David Woodhead, Partner at DXC Technology, won Strategy Consultant of the Year at the 2017 MCA Awards.
What are the achievements of which you are most proud?
I have been a consultant for many years and have been privileged to work with a vast range of clients across different industries, scales and cultures. Technology has evolved out of all recognition during that time and the role I have now as the Lead for Digital Strategy & Transformation for DXC requires constant personal development and a commitment to on-going learning to ensure I am keeping up with trends and developments. For me, this is what makes consulting such a rewarding and stimulating career. Being able to provide the leadership that clients are asking for, and seeing clients continue to turn to me for guidance is what I am most proud of.
How has your firm supported and encouraged you to succeed professionally?
There’s a significant commitment from DXC to personal development across the board. We had a leadership conference recently, and our CEO, Mike Lawrie came to stress the importance of personal development to everybody in the business. There are plenty of tools and opportunities available within the organisation to support people’s development and is also a huge focus for our annual goal and objective setting.
What makes for a good relationship with your clients and colleagues?
Firstly, you must recognise that your clients and colleagues are human first and are not cogs in a corporate machine! You have to spend time understanding their personal motivation and interests before you can solve what you may first look at as an enterprise problem. Secondly, underpinning that, the readiness to be completely open and honest is so important in building and maintaining a good relationship with clients and colleagues. I think the relationship I have with my clients and colleagues has improved by a personal mantra which is to always run towards adversity. It is far more beneficial to recognise challenges and issues and tackle them early on, rather than hoping they will disappear. If you are open and honest and tackle challenges as they arise, I think that is a good grounding for what makes a strong consultant.
What are the biggest challenges facing consultants in your specialist area?
Overwhelmingly, it is about finding, developing and retaining top talent. I think that the biggest challenge for an individual consultant is staying relevant, however the biggest challenge for a firm, is finding the talent which stays relevant. Knowledge on its own is not enough; the half-life of knowledge is decreasing as the pace of distribution increases. Hence, it is important to identify and nurture people who can take knowledge, apply it, work with clients effectively and build lasting and meaningful relationships.
What would you like to see firms’ doing to support the MCA Year of Diversity?
We need the MCA to be doing everything possible to help its members reach out to people from all backgrounds and walks of life. I was fascinated by what a presenter from HS2 had to say at a recent MCA event. He was talking about doing blind auditions as part of their recruiting process which I think is an important move and the MCA should be propagating that concept and facilitating these ideas to support its members identify the talent of the future. We have to open up a talent stream and encourage people into consulting. Traditionally this is a career that one may have joined through a degree or MBA route but now we need to bring people in through all sorts of less traditional avenues. A talent for analysis and creative problem solving is what matters.