Our purpose is to give New Zealand’s leaders advice on strategy and organisation that they can trust to help them navigate to success. Through our work across different sectors, we aspire to do good for New Zealand by sharing our skills and developing great solutions to the problems that New Zealand organisations cannot resolve on their own. Some days can be challenging, but we love what we do because we make New Zealand a better place.
We believe we’re a great fit for people who want to:
- Work in a values-driven environment to create success for clients
- Work in New Zealand with a focus on locally-based organisations
- Learn about strategy and organisation from a senior team who have been trained by one of the two best global management consulting companies
- Gain experience fast on the job through a wide variety of challenging projects
- Be part of a small and flexible team with significant access to the partners
- Have immediate involvement with clients while tackling issues big and complex enough to alter an organisation’s trajectory
- Gain management skills to accelerate professional growth
- Sustain a better work-life balance than the global companies typically offer, and without the stress of up-or-out processes. Over half our team work flexibly, including remotely and less than full time.
Our consulting roles are all generalist, which allows us to work across a wide range of sectors and industries and to build flexible teams. That said, much of our work centres on strategy and organisational development, and one of the ways we deliver value to our clients is by bringing expertise they may lack.
Our two entry level roles are Analyst and Consultant.
- Analysts are graduates who may join directly from University but can demonstrate some work experiences, e.g. internships.
- Consultants typically have an MBA, other relevant Master’s degree, or significant relevant work experience.
Our more senior roles comprise Project Leaders, Managers and Partners. We generally fill these through progression, but we welcome conversation with candidates who have relevant experience with other top tier consultancies or with deep and relevant specialist skills.
We consider applicants from any discipline and want to build a team with a diversity of backgrounds and interests. At present, our group includes a high school maths teacher, a rocket scientist, a Government minister, and a mathematical psychologist.
Underlying this diversity, however, are common traits that help build successful consulting careers and contribute positively to our culture. We look for people who:
- Share our values. Values alignment matters to us because we are still small enough that everyone we hire influences our culture
- Wonder how things work and pursue knowledge for its own sake in their own time
- Are competent and confident with numbers and with finding and analysing data in order to reach the ‘so-what’
- Have track records of success, in academia and beyond
- Can demonstrate the necessary drive to lead and deliver change, whether in business or society
- Can imagine innovative ways to do things differently, and can apply that creativity to each stage of the consulting process, from identifying the right issues to address, through to finding the optimum solution and conveying it effectively to the client
- Are comfortable with robust debate and challenge
- Are team players who co-operate with, support and build their colleagues and client team members
- Are humble yet confident enough to lead clients and colleagues through their analysis, thinking and recommendations for change
- Show resilience under conditions of high ambiguity and uncertainty
- Are congenial and interesting enough to be other consultants’ dinner time companions night after night in a remote location (the famous “three weeks in Tokoroa” test).
To ensure that our clients can expect resolution to any tough problem from user-friendly consultants, we only recruit humble, affable people who are very smart. We look for shared values because the intensity we work at, often in situations of high ambiguity, requires a shared ethical compass. Our values are real to us: we actively discuss them and we hold each other accountable if we perceive a value to be in danger of compromise.
We judge our success by that of our clients. Though we routinely generate slide packs and reports, we gauge our impact by real world results. We know that we are only as good as our last engagement, so we work hard to deliver the highest quality outcomes for clients.
We often face unfamiliar challenges and ambiguous data, but strive to develop fresh insights and new perspectives based on logic and evidence rather than instinct and opinion. Our process seeks data that is relevant – and often hard to find – and closely follows the scientific method by developing testable hypotheses. If new information or a new idea throws different light on an issue, we are ready to change our approach and minds, regardless of whether the source is a new recruit or an industry veteran. Only when we reach the limits to data and analysis do we turn to judgement that is based on many years of experience (both ours and our clients’).
We care about finding the right answer. Internally, that means we expect and encourage challenge and disagreement if views diverge – noting the disagreements are around facts, implications and options, rather than anything personal. Externally, that means we care enough about finding the best outcome for the client that we will tell them what they may not want to hear – noting we always work hard to bring the client on a shared journey to a set of findings. Lastly, we don’t rubber stamp anything.
Do the right thing
We see behaving in ways that build trust – trust in our firm, in our ability to deliver, in each other – as crucial to our success. Key tenets that help build that trust are that we preserve client confidentiality; do not misrepresent ourselves when seeking information; consider how our actions would look on the front page of the national newspaper; rely on each other to deliver; make it easy to raise ethical concerns; and make it OK to ask for help.
We don’t assume we know best or everything. We listen in order to learn, and we’re not afraid to admit we don’t know something. This is because while we have extensive experience in many areas, we are external generalists given the privilege and responsibility of diving deeply into specialist fields.
Both in our own firm and with clients, we respect individuals and their talents and contributions, regardless of their position, tenure or status. We strive to deal with everyone in an open way and to be transparent in our decision making processes. Our aspiration is to make Stakeholder Strategies a place where people can bring their whole selves to work, and where they feel there is a valued place for them, regardless of origin, belief, orientation or lifestage.
We always work in teams. These are typically 3 to 5 people, always including a partner and often including client team members too. Senior staff are always available to provide feedback and test ideas because we know that collaboration and iteration are key to our process and to client success.
Project type and duration
Our projects cover a wide range of topics and industry sectors. The length can vary from a couple of weeks for a diagnostic to a year and more for a significant transformation. For shorter projects, you can expect to be involved in a project from start to finish, which will help you see how the components come together.
Issue- and data-driven
The issues clients ask us to help them with are usually complex, and we’re not always familiar with the industry or sector when we start out. We deal with the former by taking an approach that’s hypothesis and data driven. We use issue-driven work plans to guide our thinking and keep our analysis efficient and effective. We deal with the latter by being fast learners and pattern-recognisers.
No two the same
Our approach is customised – we don’t do ‘off the shelf’ and we don’t have ready-made templates waiting to be redeployed on each new client. Instead, we tailor our teams and process to the new engagement, while drawing on past experience and patterns seen elsewhere to create hypotheses about what might be going on.
Analysts are integral members of our consulting teams. Under the guidance of more experienced staff, they own discrete pieces of analysis that are essential to building understanding of the client’s issue and thus to the overall delivery of the project.
Analysts communicate their findings to the team and participate actively in team discussions to create fresh insights. This is where they demonstrate their skills in alternating between conceptual what-if thinking and practical implications
There is no “average” week for an Analyst, and for most of us, that lack of routine is one of the joys of the job. It is also why time management and self-management are valuable skills. A sample of a week’s activities for this role could easily include:
- Seeking necessary data for a piece of yield analysis, the Analyst met a reluctant gatekeeper at the client. Challenged to explain the data’s value, he improvised, and received a data sample for one category
- Cleaned the data and produced a trend to show product yield changes
- Shared this with the gatekeeper to demonstrate its usefulness; secured the balance of the data
- Scrambled to process the new data in time to share at the weekly case team meeting
- Began the next task of setting up interviews with selected client retail branches to explore factors underlying the yield changes, as part of wider remit of topics.
From Day One, Consultants are expected to take significant responsibility on a project. Supported and guided by our senior team members, they lead project modules. Consultants provide both thought leadership at the conceptual level and analytical horsepower at the granular level. They play a greater role than our Analysts in client leadership and management, occasionally needing to guide client managers through unfamiliar and high-stakes territory. Consultants are sometimes supported by Analysts and/or client team members, but more often have sole charge of their module without the responsibility of overseeing others’ work.
As for Analysts, every week in a Consultant’s life is different, too. Working across more than one project at once makes skills in managing time, oneself, and upwards particularly valuable. A sample week for a Consultant working across two projects could include:
- Reviewing and adjusting a complex financial model evaluating an investment decision in light of new information gathered in market place interviews
- Later, presenting to her project team about emerging conclusions from this model
- On the second project, attending the client’s Board meeting with the Consultant presenting on an aspect of the new organisation design she had developed, and fielding questions
- Beginning to draft a firm ‘101’ training presentation on a strategic issue she had recently developed expertise in.
A standard application for a position as an Analyst or Consultant with our firm typically includes:
- A cover letter
- A CV
- An academic transcript from your most recent degree.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What role to apply for
A quick guide to help you judge is as follows:
- Straight out of University, with an internship or two under your belt? Analyst.
- A few years of real-world experience? Senior Analyst.
- An MBA or relevant Masters’ degree and 3+ years of work experience? Consultant.
While we’re not always looking for new staff, we are happy – with permission – to keep CVs on our files. If you would find it helpful to talk to someone before deciding whether to apply, please contact us in the first instance through the email address above. Agencies should not call, however.
What’s the culture like at Stakeholder Strategies?
- First and foremost, it’s supportive. We are happy to pause in whatever we’re working on to help a colleague with a question, and we know we can rely on ‘brain-borrowing’ in return. One of our mantras is if in doubt, ask and we do so regularly, at all levels of the firm.
- Next, there is an egalitarian feel to how we work. Team meetings are discussions among equals where good ideas are welcomed regardless of the seniority of their source, and everyone expects to have to bring data and logic to support assertions. We also strive to treat all our employees essentially the same, with, for example, no tiering of travel class or accommodation.
- Lastly, the office conversations are…eclectic. That’s what happens when people with strong curiosity drives have a few spare minutes to wonder ‘why’, and ‘what if’, and to riff on how to fit new ideas into old frameworks. Sometimes these ideas are highbrow, but often we’re just playing around.
I don’t have a business degree, does that matter?
- No, but you should know the basics of how business works, be actively interested in it, and have a willingness to learn more.
- It would be helpful to arrive knowing some micro-economics too: marginal versus average costing; cost curves, price elasticity, economies of scale and scope; and the basic types of industry structure
- That said, we recognise the importance of training and we can provide inhouse and external training to support development and fill skill gaps.
How good does my maths and spreadsheeting have to be?
- You need mental arithmetic skills and familiarity with key ratios (12.5% = 1/8 etc) to run through a scenario that scopes the scale of a change, or to run quick cross checks on the reasonableness of a number
- With Excel, you should be able to handle filters and pivot tables; V and H Lookups; basic functions (eg IF, IFERROR, COUNTA etc).
Do I get to choose what projects I work on?
You will not normally have an opportunity to choose. Project teams are formed based on availability and fit. Fit reflects the project’s need for a particular seniority and/or skills set, but – and this is important – also an individual’s development needs.
What do you wish you knew before you started working in this field that you know now?
Managing expectations and managing up are key skills for analysts and consultants that will enable/disable your performance and make/break your work-life-balance. “Managing expectations” means providing your project team colleagues with regular updates, to avoid surprises and be able to call for help when it’s needed. “Managing up” means managing your more senior colleagues to ensure they are supporting you as needed, are aware of what they need to be doing for the project, and do it when you need them to. Both come with time and can be improved fast with a few tools and tricks.
Does ShS offer intern roles?
Not so far, but we continue to consider how we could make these work.
As an analyst will I be shut away in a room to work on numbers all day?
We want you to grow, so will stretch you to engage directly with clients. Essentially, the role is about finding answers to difficult questions that come in two main flavours:
- Qualitative, such as “what are the growth opportunities in Region X, and how should we consider them?”
- Quantitative, such as “how many local jobs are each of the eastern Bay of Plenty opportunities likely to create?”
- A mix of the above, such as “what are our customers’ key decision factors?” (which might include interviews to determine what they could be, surveying and data analysis to determine which are most important.)
Sometimes the work will be in the public sector where the quantitative analysis is more economic, and other times it will be in the commercial sector where it is more financial.The mix between qualitative and quantitative analysis varies greatly between projects or even between modules within a project. All up, a 50-50 split between quantitative and qualitative analysis would be a reasonable average.
How much will I earn?
- We pay competitive rates, aligned to roles. We also run a staff bonus scheme based on personal and firm performance.