Acorn Notes

Issue No. 19, March 2014

What It Takes to Run a Great Consulting Firm

Consultancies are in business to deliver value – value to clients, value to employees, and value to shareholders. The products vary – whether delivering management advice, developing technical studies and plans, or providing technical/logistical support – but the basic model is the same. We sell results measured in hours or fixed fees.

So how do companies in this industry distinguish themselves from competitors? What do they rally around to motivate employees and investors? And how do they convince clients that they are fundamentally better than other options? Ask the head of any consulting firm and she or he will give you the same answer about what makes them special: their team. 

And it’s true. Acorn International was formed to execute a distinctive "Local Content & Global Assurance" mission that we think (a) our clients need, (b) our industry has not provided previously, and (c) delivers exceptional and sustainable return on investment. But when it comes right down to it, our people make us special. 

A talented facilitator.
A great thinker.
A gifted writer.
An unrelenting athlete.
A tiny dancer.
The kindest builder you’ll ever know.

Somehow we have attracted and maintained team members who are not only notably talented in evaluating and managing social & environmental risk, but also deeply introspective, proactive and caring. Each brings to our table and our clients' tables an appreciation for how the results of our work must deliver business value, a commitment to reliable performance that makes us proud, and a drive to make the engagements/journeys enjoyable. And each acts from a built-in belief that we’re smarter and stronger when we work as a team. 

So I answer the question in the same way as my respected counterparts. But deep down I know we have something really extraordinary here, and that this is what it takes to run a truly great consulting firm.


Acorn International Notes

Acorn Notes is a series of periodic papers to share ideas regarding EHSS and sustainability management for international industry.

Issue 21 - March 2014: Above-ground Facilities and Stakeholder Engagement: Deploying the 'CAC'
Issue 20 - March 2014: A Starting Point for Shared Equity
Issue 19 - March 2014: What It Takes to Run a Great Consulting Firm
Issue 18 - February 2014: Considering Human Rights - Trends and Lessons in Oil and Gas Impact Assessments
Issue 17 - June 2013: Managing Environmental Health in International Development Projects
Issue 16 - January 2013: Integrating Environmental and Social Performance throughout the Project Lifecycle
Issue 15 - January 2013: The State of Shale Play in 2013
Issue 14 - August 2012: Building Environmental and Social Governance in Host Countries
Issue 13 - May 2012: Human Rights and Business: A New Era
Issue 12 - February 2012: Extractive Industries Confront Pressure for Greater Transparency
Issue 11 - January 2012: Key Updates to the IFC Sustainability Policy and Performance Standards
Issue 10 - June 2011: Oil & Gas and NGOs: New Rules of Engagement?
Issue 9 - February 2010: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 8 - January 2009: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 7 - May 2008: Top Ten Lessons Learned About Health Impact Assessment
Issue 6 - January 2008: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 5 - September 2007: Results of web forum with our International Partners
Issue 4 - January 2007: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 3 - May 2006: Suggestions and tips for safe international travel
Issue 2 - January 2006: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 1 - November 2005: The Top 10 "unspoken" criteria for determining the success of EIAs


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