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Local consulting firm taking on the big four and winning

Local consulting firm taking on the big four and winning

Government consulting is big business in Canberra, with over $1 billion going to the big four consulting firms in the past three years.

The main reason for this is that the Federal Government continues to look outside of its 250,000-strong workforce for additional support and expertise.

One local public-sector consulting firm that is taking on the big four is Callida Consulting.

Callida opened their doors on 1 March 2012 and have grown from their initial seven partners to a team of around 90 staff in a short five years. This team is supplemented by over 50 contractors through a sister company, Callida Resourcing.

The current partners are John Lewis, Paul Smith, Cade Brown, Dominic Egan, Ian McShane, Paul Allen and Colin Thirkettle.

The RiotACT sat down with two of the founding partners John Lewis and Paul Smith to discuss the public-sector consulting scene in Canberra.

Both John and Paul are seriously experienced Canberra based public-sector consultants, with over 60 years of experience between them. Both were founders and partners at Canberra based consulting firm Acumen Alliance, and then executive managers in an Australian listed company, before establishing Callida Consulting.

“We saw that a gap had appeared in the market for an ‘Acumen’ styled consulting business that had disappeared when it was acquired,” John said.

They believed there was a need for a substantial alternative to the major multinationals based in Canberra.

“We were able to leverage our ‘Acumen’ reputation, without using the name,” Paul reflected.

Callida’s whole philosophy is ‘people first’ and ‘commitment over promise’.

“We believed that a ‘people’ oriented consulting firm would be an attraction for consultants around town to come and join us,” John explained.

“At our core is a trusted relationship with our staff. We believe that if we look after our staff they will deliver for the clients.”

Paul says that a number of the staff have come from multinational consulting firms where the ability to deliver pragmatic outcomes is constrained by rigid methodologies and internal siloes.

“Being smaller and nimble we encourage our team to be flexible to meet the needs of the client”.

Callida also aims to provide a stress-free environment for their staff.

“You don’t want internal ‘artificial’ stresses, like people yelling about meeting quotas, causing people to wonder why they don’t leave,” John said.

John says that a lot of stress in a multinational consulting firm comes from external stakeholders such as shareholders, the investment community and … a head office in New York. “At Callida, the seven partners make the decisions and wear the consequences,” John said.

John and Paul are proud that the team grew to 60 staff in around three and a half years, and are now heading towards 100 staff.

“To become a credible alternative to the multinationals, we had to develop capability and capacity, in order to take on the assignments,” John said.

Paul says staff at Callida are trusted and given autonomy.

“Multinational consulting firms typically have rigid command and control structures, where staff have limited flexibility to work outside their silo. Staff can get labelled and stuck in a rut,” Paul stated, “We want to make sure the best team gets placed in front of the client and assist them to succeed.”

Both John and Paul are happy to be taking a strong team of committed public sector consultants up against the big four and winning.

“We offer our team the opportunity to lead and develop, as trusted and valued members of a modern public-sector consulting firm,” John concluded.

If you are a consultant looking for a change in the new year, then why not consider moving to a local team with decades of experience and success in the Canberra market?

Original Article published by Tim Benson on the RiotACT.

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