Gemma shares her story about life at Gate One
After several years of not feeling completely fulfilled at a big four consultancy, I was struggling to put my finger on what was wrong. I was enjoying the client work, and ploughing through the internal extras that I signed up to, but something seemed to be missing.
Then, one day, I met someone from a specialist consultancy called Gate One.
His enthusiasm and passion for his company and his team was something I had never experienced before. It was infectious, and I immediately wanted to find out more. A couple of interviews and a three-month notice period later, I was in. Now, 18 months after that first conversation I’m reflecting on what makes Gate One different to other consultancies and why I love working here.
For me, it boils down to three things that mean we have the edge over ‘just another consultancy’, and why I would encourage others to consider Gate One for the next step of their consulting career.
1. We really do want what’s best for our clients
Every consultancy says it, but here at Gate One we actually mean it. I’ve been in discussions where we’ve talked about how we could finish a project early as it’s ready to hand over to business as usual before the expected finish date – even though it might mean less fees for us.
We look to put the best people on every job, rather than shoe-horning in whoever is available. Our large network of experienced associates helps with this, and gives our clients the best value for their money.
We’re not afraid to challenge our clients, when appropriate, and coach them along the way. In fact, part of our ripple effect is that we aim to leave lasting change within an organisation by working hand in hand with our clients, not in a consultancy group silo.
This integrity allows us to work alongside our client teams knowing that we’re there to support them through whatever complexities they’re dealing with.
2. Everyone gets involved in building the business
With a small team, there’s an opportunity for everyone to pitch in with the day-to-day building and running of the business. Unlike with many larger companies, you don’t have to do this to tick a box at appraisal time – but you’ll probably find yourself wanting to get involved. We don’t have a dedicated training department, events team or CSR unit. Everyone can bring their ideas to the table and take responsibility for setting up or running a part of the business.
The huge benefit of this is that we can design parts of the business around what actually works for us, rather than a team in head office telling us what a knowledge management system should look like or what training they think we need. If there’s something we’re passionate about, we’re able to join the team and get involved in shaping it. I recently led the team planning one of our away days – trawling venues, planning workshop sessions and testing my creativity to the max. It’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to do before and I learnt as I went along, which was both terrifying and immensely satisfying.
Another way to get involved in building a business, from just an idea up, is with our Incubator. Whether it’s someone’s own genius start up idea, or whether we find ourselves enthused by someone else’s pitch, there are opportunities from idea generation to securing funding to designing and launching a new business.
3. The culture isn’t just something we talk about – we feel it every day
At the awards dinner at our annual GateAway in Austria last year, I looked around the room and honestly felt like I couldn’t believe my luck to be working with such an awesome bunch of people. We were in the middle of a challenging but inspiring two day workshop planning the next few years of the business; we were all in Austrian-themed fancy dress in a castle somewhere near Vienna; and we had just had the annual awards where we celebrate all manner of successes.
It’s hard to articulate what really makes the culture that we have at Gate One, but I will try: I have never had such a fantastic group of intelligent, entrepreneurial, fun and supportive people to work with. People who make time for you. People who encourage each other. People who can have difficult conversations when they have to. People who love to have fun. People who want to continuously learn and develop. People who really believe in doing a good job for their clients.
Take the leap!
It was a big step for me to leave the comfort and security of a big consultancy after nine years, but I can confidently say it is the best career decision I have made. It’s a great opportunity to be involved in building a business, working with fantastic colleagues and really knowing that we’re doing the best for our clients.