Dutch consultancy firm First Consulting expands into the UK

27 October 2017 Consultancy.uk

First Consulting, a Dutch consulting firm with nearly 180 consultants, has made its way across the North Sea to set foot in the United Kingdom. To lead the UK operation, the consultancy has brought Jon Nelmes on board, who brings over fifteen years of experience in the industry with him to the role of Managing Director for First Consulting UK. Nelmes is supported by Jorrit Stegenga, a senior consultant at the firm who has relocated to London. Consultancy.uk sat down with Nelmes and Stegenga to understand more about their background, motivation and First Consulting’s ambitions.

First things first, could you give us a short introduction to yourself?

Jon: “I have been working in the consulting sector since 2000, with Accenture and Capgemini Consulting, during which time I have worked with a number of leading organisations, with a particular focus on the utilities sector – electricity, gas, and water. I have helped my clients through large and small-scale transformation challenges, including the successful introduction of numerous digital initiatives. Outside of work I’m kept busy by my young family and a love of sports, two things that are coming closer together the older my children get!”

Jorrit: “I have been working as a consultant since 2005 and have been with First Consulting since 2013. I have worked predominantly in utilities, telco, oil & gas and supply chain, always at the intersection of business and IT, mostly translating strategy into operations. Besides work I am an avid traveller, love good food and drinks and hope to run my 4th marathon this year.”

First Consulting enters UK market

First Consulting is well known in the Netherlands but new to the UK. Can you provide us with an overview?

Jon: ‘Sure! First Consulting is a no-nonsense consultancy that was established in 2006 in the Netherlands, by a group of ex-Andersen Consulting employees, originally focusing on the utilities sector. Since its inception, it has grown swiftly, to the point of today, where we are more than 180 strong and increasing. We operate across five sectors, and are growing our geographical footprint. We pride ourselves in the quality of our smart, analytical, and collaborative people, working with tier 1 clients such as Philips, Heineken, and Alliander.

Why did First Consulting decide to enter the UK consulting market?

Jon: “There are multiple reasons. We are clearly well established in the Dutch market place, and we were confident that our ways of working would translate to other European markets – as such we began assessing where to make our first step in internationalisation. Having investigated the UK consulting market, we concluded that, in addition to a good cultural fit between the Dutch and the British, no one in the UK offered what we do – top quality people, with an operations focus, bringing the intimacy of a mid-sized advisory firm, and an absolute focus on delivering value for our clients.

In addition, a number of our larger clients have a global presence, with UK offices, and hence demand an increased geographic spread from us. It also enables us to extend our successful partnerships with technology organisations, such as Mendix, Amazon web services, Dell Boomi, and Yellowfin. Finally, we have found that many of our consultants are really keen to experience working in the UK, so this provides some great opportunities in the development of our people, supplementing our local team.”

UK’s consulting market is competitive. How are you going to differentiate yourselves from the well-established names?

Jon: “What our clients tell us is that we offer a refreshing, no-nonsense approach, centred on living our clients’ challenges with them, working through solutions alongside them, all enabling us to react quickly and deliver lasting change right at the heart of their business. Our clients also repeatedly comment on the consistent quality of our people, and by association, the quality of their outputs. As in the Netherlands, our clients should expect quality in the outcomes that we will deliver, and the collaborative manner in which they will be delivered.”

Jonathan Nelmes & Jorrit Stegenga

So as a company, how will you seek to build your footprint in the UK?

Jorrit: “We will focus efforts on three types of clients, reflecting our approach in the Netherlands. Firstly, as per our heritage, we will have a focus on the utilities industry, helping clients to master their operational challenges. Additionally, we will leverage our existing partnerships with key technology partners, such as Mendix, whom we will jointly go to market with. Thirdly, and as already mentioned, we will also extend relationships with multinational clients that we work with in the Netherlands.”

What do you expect the future will hold for First Consulting in the UK?

Jon: “In the short-term, we will focus on building a high quality local team. This will enable us to respond to UK demand and deliver excellent work. We need to create solid foundations with our clients, with the founding UK team in place. In no way will the partner team sacrifice quality for faster growth. In the end, it is all about demonstrating our worth and using that as a platform for growth, as in the longer-term, we increase the breadth of our sector offering.

Finally, have you kicked off recruitment for consultants to join you?

Jorrit: Absolutely! Building on our growing client portfolio, we are actively searching for top quality consultants and started recruitment in the UK last month. Any consultant that is interested in joining a growing startup in the UK with an established track record is encouraged to approach our recruitment team by email.

More information on First Consulting, including projects and jobs, can be found in the First Consulting company profile.

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US consulting firm Slalom opens Manchester office

25 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

American tech consultancy Slalom has announced plans to open a Manchester office in which it will employ 200 staff by 2025. The firm opened a London office in 2014, and also recently launched its operations in Canada.

Slalom Consulting is one of the largest management and technology consultancies in North America, with some 4,000 consultants, and revenues of more than $550 million. Founded in Seattle in 2001, the advisory firm spent its initial 13 years of business focusing on domestic expansion. While many fast-growing firms in Europe seek to expand across borders to open up new markets, Slalom’s positioning in the world’s largest and most mature consulting market meant that by the start of 2014, the firm had grown its revenues to around $480 million with offices solely in the US.

At that point, however, the firm decided the time was finally right to go global, and in the Summer of 2014 the consultancy opened an office in London. Run by Alex Qatsha – formerly a consultant at Unisys, Accenture and Deloitte – the London operation has since enjoyed a growing track record across the UK and European clients and industries. Through its London office, Slalom has established a reputation in the UK for successfully delivering impactful projects to private and public sector clients across numerous industries.

US consulting firm Slalom opens Manchester office

In the following four years, Slalom has grown into more new markets, including Canada – where it opened an office in Toronto – and launched a new software and tech 'building' offering. Amid growing demand in the UK, the consultancy has turned its attentions back to British shores once more. The UK represents the world’s second largest individual market for consulting services, and with the Northern Powerhouse project seeing business boom in the North-West in particular, Slalom has opted to launch a new Manchester office. 

While the move to a fast-growing region is understandable, it comes after venture capital funding fell by 30% in the North West in 2018. The haul was worth £122.2 million, down from £173.4 million in 2017, while the North as a whole saw the same 30% venture capital drop. Despite that, Slalom hopes its second UK location at Peter House, in the heart of Manchester’s innovation and academic district, will allow it to tap into the city’s deep talent pool, while investing in the development of its existing team members to strengthen its UK reputation. The company plans to employ 200 people in Manchester by 2025.

Dave Williams, UK Country Managing Director, said, “Manchester is a city of digital enterprise with a wide range of strengths across industries including manufacturing, healthcare, utilities and consumer services – which perfectly complements Slalom’s breadth of expertise. We’re looking forward to collaborating with clients to shape their internal capabilities, building a team and making an impact on the local community.”

Paul Squire, Managing Director – who will move from the London office to head up operations in Manchester –  added, “I’m excited about working with our clients in the North West of England, helping them to deliver people-centric change, bring strategic solutions to life, and ultimately, to love their future.”

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of Manchester’s inward investment agency, MIDAS, meanwhile stated, “Greater Manchester is a hotbed for collaboration and innovation, making it the ideal location for pioneering businesses like Slalom... Establishing operations within one of Europe’s largest digital and technology clusters will provide the consultancy firm with ample opportunities to join forces with the rapidly increasing number of world-leading brands that are choosing Manchester.”