Corporate Clients at Fortune 1000 Companies
We help executives at major companies learn the tools, techniques and skills of a management consultant so that they may deploy these skills in their careers. Our objective is to ensure they can act as if they had actually spent time in a major consulting firm, and have both the hard and soft skills to lead challenging corporate assignments. In most cases, we typically work with our clients, in a private setting away from the office, to train them through simulated case and analytical exercises which mirror their actual assignments.
Prospective corporate clients are kindly invited to undergo an extensive discussion we hold over Sunday mornings to discuss their profile, needs and expectations. The discussion is approximately 4 hours in length and can be held over video conferencing or over breakfast at our offices in downtown Toronto on Bay Street. The discussion, at our full cost, will be used to determine if the client is an appropriate fit to our style of coaching.
Defining Executive Coaching
We are not a management consulting firm. We do not compete with management consulting firms. We do not respond to RFP’s nor do we bid for consulting engagements. We are a private management consulting training firm. That is all we do. All of our work is done for individuals. We do not sign agreements with companies, even those hiring us to train and develop, for example, the head of the strategy unit within a large company. We work exclusively for individuals, sign agreements with individuals and go to extreme lengths to work in the background. In all cases, our involvement is never made public and it is stipulation of the contracts we sign. We do not even visit client offices, though we visit the individual client in neutral, and private, locations. When clients hire us, they hire us knowing our presence will never be known nor will our names ever appear on any documents produced. Our focus is on developing the client to undertake strategy work independent of us. That is a core distinction. We do not do management consulting work which can be done by an established firm.
Typical Client Engagement
The head of strategy at a CGP company’s paper business was struggling to develop a “creative” strategy for the business. A graduate of Wharton, with 2 years experience at BCG, they reached out to us through a word-of-mouth referral. We never advertise nor do we acknowledge prior work done. That is, we will never ever admit someone had been a prior client, even if they acknowledge as such publicly.
Over the course of 3 long video conference discussions, we discussed their challenges and agreed to work with them. They were leading a team of ex-consultants and concerned that they did not have the skills to conduct a complete strategy review for a large business division. They had never led such work, on such a scale, at BCG. Our conditions for working with a client, although slightly repeated below, clearly distinguish why we are not management consultants.
First, we do not sign agreements with the company even if they are willing to fund our involvement. We are not even willing to entertain such an agreement and have on many occasions walked away from such work.
Second, we are unwilling to visit the client site since that means implicitly acknowledging to co-workers they are a client.
Third, we do not engage other employees under any conditions, even when the client requests such an interaction. In other words, we do not exist. All material and information must be sent by our client only.
Fourth, we do not actually conduct a consulting engagement. We focus on doing the work the client should be doing, to a greater standard, but, most importantly, teaching the client how to be a better executive: a crucial distinction.
In the CPG case, we have arranged our travel schedules to meet the client in Copenhagen, in a private hotel. We literally worked from 6am to about 12am on Saturday and Sunday, first breaking down the task he needed to undertake and then teaching him how to lead his team to generate such a strategy.
Many of our case training candidates know we had been travelling to Copenhagen often in late 2011 and this was why. Crucially, we are not doing the research and analyses and producing a report at the end. We are teaching the executive how to lead his team to develop such a report.
In most cases, we have to create unbranded slides and methodologies which he can use with his team. It is a contractual obligation that our branding or name cannot appear on documents. In many cases we have to teach a client how to do the analyses. In this particular case, we had to teach the client how to conduct a pricing analysis.
Over the course of numerous cappuccino’s, Danishes (no pun intended), and numerous graphical power point presentations, we taught the client how to do the work, so that we could build this into his analyses. At the end of our assignment, the client needs to look like he was responsible for the work, and actually have the skills to do the work.
The key part is helping the client operate independently. As if we never existed. With regulated weekly updates, he was ready to lead his team through this challenging period. Although, we will only know for sure over the next few months, as the results start coming through.
This fits neatly into our model of coaching ambitious individuals to think, act and operate like management consultants. We help people trying to join consulting firms; we also train BCG, McKinsey and Bain consultants, and now help industry executives operate like management consultants. We are quite pleased to leave the management consulting work to BCG and McKinsey: who are best at it. That is their business.