Nitesh Palana, Managing Consultant at PA Consulting Group

12 January 2017

After working six years for accounting and consulting firm PwC, Nitesh Palana recently moved over to PA Consulting Group. Palana reflects on his move, his first three months at the London-headquartered consulting firm and the type of projects PA works on. 

When I left PwC to join PA Consulting Group, a lot of my friends, colleagues and contacts asked if I was leaving the financial services industry. I realised that whilst I knew PA’s extensive work in financial services, most people know them for innovation, technology and management consulting. The combination of these three services was a key factor for my decision to join PA as this is where I believe the future is for my field of expertise, financial services regulation.

As a curious consultant, when I joined PA Consulting Group, it was natural to compare it to my previous experiences of consultancy. I compared interactions with clients, the working style and environment and I compared the calibre of employees. While I haven’t documented my findings, my view of PA can be summarised as ‘a management consultancy with lots of smart people driven by creating forward-looking solutions and strategies that actually work and deliver client value’. As this sentence sounds very much like a series of buzz words, I have dissected it and defined it below.

Nitesh Palana - PA Consulting

To me, there is a small but important difference between professional services and management consultancy. In professional services, firms have a combination of general consulting (e.g. change management) and a number of subject matter experts (SMEs) in technical areas. Management consultancy has smart people with sector (e.g. financial services) or industry (e.g. banking) specialisms. Management consultants may also have particular expertises (e.g. conduct regulation), but their role is much broader than technical expertise and they use every tool available to find holistic solutions. I joined management consultancy not only to solve complex problems for clients, but to also join the dots and identify how problems and solutions have a wider impact on the client’s business. 

PA’s tough recruitment standards mean that they only hire smart and capable people (including a number of people from the Big 4). A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to assess graduate recruitment and I was shocked that I was one of five Managing Consultants who spent the best part of a day to fill just one graduate position. My colleagues at the Big 4 were generally smart but, given their size, it is harder for them to have such a robust recruitment strategy.

All consultants talk about solutions and some solutions are better than others. I used the term forward-looking as PA use their expertise in innovation and technology to develop solutions for financial services clients. In the field of regulation, PA has developed a workflow management tool that, through automation, reduces the cost and headcount of any case management process, such as complaints handling, anti-money laundering checks and remediation exercises. On other projects, PA has found the most suitable technological solutions available in the market and brought them to clients.

RegTech in PA's DNA

A lot of consultancy firms are partnering with technology firms or setting up ‘technology hubs’ to offer RegTech as a proposition. At PA, RegTech is not a proposition – innovation and technology are considered when solving every client problem; RegTech is in the firm’s DNA. 

At PA, innovation and technology are considered when solving every client problem

One example of how PA is assisting firms with strategy is detailed research and analysis on how companies can better understand their customer’s decision and outcome by making customers the centre of their universe – this allows companies to change their business model to remain relevant and valuable to customers. In banking, understanding the customer is essential for existing conduct regulatory requirements and to remain competitive after the implementation of the new Payment Services Directive.

There would not be a demand for consultancy if clients didn’t see the value provided by consultants. There is value in delivering general consulting and helping the client solve technical queries; there is greater value when consultants find innovative ways to grow their client’s business or identify efficiencies and cost savings; I have noticed that my colleagues at PA are dedicated to doing all of the above.

When my friends, colleagues and contacts ask what I do at PA Consulting, my simple answer is: “I specialise in conduct regulation and we help our financial services clients solve problems”.

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Robert Park on the launch of his consultancy RWG Enterprises

18 April 2019

Following a lengthy spell as a General Manager at an international materials corporation, Robert Park was keen to rediscover his inner entrepreneur. With the launch of his new consulting firm, RWG Enterprises, Park spoke with to outline his hopes for the future of the company, and how he believes his boutique will be able to challenge the market.

Robert Park commenced his career in retail, taking up a string of General Store Manager positions with companies – including Poundstretcher and The Gadget Shop – before making the 2005 move that would lead him to a 13-year stay with Morgan Advanced Materials. First taking up a role as Production Supervisor with the organisation, Park quickly worked his way to the upper echelons of the group. By 2013, he held the role of UK Operations Manager for the company’s UK ceramic core business, Certech UK, before seeing out his final four years at the firm as General Manager, leading the senior management team and strategic direction of the business.

Despite his success with the firm, however, Park found himself getting itchy feet. A change of career seemed increasingly appealing, and by February 2019, the time to take a new path had arrived.

Park explained: “I was losing the ability to to use the entrepreneurial flair that I had enjoyed in the past; the organisation was moving more towards a structured and common approach for doing things, and that made me feel restricted. I also really enjoy the troubleshooting, problem solving side of my role. However, having been in my last post for four years, the troubleshooting and firefighting was long behind me. I realised that I am really energised by tackling difficult issues or turning around things that are clearly struggling.”

New consulting firm RWG Enterprises launches

His criteria for a new career seemed to point conclusively in the direction of management consulting, and while his CV has no formal experience in the sector, Park believes his career to date has provided him with a wealth of transferable skills. During his time with Certech at Morgan Advanced Materials, he became a Senior Manager at the age of just 21, and went on to succeed in a harsh factory environment where six former candidates had previously failed to deliver results.

Later, he became the group’s youngest General Manager in its history, and was involved in the turnaround of numerous departments. He also developed vast experience dealing with a wide range of ‘people’ challenges, including re-organisation, talent development, talent acquisition and leadership development. Along the way, Park noted that he learned to deal with large, blue chip organisations such as Rolls Royce, securing major long-term contracts worth upwards of £25 million.

Now, he hopes to take that know-how and apply it to the diverse world of consulting work. Park elaborated: “I really want to be able to help organisations that feel that there is no hope or have lost faith in the business… Having been there myself I know how helpful it would have been to have someone to refer to in times of crisis… The firm will also focus on leadership development, as I spent a lot of time with the global graduate program during my corporate career… and I was really motivated to see these individuals grow and develop… helping them to find their own way through challenging situations.

New enterprise

Park’s new Derby-based consultancy, RWG Enterprises, will focus on five key operational fronts. As stated, leadership development and business rescue will be two of these areas, as well as manufacturing – where the firm will tackle challenges such as new product introduction. RWG will also offer financial advisory services and strategic business planning offerings.

While Park is understandably guarded about the firm’s initial engagements, he revealed that he has been “speaking at length to a well-known university and business school about providing mentoring and coaching support to students.” In the long-term, the aim is for RWG Enterprises to take on engagements from clients across the industrial spectrum. He added that as “the company is very embryonic”, it would be “foolish” to become too focused on target clients at this stage.

When asked how RWG Enterprises intends to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack, in an ever-more-crowded UK consulting sector, Park is undaunted by the task ahead. He stated, “I think the main differentiator is that we are small... I have operated at a very senior level for many years but I have enjoyed a very diverse background having worked in most functions within my last organisation. I also won’t take on any work or clients that I feel I cannot deliver value for, I am honest and ethical and am really motivated by seeing others become successful… The main thing I am focused on is 'can I add value' and 'can I help?'”