Eman Al-Hillawi on how Entec Si nurtures consulting talent

29 October 2019 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read

Eman Al-Hillawi is co-founder and director of Entec Si, a Birmingham-based consulting firm. Consultancy.uk sat down with her to understand more about what Entec Si does in the market, how the firm remains an attractive workplace for talent, and on giving back to society. 

In a nutshell, what does Entec Si do?

Put simply, we help organisations across a range of industries to realise outstanding results through effective business and IT change. We’re strong believers that working closely with (rather than for) our clients and putting people at the heart of every decision made is the key to improving performance.

What’s your job title and role within the business?

As joint director, my role is hugely varied and certainly never boring! On the one hand, I'm responsible for guiding the business’ long-term strategy, plan and commercial objectives, but client delivery is still something that I love being part of, and I'm happy to lend a hand whenever I'm needed. Forming new client relationships, continuing to build on existing ones and overseeing our recruitment processes are also big areas of focus for me; one of the main highlights in my career so far, and a huge source of pride for me personally, has been watching the Entec Si team grow and thrive.

Eman Al-Hillawi, Director, Entec Si

What events in your career led to the launch of Entec Si?

I began my career in research at the University of Birmingham, working full-time as a research associate in Biochemistry and somehow earning my PhD at the same time! Wanting a faster-paced career, I moved into the IT industry in 1998, where I crossed paths with my business partner, Peter Marsden. That’s when the seeds for Entec Si started to grow and we’ve been thriving ever since!

What do you think makes you stand out from other consultancies, in the minds of your clients?

We really care about helping our clients achieve continued success, even long after project delivery, and I think this is something new clients quickly recognise about us. Our work revolves around creating strong foundations for the organisation to achieve future success, whether that's ensuring all aspects of change management are considered or helping clients to develop internal skills and expertise. We also pride ourselves on building strong and often long-term relationships with our clients. 

When it comes to sourcing great consulting talent, what do you look for in a new recruit?

Someone who is dedicated, enthusiastic, has the right values and ethos and is a strong team player. As long as a candidate has these core qualities, we can usually teach them the rest!

What internal processes and practices do you have in place to nurture talent from within?

As with our clients, we’re committed to helping our team develop their professional skills, gain experience in a broad range of client scenarios and achieve their career goals. It was with this aim in mind that we launched our training ‘Academy’ at the end of 2018. The Academy enables our employees to get a feel for different roles and gain a better understanding of their main interests and skills in order to find their perfect fit within the organisation. Our apprenticeship scheme aims to do a similar thing at a grassroots level, helping young talent to build their knowledge and confidence while setting career objectives in a supportive working environment. 

The team of Birmingham-based Entec Si

What makes Entec Si an attractive and welcoming place to work?

Put simply, it’s our people. Recruiting people who complement our ‘Entec Family’ feel is key to maintaining a happy, supportive culture, where employees know there is always someone to turn to if they have a question or problem. We also feel strongly about helping employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance, from enabling flexible working to encouraging them to use their well-deserved annual leave. We also enjoy a thriving social calendar – having fun as a team is the perfect antidote to a busy work schedule!

How important is it for businesses to give something back to their local communities and how does Entec Si go about this?

Given our people-focused approach, it goes without saying that we feel passionately about giving back to the community. Personally, I feel that we can make a huge difference by supporting young and vulnerable people; the next generation in our society. I was a school governor for five years, and helped it move from Ofsted rating of ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’ within a period of two years. I am now part of the One Million Mentors initiative, championed by Andy Street and the West Midlands Combined Authority. As part of this, I completed one year’s mentoring of two students in a local school and have recently started my second mentoring assignment at Solihull College.

As an organisation, we regularly support local charities, including Byte Night by Action for Children, and I have also played a key role on this charity’s Board. When it comes to supporting local causes, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty – as our team recently proved by helping Kings Heath charity, Thrive, to transform their outdoor space!

How can those dreaming of a career in consulting do to secure their ideal job? What are your top tips?

Firstly, it’s important to ensure you have a good understanding of what consulting really involves and the key skills needed to thrive in this career; the ability to form professional relationships quickly and solve problems, sometimes under pressurised conditions, is critical. While good grades and qualifications will take you a certain distance, experience is everything in this field – so try to get as much as you can. Saying ‘yes’ to new experiences and having a positive attitude will make you invaluable to potential employers and set you up well for a successful consulting career. Finally, you have got to love working with people.