Meet the Team: Martin Smith, Consulting Solutions

Martin Smith leads the Digital, Technology & Business Transformation arm of the Consulting Solutions Practice. He partners with Corporate businesses across a range of sectors and industries regarding digital transformation and leadership challenges, and advises Venture Capital and Private Equity firms on human capital issues within their portfolio companies.  We sat down with Martin to find out a little bit more about the interim landscape as well as what are some of the common challenges his clients are facing.


Tell us a little about your role within the Consulting Solutions team and the types of clients you work with?

I’ve been in the interim and consulting services space for over 10yrs and joined the practice six months ago to help drive Sheffield Haworth’s diversification into new markets. Throughout my career I’ve made a point of working cross-industry, partnering with business leaders in sectors such as utilities, healthcare, retail, professional services, technology, aviation, and introducing them to talent from a high-spec and diverse network – independent consultants that encourage innovation and shift mindsets.

I also work with Private Equity & Venture Capital firms, advising them on human capital issues within their portfolio companies.


What kind of assignments do you usually work on with your clients?

The shape and requirements of a role can vary greatly, but I typically engage with senior business leaders who have been tasked with delivering large-scale transformation programmes.

When dealing with change of significant size and scale there tends to be three workstreams – technology, finance and people – that remain constant, so expertise in things such as digital leadership, cost-alignment and organisational design are in high-demand and key to achieving successful outcomes.


What are some of the challenges your clients are facing?

There are so many different challenges affecting different industries at present. In the Utilities space for example, it is widely acknowledged that the successful companies of the future will be those which are customer-centric and have replaced legacy systems with more nimble, flexible applications that can embrace IoT developments. Across Retail, e-commerce is king and outweighs the physical experience, with new technologies both driving and reinforcing a change in the way we buy things. The list goes on.

In short, if businesses want to survive in this new world they must continually innovate and push boundaries. Standing still will result in them being a casualty.


Tell us about a recent assignment where you successfully placed a candidate/team and how did they have a positive impact on the organisation?

I recently worked with a consultancy who were keen to explore a new digital strategy for one of their clients – a global aerospace and defence business.

There were multiple systems in use across this company, but none of them were ‘talking’ to each other and this was leading to critical data falling through the gaps. The consultancy didn’t have the digital expertise in house to determine the best route forward so, following a briefing session, I provided a heavyweight independent technology leader from my network who had the gravitas required to interface between the consultancy and their client, the capability to provide a scope and diagnostic on current state, and the ability to design and implement an innovative digital strategy that would halt the current data bleed.


How has the interim landscape changed over the last few years?

I think it’s safe to say there has been change since I started working the interim markets in 2008.  With new IR35 legislation due to impact the private sector next year it will change again, but in my eyes the premise and situational need for this type of work remains the same. Yes there has been a slowdown in demand combined with hesitation around decision making owing to the uncertainty caused by the likes of Brexit, but businesses will continue to require the services of those who serve the independent market and it is the responsibility of every business leader out there to consider them part of their toolkit in times of change.

Here at Sheffield Haworth, we work hard to promote the value of independents in the market, with other practice areas in the group such as Business & Professional Services and Gillamor Stephens (a wholly owned CxO-level & Non-Exec Search house working across the Technology landscape) playing active roles in the conversation as well. The challenge for the interims themselves is to remain relevant and to move with the times, whether that be via the re-positioning of their services to deliver a more flexible engagement, or via the way they are compensated, taking on an element of financial risk (or “skin in the game”) based on outcomes.


Outside of work, what are your interests?

I’m a big sports fan so anything involving a ball piques my interest. I love my music (will Oasis at Southend Cliffs Pavilion in 1995 ever be beaten?) and have a passion for travel and food, both eating and cooking it – a consequence I expect of having a dad who was a chef for 30 years!


If you are an organisation undergoing large scale transformation and require some skilled expertise on a short term basis or would like a confidential conversation with Martin about how Sheffield Haworth may be able to help, please email or call Martin on +44 (0)7507 602746.


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