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Becoming a people-centric consulting organization, focusing on execution: Vivek Subramaniam, Above N Beyond

Above N Beyond
The brand believes in the act of balancing between customer success, people success and business metrics

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Becoming a people-centric consulting organization, focusing on execution: Vivek Subramaniam, Above N Beyond

Today, every business is a ‘people’ business. Like Peter Drucker has rightly said – Management is about people. It is not just about having the right people for the right job but also providing the necessary structure and processes to promote optimum performance.

Having spent the greater part of my 21-year career focused on enabling functions and organizations to grow sustainably to the next level, I was always passionate about the magic that the right team and the right structure brings to an organisation.

I started my career on the high seas in the merchant navy. My stint at sea gave me the opportunity to work with diverse workforces of various nationalities. This early part of my career triggered an interest in understanding how, in any given situation, a team can be successful if the right enablers are in place. My next stint was in the technology industry building a software product, and building a new function and team for that organization. I then went on to join a small (we were about 30 people) software and services organization, and as part of the leadership team, grew it to around 1200 people before I left to start out on my own.

During this growth, many a time, we would engage consultants to help us manage the scale. While the advice was good, a lot of it was not easily executable or contextual, and I did not find anyone ready to get their hands dirty to help us make the change on the ground.

My partner (and wife) Hamsa who had worked with a leading consulting firm and done various projects with start-ups echoed a similar thought process.

We reached out to network with various leaders and in our conversations with them, realised that some of the key issues were misalignment, the practice of reacting to situations rather than responding, and people coming up with complicated solutions many a times to show value.

This got us thinking – can we create a space where there was a need for people who would not just give solutions, but help implement those solutions. Solutions that are simple, executable and technology enabled with a strong focus on the ‘humane’ angle. Irrespective of size and maturity of organization, use ‘first principles” of management . This is our mantra.

As a result, Above N Beyond was born. We decided to name our organisation ‘Above N Beyond’ because we believe that by focusing even just 10%, if not more, of their energy towards readiness on the road ahead, organizations can go ‘Above N Beyond’ in what they are trying to accomplish. That is what we are all about.

Consulting is perceived by many as something that is a lot of ‘gyan’ delivered through jargons. We wanted to make a difference, and difference on the ‘ground.’ We wanted to see the needle move at the ground level and make small changes that have a crucial impact.

Execution capability is our big differentiator  

Over three decades ago, Arthur N. Turner wrote a defining piece on consulting titled ‘Consulting is more than giving advice’ in the Harvard Business Review; but every point that he’s made in it rings true even today. Like he rightly pointed out, in most instances, the engagement between the organisation and the consultant “characteristically concludes with a written report or oral presentation that summarizes what the consultant has learned and that recommends in some detail what the client should do.”

But while accurate diagnosis of the issue is certainly important, it is irrelevant unless accompanied by recommendations that are practical and implementable on ground. Also, a consultant’s role in ensuring that implementation does take place is what makes the difference between success and failure. This also happens to be the difficult and unglamorous aspect of consulting – building internal consensus, facilitating client learning and setting processes.

And this is what we decided to embrace. We are heavily focused on execution and making the change on the ground. While problems are similar, solutions are unique to the organizations’ context and culture. Our solutions keep this context along with the business goal in mind.

It’s all about ‘People’  

Having worked closely with a variety of organisations, we’ve found that a majority of growth challenges boil down to these two questions. Firstly, how to enable business scale through attracting, optimizing and retaining talent. Secondly, how to drive high energy, high performance teams by enabling the right organizational architecture.

This is where Above N Beyond comes in. We enable organisations through a range of offerings around talent acquisition processes, defined career progression, compensation and performance management frameworks, competency mapping, leadership development, culture and values etc. to name a few.

Over the past one year, we’ve had the opportunity to engage with organisations – large and small, across verticals such as manufacturing, R&D, consulting and IT. Throughout, our philosophy has been to focus on achieving the right balance between business, people and processes; looking at the big picture but also getting to the root of the issue.

Our ‘hands on’ approach to consulting, with an emphasis on ensuring execution will remain our key focus in the years to come.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication

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