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Putting employees first with Sarah Frost’s new promotion

We continue to prove our commitment to employee development with the promotion of Sarah Frost to Head of People Operations.

The position comes with a seat on the strategic leadership board, to support the development of the business’s unique person-centred ethos. With a foot in both the leadership and project delivery camps, Sarah has a unique 360-degree view of business operations. In doing so, Sarah’s promotion places our person-focused approach at the heart of all business decisions.

Sarah has a varied background in people management, beginning her career at the NEC, spending six years supporting key recruitment and distribution activities for live events staff, whilst honing her problem-solving and people management skills. Since joining our team, Sarah has been supported in her personal development and is now working towards her CIPD level 5 diploma in People Management.

Joining us in early 2020, Sarah has been responsible for:

  • The end-to-end people strategy, including talent acquisition
  • Resourcing and commission coordination
  • People and career development
  • Culture and wellbeing

This key leadership role provides strategic advice to the board on matters impacting its people and to ensure that its consultant portfolio is the right shape as the company expands, and that the voices of our workforce are properly represented.

Eman Al-Hillawi, CEO said:

“Sarah has proven to be an invaluable asset to not only the team, but also to the future development of Entec Si. Her passion for supporting her colleagues has not gone unnoticed and she will be a key driver in our mission of instilling ‘change for good’ in everything we do. “I can already see Sarah embracing her new role and we will continue to offer our undivided support on her personal development journey.”

Sarah adds:

“Working for a company like Entec Si, which places people front and centre of its business, has already been extremely rewarding for me and I’m delighted to take on this new role. The company is supporting me to develop my career and achieve new qualifications. Alongside this I’ll take an active role in shaping how our people continue their journey with the company. Having a seat on the strategic leadership board helps to ensure every aspect of the business is well-represented when making big decisions. I’m looking forward to supporting Entec Si and our team in our next development phase”.

Meet the consultant… Anna Lane

1. What does your day-to-day role as a senior consultant look like?

Life as a senior consultant means that every single day varies, which is what makes working at Entec Si so appealing. I specialise in people change management; for example engaging people to ensure that a new HR or finance system, or broader transformational changes across an organisation are a success. Another focus is ensuring that the benefits of a programme are identified, measured and realised.  One minute I could be developing a new change strategy for a client, and the next, I’m creating a communications plan to ensure that all stakeholders are involved and aware of how we’re going to deliver it.

2. What part of your role is most rewarding?

I’m a people person through and through, so developing good relationships with my clients is the best part of the job. It makes things much more enjoyable, and often results in a quicker turnaround time for work.

People don’t always understand what working in change management or benefits realisation means, so it’s important to explain to clients why it’s so essential. That shared understanding is extremely rewarding to me, and the feeling never tires.

3. What made you choose a career at Entec Si?

Two main things really stood out for me. Firstly, sharing the same values as a company has always been a priority for me in my career. I wanted to help make positive changes for people and their organisations and Entec Si allowed me to follow that passion.

Not only that, but as someone with a family I didn’t want to have to choose between my family life or my work life. A career at Entec Si has allowed me to be present in both aspects of my life and achieve true satisfaction in both.

4. What is your favourite memory of working at Entec Si?

There are two memories that spring to mind:

Developing our relationship with our charity partner Thrive – who offer therapeutic gardening programmes to people with health, social, or educational needs – has been so rewarding. We have spent lots of team days here weeding, digging and bonding.

A favourite memory has to be from the days during Covid when everyone was locked away and working from home, and we came together in support of Eman and Peter to create a compilation video of all the team singing ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor. The team came together, had a bit of fun and it really put a smile on our faces in the process. Knowing you have a team around you that are going to pull together in the hard times is a fantastic feeling.

5. What has been your biggest career highlight?

That would have to be becoming a Prosci change practitioner, one of the world’s most popular change management certifications. From that I’ve been able to utilise the methodology into practice with a number of different clients, through a variety of different sectors, which have all achieved fantastic, long-lasting results. It’s definitely something I am extremely proud of.

6. Outside of work, what are your biggest passions in life?

I like to think I have lived my life to the fullest. A younger Anna would be telling you all about my skydives, travelling and diving experiences! My current chapter of life is a little less adrenaline-fueled and instead my passions are much closer to home. With a young family to care for, I love spending time making memories with my children and watching them grow up. However, on the rare occasion I do find myself with some child-free time you will certainly find me pottering around in the garden. Anything from wielding a hedge trimmer to getting creative with planting. Being able to sit back and enjoy the hard work you have put into something will never get old.

7. Have you got any advice for aspiring business consultants?

What people might not know is that it takes all sorts of attributes and skills to be a business change consultant. Personally, I come from a background in international development which is an entirely different sector. But the skills I have brought with me to this role have helped me to achieve great results for my clients and bring real value to the team. Just because your background doesn’t fit within the vague outlines of business consultancy, doesn’t mean your skills won’t be an asset to any team.

Meet the consultant… Jack Sixsmith

1. How did you get into change consultancy?

I’ve had an unconventional career path. From university, my first job was with a huge multinational organisation which made me feel a little like a tiny cog in a big machine. Following that I then went into the antiques dealing business. A bit different, I know! I’ve always had an interest in business and management, so when a recruitment agency offered me the opportunity at Entec Si, I jumped at it. I successfully attended a recruitment day and that’s where my change management journey started.

2. What is a typical day in the life of a junior consultant?

No day is the same here. My role is incredibly varied but that’s one of the things I enjoy the most. Depending on the project I’m working on, my day could be spent being creative and designing presentations for clients or utilising my research skills by gathering and analysing data or interviewing people. There’s no set ‘typical’ day but there’s always something new to get stuck into.

3. Why Entec Si? What makes it a good place to work?

Beyond the flexibility provided here, Entec Si takes a lot of responsibility over the personal development and culture within the team. Its passion for career development is unmatched, with support in defining a clear path through training courses, shadowing and meetings. But it also prides itself on the culture it’s built, going above and beyond to ensure team members are being listened to.

After Covid, there was a shared sense of loss amongst the team as the distance between us took away some of the family feel we have always loved. The leadership team responded really quickly, implementing frequent get-togethers, away days and new reporting structures to allow us, not only meet with our line managers, but also the wider team, frequently and virtually. This has to help us connect more, which has already had a big and positive impact on the team.

4. How does Entec Si support your career development?

Continuous development runs through every member of the team. Our managers are constantly on the lookout for training courses and opportunities that enhance our professional skills and there are ongoing discussions as to where you see your career heading.  From shadowing others, being placed on specific clients to mentoring from an individual outside of the company, there is a big emphasis on personal and career development here.

5. What has been your biggest career highlight?

It has been really rewarding to guide and transform clients, not just through processes we implement but also transform their mindset too. Getting the balance between the technical and the human side is fascinating. This often involves helping them to think in a more logical, project management-focused way, as well as how things will roll out in practice. For me, supporting a client with a lack of structure and enabling them to adapt and grow has built my confidence massively and is definitely one of my biggest career highlights so far.

6. What does a good work-life balance mean for you? Does Entec Si support this?

Work-life balance isn’t about having set hours, it’s about being able to flex your job around your life at certain times. A lot of the team have young families and are able to work around the school run. Similarly since the pandemic, over three quarters of the company have welcomed new pets to the family! It is refreshing to see how a modern company can fit around your life. This is something I have not seen done quite as well as Entec Si has.

The leadership team are always encouraging different ways of working, from regular ‘walk and talks’ (where we go for a walk and have a catch up over the phone) to frequent team building socials. As you can see, it isn’t just a place where you come to work, it’s more of a community.

7. What is one personal goal for the next six months?

I want to learn how to meditate. I have attempted to do this previously, but I can’t seem to get past half an hour before giving up. My goal is to get to a full hour of meditation!

In a professional context, I’m hoping to get a few more qualifications under my belt, with a special interest in becoming a scrum master.

Meet the consultant… Peter Marsden

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.

We promote a third of our team in our ‘thrive’ year

We have demonstrated our passion for people development by announcing an impressive ten promotions.

Four people – Jack Sixsmith, David Walker, Charlotte Stanyer and Eilis Garton-Marrows – have been promoted to junior consultant. Meanwhile Devesh Punjani and Megan Evans have become consultants from junior consultants.

Senior level promotions include Peter Britten, Janet Smith and Tamara Pleasant, who have been promoted to senior consultant, managing consultant and principal consultant respectively. Finally, Alix Cruxton is now a marketing communications executive.

Putting people at the heart of our strategy

Representing a third of our team, the wave of promotions shows the dedication of the business’ people at all levels. In particular it illustrates that everyone is given the opportunity to build on their talents and strengthen their skills.

Our belief that a business’ success is largely down to its people has been cemented over the last two years. We have committed even more to developing our team’s skills, supporting them to excel in their careers. From investing in professional qualifications to leadership and personal development training, we continue to put upskilling our employees at the heart of our strategy.

Dubbing 2022 as our ‘thrive’ year, we believe that the enthusiasm and care shown by our team will take the business on a new trajectory, helping us to achieve our goals, while fulfilling our people’s own aspirations.

Eman Al-Hillawi, CEO, said:

“We take pride in the fact that our strength is our people. Being able to promote a third of the team is an incredible feeling. Each and every one has shown a huge amount of commitment to Entec Si, embracing the development opportunities given to them, and supporting our clients with excellent service. I look forward to seeing how they will grow in their new roles, both personally and professionally.”

Meet the consultant… Sarah Towers

1. What does a consulting director do?

A little bit of everything, which keeps the role interesting! There are three core parts to the role. The first centres around delivery and supporting our clients on their change and transformation programmes providing leadership and strategic direction to ensure, together, we deliver changes that stand the test of time.

The second role is leading in the day-to-day operations of the Entec Si business. This ranges from ensuring our commissions are all progressing to plan and to the high quality we expect through to managing the team of consultants and ensuring everyone is fit and well and working on rewarding assignments. The third is collaborating with existing and potential customers, understanding their strategic goals and challenges, and agreeing how Entec Si could support them on their journey.

2. What traits make a consulting director?

Leadership is the number one skill, guiding both the client and our team of consultants, keeping commissions on track and ensuring all stakeholders are engaged and motivated. The ability to organise, multi-task and be versatile along with great communication skills and enthusiasm for the role are also vital. We all have passion and enthusiasm for helping clients find their way through business change challenges, and at the end of the day, that’s why we’re here.

3. What’s one of your career highlights?

I’m going back a few years, but I led a programme to implement a system to produce and store invoices electronically. This was revolutionary at the time and delivered significant improvements and benefit for the client. The use snowballed through the organisation and for me was the start of a career focussed on driving continual tangible improvement through process and organisational change.

More recently I had the privilege of leading a 12 month, multi-million pound, transition and transformation programme. This was all encompassing, driving change in the operating model and associated processes and in programme and project delivery, all underpinned by a people and cultural change workstream. It required collaboration, commitment and energy, blood, sweat and tears, but resulted in a hugely successful business transformation which I’ll always be proud to have been a part of.

4. How would you describe Entec Si in a few words?

We’re ‘Agents of change.’ Not only is it accurate, but it sounds great too!

5. What skills would you like to develop during 2022?

I’m turning 50 this year, and as part of the celebrations I have written myself a list of very different challenges I want to complete over the course of the year. I’m looking to complete a 50 mile ultra-marathon but also want to learn how to dry stone a wall! One unusual activity I’ve already completed is an archaeological dig. It was fascinating and I ended up taking part in a second because I enjoyed the first one so much.

6. What song would we find at the top of your ‘work motivation’ playlist?

I’m a big fan of Friends (who isn’t?), so it would be the theme tune, ‘I’ll Be There for You’, by The Rembrandts. Not sure its motivational but it’s how I’d like myself and Entec Si to be perceived.

7. If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be and why?

I love being in the outdoors and have trekked to Everest Base Camp so I’d love to meet Nirmal Purja, also known as Nimsdai. He had a dream to be the fastest man to climb the 14 highest mountains in the world, and he didn’t let anything stop him from doing so. The film and book of his journey are fantastic, highlighting not only his personal achievements but the number of people whose lives he saved on the mountains along the way! Being Nepalese, he also wanted to highlight the unsung role the Nepalese people play in helping others climbing. Nims is a real inspiration to me, embodying the spirit of true resilience.

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Contact us at info@entecsi.com