It seems like not too long ago, ghSMART was privately writing headlines like this as something to aspire to one day—to appear at the top of lists with world class professional services firms.
If you can dream it, you can do it, right?
Now it has actually happened.
ghSMART just unseated McKinsey in the #1 spot in this year’s Vault survey of “Best Consulting Firms to Work For” in the important area of client interaction. As Founder & Chairman, I’m proud of my colleagues for making this happen.
Most of you who subscribe to my blog are not considering coming to work at ghSMART. You are CEOs, board members, investors, and corporate executives. This blog will probably not be very useful to you, so please skip it.
But for those of you who are considering joining the ghSMART team one day, I thought you might like an “insider’s peek” to see how we hit this milestone, and how it will affect your career if you work here one day.
Why is ghSMART’s interaction with clients so special?
It starts with the reason we exist as a firm. We exist to help leaders amplify their positive impact on the world. That is the first sentence of our Credo, and we live it every day. In contrast, we don’t exist to “sell consulting services.” We don’t exist just to advance academic theory, or make a vague impact on nameless, faceless corporations.
At ghSMART, one thing that new colleagues tell me they are struck by is that we define our “client” as an actual person, not an organization.
Our clients’ names are not “Acme Industrial Corp,” rather our clients’ names are like “Jane Smith, the CEO of Acme Industrial Corp.” Why that matters to you as a consultant at ghSMART is we teach you how to deeply care about the actual people we are advising, how to get to know them really well, and how to help them be successful.
What does ghSMART do differently with clients?
Another difference between ghSMART and other professional services firms is how deeply we engage with a client from the start.
When we begin a working relationship, we go DEEP. I mean deep deep deep—like drilling until we hit the earth’s inner core deep. When we conduct a SmartAssessment® of a new client, our goal is to understand their career wishes, what “success” means to them, the story of their entire career, and their present-day strengths, development areas, current priorities, current team strengths and weaker areas, and identify the state of their relationships with key people around them. Given the results they are trying to achieve, is the client and his or her team running at full power?
This process is really fun and fulfilling both for our client and for our colleagues. It’s the opposite of having a boring, superficial conversation with someone. Our new clients often tell us that this style of in-depth assessment conversation is one of the most substantive and revealing conversations of their entire career. I talked with the President of a global energy company the other day, who told me that he saved his SmartAssessment from 14 years ago, and he refers back to it regularly when looking for inspiration and ideas for how to take his leadership performance to the next level.
Why does your client impact feel different to your consultants?
Finally, I believe our colleagues rate their interactions with clients so highly because we don’t put a lot of barriers between our consultants and the CEOs and board members of the largest companies on earth, billionaire entrepreneurs who invent products we all use, and not-for-profit leaders who run some of the best children’s hospitals in the world, government agencies, and public health foundations.
You may be a 1st year consultant at ghSMART in a board meeting on a Tuesday advising the people who run a global food company, and the next day you read about the decisions that you helped make on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. That’s impact. It’s direct, line-of-sight impact from our colleagues to the clients to the world at large.
And it is very fulfilling to have your advice and counsel actually lead to decisions that improve a CEO or board’s performance, at the helm of a company that might employ a hundred thousand people. As a consultant, this is the opposite feeling of toiling in some back room somewhere, next to a microwave that smells of re-heated tuna melt, on a PowerPoint deck that you know that nobody is ever going to implement.
What do you suggest I do to get to the next level in my career?
If you work at a world class professional services firm, and you perform in the top decile of your peer group, and you really love to make a positive impact in the lives of people, please consider upgrading your business card to the firm at the top of the Vault list.
Shoot an email to email@example.com and perhaps schedule a career conversation with one of my colleagues to see if ghSMART is the right home for you.