After graduating from Loughborough University in 2007 with degrees in electronic engineering and finance and management, I completed the BAE Systems graduate programme in their weapons and vehicles di...
Byron Ford, Consultant
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Letter from America
Home > unspun > unspun 32 - Building a bridge between strategy and delivery > Letter from America
He’s no Alistair Cooke, but Neil McClumpha, our Partner leading Berkeley’s newly established US office, reports back on the first six months.
The Berkeley Partnership US LP officially came into being in November 2016. Fate must have had a hand in the timing; November 1990 being the founding month of the Berkeley Partnership 26 years earlier. The experience of giving birth to our upstart US sibling was akin to being breech; we had to change position a couple of times to qualify for the desired taxation and immigration treatment before alighting on an entity structure that worked for the majority of US state jurisdictions, just not New York! The combined might of legal minds on both sides of the pond managed to address the complications however, and we are now transacting business through our US operation, with two partners and four consultants actively engaged across three clients. Despite being three months overdue, we are keeping up with our first year growth plan, and all vital signs are positive!
I am always being asked which city I prefer. Having lived in London for 15 years and now having spent the last six months in New York, I still have a relatively fresh perspective to compare and contrast the two cities. I guess I qualify as a “NYLon”, the definition - according to the Urban Dictionary – being:
“a trans-Atlantic commuter, usually in financial services, consulting, fashion or media. A subspecies of yuppie with lots of frequent-flier miles and a tri-band cell phone.”
I clearly need to up my game - my cell phone is only dual-band.
On paper, the similarities are plain to see. Both cities have populations around the 9m mark. The cities hold positions one and two in the ranking of the world’s most ethnically diverse. Allegedly over 100 languages are spoken amongst London’s residents; that number is reported to be 800 in New York! The fundamental role that each city plays in keeping the cogs of global finance running is obvious – look skyward and the bright brands of global banking giants rain down.
There are palpable differences felt in experiencing the cities first hand however. New York is undoubtedly more intense; with 138 fewer square miles than London to house a population of similar size, you cannot escape the madding crowd. Commerce continues practically around the clock, with the majority of bars and clubs plying their trade until the early hours of the morning. Even when it is time to shut up shop, you can still transact – witness the “cupcake ATM” on Lexington Avenue enabling a 24 hour remedy to sugar crashes, with sprinkles on top! And with a 24 hour subway, there is always a steady flow of humanity criss-crossing Manhattan. However, I have a simple solution to easing the crush; invest in decent kitchens. The average Manhattan kitchen is ridiculously small, forcing flat (sorry, apartment) dwellers outdoors every night just to fuel their requisite calorie intake. The addition of a mid-size fridge and combo-oven would dramatically reduce the footfall on New York’s streets!
Our intention is to operate a single business, with presence in two geographies. We do not envisage a UK and US business with different offerings and operating models. That said, our timing is rather interesting. With major shifts occurring on both sides of the pond – Brexit on one side and a Trump administration on the other – we could be entering a period where the US and UK economies diverge considerably. On the other hand, it is not inconceivable that the first post-Brexit trade deal done is with the US and even closer affinity develops. Primarily, we will seek to build flexibility into our model to enable us to respond nimbly as client opportunities build. It is certainly not dull!
We’re always happy to see familiar faces, so if you happen to be passing through New York, whether that be on a business trip or on holiday, I’d be happy to share recent experiences, tour itineraries, and restaurant tips.
‘Til the next time!
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