Organisational consulting firm Q5 opens office in Hong Kong

02 October 2018

A year after Q5 Partners arrived as a company in Hong Kong, the firm has established its first office there. The British-origin consultancy headquartered in London is well positioned to help clients enter a crowded yet lucrative market, according to the testimony of a number of clients, interviewed by the firm to highlight its milestone.

Launched by four friends wanting to change the way things were done in the traditional consulting industry, during the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Q5 Partners first opened for business in 2009. The group thought they could help businesses better respond to the challenges confronting them, with benefits that lasted beyond the four quarters of the financial year, into the fifth quarter, or 'Q5', which the company derives its name from. The consultancy works for clients across several industries, providing media, financial services, retail, professional services and government consulting services.

Earlier in 2018, Q5 was among eight firms to have been named a top boutique management consultancy to work for in the UK by The Sunday Times. Data collected from the firm’s workforce, 100% of Q5 staff agreed people in their team go out of their way to help them – and Q5 fosters this in a number of innovative manners beyond face-to-face interaction, such as Global Espresso video calls, Slack, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and a monthly team meeting outside the office.

Organisational consulting firm Q5 opens office in Hong Kong

Q5 is part of the Transformation Alliance, an international consulting group, originally founded in four European countries. The sister firms of the alliance are independent, strong and local leaders, and include h&z Management Consulting from Munich, Germany, Kea & Partners from Paris, France and MBS Consulting from Milan, Italy. Today, Q5 has around 150 employees across offices in London, New York, Sydney and a new presence in Hong Kong. The launch of its Hong Kong office comes months after it initially opened for business in the area in autumn 2017.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s consulting sector is largely focused on the financial services industry, as it develops gradually into a key finance hub in the region. While the autonomous territory is fostering a burgeoning consulting industry, however, businesses looking to join the thriving economy should take note that life is not easy for new companies in the former British colony.

A multitude of issues mean that companies could fail fast if they do not take stock of their surroundings quickly. A cultural clash, differing business practices, or even sky-rocketing office space costs could all up-end newcomers to the market before they have time to get their bearings. This is why it is important to tap up external expertise in order to make the most of entering the market, according to several Q5 clients and a local economic expert, who were recently interviewed by the firm to celebrate its formal launch in the market.

“International companies, and there are many of them with bases in Hong Kong, face many challenges on how to connect their global strategy. I think that companies that you see succeeding in Hong Kong are open minded, they’re collaborative, they’re able to make those connections, but also adjust their strategies for a local market where relevant,” said Jonathan Wright, Global Managing Director, Dow Jones.

Katrina Andrews, Managing Partner at Andrews Partnership, agreed that things may appear easier than they actually are for expats arriving to found businesses. However, Andrews warned, “There’s been a lot of expats here for a long time, working this market, so to have a pointed difference to them, you need not just international experience, but you need to understand the nuances of Asia… For a start, things here take longer. You might think that an acceptable turnaround time is two days and you’ll call them, but around here it’s very hierarchical and there is a process to go through.”

While insurance sector expert Michell Ho concurred that culture is a big factor for those arriving in the territory, it is still a place which entrepreneurs with the right ideas and execution can succeed in. Ho expanded, “Culture will be a big factor when foreign companies want to first set foot in Hong Kong. We are quite receptive of new ideas, we are open to speak up at something if we think we should, so in Hong Kong we have the blend of the best of both worlds.”

In order to make the most of these potential inroads into the market, Katrina Andrews stated that persistence and consistency are above all key. She elaborated, “For your business to have roots in this region there is no way you can fast-track it. It is the old fashioned way of being accessible, of being reliable. It is important that you make it clear it is a long-term investment; that you are here to service the Asian market, and not that you are here to get what you can and then run.”

Commenting on the importance of a consulting firm’s insight in establishing strong business ties in Hong Kong, Jonathan Wright concluded, “I think the keys around collaboration and innovation are the driving forces of what it takes to be successful here in Hong Kong... I think Q5 are well-placed to do that… I’ve personally worked with Q5 on a number of projects and I think, as a firm, they understand us as a customer. What our objectives are. What our aspirations are. And they’re able to tailor their approach to help us to achieve those, and I think for that reason it’s been a very successful partnership, over the last several years.”


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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.”