Becky Lloyd, People & Change Consultant at PwC and the MCA's Young Consultant of the Year, impressed the judges with her positivity, creativity and outlook on consultancy. When we spoke to her, we could clearly see why.
Why did you join the industry?
At risk of sounding like a graduate brochure I joined for the exciting opportunities and chance to travel.
I didn’t join directly from university. I did an internship at Deloitte in Audit and Tax. That wasn’t for me, but I liked the big company feel and the people. A second internship I did at The Mind Gym really fuelled my interest in the link between psychology and business.
I didn’t think me and my psychology degree would stand a chance of getting into PwC. But here we are!
What role does psychology play in consultancy?
Far more than you might expect. An understanding of motivation and what drives people to behave in the way they do has helped me a lot. Consulting is all about psychology. It is building genuine relationships, engaging, listening, problem solving, persuading people, helping people adapt to changes. All of those things have underpinnings in psychology.
Were you surprised to be nominated for an award, and then to win it?
I was honoured to be nominated. Isabelle Jenkins, the partner responsible for our graduate programme, emailed me and suggested I go for it saying “I think you have an interesting story to tell”. I sent a response back saying “Can you help me with the story? What is it?” I wasn’t sure it was different enough. Through the awards process I realised that it was the way that I go about things that is different, and I think that’s what won me the award.
I was very surprised to win. I had a full glass of red wine in my hand and a shoe off under the table when it was announced. The awards night was an incredible evening and one I won’t ever forget.
How do you make yourself stand out?
I think I naturally look at different ways to do things. If someone gives me a task I usually think: How can this be done in a better way? What might be an effective way to present this other than a Powerpoint slide? If we want to analyse something does it have to be a long spreadsheet? If we are taking clients to dinner does it really have to be a big boring corporate venue? Can we create something different?
So, when I did organise a client dinner, it was at Pinewood studios where James Bond was filmed and we had green screen photographers there so everyone had a souvenir to remember the event (and impress their children!). And when I was working up an agenda on a PowerPoint slide, instead I created a cube; put a picture on each side and a business card on the bottom. The guy we were presenting to really loved the idea. It created something memorable. I also work on one of our most creative and amazing client propositions ‘Building Strength in Leaders’ which has a solid grounding in positive psychology: we are at our best individually and collectively when we are using our strengths.
I think doing things differently and celebrating difference go hand in hand. I am a proud member of GLEE@PwC where we believe that difference is something we all have in common, regardless of what the difference might be.
What challenges do you think there are for management consultancy, its reputation and continuing to grow into the future?
I think sometimes consultants may be seen as people who go in with tools and templates and methodologies and don’t really listen. We shouldn’t go in saying “we’ve done it this way before” and instead listen to exactly what clients need. If you are known for going in with tools and templates and a solution already decided, you won’t ever be asked to go in to help with another challenge. And I think we want to be doing new challenges, things that are difficult and require a lot of creativity, things that have never been done before.
The other problem is around attracting young people into consulting and the work life balance. We recently published a study into the ‘Millennials’ – the employees of the future and they want different things. They want more flexibility, more opportunities to travel and more work life balance. Of course, they will get the travel, but it might be travel to Reading, Slough or Hemel Hempstead, not quite the glamour they had imagined. So how do we make sure people have balance? I believe balance doesn’t have to be about when people leave their desks- it is about flexibility and trust with your employer.
I think I have a good balance because PwC trusts me, and I don’t need to be tied to a desk or my laptop to know that I am working. Organisations need to develop a culture of real trust and flexibility to attract the leaders of the future, but also to reflect the way their clients are working.
What would have to change to improve the work life balance?
Not an easy one but at a bare minimum we should be upfront with ourselves and others at the start of a project. We should ask ‘what else do you have going on?’. Are you training for a marathon? Or wanting to take your little one to his school assembly on Fridays? I genuinely want to help my colleagues do the stuff that they want to do outside of work so if I can stay late one day so you can go to the theatre, I’ll do that. And in exchange you might support me when I’ve committed to training army cadets or scuba diving! If you don’t develop that sort of relationship with your colleagues you end up with everyone feeling like they have to be behind their laptop at all times because it’s the ‘done thing’ and too often people end up writing off their personal life.
When Millennials are leaders and managers, will they change that leadership style?
I think so. I think leaders will encourage people to be more flexible, more remote, more in charge of their own time. What we do as consultants isn’t transactional and we’re not processing stuff, it’s all about knowledge, ideas and relationships. Where do you build relationships? Where do you have your best ideas? Generally not in an office sitting around a laptop. We should be encouraging creativity, challenging what’s normal, working in different environments or having a dress down day if we think that will change a group’s mindset. Our priority should be stimulating ideas.