Marty, what was your role at Avantage Reply? Which office did you work for?
I was one of the founding partners, so I had a big part to play in setting the business up and in getting and managing initial clients, and I also managed the HR part of the business. I was based out of London, but I set up the Amsterdam office and helped Freddy set up the Luxembourg office as well, so I worked at all three of these offices. I was at Avantage Reply for 10 years; we started in 2004 and I left in 2014.
Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your career path since then?
Since I left Avantage Reply in March 2014, I have worked for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), where I have had a number of roles, primarily in the change and operations side of risk and conduct. My current role is the Head of Risk and Conduct Transformation -- it’s a bit like running an internal consultancy inside the bank. I was Chief of Staff for the Chief Risk Officer; I ran a big risk integration programme when RBS restructured; and, at the moment, I have been seconded to Ulster Bank to run a regulatory/restructuring programme for risk.
What accomplishments make you the most proud? What did you really like in your role at Avantage Reply?
I am very proud of the fact that we set up the business from nothing and grew it into a substantial risk consultancy. When we started, there were only three of us and three laptops; there were no clients, no office and no staff -- nothing. Because I was one of the founding partners, I really liked the opportunity to get involved in everything if I wanted to. Since there was a lot to be done and there were very few people, it was a very broad and interesting role. And I really liked the partners that I worked with -- if you’ve got good people, it makes all the difference.
What do you miss most about being at Avantage Reply?
The camaraderie of working in a small firm, and the opportunity to do a variety of work.
What skills did you acquire at Avantage Reply that help you in your career?
Genuine running-a-business skills. I could do the risk; I could do the consultancy; and I knew about banking -- these were all things I had already done. But because I was running the business, we had to genuinely worry about the P&L -- you had to sell something to make some money, and manage the costs and the staff to make a profit. I learned how to run a business, and that's a huge skill.
What advice do you have for former and/or current consultants and staff?
Stay current. To be a good consultant, you've got to keep up with what's going on, so don't get stuck in your ways or in certain things for too long, because you'll get stale.
You've got to find a way to keep yourself up to date with what's changing in the market, what your clients want, and what's worrying them. If you can do that, you can add value to them, but if you can't, you're of no use.
It's the hardest part of being a consultant, but it's also the most interesting.