North Highland's Anthony Shaw on the firm's growth through international collaboration

05 September 2023 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read

At the start of 2023, Anthony Shaw became a managing director at North Highland, after spending six years with the firm. He spoke to Consultancy.uk about North Highland’s global expansion plans, and how its unique structure is opening up opportunities for further growth around the world.

Could you please start by telling us about North Highland and your role at the firm?

North Highland is a leading change and transformation firm headquartered in the US, with a major presence here in the UK. With more than 50 offices worldwide and over 2,000 employees, we help businesses make change happen and build for constant change, leveraging data and technology. We do this by addressing challenges through three core lenses - customers, workforce, and operations.

As for my managing director role, I have dual leadership responsibilities. First, I lead our EMEA business operations. In this role, I am accountable for business growth, client delivery, quality assurance, risk management and people leadership and development. Second, I lead our global Corporate Development team, which focuses on acquisitions and integrating new businesses.

North Highland's Anthony Shaw on the firm's growth through international collaboration

Congratulations on your promotion to managing director – what has your career journey been like and how did you arrive here?

Thank you, my background is a mix of consulting and industry. I began my career in consulting at Accenture and KPMG, where I had the opportunity to work internationally across various regions, including the US, Nordics, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. After a decade or so in consulting, I was offered the opportunity to join Telefónica, who were a client of mine. I jumped at the chance to experience life ‘on the other side’ and had six fabulous years at Telefónica, primarily running early stage digital businesses.

It was during this time that I was first introduced to the North Highland team. Eventually, an opportunity to came up to join North Highland and help drive the next phase of growth and I couldn’t say no. I’ve since had six fantastic years with North Highland in various roles. We’ve seen fantastic growth during this period and here I am today.

On a personal note, I am married with four children and two disobedient dogs!

North Highland has a large portion of its operations in the US, UK as well as a growing presence in Canada, Romania, and the Middle East. How do you collaborate across international offices?

At North Highland, we organise our teams by industry vertical rather than office location. This enables us to deliver deep expertise tailored to each client's sector, regardless of geography. When engaging our clients, we're very much focused on business value creation. We define the business outcomes upfront and our global teams then collaborate to bring the best of the firm to the table. By leveraging a flexible hybrid working model, we can seamlessly deliver projects across borders and time zones.

Our structure and approach enable us to gain a deep understanding of each industry while also assembling the right cross-functional teams for optimal outcomes.

Why the UK? What about the market here makes it a good fit to complement the US side of the house?

The UK is a world-leading hub for transformation services for North Highland in the same way as the US In fact, around one-third of our business operations sit here in the UK. For our clients, it’s obviously essential that we deliver transformation services across their whole footprint, regardless of international boundaries.

The firm recently moved its London office to the Bloomsbury Building. How has the move gone for you? What does this move symbolise for your firm?

The move to our new London office has gone extremely well and has been a huge hit with our team. We put people at the heart of everything we do, and our team is enjoying the new office. We've found that the new space encourages networking, idea-sharing, and collaboration on all client work.

This relocation was a direct result of the firm and team’s growth. This new, larger office space accommodates our expanded team and keeps us in the heart of London in close proximity to our clients.

Last summer, North Highland opened its second UK office in Manchester. Why did you decide on Manchester and what types of clients are you working with in this office?

In July 2022, we established our Manchester office as part of a strategic decision to expand our presence in the UK and continue to invest in the North. There were several key factors that led us to choose Manchester. Firstly, it has the second largest economy in the UK, providing access to major clients. Secondly, there is tremendous talent in the area, particularly in the digital space. Manchester is also home to five universities, which gives us access to a pool of highly skilled graduates for recruitment.

Our Manchester team serves many of our global clients across multiple industries, including transportation, media, entertainment, communications, government, and financial services. With this new office, we can extend our reach and provide localised support. As a proud Northerner and alumni of Manchester University myself, I was thrilled we chose Manchester.

North Highland was recently named as a top firm in Consultancy.uk’s industry rankings. Tell us your tips on running a successful firm, especially in today’s dynamic business environment.

First, to ensure exceptional service, you must have robust expertise in our clients’ industries. At North Highland, this drives our talent strategy, but it’s also complemented by the leveraging of technologies like our 360 platform.

360, formally UMT360, is a new strategic portfolio management software and service for us that helps us to break down organization silos and drive business agility. This solution came to North Highland through a recent acquisition, giving us the tools to deepen our transformation capabilities while enhancing enterprise business agility solutions. Strategic acquisitions help continue to accelerate our position as leaders in change and transformation consulting.

Second, you must keep a global perspective. From our seamless integration across regions to our talent recruitment progress, we keep DEI at the heart of our organization because we know that a diverse mindset will always provide more value. Regardless of the geographic boundary, we always deliver the best of the firm to the client because that’s part of having a client-first mentality.

Lastly, we’re all working in an extremely dynamic and ever-changing business environment – of all the factors changing the way we live and work most, what’s the biggest thing on the horizon for companies over the next few years ahead?

We see a lot of factors coming together rather than a single thing: hyper-inflation, supply chain issues, climate change, the impact of digital technologies (including AI), the role of big government and regulatory bodies, as well as geopolitical tensions and global conflicts. For our clients, we advise them to be very intentional when setting strategies, to be able to flex and be ‘made for change.’ The need for change and transformation is always on.

In addition, we’re seeing the rise in opportunity and influence in the Middle East. Initiatives such as Vision 2030 will have a profound impact on the region as governments invest and diversify. We are extremely excited to be supporting progression in this region through our work in healthcare, infrastructure, and tourism, for example.