The Maven Associates model relies on creating a team of consultants that have first-hand knowledge of an industry, experience with a specific strategic activity and an understanding of the client’s challenge areas. And while Maven believes the greatest value it brings to its mid-market clients is that all of its consultants spent time at Bain, BCG or McKinsey, it is important to note that a significant number of its consultants are entrepreneurs themselves. Experience in business leadership and management from start up to growth creates an empathy and unique understanding of the steps necessary to reach the next milestone.
Lawrence Walmsley is a senior consultant with Maven specialized in project management office (PMO) and roll out within the pharmaceutical and financial services industries. While working at a small bank after earning his BSE in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, Lawrence caught the entrepreneurial bug, and decided to attend business school. He earned a Masters at Harvard Kennedy School as well as an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management before he became a consultant at McKinsey & Co. While at McKinsey he worked on Energy studies in the US and EU as well as supported the Financial Institute Group. It was at McKinsey that he met his business partner, and they founded an algae for fuel business.
Starting a business required Lawrence to lean on his education as well as the processes that he used at McKinsey to raise capital, file a patent, and to lead a team. New to him was coping with the uncertainty that entrepreneurship brings.
“I identify well with our small business and mid-sized PE companies, because I understand the uncertainty they face,” says Lawrence of working as an independent consultant while being an entrepreneur himself. Even today, he is unsure of future plans although his business has been successful and won several industry awards.
The reward of creating something through their efforts, growing and assembling the team they have is what he values most. The team is also one of the most difficult aspects of growing a business. Understanding the skill sets required at the different stages of the company is important to leaders. As an entrepreneur, Lawrence understands the value that loyalty brings, but as an independent consultant he also knows the hard choices that are sometimes necessary in order for the organization to new success.
Entrepreneurship also develops the soft skills and unstructured work environment that independent consulting requires. Lawrence says it is the intellectual stimulation that draws him most to consulting. “These are hard problems that we are solving for organizations, and it requires theoretical solutioning as well as digging into the culture of the organization to know why are they managing the organization in this way and what history is guiding current thinking,” explains Lawrence.
The Maven model is a network of consultants that are pulled in based on who is best suited for the client’s problem. This approach means that clients will work with the highest caliber of consultants at a rate that is affordable, and consultants gain a deeper understanding of industries, learn who players are within this industries and learn how the overall economy runs based on the contributions of these individuals and industries.
Lawrence was introduced to Mark Hess, founder of Maven Associates, through a mutual acquaintance. What Lawrence appreciates most about Mark’s leadership style is his ability to balance oversight with quality control and managing client issues. He particularly appreciates that Mark gives consultants the freedom to do the work asked of them while unobtrusively ensuring that the project runs effectively.
Assembling the highest quality consultants who identify with mid-market clients, results in an effective process, a meaningful outcome to the organization, and a rewarding career for consultants.