Consulting firms and consultants nominated for MCA Awards

21 January 2019

After a competitive due diligence on project and consultant cases submitted for the Management Consultancies Association’s 2019 Awards, the jury have picked the finalists. Over the next few weeks, a team of expert judges will assess which nominees – representing 41 consultancies across 21 award categories – will win the battle for the prestigious industry prizes.

The yearly MCA awards have become a major moment in the calendars of the UK’s leading management consultancies over the past 22 years. Organised by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), the event commends best practices and high-quality performance in the UK’s £10 billion consulting industry across three areas, with awards for client excellence handed out in the process.

Each year, finalists are recognised for the challenging issues and projects they have completed with positive client feedback and support. In the 2019 nominations, PwC leads with 11 nods, having been nominated for helping specialist electrical retailer Dixons Carphone establish an efficient finance platform and reporting environment. PwC has also been nominated for its work with Energy UK on the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK and for its successful work in assessing the business models needed to develop an effective, efficient and reliable electric charging infrastructure across the country. Meanwhile Arthur Mitchell and Danny Clink were shortlisted for Young Consultant of the Year, Tom Woodham was shortlisted for Best Team Leader, along with San Misra for the Innovation Consultant award, and Anjum Hakim is up for the Outstanding Achievement award.

The Big Four firm was followed very closely by rival EY, which received nine nominations, and was particularly lauded for its work with NHS emergency care. In its submission, EY said there is good clinical evidence to show that the longer patients wait for emergency care, the poorer their health outcomes are likely to be. Over 18 months, EY supported 13 NHS trusts to improve their performance against a 4-hour standard. Their work over this time has had the impact of improving access to timely and quality care for over 350,000 patients.

Consulting firms nominated for MCA Awards 1-20

In third is Coeus Consulting, which received seven nods. As well as a nomination for the Best New Consulting Firm gong, Coeus also scooped multiple recognitions for its work with energy giant Eon, including the prize for Change and Transformation in the Private Sector. The firm also received a number of individual shortlistings, including Kerry Osbourne for Young Consultant of the Year, and Simon Reynolds for Team Leader Consultant of the Year.

Arcadis and Arup were meanwhile listed for the same number of awards, each receiving five nominations. Arup is nominated for thought leadership in issues such as the reinvestment needed to revamp UK’s crumbling infrastructure. At the same time, Arcadis has been recognised for its role in helping Network Rail embrace digital technology to improve capacity, safety and reliability across key routes in its network. The company helped to deliver an innovative procurement and supply chain model to meet the needs of the new Digital Railway programme and for that reason has been nominated for the Commercial Excellence category.

Many other big name consulting firms are also represented in the final. This includes engineering consultancy Atkins, which has been recognised for the work it has performed to help Europe’s biggest airport, Heathrow, solve how it will deal with stringent new regulatory changes to airport security – particularly in the face of a 40% increase in passenger numbers – without compromising the traveller experience. 

Elswhere, IT consulting firms were lauded in the shape of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence and Atos. BAE has been commended for the support it delivered to the Home Office. The partners deployed mobile biometrics identification to fight terrorism, strengthen law enforcements and support the national immigration system. Atos helped the Metropolitan police transform its local policing model to make better use of officer time with reduced budgets. Digital firm Chaucer was highlighted for its work with Care in Action, taking a nomination for the MCA’s Social & Environmental Value prize. Chaucer last week acquired Virtrium to boost its IT analytics offering in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, management consultancies were common receivers of nominations at the awards, with their multifaceted remits seeing them in line for a wide array of prizes. Simon-Kucher & Partners has been nominated for its work with The Economist Magazine, helping the publication to define a commercial strategy that delivers long-term sustainable revenue and profit growth. BearingPoint was celebrated for its work with Network Rail with a nod for the Change and Transformation in the Public Sector prize, while Laura Morroll is up for Team Leader Consultant of the Year. PA Consulting has been nominated as a finalist for its work with the wePROTECT Global Alliance, where the firm helped devise a Global Threat Assessment, designed to raise international awareness of sexual exploitation of children online.

Consulting firms nominated for MCA Awards 21-41

North Highland was nominated for its work with The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the Change and Transformation in the Public Sector category, as well as its work with Pladis which sees it up for the International award. Fast-growing consulting firm Elixirr, which this year celebrates its tenth year of business, has been nominated for the Innovation in Digital & Technology award thanks to its partnership with Thomas Cook Money, and in the Strategy category for its work with Investec. Sia Partners was also listed for this award, after its work with energy firm EDF. The firm recently expanded in the UK with the purchase of boutiques Inzenka and SKT.

In the specialist arena of operations consulting, firms such as Crimson & Co, Bourton Group and OEE Consulting were named. OEE Consulting has been highlighted for its work with Atos in transforming operations at NS&I, the UK saving institution. Bourton Group meanwhile helped to deliver an organisation wide business improvement programme which made significant savings, as well as developing a systematic approach to capability building.

Smaller players such as Curzon & Company, Gate One, iMPOWER Consutling also made the cut, and will be in attendance at the final awards gala in London on the 28th of March 2019.

Commenting on the shortlists, Tamzen Isacsson, CEO of the MCA said, “The MCA Awards provide an opportunity to see the impressive results that consultancies deliver around the country with clients driving innovation, efficiency and change. From electric vehicles, to the NHS, the railway network and holiday resorts the subjects of the award nominations are diverse and challenging. For all clients and people thinking of a career in consulting they provide real life examples of why consultancy works and matters.”

Overall there are 21 award categories with 5 individual awards and 12 project awards. There are also awards for the Best New Consultancy, Consulting Excellence Firm of the Year, Consultant of the Year and Project of the Year. Full details can be found below.

Best Use of Thought Leadership

Arcadis with Investing in Britain
Carnall Farrar with IPPR
iMPOWER Consulting with Hertfordshire County Council
Man Bites Dog with Korn Ferry
PA Consulting with WePROTECT Global Alliance
Parker Fitzgerald             
PwC with Powering Ahead - Energy UK 

Change and Transformation in the Private Sector

Coeus Consulting with E.on
Crimson & Co wit Bristol-Myers Squibb
EY with Kuantum
OEE Consulting with ATOS (NS&I account)
PwC with Ofgem 

Change and Transformation in the Public Sector

Atkins with High Speed Two
ATOS with Met Police
BearingPoint with Network Rail
Cognizant with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
GE Healthcare Partners with Dubai Health Authority
iMPOWER Consulting with Ealing Borough Council
North Highland with The Foreign & Commonwealth Office
NHS North of England Commissioning with NHS England Midlands and East
PA Consulting with Defence Infrastructure Organisation
PPL with OptiMedis-COBIC 

Commercial Excellence

Arcadis with Network Rail
Coeus Consulting with E.on
PA Consulting with Defence Infrastructure Organisation
PwC with Baker Hughes a GE company
Simon-Kucher & Partners with The Economist
Vendigital with Spectris 

Customer Engagement and Marketing

Decision Technology with Schroders plc
PwC with Sage
Simon-Kucher & Partners with Center Parcs

Innovation in Digital & Technology

Curzon & Company with Anglian Water
Elixirr with Thomas Cook Money
EY with London Ventures
Jacobs with Transport for London
Parker Fitzgerald with UBS Bank
PwC with Royal Dutch Shell
Vendigital with Marketforce


Coeus Consulting with E.on
EY with Project Scale
North Highland with Pladis 

Performance Improvement in the Private Sector

Atkins with Heathrow Airport Ltd
Bourton Group with Cambridge Assessment
Jacobs with United Utilities
PwC with Dixons carphone 

Performance Improvement in the Public Sector

Amey Consulting with Network Rail
BAE Systems Applied Intelligence with Home Office Biometrics
Carnall Farrar with University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
Curzon & Company with Highways England
EY with Emergency care transformation in the NHS
EY with Integrated Single Energy Market (ISEM)
GE Healthcare Partners with Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
NHS North of England Commissioning with NHS England
Prederi with Westminster City Council


Achieve Breakthrough with EDF Energy, Customers division
Arup with Transport for London
OEE Consulting with Willis Towers Watson
PA Consulting with Ministry of Defence
Sia Partners with PRI 

Social & Environmental Value

Arup with Yorkshire Water
ATOS with Gosport Independent Panel
Chaucer Group with Care in Action
EY with Safe Water Enterprise Study
Sia Partners with Cadent Gas


Arup with Anglian Water
Elixirr with Investec
Gate One with UCAS
Prederi with Cobalt Institute
Sia Partners with EDF

Young Consultant of the Year

Rory MacDonagh, Arcadis
Tom Wright, Chaucer Group
Kerry Osborne, Coeus Consulting
Leonie Goddard, EY
Sarah Hardy, Gate One
Mariam Darwish, GE Healthcare Partners
Robin Hendrich, Jacobs
Arthur Mitchell, PwC
Danny Clink, PwC
Alfons Gudmudsson, Simon-Kucher & Partners

Team Leader Consultant of the Year

Holly McEwan, Arcadis
Laura Morroll, BearingPoint
Simon Reynolds, Coeus Consulting
Rebecca Samuel, GE Healthcare Partners
Jamie Ounan, Inner Circle Consulting
Katie Davidson, NHS North of England Commissioning
Tom Woodham, PwC

Thought Leader Consultant of the Year

Marcus Morrell, Arup
James Hatch, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Jon Ainger, iMPOWER Consulting
Chloe McDonald, North Highland
Amanda Widdowson, Thales Cyber and Consulting 

Innovation Consultant of the Year

Phil Lewis, Corporate Punk
Edem Amooquaye, Curzon & Company          
Alice Blezat, EY
Samuel Pachoud, EY       
San Misra, PwC

Outstanding Achievement

Suzanne Lloyd, Arcadis  
James Cockroft, Coeus Consulting
Anjum Hakim, PwC         

Consulting Excellence Firm of the Year

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Crimson & Co

Best New Consultancy

Coeus Consulting
Corporate Punk
Inner Circle Consulting
NHS North of England Commissioning
Parker Fitzgerald
Thought Provoking Consulting
Ipos Strategy3


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.