Calum McGuicken and Mia Lewis on working at Elixirr

24 February 2020 5 min. read
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Elixirr recently celebrated completing its first decade in business, following 10 years of rapid growth across its global operations. As it prepares to build on this momentum into the 2020s, Consultants Calum McGuicken and Mia Lewis sat with to discuss how the firm’s entrepreneurial culture has prepared it for sustained success.

Now in her second spell with Elixirr, former Intern Mia Lewis has also enjoyed the opportunities life at the firm has presented her with. Following her graduation from Cambridge University, Lewis joined Elixirr as an Analyst in 2018, and two years on she is now a full-fledged Consultant at the fast-expanding company.

Lewis explained, “As an intern I was impressed by the calibre of the Elixirr team who were supportive and actively interested in my development… I was immersed in client work from my first day. I had the opportunity to work across a variety of industries and felt that I was a valued member of the project team, contributing to deliverables and meeting clients.”

This motivated her to return to the firm when the opportunity presented itself – a move she feels has thoroughly paid off. Many graduates favour work in the consulting sector as a means to starting a career as it provides them with the chance to quickly boost their skills, test their critical thinking, and see the world. Elixirr is no exception, and since joining the firm Lewis has had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, the US and around Europe.

“Since joining the firm… I've helped clients solve some complex business problems, often developing their ideas from post-it notes to tangible prototypes which can deliver real business value. This included up-skilling senior teams on Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping methodologies, as well as designing the 5-year strategy for a financial services business wanting to enter a new market, there’s a lot of variety which I really appreciate… Aside from work, I have made some great friends at Elixirr. The talent bar is high but we also make a point of hiring people who are easy to get along with.”

Calum McGuicken and Mia Lewis on working at Elixirr

Calum McGuicken joined Elixirr in April 2017, following a year of work as an Investment Analyst with Leo Tech Services. Almost three years later, the London-based Consultant has had time to experience many of the varied and complex projects the firm participates in all over the world.

McGuicken told, “One particular experience that stands out to me is a project I did with a UN organisation in understanding their data architecture. It was an amazingly interesting piece of work with a high-calibre team. The project involved speaking to stakeholders across the globe who were on the ground providing humanitarian relief. It made me look at data in a different way, specifically the importance of considering the human impact of data and ensuring a thorough set of ethical principles are adhered to.”

Specialising in data and analytics, McGuicken has also had the opportunity to work on projects with touch-points across the entire data lifecycle, presenting him an opportunity to quickly bolster his skills in his chosen specialism. For example, this recently saw him work with a financial services client to develop their reporting capability, involving multiple interviews with key stakeholders to develop a proof-of-concept analytics dashboard. At the same time, he has had access to a range of market-leading advanced analytics models.

“When working with a Fortune 500 company,” he elaborated, “they were undergoing a huge transformational shift in their data storage and analysis capabilities… They decided to invest in new technology, specifically focusing on a clustered and cloud-based solution. This resulted in a system that was astronomically faster with vastly improved analytic capabilities. Complex queries could be performed almost instantaneously, and data analytics (including deploying machine learning models) could be performed in real-time, it was hugely impressive.”

Cutting-edge culture

Consulting firms increasingly face a war for talent in the current employment market. Most leading economies are experiencing record levels of employment; while many also have rapidly ageing populations meaning a growing portion of workers are exiting the workforce faster than they can be replaced. In order to successfully recruit top talent then, advisory firms need to be able to differentiate their offerings as employers.

According to both Lewis and McGuicken, Elixirr’s culture is what will keep it ahead of the competition in this regard. Both cited Elixirr’s drive to create an ‘entrepreneurial’ environment as one of the core reasons it remains an exciting place to work.

“I have been empowered to successfully manage multiple client teams whilst still being supported by the senior project team, which is great so early on in my career.”
– Mia Lewis, Consultant, Elixirr

McGuicken stated, “People tend to have loads of ideas or be actively pursuing some of them in their own time. There’s even an option for Elixirr to invest in some of the team’s business ideas and work with you to develop them… We are actively encouraged to solve problems innovatively, whether that is for our clients or internally… For me, this has meant avoiding the standard PowerPoint and Excel analysis where necessary and using my technical experience to provide more tailored solutions such as interactive PowerBI dashboards or Python-based models.”

Concluding, Lewis added, “As a result [of Elixirr’s entrepreneurial culture], I've had the opportunity to immerse myself in our extensive innovation ecosystem, travelling to Silicon Valley to meet and work alongside numerous emerging technology start-ups while solving our client's toughest business problems. For example, through developing strong client relationships, I have been empowered to successfully manage multiple client teams whilst still being supported by the senior project team, which is great so early on in my career.”