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Meet our managing director

From research scientist to businesswoman, learn more about our managing director, Eman Al-Hillawi’s leadership journey and her ambitious plans for Entec Si’s future.

It all started in the lab

Eman attended the University of Birmingham, where she completed a Biochemistry degree before embarking on her PhD. Working in a lab coat provided her with the perfect foundation for a career in consulting.

Although Eman found academia interesting, she knew that her true passion was for people. She sought a position that was more dynamic and engaging, which led her to take on the role of business analyst at a major IT company.

It was in this role that Eman got her first taste of the consultancy world and met our managing director and principal consultant, Peter Marsden. When Peter asked Eman to join him in running Entec Si, she took a leap of faith and has never looked back.

Evolving Entec Si

To begin with, Entec Si was focused on IT and technology implementation. However, as time moved on, it became clear there was a gap in the market between the ‘Big Four’ management consultancies and one-person contractors.

Entec Si was doing things very differently to other consultancies. Its ‘blended teams’ approach focuses on working alongside clients as partners to get them the best results.

The business became a chameleon organisation that could adapt quickly to the needs of its clients.

Overcoming hurdles

The biggest challenge of Eman’s career (and her proudest achievement) was the delivery of the Library of Birmingham. A project spanning five years, Eman learnt that when surrounded by the right people, anything is possible.

More recently, Eman also had to guide Entec Si through the challenges the pandemic has presented. While the uncertainty was daunting, it instilled resilience into the business and the team is emerging stronger on the other side.

Looking towards the future

Eman is now looking forward to tackling new challenges both in her personal and professional lives.

She will soon be embarking on her new ventures as an author and a helicopter pilot in training. Professionally, she is focused on growing Entec Si and fully transitioning into her new role as CEO.

To learn more, contact us.

Meet the consultant… Pete Britten

1. In a nutshell, what does your role involve?

In my role as a consultant, I specialise in project management and am responsible for managing a variety of projects, from technology transformation to culture change.

It’s my job to manage any risks and issues that occur throughout the project, enabling us to deliver a solution that benefits and adds value to the customer’s organisation.

2. What do you love about your job?

The best part about my job is being able to engage with a variety of people from all different walks of life, from senior stakeholders to end users. I’m very much a people pleaser, so it’s great that my job involves offering solutions to make people’s lives easier.

3. What first drew you to consultancy?

I actually stumbled upon consultancy by accident when looking for a job. I was invited to a recruitment day at Entec Si and ended up falling for the people and values behind the company.

It was so refreshing to find an organisation that wasn’t just looking for someone with the relevant skillset, but also someone with the right personality fit and passion for positive change.

4. What are your professional goals for the coming year?

I’d like to focus on broadening my professional knowledge and switching my mindset from that of a traditional project manager to more of an all-round consultant. This will involve developing my skills so that I’m able to help clients add value to all different areas of their businesses.

I’m also planning on completing my Agile project management qualification in the near future.

5. Your most memorable moment at Entec Si to date?

The first project I managed, was a wi-fi network replacement for a local council, which included two council buildings, a local waste depo and local libraries. I was up at the crack of dawn to test the wi-fi and although the experience was challenging, it was also very rewarding.

The new network had a really positive impact, and the client was extremely grateful, so it was a really proud moment for me professionally and personally.

6. What are you most passionate about, both inside and outside of work?

I’m very passionate about being able to build relationships with my clients and think it’s very important to be able to take their opinions on board and adapt your approach to fit in with their needs.

Outside of work, I’m very passionate about food and love to cook. I’m also a bit of a technology nerd and love all things computers. I even enjoy taking things apart and rebuilding them to understand how they work!

7. If you could have dinner with one influential figure, who would it be and why?

A mountain biker called Martyn Ashton, who was my inspiration for getting into the sport myself. A few years ago, he had an accident that left him paralyzed, but this didn’t stop him.

He designed a bike that enabled him to carry on doing what he loves and following a personal accident, his story really inspired me to push through and overcome the barriers I was facing.

We’re back on track

We’re bouncing back from the challenges of the pandemic by investing in more top talent and putting in place ambitious growth plans.

A warm welcome

We’re very excited to welcome business and management graduate, Jack Sixsmith, to the Entec Si family. Joining us as an assistant consultant, Jack will have a particular focus on the healthcare and not-for-profit sectors.  

Jack will work closely with our consulting director, Sue Johnson Gregory, and principal consultant, Tim Powlson to deliver a number of important projects. He will also be ensuring that key milestones are met and clients are always kept informed of progress and developments.

A bit about Jack

With a degree from Oxford Brookes University and a year-long placement at IBM as a development planner, Jack brings with him some valuable consulting experience.

With a Prince2 Foundation project management qualification already under his belt, Jack will be working on further developing his skills by progressing to the Agile Project Manager certification.

Alongside his role as an assistant consultant, Jack will also be vital in supporting Entec Si’s business development activities. This will include contributing to the company’s Mental Wealth Working Group.

Jack Sixsmith, assistant consultant at Entec Si, commented:

“The business landscape is evolving faster than ever before, meaning that change management has never been more important. It’s really important to me to be joining a consultancy that’s dedicated to enabling positive transformation through strong client relationships. Consequently I’m excited to see where my Entec Si journey leads.”

Ambitious growth plans

Eman Al-Hillawi, co-founder and director of Entec Si, said:

“Jack’s appointment marks an important milestone for the business – our first new hire since the start of the pandemic. After a challenging year, we’re back on track to step up our commercial and team growth. Jack is a perfect fit for the Entec Si family and I look forward to seeing his career go from strength to strength over the coming years.”

We’re now looking to further strengthen our senior team with the recruitment of a number of senior and managing consultants. If you feel like you could fit the bill, please get in touch.

Meet the consultant… Craig Eley

1. What does being a senior consultant involve?

At its core, being a senior consultant is all about helping organisations to drive change and improve the way they work. Adaptability is key, as every project we work on is different. As I mostly support organisations in the local government and not-for-profit sectors, I have to be able to use the skills and experience I’ve gained over the years to navigate a range of challenges, from employee engagement to the implementation of new technology.

The goal is always to add value for our clients, showing them the most effective route to successful transformation.

2. What do you love about being a senior consultant?

I’ve always been receptive to change, so having a job that allows me to share the benefits of transformation suits me perfectly. Being able to dip in and out of projects across a variety of sectors keeps me on my toes, with each one requiring me to use a different set of skills. In fact, being a senior consultant is never repetitive!

Completing a project knowing that you’ve made people’s lives easier is also a very rewarding feeling.

3. How did your journey into the world of consultancy begin?

Early on, I knew I wanted to get into consultancy. I’m motivated by problem solving, and being a consultant means I get to do that every day.

At university I studied forensic science, which confirmed my passion for analytical thinking. From there I entered the world of consultancy, working across a number of industries and fields, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and data analytics. This range enabled me to develop diverse knowledge and experience.

4. What makes Entec Si unique

Before Entec Si, I was working for a global organisation where it felt like my impact was fairly minimal. Now, I know that my voice is always heard, whether that’s on a project or internally. Inclusivity runs through everything that Entec Si does. It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you’re at, everyone is involved with the decisions that shape the business.

Our blended team approach also makes Entec Si stand out. Rather than telling our clients what to do and letting them get on with it, we become part of their team, encouraging change and supporting them through it.

5. What has been your proudest achievement over the last year?

Continuing to make a difference for businesses throughout the pandemic. Even remotely, I’ve built great relationships with clients, offering them the best possible advice and revolutionising the way they work.

Transformation has been needed more than ever this last year, and it has been incredible to be at the heart of this.

6. What are you most passionate about, both inside and outside of work

I’ve always had a passion for challenging myself, pushing my abilities to the limit to see what I’m truly capable of. Over the years, I’ve taken part in ultramarathons and long-distance cycling, and have got ‘ultracycling’ in my sights now. There’s no such thing as being overly ambitious in my book.

A few of us took on the virtual JOGLE challenge for charity recently, but I’d love to be able to do it for real in the future. Watch this space!

7. What is your dream holiday destination and why?

When my wife and I got married, we said we’d go to Borneo and work with the orangutans. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen, but it’s definitely still on the bucket list. I’d also like to go to the Galapagos Islands. Who doesn’t want to see a giant tortoise?

Anywhere I can go on an adventure is the place for me.

Why personal development matters

Personal development is, by its definition, personal. We came to that revelation after a recent period spent reflecting on our own development journeys. Our inspiration was Sofia’s recent personal journey and we wanted to use this to inspire others across the team. In essence, we wanted to bottle this energy and apply it across the business.

It was clear to us that personal development is something that’s very specific to an individual. We all have different interests, circumstances and inspiration. So we decided to do a pulse check across the company.

This exercise would give us the opportunity to really understand how we’re all growing as individuals. Similarly, it could provide Entec Si with a roadmap that would enable the right kind of structures and space to nurture continual personal development.

Developing during a pandemic

The backdrop to this has, of course, been the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption caused by the event has meant that more traditional forms of learning have been sidelined. Alongside this, we’ve been acutely aware that many members of our team have had very different experiences throughout this episode. For example, some have been fully utilised for five days a week, whilst others have been on furlough. This range of experiences very much informed our approach to personal development.

About our process

After working up a set of key questions, we agreed that video calls were the best method to gather our information. We hoped that this medium would facilitate more open, natural discussion with our colleagues.

It was always our intention to gather a 360 degree view of the topic. Therefore this led us to approach a broad cross-section of the team. Whether new starters, long-serving staff, junior employees or senior leaders, we were interested in their perspective. We asked the group three specific questions:

  • What does personal development mean to you?
  • How will you achieve a personal development goal over the next month?
  • Tell us your top tip for personal development?

What did the team learn?

The outputs from the exercise made for fascinating viewing. What was really interesting was how each team member had all independently been assessing their own personal development. It seems that we were merely tapping into a process that was already taking place. Although every person’s journey is unique, there were some strikingly common responses to each question.

There was definitely a recognition that personal development is a softer skill, something that is different to professional development. The team saw personal development as a process that can be developed outside of the work environment. It very much serves a dual purpose that enriches the individual, but also benefits the business.

Planning (as you’d expect in a consultancy firm!) was very much a theme, and was evident in two ways. Short-term planning, simply looking ahead and planning in time during a week, was popular. On the other hand, we saw a strand of thinking that recognised that personal development is a lifelong journey that needs to factored in.

We also saw an understanding that personal development is not something that’s limited to work time. Learning new skills can happen anywhere, anytime, and this should be understood as being vital. Similarly the team was careful to point out that personal growth doesn’t just happen in front of a computer. As individuals we can use life experiences and other resources as tools for developing ourselves.

Personal interest was also a recurring theme. The team was clear that personal development works best when it’s driven by a person’s passion or inquisitiveness. This is very much at odds with a ‘one size fits all’, top down approach.

How can this help the business?

One of Entec Si’s core values is care, and this is especially true when it comes to our staff. This has been clear in the different initiatives we’ve provided over the years, from our Academy Practice to our Mental Wealth Working Group. Similarly, our recent personal development work has also had real, tangible impacts.

Within our recent operating model, we’ve put in place a support and learning function. The purpose of this is to look at our company-wide skill set and really drive forward personal development. In this way we’re embedding a positive cultural recognition of the need to continue growing our team’s knowledge and skills.

We’re also seeing the impacts of personal development on day-to-day basis. For example, junior consultant Ben Brown recently successfully managed a web project for a client. Key to this success was Ben’s knowledge of website accessibility, which he had gathered by reading around the topic in his own time. This knowledge ultimately led to us winning more work from this client.

What advice would we give other organisations?

As personal development is unique to each individual, then it’s also unique to each organisation. This means they need to try different approaches to find what suits. That said, there are some basic guidelines that we think are useful to other organisations looking to embed personal development:

  • Understand that your people are your greatest asset and invest in them
  • Actively engage with staff to find out what they are interested in
  • Provide the structure and space to encourage individual growth
  • Avoid a dictatorial approach to knowledge transfer
  • Recognise that skills come in all shapes and sizes, not just formal qualifications

The takeaway

We’ve both found this exercise immensely rewarding. It’s been truly inspirational to engage with colleagues and their excitement and energy has been infectious. We’re thrilled to see that we’re not only galvanising each other, but are having a positive impact on the organisation’s investment in personal development.

The job market has been changing in recent years, and the pandemic has only accelerated this. Organisations and employees are far more fluid in their approach to work now. This is evident not only in working patterns, but also in the way that individuals understand their careers. The days of working for one company are long gone.

This means that organisations must do more to not only attract talent, but also to retain it. Fundamental to this is the space for employees to grow their personal development. Organisations that recognise this and put it front and centre will be the ones that flourish and grow.

Luke and Sofia

Meet the consultant… Charlotte Stanyer

1. How would you define your role?

Assistant consultant is an important and dynamic role, that facilitates the smooth progress of a project. It involves plenty of monitoring and coordination to ensure all activities run to the planned timescale and stay on budget.  

A keen eye for detail is important too, to ensure no risk or opportunity is missed.

2. What makes an outstanding assistant consultant?

Someone who is proactive above anything else. Being an assistant consultant is like spinning several plates at once, so being flexible and adaptable is essential.

There are always opportunities for progression and self-improvement. However, being open to constructive criticism and eager to learn are key to becoming the best consultant you can be.

3. What did your route to becoming an assistant consultant look like?

My background in business consultancy enabled me to secure my dream role at Entec Si. Since joining, the business has helped me to step-up my knowledge with the Prince2 project management and Business Analysis Foundation qualifications.

With the team’s ongoing support, I’m excited to see what the next stage of my career at Entec Si has in store.

4. What first drew you to Entec Si?

I first came across Entec Si on social media and felt an immediate connection with their values. It was instantly clear how committed they are to the work they do and this really resonated with what I believe in.

Despite obviously being hugely professional and great at what they do, the team came across as warm and vibrant and I knew it was the right place for me.

5. Your most memorable experiences at Entec Si to date?

Watching the company adapt so quickly to the challenges of lockdown, including the need for remote working, has been inspiring and is something I won’t ever forget. Everyone in the team has been brilliant at supporting each other through their personal challenges and the consideration for staff wellbeing has remained a priority for the business throughout the pandemic.

6. Your biggest achievement outside of work?

In the last year, I’ve managed to purchase my first home. Even without the added challenge of the pandemic, this feels like a huge achievement and is something that I’m very proud of.

I’ve learned so much from the process, including the all-important art of DIY and am even the owner of my very own toolkit!

7. What’s something different that you’ve always wanted to try?

I would love to try my hand at skydiving, either along the Devon coast or somewhere more exotic, like Australia. I have no doubt that I’d be terrified, but as a firm believer in micro-stresses – pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in order to achieve personal growth – I imagine there’s no experience quite like it.

Let's start a conversation!

Contact us at info@entecsi.com