The 35 most talented young consultants under 35

16 March 2015

Consulting Magazine has released the 2015 edition of the ‘Rising Stars of the Profession’, an annual list of the 35 most promising consultants under 35. All recognised consultants work at different consulting firms, with 14 of the 35 award winners female.

The consulting profession is stocked with talent, and for consulting firms having the best talent on board is one of the most important differentiators in the marketplace. In consulting, the product in essence boils down to people, and as a result consultancies compete on the basis of the quality of their talent, among other key factors such as approach, operating model and way of working. It goes without saying that at the end of the line the consulting firms with the best talent win.

The 2015 Rising Stars

To recognise the leaders in the consulting industry – which employs more than 250,000 consultants in the United States alone – Consulting Magazine on an annual basis releases a list of the 35 most promising young consultants, with young defined as those aged under 35. The prestigious list contains advisors that have provided an extraordinary contribution to the profession, both in their work as well as in their accomplishments, setting them aside from the thousands of other brilliant minds that work with them. The elite 35 have for instance either launched firms, sold firms, or merged their own firms with much larger firms. Or saved clients hundreds of millions of dollars or generated more in revenue for their own firms. In some cases they have played a pivotal role in opening new offices or large-scale global expansion.

The 35 most promising consultants under 35 (name; age; consulting firm; recognition):

- Daniel Santiago (33), A.T. Kearney, Excellence in Public Sector
- Rob Wilson (33), L.E.K. Consulting, Excellence in Strategy Consulting
- Jessica Block (33), FTI Consulting, Excellence in Client Service
- Maryam Naderi (30), Alvarez & Marsal, Excellence in Client Service
- Anne Denny Cantey (29), OpenSymmetry, Excellence in Client Service

Daniel Santiago, Rob Wilson, Jessica Block, Maryam Naderi and Anne Denny Cantey

- Loe Larsson (33), Deloitte Consulting, Excellence in Client Service
- Sarah Rose Wright (32), EY, Excellence in Strategy Consulting
- Mohan Kommanaboina (34), KPMG, Excellence in Information Technology
- Emmanuel Legbeti (32), Strategy&, Excellence in Operations Management
- Carina Hira (34), PwC, Excellence in Financial Services

Loe Larsson, Sarah Rose Wright, Mohan Kommanaboina, Emmanuel Legbeti and Carina Hira

- Chris Birch (34), Aon Hewitt, Excellence in Client Service
- Aditya Udas (32), Capco, Excellence in Client Service
- Roy Lee (31), Accenture, Excellence in Leadership
- John Gerberich (34), IBM, Excellence in Human Resources
- Kelly Hamski (33), West Monroe Partners, Excellence in Leadership

Chris Birch, Aditya Udas, Roy Lee, John Gerberich and Kelly Hamski

- Daniel Hoang (34), Point B, Excellence in Strategy Consulting
- Randy Armknecht (30), Protiviti, Excellence in High Tech
- Rich Bajner (32), Navigant, Excellence in Healthcare
- Erin Bartley (34), Huron Consulting Group, Excellence in Healthcare
- Michelle Dennen (33), Slalom Consulting, Excellence in Retail

Daniel Hoang, Randy Armknecht, Rich Bajneer, Erin Bartley and Michelle Dennen

- Melaine Amendola (33), MorganFranklin, Excellence in Client Service
- Carolyn Arendacs (28), Decision Resources Group, Excellence in Client Service
- Adam Boggs (33), BTS, Excellence in Client Service
- James McDonald (29), Lyons Consulting Group, Excellence in Retail
- Courtney Ramey (34), Jabian, Excellence in Leadership

Melaine Amendola, Carolyn Arendacs, Adam Bogg, James McDonald and Courtney Ramey 
- Jeb Carlisle (33), Carlisle & Gallagher, Excellence in Client Service
- Katheryn DeVelvis (32), The Claro Group, Excellence in Financial Services
- Vincent D’Itri (33), Aspen Advisors, Excellence in Healthcare
- Ross Gilmore (30), CapTech, Excellence in Leadership
- Kevin Havel (25), TriVista, Excellence in Operations Management

Jeb Carlisle, Katheryn DeVelvis, Vincent Ditri, Ross Gilmore and Kevin Havel

- Jonathan Selter (33), Censeo Consulting, Excellence in Public Sector
- Brandon Sweet (33), Sapient, Excellence in Client Service
- Timothy Thoppil (33), P3 Group, Excellence in Strategy
- Chris Wetmore (33), McGladrey, Excellence in Information Technology
- Rachel Wixson (34), Cumberland Consulting Group, Excellence in Leadership

Jonathan Selter, Brandon Sweet, Timothy Thoppil, Chris Wetmore and Rachel Wixson

The youngest bright minds
An analysis of the 35 young consultants reveals that 21 are male, with an average age of 32, comparable to the female average. Kevin Havel from Trivista is the youngest award-winnner, testimony to his large contribution to successful engagements across a wide range of industries. Commenting on his award, Havel says he is “honoured and excited to be chosen out of a field of exception candidates”. James McDonald (29) from Lyons Consulting Group, Carolyn Arendacs (28) from Decision Resources Group and Anne Denny Cantey (29) from OpenSymmetry are only other advisors below the age of 30 to have made the list.

The ‘Rising Stars of the Profession’ is a list that focuses mainly on the US consulting market, as a result consultants operating in for instance Europe, Latin America and Asia have not been included.


Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.