Fiona Czerniawska is the founder of Source Global Research, a leading research and strategy firm for the global management consulting industry. The Source Global consulting data model is the biggest and most sophisticated model of the consulting industry ever created, and its clients include all of the world’s top 20 consulting firms by revenue.
Fiona is one of the world’s leading experts on the consulting industry. She has written numerous books on the industry including: The Intelligent Client and The Economist books; Business Consulting: A Guide to How it Works and How to Make it Work and Buying Professional Services.
What does a typical day as Director of Source Global Research look like?
It’s frenetic: I can begin the day with some sense of what’s on the agenda, only to find that everything has changed by 10am. That’s largely because our business combines planned work (publishing research reports) with unplanned work (working on custom research projects, often with very tight timescales).
It’s a bit like running an operating theatre in a hospital: you try to ensure the schedule of planned work doesn’t get too disrupted, but there are days when everything falls to pieces. Also, in a small business, you can’t be fussy about what you do, so I’m as much involved in delivery as strategy. What we don’t have much time for is ‘management’, but I work on the theory that sensible and smart people, given clear direction and guidance, don’t need their hands holding.
For our readers who may not know much about the industry, could you explain how management consulting works?
Management consultants go into organisations to help improve performance. This ranges from giving advice around strategy, to hands-on help with implementation. That’s the theory: in practise, it’s more complicated – the advice isn’t always right, organizations that bring consultants in don’t always know what they want.
Where do you get your motivation?
My amazing colleagues, who’d I’d never want to let down. And sheer bloody-mindedness: I’m a very, very determined person.
What advice would you give to an aspiring founder?
Founding a business is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You need to have a really good idea at the core of the business, a commitment to making sure your customers are happy day-in, day-out, and a sense of humour (stuff happens… ).
And finally, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a great opportunity to showcase all the amazing things women do. As a businesswoman, I think it’s particularly important that women are seen to be running successful businesses, so that the next generation can take this for granted. As part of our contribution to International Women’s Day, Source Global Research will be publishing profiles of women who’ve risen to the top of the professional services industry, in order to understand what motivates them, and how they responded to the challenges they’ve faced.