First Consulting's Managing Partner outlines plans for the future

13 April 2018

First Consulting, a consulting firm with a presence in the UK and the Netherlands, has seen rapid growth in recent years. At the helm of the company is the Dutchman Geert van der Goor. sat down with the Managing Partner to walk through the firm’s plans for the future for both the UK, home base the Netherlands and mainland Europe.

How do you reflect on the past few years?

It´s incredible that it has already been five years since I started at First Consulting, time truly has flown by. When I joined, the co-founders had already laid the foundations for a fantastic company with a team of 70 consultants working exclusively in the energy sector. Since then, we have grown to almost 200 employees and expanded into new sectors: Telecoms, Utilities, Infrastructure, and Financial Services. We have also put more focus on our business technology and business implementation domains. In addition, last year we launched in the UK with First Consulting UK, where we are already delivering operational improvements for clients!

So what are the plans for the upcoming years?

Before I say anything about specific plans for the future, I first want to set out our ambitions. At many companies, ambition is translated into certain rigid figures, but not at First. Our goal is to be a high-quality consulting organisation. We really want to add value for our clients. This is much more important to us than ‘arbitrary’ growth numbers. That’s why, at First, we never talk about fixed targets and strict deadlines. Instead, we strive towards a company vision and set flexible ranges as our goals. As Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said: ‘The goal is more important than the planning’.

We want to grow First Consulting into a pan-European consulting organisation

That being said, in the upcoming years our aim is to grow our organisation to between 300 and 400+ employees. We think that this will allow us to meet even more of our client’s challenges, whilst not losing our personal touch. In the UK we want to grow to a considerable size, and we are exploring further expansion opportunities in Germany and the Nordics. We are, however, taking everything one step at a time and we refuse to make any concessions on quality. At the end of the line, we want our culture to resonate in everything we do, and to stay faithful to our six core values – sharp, fun, together, daring, trust, and no-nonsense.

From a services perspective, our focus is and will remain on the operational challenges of our clients. In other words, we will continue to optimise combinations of processes, systems, and people as driven by our clients’ strategy. It is still not widely known that we have a track record of delivering projects focused on operational strategy, including providing client-driven, asset management and digitisation strategy consulting services. This is something that we will continue to do in the upcoming years.

Our extensive experience in the field of technology also remains one of our best kept secrets. Besides agile development, such as in our Mendix projects [First Consuting is an Expert Partner of Mendix], we have extensive experience in projects related to data (management, structuring, and migrations) and analytics. Our expertise in process mining, robotics, and machine learning continues to expand too. With everything we do, our main focus and starting point remains business processes, and putting business first!

What is your dream for First Consulting?

My dream is to grow First Consulting into a pan-European consulting organisation, whilst retaining our focus on quality and adding value for our client in a way that is different to the traditional ‘consulting giants’. It is very exciting to see that our vision is resonating with others. Not only with our clients, but also with potential employees.

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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?'”