Customers are tired of consultants who show up with a PowerPoint and a dream, says Alan Middleton. The head of the quite different consultancy company, PA Consulting Group, joined the firm’s new owners Carlyle for a Norway visit.
Alan talks about the importance of sharing the brilliancy from Norway with the rest of the world. Norway is not proud enough of what they have achieved, says Alan. He points out that they deliver financial services world-wide and are leading in several regions. But they must go out and show it, he says.
Alan has been with PA throughout his career. From struggle in the 1990s, the company was valued at around 12 billion when Carlyle acquired 51 percent last year. Alan is excited about the partnership.
As part of the partnership, Carlyle bought out part of the retired partners at PA. Alan explains that he is tired of hearing that private equity are sharks coming in at spot prices, rotating things even more and then taking off again. At PA, we believe Carlyle bought us because we are a good company that can be even better, he says.
He is aware that the relatively small and specialised consulting firm will grow following the partnership, but not on the scale of the larger consultancies. Alan explains his view that not all consultancies should have 100,000 employees and a broad profile.
You cannot do everything for everyone, Alan explains. We are certainly not interested in it. We aim to be the very best in certain focus areas, both in Norway and in the other regions we operate in. Our competitors are willing to take everything in every field. That does not result in good advice, says Alan.
The article goes on to talk about how PA Consulting Group is different. They begin as consultants, but are also researchers and developers. Among other things, they now make 3D printers for glasses and chocolate.
To 3D print chocolate may sound frivolous. But some people like a solid, creamy taste in the first bite of a chocolate. However, a strong flavour of chocolate can make you feel sick halfway through the chocolate. With 3D printing we can customise it to personal taste and we can also save raw materials. Cocoa is very expensive, Alan points out.
Alan also explains some of the work PA does in defence, specifically a contract PA had a few years ago. The British army struggled to detect roadside bombs without risking their life or injuring soldiers. But it was expensive to find a solution. Alan and PA researchers came across 250 obsolete Land Rover Defenders, which could not be used anymore in the Middle East because of their lack of armour. PA equipped them with radio control and exploration equipment, suddenly creating a simple and safe solution for the detection of roadside bombs
Talking about defence contracts, Alan explains that these can take a long time. On a ten billion contract ten years pass quickly, five of them just spent on procurement. Alan explains that PA can ensure that these contracts work in a different way so that things are done substantially cheaper and faster.
The article goes onto explain that Alan is delighted that the Norwegian office is growing, and hopes to use the company's innovative and unconventional solutions here as soon as possible.
The potential for growth is big here. There is so much business across the Nordics, and that is why we are here, in Sweden and in Denmark, concludes Alan.
PA Consulting Group
Consultancy company founded during World War II
Started by training housewives to assemble the tail gun section for the Avro Lancaster bombers
PA is referred to as “Britain’s best kept secret”
PA has a private research lab and as well as consulting, offering clients a complete start to finish solution
Last year PA was partly acquired by Carlyle and was valued at around one billion dollars
Headed by Scotsman Alan Middleton.