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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The highly demanding field of management consulting

How can this emerging field in Bangladesh make companies roar?
Naiian Yazdani n
Bangladesh was about to play Afghanistan in the first game of the T20 World Cup and my phone kept buzzing away with whatsapp group messages tainted with excitement and anxiety. Not one of us doubts the talent of our beloved team but we fear they may underperform resulting in a range of emotions in our discussion. Our adda is most likely a representative sample. Tamim has nothing apart from a positive outlook, Rana and Ashfaq like to rationalise shortfalls by delving into off field issues and Prosha muscles up to berate the tigers when they falter. The final consensus reached by the group is that Bangladesh has unfulfilled potential. Our cricket team can be seen as a microcosm for many industries in Bangladesh which have the potential to have a global impact. The question that remains for both the national team and the country is how to identify and cultivate resources to ensure maximum output. The sporting arena traditionally turns to coaches and academies whereas the corporate world turns to management consultants. Management consultants have had a role in shaping the brands surrounding us from the phone in our pocket to the plane we fly on. The industry title itself is revealing: these consultants arrive at organisations to work with management to solve business problems. The diversity of these problems means amongst consultants there are specialisations such as human resources, technology, finance, strategy and operations. So, what do they do? Well, there are two ways of improving the bottom line either increasing revenue or reducing costs, and a consultant works toward these targets by dealing with the impediments. For example a consultant may uti-


lise the data available to identify inefficiencies such as a job function which can be performed by one person rather than two, thereby eliminating the need for an additional labour cost. The breadth and depth of knowledge and intellect of consultants mean they are qualified to see things that others cannot and make decisions objectively in the interest of the organisation. The knowledge is derived from the tried and tested methodologies, diversity of experience in previous roles and the vast network of resources which the firms can access. This industry has some of the best and brightest minds. The top tier strategy consulting firms such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG), McKinsey and Bain are highly selective in whom they recruit. The process itself is gruelling with case studies and analyses designed to push an individual to the limits of their ability. This can be seen as a brutal form of

Management consulting may just be the guide to put Bangladesh among the elite
intellectual natural selection. Furthermore, these arent just normal candidates; while the entry points may vary based on previous experience and specialisation, many come from the top MBA schools such as Harvard and Stanford. The people that have come out of these consultancies leave a global imprint. Usually I would list a few examples but I cant do it justice. Take the opportunity to go to the notable alumni section of the three aforementioned

firms Wikipedia page to see the mind blowing list yourself. While there are specialised consultancies in Bangladesh, the top consultancies are currently absent in Bangladesh. This hardly means there are no top tier Bangladeshi consultants, as the Bangladeshi diaspora has a web across most nations, and there are many within it that are in the industry. However, an injection of the top firms can play a key role in the future of Bangladesh as they have in India and China over the last 20 years. As Bangladesh begins to infuse itself into the global economy, it will require industries to be up to speed with best practice methodologies, operations and talent to compete. For example, Bangladesh has a large pharmaceutical industry lead by Square and Beximco and multinationals such as Sanofi and Novartis have taken notice and commenced production. Con-

sultants can implement strategies to increase the size and scale of production or to reduce costs while maintaining the quality required for certification to attract production away from competitors. Conversely, as domestic consumption grows within Bangladesh many companies will look to drop their product into a country of 150 million people. Lets take the success of Gloria Jeans for example. Firstly, it may make competitors, such as Starbucks, look up and see a potential coffee market and secondly it tells other global companies that Bangladeshis are ready and willing to spend money when they see value. In this scenario consultants can identify the potential benefits of operating in Bangladesh and navigate management through any pitfalls. Bangladesh will need to embrace consultants if they are to penetrate this market. The major drawback is the cost; these bright people and their world of knowledge do not come cheap. The

organisations which may potentially engage top tier consultants will need to see the value in their service. This requires knowledge regarding the function of consultants and, in a country without that culture, it stands out as an obstacle. Management consulting has proven, across many countries and industries, that it can help organisations fulfil their potential. The ingenuity and the resources available in Bangladesh make it ripe to make an impression on the global economy. It is time to move on from the qualifying tournament and management consulting may just be the guide to put Bangladesh among the elite. l Naiian Yazdani is the director of strategy at GradConnect, an international career information and advisory firm. You can email him at and find more career information at and

The people we want to work with

Rushdina Khan n
It always feels good and rewarding to be around charmers. They can really keep an audience entertained with their bag of tricks, that is, their charisma. This charisma includes a variety of emotional expressions and an expert proficiency at paying compliments. They talk a lot and are very confident about what they are presenting. But what we often do not know is that they have the ability to camouflage deception. Their charisma usually envelops what is underneath. Speaking from multiple real world examples, oftentimes it is the most extremely charismatic businessmen who turn out to be some of the biggest investment frauds and conmen. Enveloped by the wonders of a charmer however, we often fail to acknowledge the positive qualities that they employ to bridge relationships between people and eventually draw their attention, which we are about to discuss in this article. person gets about speaking when they find a good listener? Most of us love to share our experiences with others, and it is most gratifying to find the one who listens well and responds accordingly. One may have noticed not just at the workplace but any social setting that two or more people are constantly vying for the attention of this particular person who happens to listen well. This is definitely telling us something. It is these people who we like to confide to at our most trying moments and seek sympathy from, and eventually, advices from. A good audience can easily gain our trust. A person with a good set of ears and the willingness to lend them to others is in a unique position with a very powerful tool. Not being at the same wavelength as your listener is a sure way to burn bridges. But the kind of person everybody likes to work with will tune to the same station as us, not necessarily by agreeing with everything but by attempting to understand where everybody else is coming from. The one who knows what interests his listeners the most and does the talking accordingly is definitely a wise individual. It is these individuals who win what they want with a flying start. But it is not a very difficult thing to do. if you can develop a conversation on a topic that your boss loves talking about, which is basically putting him at ease, and then proposing your idea. This will give you a better possibility of winning the pitch.

WOrds Of wisdOm

Whats the body telling you?

It is usually the eye contact and some other positive gestures such as, nodding head, relaxed facial expression and open body language that tell us that people are enjoying what we are saying. When the listeners try to speak in between, it is important to allow them the space and time to speak. This will encourage them to interact with us more. We feel secured being around people who can support us morally. It is their empathy and encouragement that adds to our drive at work. Finally, a good professional friend is not only expected to advise us regarding what has to be done, but also to enjoy and appreciate what has been done. Be who you would want your colleagues to be. l Rushdina Khan is a training consultant

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Timing is everything
Now, what I find to be important information may not be what people enjoy hearing? It is undoubtedly necessary to present the correct information when it is of high importance no matter how colleagues are likely to take it; nevertheless, it is also necessary to present the information at the right time. Information should be brought in judging the situation and the mindset of the receiver. For example, if you want an approval from your boss on a particular project or proposal, it helps

Empathise, dont just sympathise

Did you ever pitch an idea or present a plan and found people opposing you or arguing back? Of course you have, as have everybody else. Such cues tell us about the listeners preferences. It is important to look for such cues and decide what your listener does not like to hear.

Negotiating with all the right words

Career Desk n
Amplify - expand; give more information Arbitration - conflict that is addressed by using a neutral third party about prices) High-ball - make a request that is much higher than you expect to receive Impulse - quick decision without thought or time Indecisive - has difficulty choosing/making a decision Leverage - (bargaining power) something that gives one party a greater chance at succeeding over another Log-rolling - trading one favour for another Low-ball - offer something much lower than you think the opponent will ask for Pressure - work hard to convince another of an idea Proposal - argument to present Receptive - open to/interested in an idea Resentment - anger held onto from a previous conflict Resistance - a display of opposition Resolve - end conflict, come to an agreement Tactics - strategies used to get ones goals met Trade-off - terms that are offered in return for something else Ultimatum - a final term that has serious consequences if not met Yield - to give in to anothers requests

Put your money where your ear is

Did you ever notice how enthusiastic a

We feel secure being around people who can support us morally


Bottom-line - the lowest one is willing to go Compensate - make up for a loss Comply - agree Compromise - changing ones mind/terms slightly in order to find a resolution Concession - a thing that is granted or accepted Conflict resolution - general term for negotiations Consensus - agreement by all Counter proposal - the offer/request which is presented second in response to the first proposal Counterattack - present other side of an issue Counterpart - person on the other side of the negotiations Deadlock - point where neither party will give in Dispute - argument/conflict Flexible - open/willing to change Haggling - arguing back and forth (often