Meet the consultant… Peter Marsden

10 things you didn't know about our executive chair

1. Why and when did you set up Entec Si?

There were three main reasons why I decided to launch Entec Si in 1996. Firstly, I’ve always been of an independent spirit and, after working for several large corporations, I was ready to take things into my own hands. This coincided with my passion and understanding for how change happens and the way it happens.

As a technical consultant at the time, I knew I could help organisations with the change challenges they had encountered so they could move forward. Finally, an opportunity presented itself and I grabbed it with both hands. Sometimes, you only make change when the opportunity emerges, and I knew my experience had led me to that moment. This business opportunity became Entec Si’s first contract but established an approach which is still as relevant today.

2. How has your role evolved over the years?

My role has evolved as the company has evolved and the team developed. When you first start a consultancy business, you’re pretty much responsible for everything from delivering to clients, running the payroll and VAT returns right through to recruitment and even brand management. In addition to this, in the late 90s we won a big contract with Birmingham City Council that led to the Library of Birmingham project engagement in 2008, which continued a five year relationship through to the opening. This was a huge turning point for us and a real moment of learning and reflection.

Following this project, we decided to grow the company – a decision that we didn’t make lightly. This was another significant shift in my role; delegating work and trusting others with a business I had put everything into. After doing so much yourself, it can be quite hard to let go at first but it’s important to trust in your colleagues and look to the future. Having a great team around you is so critical.

Today my role has less of an emphasis on hands-on client delivery and a greater focus on strategic thinking, company development and oversight.

3. What does a day in the life of an executive chair look like?

In short, I see myself as a weathered eye making sure everything is where it should be. Up until recently, most of my time was spent working with clients and supporting the consulting and project delivery. Now, a big part of my role involves supporting Entec Si’s future growth and considering the business’ strategy. I also like to have an oversight of all areas of the business and have regular informal catchups with the team, to maintain a culture where everyone feels supported with any issues or concerns. I still get involved in the new business development and am as passionate about this as I was in the mid-90s.

4. What are the most important skills for growing a business?

Surrounding yourself with brilliant people is the trick for me. Gaining clients’ trust is key in the world of consultancy, which means we need strong relationships, both internally and externally.

You also can’t and shouldn’t be doing everything yourself, so playing to your strengths is key. It’s important to recognise when someone is better placed to help with a task and allow them to support you. Patience and foresight are also important, as they provide you with the ability to react and adapt quickly.

5. Where do you see Entec Si in five years?

The business is currently the strongest it’s ever been, but I think we’re going to see Entec Si accelerate its growth as we continue to invest in our consulting team and further develop the leadership across the company. As a business, we want to stay true to our investment in our people. With this in mind, we’re committed to keeping sight of our values and maintaining our family feel. Of course, as the business grows, we’ll also see an expansion of the team’s capabilities across new areas.

6. What has been your favourite Entec Si moment?

One moment that stands out in my mind was a turning point for Entec Si. Following the successful delivery of the Library of Birmingham project, Eman Al-Hillawi (our Chief Executive Officer and co-founder) and I had met with a business coach to help us decide on our next steps. It was a moment to take a breath and look back on everything we had achieved – how did we feel about the future and did we want the same things. After talking everything through, we made the decision to grow the business. We knew we’d created something special and wanted to share what we had with others; it was an exciting time for us both.

7. What’s the next step for you professionally?

Entec Si is always going to be an important part of what I have achieved, so continuing to develop myself in my new role will also mean helping to develop the business. I will start to reduce my involvement with a greater focus at an executive level which creates opportunities for others. Eman and I have recently set ourselves the challenge of writing a book together, to share our knowledge and experiences as leaders in our field.

8. A fact about you that might surprise people?

Just before launching Entec Si, I had separated from my wife of 16 years and was looking after my three young sons. A lot of people would ask why I chose that moment to start a business, however, the situation made me realise that I wanted to do something different with my working life and this was a catalyst for to me take a leap of faith. I think it goes to show that with perseverance, amazing colleagues and a great support network, you can succeed in the face of adversity.

If you were to be in any other profession, what would it be?

I’d like to say that I’d see myself as a golf professional, but maybe that would be a stretch given my handicap!

Before starting Entec Si, I had studied for an engineering degree and my first role was in an engineering company. I really loved the design aspect of the job but was unfortunately made redundant, however, I’ve never lost interest in the industry. In a way, a lot of what we do at Entec Si involves designing effective solutions for an organisation’s problems.

10. What is the best thing about becoming a grandparent?

When you have your own children, you’re caught up in the mess and it can sometimes be hard to appreciate how fortunate you are. As a grandparent, you get to see all the joy and pleasure your children are getting from their children. It’s an amazing and an emotional experience in a completely different way from what I have experienced before.

Published: May 13, 2022

By Peter Marsden

Executive chair

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