15 consulting firms share top prizes at MCA Awards 2019

29 March 2019 Consultancy.uk 9 min. read
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Hundreds of professionals from across the UK consulting industry have gathered in London to celebrate an action-packed year of achievement at the annual Management Consultancies Association Awards. While the Big Four were the night’s biggest winners, with PwC and EY claiming six top prizes between them, a number of smaller consultancies also took top prizes in a wide ranging and diverse contest.

15 consulting firms have been announced as victors at the annual MCA Awards. The 2019 ceremony, hosted by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), saw consultancy firms of various shapes and sizes – and their clients – recognised for their award-winning projects, along with 5 individual winners who were selected by the panel of independent judges. The Awards were handed out at a ceremony hosted by the BBC News Presenter Clive Myrie in front of over 700 guests from consultancy firms, client organisations, media and representatives from across Government.

In order to deliver the event, the MCA once again partnered with The Times for its 2019 outing, while the ceremony was sponsored by Deltek, Kelly OCG, Kimble, and Mindbench. Other sponsors include Thales Cyber and Consulting, and Vendigital, while the ceremony’s charity partner was The Access Project, which works with bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds, to help provide in-school support and personalised tuition, enabling them to gain access to top universities.

Fighting talk

The night commenced with a speech from recently installed MCA Chief Executive Tamzen Isacsson, who kicked off proceedings by defending the often maligned consulting sector. The new CEO quickly put her stamp on the first MCA Awards to be hosted on her watch, calling on journalists to give a fairer representation of the consulting industry, and lamenting the “the 1980s caricature of consultants” which still lingers in public discourse.

Pulling no punches, Isacsson expanded, “I would like this to be the start of a campaign to bust some of the myths about what we do and how we do it. Journalists like to pride themselves on having at least two sources on every story. That is until it comes to consultancy where it seems that even a penny of taxpayers’ cash spent by the government on consultants is, in itself, some kind of proof of misdemeanour. Actually, the opposite is true. Engaging the expertise of the consultants in this room is a way of increasing value and making sure the nation’s cash is spent wisely.”MCA Awards 2019 - 1

Before screening a short film on the dynamic workload of the UK’s consulting industry, Isacsson also hit out at the idea that all consultants are “Oxbridge educated, graduating with honours and a Filofax and burnt out by the time they turn thirty.” Instead, she insisted, consultants come from all manner of backgrounds, while talent and potential are more important than which school recruits attended. She added that consultancies are “champions of diversity”, both from an ethical standpoint, and because of the mounting evidence which suggests it makes business sense to diversify a firm’s talent, to meet the ever broadening criteria of clients.

The results of the awards themselves could be argued to sum that up best of all. Anjum Hakim of PwC picked up the prestigious Times Consultant of the Year prize, as well as the gong for Outstanding Achievement for her work in PwC’s Digital and Technology Transformation practice. In awarding both prizes the judges said “she had demonstrated outstanding achievements throughout her… [and] had shown immense personal resilience and worked on extremely difficult and sensitive projects including rehousing victims of a disaster and driving digital change with a defence and security client.”

PwC picked up another award before the night’s end, securing the Change and Transformation in the Private Sector for its work with energy ombudsman Ofgem. The ceremony was well attended by both PwC and a particularly large cohort of EY members, who were in fine voice throughout the occasion – and they had plenty to cheer too. Of the firms to win purely team-based awards, EY secured most victories, racking up prizes in the International category for its work with AstraZeneca, as well as awards for Innovation in Digital & Technology and Project of the Year for its work with London Ventures.

Diverse industry

While two of the world’s largest four professional services firms performed strongly, however, this was a long way from the Big Four dominance which has been seen in previous incarnations of the MCA Awards. Indeed, when considering project, individual and overall awards, another 13 firms were represented among the winners.Winners of the MCA Awards 2019Demonstrating a diversity of large, small and mid-sized firms, Carnall Farrar, Cognizant, Vendigital, Decision Technology, Bourton Group, Amey Consulting, Atos and Gate One each picked up a single win for project categories, while engineering consultancy Arup won two awards, including Consulting Excellence Firm of the Year. Parker Fitzgerald scooped Best New Consultancy, while Arcadis, BearingPoint, IMPOWER Consulting and Curzon & Company each saw individuals from their firms crowned the cream of the crop in separate categories.

Commenting on the quality of submissions for this year’s event, Isacsson said, “More than 170 consultants visited the MCA as part of the process along with nearly 80 clients. As the judges said themselves the standard has been very high. The debates were fierce and the competition intense… Everyone here has a reason to be proud and a reason to celebrate. This country is blessed to have a consultancy industry of such talent, dedication and integrity. Perhaps we as an industry are similarly blessed to have a country with so many problems to solve.”

The winners

Overall categories:

Consulting Excellence Firm of the Year

Best New Consultancy
Parker Fitzgerald

Project of the Year sponsored by Deltek
EY with London Ventures

The Times Consultant of the Year
Anjum Hakim 

Project categories:

Best Use of Thought Leadership sponsored by Kimble
Carnall Farrar with IPPR

Change and Transformation in the Private Sector sponsored by Vendigital
PwC with Ofgem

Change and Transformation in the Public Sector
Cognizant with BBC Monitoring

Commercial Excellence
Vendigital with Spectris

Customer Engagement and Marketing
Decision Technology with Schroders

Innovation in Digital & Technology
EY with London Ventures

EY with AstraZeneca

Performance Improvement in the Private Sector sponsored by Mindbench
Bourton Group with Cambridge Assessment

Performance Improvement in the Public Sector
Amey Consulting with Network Rail

Arup with Transport for London

Social & Environmental Value
Atos with Gasport Independent Panel

Gate One with UCAS 

Individual categories:

Young Consultant of the Year sponsored by Kelly OCG
Rory MacDonagh, Arcadis

Team Leader Consultant of the Year
Laura Morroll, BearingPoint

Thought Leader Consultant of the Year
Jon Ainger, IMPOWER Consulting

Innovation Consultant of the Year
Edem Amooquaye, Curzon & Company

Outstanding Achievement sponsored by Thales Cyber and Consulting
Anjum Hakim, PwC