Interview with Entec Si's co-founder and director Peter Marsden

08 May 2019 6 min. read
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Peter Marsden co-founded Entec Si, a Birmingham-based technology and people & change consultancy, over twenty years ago. sat down with Marsden to learn more about Entec Si’s profile and engagements, how the firm sets itself apart, and its ambitions going forward. 

What it is that Entec Si does?

We are a Birmingham-based, dedicated team of consultants, helping organisations to achieve their objectives through effective business, culture and IT change. With experience across a wide range of industry sectors, we pride ourselves on our collaborative and people-focused approach, which allows us to get to know organisations quickly and provide valuable business solutions.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

As joint director of Entec Si, my role has a strategic focus, covering areas such as defining the business’ strategy and growth plan, developing our client base, managing the recruitment of new people and upskilling existing team members. In addition to this, I still find hands-on client delivery hugely rewarding, which I’m involved in as head of our consultancy practice.

Please give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start and how did Entec Si begin its life?

After graduating from university, I began my career in IT systems implementations and then moved into IT management. My shift into the fast-moving world of consultancy came in the mid 90s, when a finance software company sought my help in troubleshooting struggling client delivery projects. This type of work was very rewarding and formed the origins for what Entec Si does today, and it was around this time that I met my business partner, Eman Al-Hillawi. We gradually expanded our offering to focus on business change, project and programme delivery for clients across a number of sectors, from aviation and local government, to the not-for-profit industry. The rest, as they say, is history!

Interview with Entec Si's co-founder and director Peter Marsden

What are some significant projects that Entec Si has worked on?

The Library of Birmingham and Birmingham Airport are two iconic projects where our involvement has achieved a major impact. Our work leading the library’s ambitious ICT and transformation project resulted in the building opening on time and under budget, to great public acclaim. Over the last five years, we have also driven forward a number of aviation-focused improvements at Birmingham Airport, from implementing a dedicated PMO function, to providing valuable front-of-house and back office solutions. Our long history of engagement across local government with business and IT change represents a significant part of our pedigree.

What sets Entec Si apart from other consultancies in the market?

Our collaborative, people-focused approach allows us to drive real value through close, long-term and caring relationships with clients. By integrating our team with theirs, we’re also able to make the most of available resources, helping to keep costs under control. Care is also central to our culture and drives everything we do, from going above and beyond to deliver excellent results, to equipping clients with internal expertise. This allows the organisation to continue to thrive long after the project has been delivered.

What does it take to manage a successful consultancy, delivering exceptional results for clients?

It’s important to have a clear insight into what makes business change work, and then communicate this with your employees. However, patience and trust are also key and once you’ve passed this knowledge on, it’s important to know when to step back and let people get on with the job! Recruiting people who are the right fit for the organisation’s culture and values and ensuring that they genuinely enjoy coming to work will in turn lead to happy clients.

What are Entec Si’s ambitions going forward?

To grow the business, expand the range of sectors we operate in and develop our team, whilst keeping a focus on our key values. In particular, we’re excited about our prospects in the healthcare and transport sectors, where we see opportunities to make a big difference in some large-scale, complex organisations. We are strong believers in the long-term relationships we create with our clients, which is at the heart of our ambitions.

The team of Birmingham-based Entec Si

How important is work-life balance and how do you help your team achieve this?

We all work within a fast-paced environment, so it’s essential that people have the opportunity to recharge and look after their wellbeing. We recognise that many of our team have families and other important responsibilities outside of work and offer flexible working conditions to help them balance these with client work. We also insist that our team take all of their holidays! We give the responsibility to each and every member of our team to keep their work-life balance in check.

How important is it to invest in the next generation of consulting talent, and what initiatives have you put in place to achieve this?

Transformation and development are central to everything we do at Entec Si, and our attitude to new talent is no exception to this. We launched our training ‘Academy’ at the end of last year to encourage upcoming consulting talent to broaden their skills, gain experience across a number of different roles and advance through the organisation, equipped with a clearer idea of where their passions and key skills lie. In a similar way, our new apprenticeship programme aims to guide the careers of young people, allowing them to get a flavour of several different business areas and shine in a rewarding and dynamic workplace. Our priority is to grow from within, but also bring in new talent when the client demand is high and we cannot meet this internally.

Any advice for people embarking on their consulting career?

Firstly, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what consultancy really is, and then be honest with yourself about your key skills and passions – what makes you tick, what do you love doing, what motivates and energises you? We always say: “play to your strengths first and foremost”. For example, are you good at forming professional relationships, do you enjoy working closely with people to solve problems, and do you thrive in challenging situations? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then a career in consultancy may well be for you.