View from the Top: Clare Hill, Sysdoc

Clare Hill, Chief Executive at Sysdoc, speaks to the MCA about her ambitions for the firm, the impact of changes in the industry and what makes a great consultant.

Sysdoc is an SME, but also an international firm. How have you managed to build the strength of the firm since you were founded in 1986? How influential is your New Zealand heritage?

Sysdoc was established in 1986 with a very clear vision to bring the discipline of end-to-end process, experiential learning, emphasis on human factors and excellent decision making from aviation into business. That core principle still drives how we operate today. We are proud of our New Zealand heritage, from both a cultural and professional view, bringing a kiwi innovative and a can-do approach to life. We came to the UK on the invitation of one of our strategic partners in New Zealand to support a four-year transformation programme. We were tasked with delivering business process improvement using our own methodology, Chart, Challenge and Change, and we exceeded expectations. This laid the foundations for our launch in the UK.

What changes are you noticing in the market for consulting services at the moment? How confident are clients about future growth?

It is a very interesting period, politically, technically and also culturally.  After Brexit, there was a lot of uncertainty amongst our clients. Most of our clients were pro-remain but, now it is happening, the focus is to manage a successful transition and to look for new opportunities.  The conversations we are having with clients are positive and optimistic about future growth both in current and new markets. 

Sysdoc has embraced the Consulting Excellence scheme. How have you found it in practice, and what difference do you think it can make over time for clients?

At the time of the Consulting Excellence launch, we were also looking at our own internal excellence and values model which aligns well with the nine principles of Consulting Excellence. So, the timing was great. For us as an SME having the accreditation of the MCA and Consulting Excellence adds weight and value not only internally, but also to clients. We have appointed Consulting Excellence champions who are responsible for ensuring that the message around quality and excellence is strong and clear. We have also appointed a quality lead who monitors quality across everything that we do, and we are embedding this in to our client work. We include the Consulting Excellence accreditation mark in all of our bid documents and refer to it overtly. Consultancy often gets a bad press, so having the nine principles associated with us is important to allay some of the potential concerns that clients may have.  

This is the MCA’s Year of Diversity. I know this is important to Sysdoc. Why would you say that it matters so much in consulting?

Consulting is all about delivering outcomes and getting clients to a better place. Without diversity, I don’t believe you can get the richness of thinking and creativity or challenge and innovation that diverse teams bring. A diverse work force brings better solutions for our clients. 

Many people are talking now about the impact of new technologies on how consulting is organised and delivered. They expect significant change over the next few years. What steps are you taking as a firm in response?

Everyone is talking about digital disruption, although this means different things to different people and industries. There is a lot of talk about technology, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, and an expectation of accelerated change particularly in industries such as insurance, finance and retail. The basics of consulting around organisation design, end-to-end process and people, are vital to make the right decisions in terms of being effective in a disrupted space.   As a consultancy, it is important for us to remain agile and forward thinking in a digital-centric world where change is accelerating and driving new ways of working.  We are investing in growth across all aspects of our business, including our brand and values, our digital capability, game based learning and capability build, and enablement of process automation and future organisations.

We are investing in people, and are actively recruiting across all levels within the organisation, increasing our permanent team by 30% in 2017. We are investing in the development of our people, and launching development programmes across all levels, whilst looking at the current organisational structure to ensure we can further support the ambitions we have over the next three years.

What do you look for when recruiting new consultants? What is your advice to someone thinking about a career in consulting?

We look for people who match our values as we believe that you can build on basic skills. Curiosity, competitiveness, energy, interest and not being frightened to be thrown in at the deep end are all attributes of a successful consultant. You don’t have to be from a Russell Group university; it is about having that unique way of thinking, excellent communication skills and ability to analyse information and come up with solutions. A career in consulting brings huge opportunities to work at the cutting edge of business, and be involved in fantastic projects at the forefront of change.