‘When you are a consultant it’s all about your networks and relationships’

To celebrate the Young MCA's 10th anniversary, Sylvain Naltchayan, the first Chair of of the Young MCA explains how the network was founded and his views on how it has grown and developed.


You were very much involved in the early days of the Young MCA. Can you give us an insight into how the network was founded?

The MCA was originally approached with the idea for a young consultants network by a young consultant who had just moved to the UK and was working for a company called Copra (now Concerto Partners). She was new to consultancy and wanted to meet like-minded people her age. She proposed the idea to create a forum where younger people in the consultancy industry would meet, share and exchange experiences.

What type of activities did the network initially get up to?

The initial activities were focused on networking. The first event took place in May 2005 and the topic was ‘how to work a room’, it was held at the BT Tower with around 90 participants. Following that we managed to organise between 3 or 4 events per year, including talks from the founder of Gu Puddings and Kriss Akabusi.

You were part of the team that formed the first steering committee of the Young MCA, what was your role in that and how was it formed?

At the very beginning it was just three or four of us. We wanted to become more organised so we set up the Young MCA Steering Committee. As the first Chairman of the network I worked a lot with the MCA to reach out to members, promote the network and attract firm representatives to sit on the committee. Our first task was to define a vision and mission for the group, some guiding principles on how we were going to work together and a high level plan of annual activities

In the summer you were invited to attend a Young MCA steering committee. What changes have you seen since you were part of the network?

First and foremost I was very impressed that the Young MCA was still going. But what really struck me was the sheer number of firms on the committee compared to when we first started. I was really surprised at how organised and structured it was, with various sub-groups and chairs and a lot more activities. I think it is great that the Young MCA now have a representative on the MCA Board and I was really impressed with their focus on digital – which we didn't have so much of during my time.

Can you give us an insight into your career path?

I started my consultancy career with a firm called Syntegra, which was the Systems Integrator business of British Telecommunications (BT). My focus was on consultancy business and process transformation off the back of large IT implementations. I was involved in work with the NHS, local government and manufacturing sectors.

I then joined a smaller global consultancy that was specialising in personal and organisational development. This enabled me to travel a lot with work, which I loved initially, but after a while it took its toll. Eventually I joined a more UK centric change consultancy based in London and still managed to win some business with foreign clients. Most of my work was focusing on business transformation and how to make that change happen.

After a period of contracting work, I am now in the process of joining a leading global management consultancy and I am really excited to join their team. They’re a member of the MCA so I look forward to get involved again with the MCA again, now I am a little more senior.

What types of challenges will your clients be facing in the coming years?

Companies want to get global standards and blueprints in their operations and ways of working. This is great as it leads to efficiency but more often than not they forget the cultural elements of a change implementation and that is a key challenge. How to lead change internationally and think about the cross-cultural factors when you’re planning and implementing change from one country to another.

The focus of the Young MCA’s 10th birthday is Consulting 2025. What does the future hold for the consulting industry?

I think there is going to be more consolidation going forward. Consultants will still need to help clients increase revenue and / or reduce costs to improve the bottom line but I think clients will be looking for really niche specialisms. Generalist consultants will become even more and more commoditised.

I think digital is going to become integrated into all our ways of working. When you look at the changes of the last 10 years, the impact of Apple and social media, who knows what will happen in the next 10 years. Digitalising is going to be bigger and that will probably be enough for management consultancy. And, I think organisations will still be confronted with the issue of enabling their people to embrace change, especially in that digital age, so hopefully there will still be room for change management consultants.

If you could give a young consultant any advice what would it be?

I would say definitely get involved with the Young MCA. I met a lot of people that I am still in contact with 10 years later, and a lot of them I actually ended up working with. When you are a consultant it’s all about your networks and relationships. Getting involved in the Young MCA will enable you to make your first move and start to build your network. In 5, 10 ,20 years time if you do your networking correctly you might have opportunities thanks to the time you invested with the MCA.


This interview was published as part of the Young MCA Update.