MCA Awards Interview: Performance Improvement Consultant of the Year 2017

Olu Eriolu, Principal Consultant at Arcadis, was named the Performance Improvement Consultant of the Year at the 2017 MCA Awards. He was recognised for his work supporting improvements in people’s lives or protecting living standards across a number of different projects.

Congratulations on winning the MCA's Performance Improvement Consultant of the Year. How did you feel on the night of the Awards?

It was an incredible night, my colleagues and clients really enjoyed the evening together and the event was very well organised. It was a successful evening not only for myself, but for my colleagues at Arcadis, recognising the great outcomes that we deliver for our clients.

What are the achievements of which you are most proud?

There are several highlights in my career, but one that stands out is a project I worked on with one of the largest water companies in the UK. The company had a massive issue that was effecting over 300,000 homes, and this led them to look at their operational risk management framework. I went in to essentially help improve how risk is managed to support better investment decisions, deliver risk transparency and reduction in service interruption failures in the future, thereby helping to protect their customers right across the region. Throughout my career it has been a real privilege for me to be involved with projects that have such a direct impact on people’s lives, and I’m now supporting other organisations to lead industry changes on how resilience is measured across the sector.

How has Arcadis supported and encouraged you to succeed professionally?

We have a collaborative working environment and culture, so whatever is thrown at you, you know you are not alone and there is a lot of support around you. This gives you the opportunity to grow and develop very quickly. It is an environment where by, if you are willing to work hard, pick it up and run with it, it is a great place to be and you will be given lots of opportunities. Arcadis encourages a positive, entrepreneurial ethos, and having this space to develop and pursue my interests has perhaps been one of the biggest contributors to my progression and growth.

What makes for a good relationship with your clients and colleagues?

Being trusted and being open are two key things that make a good relationship with your clients. The ability to listen well, take in complex situations and come up with simple solutions, in a way that carries everyone forward, is what helps build the trust from your client. Working together with colleagues, and together acknowledging our strengths is a simple and effective way to maintain trust in the team. My experience on all types of projects, large and small suggests that it is important that colleagues feel comfortable to share any concerns they may have, so having the right people around to provide the necessary support across the team is also vital.

What are the biggest challenges facing consultants in your specialist area?

We’ve been experiencing increasing risk events due to aging infrastructure, cyber security, climate change, and many other contributing factors. Regulators are beginning to demand improved risk management and resilience. Financial institutions learned a lot of lessons following the 2008 crisis, which brought to light some of the gaps in the methods we had around managing systemic risks and resilience. As the world is moving towards a more customer-centric view, it’s important for organisations to invest in the right places (people, assets, systems, process, data) and provide valuable supporting methods to ensure they can withstand these systemic risks.

What would you like to see firms’ doing to support the MCA Year of Diversity?

At Arcadis we have a good programme around different strands of diversity and are actively promoting recruitment in this space. However, one of the areas I would like to see specific action across the industry is going beyond the problems and developing appropriate actions around how we recruit people from less privileged and ethnic minority backgrounds into the industry. Promoting diversity in the field is essential because, ultimately, it brings better results. We are dealing with more diverse clients now, and so we need to bring more diverse teams in to meet their requirements. Exposing these individuals to the consulting industry will be a great thing to see all organisations doing.