Q5 invests in organizational health as customers plan for post-pandemic future
Q5 Managing Partner Olly Purnell and Marketing Director Annabel Tonge spoke to Consultancy.uk about the firm’s investment in becoming the leader in ‘organizational health’ and ‘art and the science” behind it.
Olly Purnell co-founded Q5 during the Great Recession of 2009. Over the past 13 years, the consultancy has grown into a team of nearly 300 consultants, working from offices in the UK, Australia, the Middle East and United States.
Like many consulting firms, Q5 experienced a strong growth phase during the pandemic. “I think most consulting firms have done pretty well since 2020. It has less to do with our collective genius, and more to do with dealing with an explosion in demand!”
Purnell continues: “A lot of things are happening at the same time, like the impact of the pandemic on business, how Brexit has affected trade relations in Europe, the grip of sustainability… these are key structural events,” Purnell said, “big things that spark conversations with CEOs.”
While many consulting firms have experienced a mini-boom over the past 24 months, Q5 growth has been pronounced, doubling in size in terms of headcount, revenue and profit. As a result, in the recent “Best Companies” assessment, Q5 moved from “Small” to “Medium” category, and the company is striving to balance its growth ambitions with its long-standing reputation for supporting a caring, team-oriented culture.
“Recruiting great people is at the forefront of most board leaders’ minds right now,” Purnell says, “Fortunately, we held on in 2020 when a few of the Big Four let people go. Like everyone else, we didn’t know what to expect with the pandemic, but after spending years hiring brilliant people… the last thing we wanted to do was let people go because of a sudden downturn projects.
“Thus, our partners used the profits of the 20 exercise to “buy time”. Fortunately, this strategic bet paid off.
The decision not only helped Q5 retain their team, but also made the company an attractive place to join as others lost roles. “We have taken on quite a few people who were laid off rather prematurely by other companies. Looking back, I know of a few companies that regret their decision to lose staff, given the rapidly increasing demand for advice.
“In light of these pandemic job cuts, they’re having a harder time recruiting, and now you’re seeing a lot of consulting mergers and acquisitions to fill talent gaps.”
Why art, science and organizational health matter
2021 has been a busy year for Q5, building up their operations in Leeds and Cardiff, and moving into a new London headquarters in Smith Square. The company has also focused on its brand and marketing, as explained by Annabel Tonge, Marketing Director of Q5. “The pandemic has changed everything in life, and one of the things it highlighted in the business was our need to be more cutting edge from a digital perspective.”
“Traditionally, 70% of our firm’s business came from long-standing relationships and face-to-face interactions. People liked what we did and made us come back for other projects, or they referred other people to us.
“In a virtual world, however, digital presence and identity become paramount. We designed and launched a new website and invested in the platform for our organization assessment tools and organization design approaches. The business has grown so rapidly over the past five years that we needed better brand presence, better articulation and a better set of digital products to better reflect our evolution. »
One of the things Q5 has focused on since the pandemic is its free offering of “Pop Up Consulting” – an initiative the company launched in April 2020 to support charities and SMEs in need of help. advisory support due to funding crises. Q5’s accomplishments with Pop Up are “a great articulation of how, by giving back, we take care of ourselves and our own internal culture.”
“We served over 100 charities and nonprofits through Pop Up, alongside 120 business customers through Q5. In many ways, Pop Up not only helps small charities, but it also acts as an R&D function for our larger consultancy, helping us test new ideas and tools,” Purnell says.
Tonge was quick to explain Q5’s finely balanced approach to advice; “By emphasizing the Q in our name, we’ve always put EQ and IQ at the heart of our work, but we haven’t necessarily showcased it externally.” As part of the new branding, “The Art and Science of Organizational Health…we seek to be proud and loud about it now!”
“Businesses face a different post-pandemic future. This is why a broader perspective on organizational health is sorely needed right now.
Ilead by example through art and science
Tonge and Purnell pointed out that organizational health is paramount in Q5’s identity.
Purnell says, “The name Q5 is about looking beyond the fourth quarter of a business year to make your organization healthy and sustainable. Obviously it has to be commercially sound, but there are so many other things at play. The focus on ESG in recent years has shed light on the impacts organizations have and why a broader perspective on the importance of organizational health is really needed right now.
When it comes to ensuring organizational health, Purnell says, “Companies emerging from the pandemic need to ensure their business models are robust, their strategies are consistent (and understood by their different groups stakeholders) – and that all the people they employ are organized efficiently, with the right skills and abilities to do the job. Finally, they must be engaged, supported and motivated to do so.
“With our artistic and scientific approach, we focus on the twin tensions that every organization must face. There is always science, rigor, method and logic in what we do – but we must also bring human qualities to our work; passion, humor, empathy, common sense and compassion.
2022 promises to be another busy year for the company, with an increasing focus on its international operations in Australia, the Middle East and the opening of a new office in the United States (in Houston, alongside the existing operation in New York).