PS Professional, a UK-based platform that focuses on the professional services industry, has launched a new, vendor-independent certification scheme which according to the founders will help “shape the consultant of tomorrow”. The certification scheme for advisors working in professional services, including management and IT consultants, is designed to expand on technical knowledge, develop commercial insight and personal effectiveness. To understand more about the scheme, and its value to consultants, Consultancy.uk spoke with PS Professional founder Gary Gamp.
What made you develop a new standard and certification for the professional services industry?
I’ve spent the last 20 years working in Professional Services either running large international teams or helping organisations develop their strategy and their capability. The universal issue everyone had was how do you really differentiate with your people and really prove they are the best. For example, how do you make technical people more rounded, understanding the business, being commercially savvy and sales oriented? And how do you make smart people better at personal effectiveness, building better relationships, bringing people with you and just being more professional overall?
At the heart of the approach stands a capabilities and skills model. Can you tell us more about the different skills and what is needed for advisors to advance their skill set?
The goal is to make technical people more rounded. We have built a skills and capability framework called “The Turbo”; there are five aspects to this that are interconnecting and are the measure of professional services personnel skills and competencies, beyond their technical capability:
1. Personal Effectiveness – the professional part of professional services. The relationship skills, ability to work interdependently with others and the productivity skills to be organised and professional.
2. The business skills – the ability to look through the lens of the business, the macro-economics, industry sector skills and marketing essentials.
3. The golden goose for technical people is to be more commercial – the commercial acumen and ability to be sales oriented.
4. What makes someone an authority in their field? We feel we’ve cracked the code on what makes someone an authority.
5. Finally, as most activity for a Professional Services individual is linked to an operational environment, we felt it was important that they understood that environment, i.e. the whole customer experience, managing customer expectations and implementation skills.
The professional services industry already has dozens of certifications, ranging from certifications per profession (i.e. accounting) to certifications on technical skills (i.e. CCIE, Microsoft Professional, ITIL, PRINCE2, etc.) or on soft skills (i.e. leadership programmes). Why should consultants choose the PS Professional certification programme?
That’s our issue! There are dozens of technical certifications, which are obviously important, but they all focus on technical depth. There was nothing out there that helped make people more rounded, that focussed on the practical elements of being better at your job or that brought together life skills and emotional intelligence. Our certification scheme complements – not competes with – other certifications out there. Because of the practical nature of PS Professional, if you were (for example) a PRINCE2 project management practitioner, our certification would make you a better PRINCE2 practitioner as it will leverage your technical knowledge with practical skills that will make you better at the job.
More specifically for management consulting, what are the key skills consultants can differentiate with using the PS Professional model?
The key to being a good management consultant is the ability to get people to buy into your ideas, for you to be able to build credibility and, in essence, earn the right to bring them with you on a journey. We decided to choose bodies of knowledge that are interesting to read but can make an instant impact on someone’s effectiveness. For example for the ‘Rainmaker’ (commercial) syllabus, we are using a book called “Insight Selling”. The book is based on research from 300 IT buyers as to why suppliers came second. The results were shocking; the people that thought they came second, didn't come second at all – they lost! They were nowhere near. The book analyses what the people that came first did. We then use this intelligence to write better proposals that join the dots better and ultimately increase the win rate.
Or within the ‘Athlete’ (personal effectiveness) module, we are using the popular “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” titles. There have always been workshops and seminars on the subject, but this is the first professional certification on personal effectiveness.
How is the quality of PS Professional certified consultants guaranteed?
We have been very careful to choose an examining board with the highest quality and credibility. We are working exclusively with APMG International. APMG is recognised globally as a quality provider in the accreditation, training and certification industry with over 20 years’ experience. The body has a strong commitment to quality and is accredited by multiple national accreditation bodies, including the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
And finally, what are the more longer term ambitions with PS Professional?
PS Professional, a UK-based platform that focuses on the professional services industry, has launched a new, vendor-independent certification scheme which according to the founders will help “shape the consultant of tomorrow”. The certification scheme for advisors working in professional services, including management and IT consultants, is designed to expand on technical knowledge, develop commercial insight and personal effectiveness. To understand more about the scheme, and the value it brings to consultants, Consultancy.uk spoke with Gary Gamp, founder of PS Professional.