network I knew she’d make a fantastic guest and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

We cover some really deep topics in this interview including:

  • The barriers that hold women back from climbing the career ladder - both structural and self imposed - and what Consulting firms and female leaders themselves can do to break through these.

  • The relationship challenges that can face some Consultants as a result of the job and the conversations you should be having with your partner to ensure you’re able to manage them.

  • The challenges that parents face when it comes to building a career in Consulting and what their firms and they can do to manage these to help them achieve the balance of home and work life they’re looking for.

  •  And finally, What those of us who are white men, like me, can do when it comes to diversity and inclusion in Consulting and how we can help improve it.

This was a fantastic interview and we go in to detail on all of these topics. So much so we got carried away after the interview and kept going. As you’ll hear towards the end of today’s episode I’ve actually put some of our post interview conversation back in because I thought it was such an important topic for you to hear.

For any regular listeners you’ll also know that I often ask my guests for resources that they’d recommend you check out if you want to work on any of the things that we discuss.

To help you with this Lyndsey has created a free workbook that you can use to help you identify your own biases - both conscious and unconscious - and start to think about how you can make positive changes to reduce these in day to day live. 

Whether you’re a senior leader who is looking to be the best role model they can be or a junior consultant looking to understand more about themselves I’d highly recommend checking this out.

 If you want to download the workbook you can find it on Lyndsey’s website - www.makingmschief.com/free-workbook and I’ve put the link in the show notes for you.

You can get in touch with Lyndsey through her LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndsey-oliver/

Or check out her website - www.makingmschief.com


This episode is brought to you by Create Engage the Digital Marketing agency for the disruptive Management Consultancy.

Digital Marketing has moved forward, but most consulting firms haven’t. Many Consulting firms still see their corporate blog as their sole Digital Marketing channel and find themselves frustrated when these blogs yield little if any results.

To help those of you who want to harness the power of Digital Marketing to grow your Consulting Business but don’t have the knowledge, capacity or in-house capability to do so I launched Create Engage, the first Digital Marketing agency for the Management Consulting Industry.

If you’d like to find out more about how Create Engage can help you use Digital Marketing to take your business to the next level then drop me an email at Nick@CreateEngage.co.uk or go to our website www.createengage.co.uk where you can download our free case study that breaks down down the Digital Marketing strategies used by one successful Consulting firm to help them grow over 400% in just 3 years and gives you the secrets they used, so that you can apply them in your own firm.


Specific things we discussed in the show:

The DO lectures - https://www.thedolectures.com/

Making MsChief - https://www.makingmschief.com/

The Path of a Doer by David Hieatt and Andy Smith - https://amzn.to/2taGYfj

Tim Ferriss - http://bit.ly/2RMmPWW

Brene Brown - https://brenebrown.com/

Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown - https://amzn.to/2GsM9PC

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown - https://amzn.to/2WMGGsB

Brene Brown TED talk - https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

The Invention of Difference by Binna Kaandola & Jo Kaandola - https://amzn.to/2RNOUNi

Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés - https://amzn.to/2MU6rTm

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill - https://amzn.to/2TJzYSx

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson - https://amzn.to/2GfLdyH

What we talk about:

00:07:04 - Lyndsey’s background and how she got to where she is today.

00:11:04 - Why Lyndsey decided to leave her successful corporate career.

00:16:46 - The glass ceiling - what holds women back from climbing in their career, both structural and self imposed.

00:23:40 - Lyndsey’s recommendations for the best children’s TV shows from a diversity and inclusion perspective.

00:25:25 - Why a ‘lack of confidence’ is rarely the real issue that female leaders face.

00:30:20 - The Dilts Pyramid and why it’s so important for your career success.

00:35:29 - The structural challenges within Consulting and what firms should be thinking about if they want to improve diversity and inclusion within their firm.

00:40:59 - How can Consulting firms balance their career progression and reward structures to support both those who want to prioritise their careers above other areas of their life as well as those who are looking for more balance across the different areas.

00:49:06 - The impact that social media and external validation can has on our career decisions and choices as we pursue ‘success’.

00:57:52 - Why flexible working would transform Consulting and those that work in the industry.

01:00:51 - How Consulting leaders can support their team in balancing their career with other aspects of their lives.

01:04:00 - The challenges that ‘high flying’ couples face and what you and your partner should be thinking about if you want to maintain a health relationship while climbing the career ladder.

01:10:00 - The warning signs that can tell you whether your relationship is suffering as a result of your career.

01:15:45 - The importance of understanding yourself and why this is critical to developing a successful Consulting career.

01:18:00 - Self Improvement Books and whether they’re seen as ‘acceptable’ by our industry.

01:27:53 - The challenges that expectant and new parents face when it comes to their career and how they can successfully overcome them.

01:32:06 - How parents can manage the challenges of travelling for work with bringing up a family.

01:38:30 - The specific career challenges that men face when their partners are pregnant and what they and their managers should be talking about to ensure they get the support they need.

01:42:50 - The positive and negative impacts of company policy when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

01:47:10 - How the challenges that parents face change as their children get older and how they can manage these challenges are their children grow up.

01:52:42 - What ‘white men’ can do to support and improve diversity and inclusion in Consulting.

1:58:37 - Lyndsey’s book recommendations.

02:06:00 - Lyndsey’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, in the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

02:08:10 - How to get in touch with Lyndsey.

Episode 38 - Adil Khan - Boxwood

Adil Image.jpg

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Today’s guest is Adil Khan. Adil was one of the founding team of Boxwood, the business transformation consultancy that following years of successful growth was acquired by KPMG in 2015.

Since leaving Boxwood Adil now spends his time advising Consulting entrepreneurs on how to successfully grow their businesses and focusing on his own start up, Lifefyle.

The goal of Lifefyle is to provide people with a simple, organised platform for their life admin, to give them the freedom to unlock their potential and thrive. You can find out more about Lifefyle at www.lifefyle.com

Adil’s story is rather different to what you might consider the typical journey of a Consulting entrepreneur. Unlike most, he didn’t have a long track record in Consulting, having only spent a short time in the indsutry before stepping out to found boxwood with his co-founders who had spent equally little time in Consulting.

This limited time in the industry proved to be the key to their success as they set out to create something very different from the typical Consulting model that was common at the time.

We go in to detail on some really key parts of the Boxwood journey that I know you’re going to find really interesting including:

The importance of culture and how Adil and his co-founders defined their culture from the start and what they did to ensure it remained a core focus as they grew.

The challenges of being responsible for both people and finance as Adil was. The natural tensions these functions often come up against and how Adil managed this. 

The Boxwood approach to working with clients, why this was so unique and what Consultants in today’s Market could learn from it.

And Adil’s contrarian view on building a Consulting business to sell, why expanding internationally can actually reduce the value of your business and the sale of Boxwood to KPMG. A process I know a number of you have wanted to hear more about.

I really enjoyed this conversation and it was great to get the perspective of someone who took a less orthodox route to success in Consulting. If you’re not from the typical ‘big 4’ Consulting background and want to know how you can turn this to your advantage or even if you are and want to know how you can use the principle from Boxwood to grow your business or practice area I know you’re going to get a ton from this interview.

You can get in touch with Adil through his LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/adilkhan/

Or drop him an email - adil@blueastral.co.uk     


This episode is brought to you by Create Engage the Digital Marketing agency for the disruptive Management Consultancy.

Digital Marketing has moved forward, but most consulting firms haven’t. Many Consulting firms still see their corporate blog as their sole Digital Marketing channel and find themselves frustrated when these blogs yield little if any results.

To help those of you who want to harness the power of Digital Marketing to grow your Consulting Business but don’t have the knowledge, capacity or in-house capability to do so I launched Create Engage, the first Digital Marketing agency for the Management Consulting Industry.

If you’d like to find out more about how Create Engage can help you use Digital Marketing to take your business to the next level then drop me an email at Nick@CreateEngage.co.uk or go to our website www.createengage.co.uk where you can download our free case study that breaks down down the Digital Marketing strategies used by one successful Consulting firm to help them grow over 400% in just 3 years and gives you the secrets they used, so that you can apply them in your own firm.


Specific things we discussed in the show:

Equiteq - https://www.equiteq.com/home/

Managing The Professional Services Firm by David Maister - https://amzn.to/2HtEW3W

Good to Great by Jim Collins - https://amzn.to/2CJiH4o

Revinventing organisations by Fredric Laloux - https://amzn.to/2CGsI2i

Start with why by Simon Sinek - https://amzn.to/2S6RhiC

Adil’s book recommendations for those just starting out in Consulting which he shared with me after our interview. The commentary in italics is Adil’s:

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries - https://amzn.to/2HvzihH (both important from an internal as well as client perspective. You can use it as a guide to help clients develop their approaches to developing stuff and taking it to market rapidly and with agility)

  • The Third Wave by Steve Case - https://amzn.to/2B34e3g (truly inspiring)

  • Bounce by Matthew Syed - https://amzn.to/2sN65ES (useful for people wanting to specialize and achieve expert status)

  • Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath - https://amzn.to/2sUc7Up (Consultants wanting to learn more about themselves, their teams and understand how to play to their strengths.)

  • Seeing Systems by Barry Oshry - https://amzn.to/2Ufghl5 (Helps you make sense of organisations and develop solutions for some tricky challenges you can’t make sense of.)

What we talk about:

00:05:24 - Adil’s background and how he got to where he is today.

00:07:22 - How Adil and his co-founders launched Boxwood and why Consulting ‘experience’ isn’t the key factor to success when it comes to launching your own Consulting firm.

00:11:04 - The vision that Boxwood was founded on and why ‘building to sell’ wasn’t something they were focused on.

00:13:57 - How the founding team developed the culture of Boxwood and what they did in the early days to ensure they were all on the same page.

00:19:15 - Why Boxwood priortised cultural fit when it came to recruitment, the challenges this caused for them and how they overcame them.

00:25:22 - How the Boxwood leadership team managed to maintain their culture and feeling of being one team when deliberately recruiting introverts in to a company full of extroverts.

00:33:17 - Adil’s advice for shaping culture in the early days of your Consulting firm.

00:38:45 - How Adil balanced the dual hats of Head of Finance and Head of People for Boxwood and how he overcame the natural tension that occurs between these two functions.

00:47:18 - Adil’s contrarian advice for building a Consulting business to sell.

00:52:02 - Boxwood’s unique approach to project fees and how they were able to use ‘Risk/Reward’ fee structures to grow their business and build trust with their clients.

00:58:30 - The surprising factors that will actually reduce the value of your Consulting firm to prospective buyers.

01:09:30 - The detailed walk through of the sale of Boxwood to KPMG.

01:15:50 - The importance of considering the people aspect of an acquisition and what Boxwood did to ensure their team got the best from the sale to KPMG.

01:20:30 - The importance of managing the communications with your team throughout the acquisition process and how Adil and the Boxwood leadership team approached this.

01:28:20 - Adil’s book recommendations.

01:31:42 - Adil’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, In the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:37:10 - How to get in touch with Adil.

Episode 37 - Harry Gaskell - EY

Harry Gaskell EY Innovation

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Happy New Year!

Today’s Guest is Harry Gaskell, Chief Innovation Officer for EY UK and Ireland.

What is a Chief Innovation Officer? Well that’s something we discuss in today’s show but at it’s most basic, Harry is responsible for identifying emerging technologies to launch new platforms and products to help EY improve its clients’ businesses.

Prior to taking this role Harry was the Managing Partner of EY’s UK & Ireland Advisory business which he grew from zero to £250m during his time at the helm.

In addition to his work with EY Harry is the Chair of the Employers’ Network for Equality and Inclusion, Chair of the Finance Committee for the University of the Arts, London and an angel investor and mentor to a number of innovative start ups.

Harry was a fantastic guest with a truly unique perspective on the Consulting industry and how it’s going to change over the coming years. If you’re looking to understand how you can future proof your career and get to the top of the industry, or any industry for that matter, then you’re going to love this conversation.

We cover a whole host of topics including:

What the Consultancy of the Future will look like and how the skills needed and the approach to working with clients is going to fundamentally change.

The impacts these changes will have on the traditional Consulting Business model and the real world examples of how EYs use of emerging technology is resulting in them having to look at these questions now.

How to foster a culture of innovation within your organisation and the common mistakes that Consultancies and large corporates make when it comes to innovation.

 And why taking some time out of Consulting could actually be the best thing for your long term Consulting career.

Harry was as open as he was insightful and this episode has a huge amount for everyone. Whether you’re a consultant just starting out or a managing partner running your own firm I know you’re going to get a lot from what Harry has to say.

You can get in touch with Harry through his LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/harry-gaskell-ab94271/


This episode is brought to you by Create Engage the Digital Marketing agency for the disruptive Management Consultancy.

Digital Marketing has moved forward, but most consulting firms haven’t. Many Consulting firms still see their corporate blog as their sole Digital Marketing channel and find themselves frustrated when these blogs yield little if any results.

To help those of you who want to harness the power of Digital Marketing to grow your Consulting Business but don’t have the knowledge, capacity or in-house capability to do so I launched Create Engage, the first Digital Marketing agency for the Management Consulting Industry.

If you’d like to find out more about how Create Engage can help you use Digital Marketing to take your business to the next level then drop me an email at Nick@CreateEngage.co.uk or go to our website www.createengage.co.uk where you can download our free case study that breaks down down the Digital Marketing strategies used by one successful Consulting firm to help them grow over 400% in just 3 years and gives you the secrets they used, so that you can apply them in your own firm.


Specific things we discuss in the show:

Christopher Brooker’s theory of the 7 basic plots for all stories - https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-seven-basic-plots-9780826452092/

Kim Paykel - EYX Programme Director - https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimpaykel/

EYX - https://www.ey.com/uk/en/services/specialty-services/ey-taking-innovation-to-the-next-level

George Orwell - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell

My country Right or Left by George Orwell - https://www.amazon.co.uk/George-Orwell-1940-1943-Collected-Journalism/dp/1567921345

What we talk about:

00:05:26 - How the Consulting career journey is changing and what you should do if you want to set yourself up for success.

00:07:20 - Harry’s contrarian advice on making Partner.

00:11:04 - Harry’s model for the Consulting firm of the future.

00:17:15 - The skills junior Consultants should focus on to ‘future proof’ their careers.

00:20:20 - Why diversity is one of the keys to success in today’s Consulting world and what you should be thinking about internally to ensure you hire the best candidates, regardless of background.

00:23:41 - How to overcome the internal cultural challenges when it comes to diversifying your team.

00:26:40 - The story of how Harry founded his first Consulting business at just 23. How he did it and what he learnt from it.

00:31:48 - What Harry would do differently if he was launching his Consultancy today.

00:33:38 - How to innovate successfully and why a little bit of ‘innovation theatre’ may be necessary for large corporate clients.

00:40:00 - How to diversify your experience and skills to help you respond to the needs of your clients in today’s world.

00:42:56 - Harry’s role as Chief Innovation Officer, what it is and how it came about.

00:49:43 - How EY is trying to 'disrupt itself’ before being disrupted and the real world examples of how they’re doing it.

00:53:09 - The impact these new technology solutions are having on their team and how EY are having to change their business to respond to them.

00:59:42 - How the Consulting business model is going to change as a result of these technologies and the big questions that Consulting firms will need to ask themselves to remain competitive.

01:02:19 - Why the EY Innovation team is based outside of the corporate head office and the benefits Harry and his team see from this.

01:07:25 - The biggest challenges Harry has found in trying to change EY’s culture to help the firm become more innovative.

01:10:33 - Why it’s so important to focus on broadening your horizons, particularly for senior Consulting leaders.

01:13:02 - Harry’s book recommendations.

01:15:24 - Harry’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, In the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:17:50 - How to get in touch with Harry.

Episode 36 - Iain Martin - Moonpig.com

Iain Martin.jpg

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Today’s episode is a little different and I’m really excited to be sharing it with you.

Instead of my normal interviews where I’m the one asking the questions, today’s interview is taken from an event I attended last month, hosted by my good friend James Mitra at JBM Consulting.

For those of you that don’t know, JBM are an executive search firm that place top talent into high growth tech firms, fintechs and consultancies. They are also the talent partners to the Fintech focused Private equity firm Motive Partners which is where this event was held.

When James told me who the speaker was going to be I said that we had to record it for the podcast and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I’m a big believer that you can, and should, learn from the best. Regardless of their field. As you’ll hear in today’s interview, there are so many fantastic insights that are equally applicable to Consulting firms, and their clients, as there are to this guest’s specific industry.

For those of you listening to this outside of the UK, or for those of you in the UK who may have been living under a rock for the last 10 years, Moonpig are the UK’s largest online card retailer with over 15 million cards sent through their online platform in 2017 alone.

Iain was one of the early members of the Moonpig team and over his time as MD grew the business from a team of just 8 people, turning over £2,000,000 in to a team of over 160 turning over £60m a year.

This phenomenal growth ultimately led to Moonpig being acquired by Photobox for £120m in 2011

James and Iain cover some really interesting topics in their conversation and the questions that follow including:

Iain’s journey to becoming the MD of moon pig and the unorthodox approach he took to get there.

The importance of using data when it comes to Marketing and how this helped moon pig achieve it’s rapid growth.

How Iain and the team ensured they hired the best talent for the business and their unconventional approach for rewarding their team.

The sale to Photobox and the steps they took from deciding to sell through to integrating the business with their new owners

And the one I know many of you will want to know. How they decided on the name Moonpig and where the jingle came.

It was great to meet Iain and I really enjoyed hearing his story and advice for those looking to grow their business as successfully as he did.


This episode is brought to you by Create Engage the Digital Marketing agency for the disruptive Management Consultancy.

Digital Marketing has moved forward, but most consulting firms haven’t. Many Consulting firms still see their corporate blog as their sole Digital Marketing channel and find themselves frustrated when these blogs yield little if any results.

To help those of you who want to harness the power of Digital Marketing to grow your Consulting Business but don’t have the knowledge, capacity or in-house capability to do so I launched Create Engage, the first Digital Marketing agency for the Management Consulting Industry.

If you’d like to find out more about how Create Engage can help you use Digital Marketing to take your business to the next level then drop me an email at Nick@CreateEngage.co.uk or go to our website www.createengage.co.uk where you can download our free case study that breaks down down the Digital Marketing strategies used by one successful Consulting firm to help them grow over 400% in just 3 years and gives you the secrets they used, so that you can apply them in your own firm.


What Iain and James talk about:  

00:06:48 - Iain’s background and his journey to becoming the MD of Moonpig.

00:11:49 - The Moonpig journey and how the team achieved their rapid growth.

00:20:53 - The importance of developing a good team and Moonpig’s unorthodox approach to recruiting and rewarding their team.

00:25:35 - The sale of Moonpig to Photobox from finding a buyer to integrating the business with their new owners.

00:30:27 - Why Iain decided to leave Moonpig, how he decided it was the right time for him to leave and what he’s doing now.

00:33:00 - Audience Q&A - The challenges of merging Moonpig with Photobox and how Iain and the team overcame them.

00:36:32 - Audience Q&A - What was the hardest decisions Iain had to mate relating to hiring and managing the team at Moonpig?

00:38:37 - Audience Q&A - What would Iain do differently if he could go back and do it all again?

00:40:45 - Audience Q&A - How did the Moonpig name come about?

00:42:28 - Audience Q&A - How did Iain and the team use data to decide which Marketing channels to use to grow the business.