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Stephen Sides

Consultant, UK

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Stephen Sides

Consultant, UK

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1Why did you join Berkeley?

I’d been fortunate enough to spend several years at one of the larger consulting firms, and although it was a fantastic place to learn, I always felt that I’d ultimately want to move to a smaller firm where I could have a greater influence on the success of the business and control over my career. During my research, Berkeley not only consistently ranked highly on the ‘greatest places to work’ and ‘best small consultancies’, but also jumped out at me in terms of the way they operated. Berkeley deliberately operates with a flat hierarchy (only consultants and partners) and without sales targets, meaning that I could truly focus on my client work and ensuring that I deliver the very best outcome for the client.

Berkeley also strives to only work on the most complex problems for clients and where they can deliver the greatest value, meaning that I would continue to stretch myself and learn, whilst being surrounded by some of the very best talent.

Finally, I was also excited by the variety of work that Berkeley offered. Consultants work across industries and on a variety of roles, from strategy and operating model design to large-scale transformation delivery roles, meaning that Berkeley consultants are developed into well rounded transformation experts, and that my work continues to remain varied and exciting.

2How have you helped clients achieve their aspirations?

The path to a client realising their aspirations will always vary from project to project, but there are a few fundamentals that I like to ensure remain uncompromised.

Firstly, it’s important to make sure that we are solving the right problem. This may seem obvious, but it’s not uncommon that with a fresh perspective and some focused thinking time, the problem that really needs solving is actually very different to the one first posed to help a client achieve their aspirations. Getting this right early on is key to making positive steps in the right direction.

The second key element is around the ways of working during a project. To really understand a problem, I first need to deeply understand the client’s business. There’s no better way to do this than to spend lots of time together, truly listening to what the client needs (not what I think they need) and developing the path to change together. This is the only way that once the project is finished, the change will be owned and therefore fully embedded into the business.

The third key element to helping clients achieve their ambitions is around using my experiences from previous clients, as well the wealth of experience from Berkeley colleagues. Although clients' challenges are unique in many ways, there will be lessons learned from businesses all around the world that can used to not only help clients achieve the aspirations set out at the beginning of the project, but to go further and position our clients as market leaders within their sectors.

3Why did you choose your career?

I have always been an analytical person and someone who enjoys problem solving, and when it came to choosing a university course, I decided that Engineering would give me a great foundation for whichever career path I decided to take. I had an interest in Aerospace and decided to specialise in this area, and I also completed a year in industry working on defect management within a manufacturing plant.

Though I was enjoying my experiences within engineering, my work was becoming increasingly detail orientated and I had decided that I wanted to take what I learnt over the past few years and apply this to the broader and more strategic problems that companies were facing all over the world. It was also becoming clear that I thrived when working with people and building relationships, and as I researched various grad schemes, consulting was becoming a natural choice.

It was then only when I’d spent a few years working within consulting that I realised how much I also enjoyed the variety that consulting gave me, working with a broad range on clients on an equally varied range of complex problems, and for these reasons I haven’t looked back.