The Before and After Consultant

I was incredibly fortunate to have secured a position with Ernst & Whinney (which turned into Ernst & Young while I was there… the first of many mergers in my portfolio) early on in my career. I had worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a regulatory agency before this and that role was quite instrumental in helping me learn the ropes, meet many people, and pave the way forward into health care consulting. Though I was young, I possessed knowledge that was – surprisingly – valuable at the time. I knew how to prepare a “Factor Five” (don’t ask) and apparently, that was a useful thing.

During eight years at Ernst, I learned a great deal, pushed myself in new – and sometimes professionally uncomfortable – directions, and gained exposure to impressive methodologies and techniques. I became a professional consultant and that set the stage for the balance of my career.

But throughout that time, I had a nagging thought that only grew with time. The thought was that I found myself increasingly in situations where I was advising executives on complex topics, offering perspectives on weighty matters, and pontificating (yes, that was part of the job) about issues I had only witnessed from afar. I often like to say that I was sitting in the stands of a gladiator arena offering color commentary on something I had never actually done myself. The nagging thought was: should I try my hand in the gladiator pit?

So I left…

And entered an arena that was fascinating. I got my hands dirty as the cliche saying goes. I experienced operations from the inside, encountered organizational cultures that influenced outcomes – no matter how impressive the strategies were – and witnessed decisions at the sausage making level. I learned a ton. And eventually, I was able to become CEO of organizations, I joined boards of directors, and became seasoned on what life could be like on the floor of the arena. I was a gladiator!

Fast forward to today and I am a consultant once more. Only this time, I can say with confidence that I understand the types of challenges that leaders face – and at the sausage making level, the issues that confront boards during times of great change, and I have personally weighed questions about what is in the best interests of an organization relative to the interests of the community it serves. Those are not always easy places to be.

This has influenced my consulting point of view and approach greatly. I’m glad to say that I’ve been all around the arena; both in my before and after experiences. These have shaped who I am and what I do. I’m excited to bring that forward into Red Sail Advisors.

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