British woman-led technology consultancy expands US footprint

01 June 2018

Gibbs Hybrid, a UK-based technology consultancy, is expanding its client offering to North America. As women at many UK firms are still struggling to break the infamous ‘glass ceiling’, the consulting firm differentiates itself from competitors via its status as a woman-owned and minority certified business.

A recent report into company governance across the UK’s largest companies provoked further debate, revealing that they continue to drag their feet when it comes to practical implementation of diversity policy. Only 14% of FTSE 250 companies were able to say that more than a third of their directors were female, while reporting on diversity among these companies also declined in recent years. In 2014, 30% of FTSE 250 companies worked to outline company diversity in detail, compared to 11.2% last year.

While some companies have made efforts to change this – with notable exceptions such as consulting firm Brickendon announcing 50% of its senior management will be female by the end of next year – the UK’s reputation for tackling gender equality has fallen behind that of other nations in the annual Women In Work benchmark by Big Four firm PwC. One firm which prides itself on bucking this trend is British-based technology consultancy Gibbs Hybrid, a rapidly growing consultancy which has seen revenues break the $100 million mark after 12 years in business.

British woman-led technology consultancy expands US footprint

Launched in 2005, by namesake and former EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Farida Gibbs, the firm specialises in management, program technology solutions, and outsourcing services, but what sets it apart from its competitors is that Gibbs Hybrid is woman owned and ethnic minority certified. The diversified model of the firm sees it looking to leverage an assortment of reports which suggest that greater inclusion in business leads to improved results – data which Gibbs Hybrid seems to be wielding extremely effectively. Having recently launched in Ireland, Poland and Luxembourg, the firm now has its sights set on the world’s largest consulting market in North America.

Farida Gibbs – who is also the firm’s CEO – is now targeting an annual revenue of $50 million within two years from the US and Canadian markets. Citing the Brexit vote as a potential driving force for greater levels of potential collaboration between US and UK businesses, the firm is aiming to seize on opportunities created by the geopolitical uncertainties present in both nations since 2016. As tariffs stand to tighten and trade relations with many of the US’ own trading partners threaten to cool, many businesses on both sides of the Atlantic are hoping for a freer flow of trade between the two nations, according to Gibbs.

The firm’s unique model may also help mark it out from the crowded US market. According to research from Accenture – which is itself targeting gender equality by 2025 – women are less likely to work than men (50% vs. 76%) – as well as being less likely to occupy the upper ranks of management – which contributes to the ‘invisible pay gap’ which again exacerbates the economic inequality between men and women. Employing more than 600 staff and consultants internationally, Gibbs Hybrid is a certified WBE (woman-owned business) and EMB (ethnic-minority owned business)

In a statement announcing the cross-continental expansion of the firm, Gibbs herself referred to the IFS Digital Change Survey which found that North American companies consider ‘aversion to change’ and ‘security threats/concerns’ to be the major obstacles to digital transformation. Gibbs Hybrid, she said, specialises in removing such barriers.

“The timing of this expansion could not be better,” said Gibbs. She added, “There is a huge growth opportunity for Gibbs Hybrid in North America, as our three pillar model enables companies to address their key concerns when it comes to digitally transforming. This can be anything from improving operational efficiencies, compliance with legislation and battling against evolving security concerns.”

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Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

05 April 2019

A Newcastle-based consultancy has announced it will open its first office in Iraq. The news comes despite warnings that the area remains “high risk” for businesses.

16 years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the nation remains a shadow of its former self. The continued chaos wrought by the Iraq War – which eventually played a role in the rise to prominence of Daesh, further destabilising the region – means that even now, the nation’s capital is deemed to have the lowest quality of living in the world. According to a recent survey from Mercer, Baghdad ranked last overall – immediately below Bangui of the Central African Republic and Damascus in Syria – despite the other two being determined as the worst cities on the planet for personal safety.

However, as with the wider Middle East, the oil-rich state presents a lucrative destination to businesses willing to take the risk. To that end, a Newcastle recruitment consultancy has announced the opening of its first presence in Iraq’s capital city. Samuel Knight has taken the decision to open its Baghdad locale in order to grow its business in the Middle East.

Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

While businesses remain wary of the region, Samuel Knight specialises in recruiting talent in the energy and rail sectors, and in a release it said the new office would continue to focus on these areas. It will also allow the firm to make sure it abides by local compliance laws. The new location will be headed up by Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq country manager, who will work as the first point of contact for clients and candidates. Representatives from the Department of Trade Industry are expected to attend a launch event for the office, which will be held this month.

Commenting on the new office,  a spokesperson for Samuel Knight said, “We probably don’t see it as a risk, but more of an opportunity, as we operate in the Middle East extensively already. We have contacts in place in the country location and with the consultants we have. We felt it was a great opportunity to expand into a country we are already doing work in. It means we have an on-the-ground team to help our clients. From our perspective, it is that we are looking to expand into new territories, but we are also supporting countries that are starting to redevelop after years of warfare.”

Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight, said, “Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at  an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan, and to ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”