Oakland Consulting celebrates its 30th anniversary

16 April 2015 Consultancy.uk

This year Oakland Consulting celebrates its 30th anniversary. To celebrate the special milestone with its consultants, relations, clients and alumni, the consultancy hosted a special event on Tuesday evening. Among others founder John Oakland and Estelle Clark, a business assurance expert and Safety and Business Assurance Director at LRQA, took the stage to reflect on the firm’s past, future and the domain in which it operates.

Oakland Consulting was founded in 1985 by John Oakland, who currently serves as Chairman of the Leeds-based advisory. The company has in the past three decades remained close to its original heritage, and positions itself as a specialist in the field of operational excellence and performance improvement, serving both the private and public sectors. Oakland Consulting has a team of approximately 20 consultants, as well as a network of associates and functional experts that have committed themselves to the consultancy.

John Oakland

In a recent interview with the MCA, founder Oakland reflected on the history, aims and future of the consultancy. Asked for the ingredients behind the firm’s success, Oakland sees two main areas. With quality considerations always having been an issue for businesses, he remarks that the firm’s core competencies in helping companies improve performance and quality has been in demand, with reviewing costs and creating ‘leaner’ organisations key to Oakland Consulting’s continued role in the market.

He in addition points at the company’s origin as a business school, regarding it as one of the key elements which both sets the firm apart as well as provides the firm with its capacity to develop new lines of thinking and ways of approaching the quality issues faced by their clients. Oakland notes that the evolution of the firm from Business School allowed it to keep its “own research and education division and carry out studies with other firms and institutions on topics like change management and 'redefining quality.” Which, according to Oakland, “… keeps us not only at the frontiers of knowledge but also in the minds of clients as they like to be at the leading edge themselves.”

Oakland Consulting specialises in quality managment and performance improvement

Keeping abreast of the latest developments and even pioneering and innovating on the subject indicates that there have been changes in the field. To get to what is the same and what has changed in the field for the consultancy, the MCA asked Oakland about the changes. In the 80s, Oakland recollects, the demand for quality support was high, with maturity in its infancy. At the time Oakland Consulting was called upon to deliver practical services, especially to government, for things like, writing booklets, case studies, videos, road shows, etc. Things have moved on since then according to Oakland: “If we tried to do what we did in the 1980s we would be dead. Certain sectors such as manufacturing, automotive and electronics have moved forward, of course, but there are still organisations out there where a lot of basic stuff is just not done right. For example, quality issues often arise when firms undertake a drive to take out costs. This has been a big factor in electronics, for example, so we are still seeing the need to support a whole range of organisations.”

Oakland Consulting Team

In a forward looking move, Oakland highlights the changing landscape, both for clients as well as industries. One of the key moves the firm is embracing to meet a bright future in management consulting is through embedding sustainability in their projects. He states that Oakland Consulting has placed considerable value in developing quality in line with carbon reduction, remarking that, “a lot of things we learned over the years have been very applicable in [the sustainability] area and the work goes together well with what we already do. Often the senior person responsible for quality in an organisation is also responsible for environmental and health and safety issues.”

When asked about the ambitions of the firm, Oakland considers how technology development will affect the field of consulting, remarking that to have a vibrant future management consulting firms need to identify consulting models that work with the needs of the firm’s clients. “I’m certain that we will want to maintain a strong focus on innovation and high value, as well as quality, of course!” he concludes.

×

Robert Park on the launch of his consultancy RWG Enterprises

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

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 Consultancy.uk 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?'”