Paul Baram, Director, Actualize Consulting
Today marks 2 years since I joined Actualize Consulting. Coincidentally, we just hired our latest full-time team-mate (Kunle Aladewolu). As we were going through our onboarding process, I was struck again by how strong the culture we’ve built across our organisation is. Aside, in the spirit of show, don’t tell, our COO Kerry Wekelo literally wrote the book on it titled Culture Infusion. But trying to figure out if a new recruit is right for our culture, whilst important, is only part of what makes up a good consultant and thus the right person for us. I have noticed that a successful consultant has certain ingredients.
Aside: I was recently watching a cooking program on TV and followed a recipe for a really easy chocolate cake. Equal parts (lets go with 4oz or 100g) of hazelnuts, dark chocolate, soft unsalted butter, flour, semi-skimmed milk, and sugar. Get a food processor going and blitz the hazelnuts till fine. Then, in order, add the chocolate, butter, flour (+ a pinch of salt), milk and finally sugar. It should be a light fluffy batter. Whack that into a non-stick baking pan that sizes such that the batter is about 2-3cm deep. Then into an oven at 180°C/350°F and bake for 25 minutes. It should come out something like a cake/brownie. It’s really good….
Back to the recipe for a consultant. For my math brain, it comes out as competency squared + curiosity + culture. Functional competency for the role itself is paramount. Fortunately, that’s easy to test for with some well-constructed questions. But how well those questions are answered and how much further into the subject matter the conversation goes is what gives insight into how someone thinks about what we do. I like to imagine a spreadsheet with columns representing all the functional areas and rows indicating depth of knowledge. If I picture their knowledge as a T (broad knowledge across most areas and real depth in at least a few), then I think we’re onto something.
Consulting competency comes next. Can the person communicate articulately, both in written and verbal form? Time management skills and multi-tasking become ever more important with the work we do. Curiosity, for me at least, is the secret sauce. My own view is that we never stop learning and every project we participate in provides a learning opportunity. I see enormous curiosity to learn and a desire to develop at the heart of everyone in my team. And last but not least, trying to understand what makes people tick outside of work, how they treat themselves and others is really, really important to us. Which neatly brings me back to the culture at Actualize. In these times, I’m grateful for the positive energy, gratitude and support that we are all providing each other as we continue to deliver for our clients and take care of ourselves.
So, an insight into what we look for and chocolate cake. What more do you need….?
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