How do Professional Services firms future proof old-economy models in the age of technology?
After 50 years in business, Geoff Slade, a stalwart of the Australian talent industry is now looking at different ways to ensure his businesses are still thriving in 2050.
“Of course technology and SaaS is important but ‘collaboration’ is the key,’’ he says.
“After being a sole proprietor for nearly five decades, I stepped carefully into a new way of thinking (for me), and now three of my four businesses have equity partners and we’re seeing the growth and stability that comes from this model.”
It was only five years ago that Slade ventured into his first partnership, building a new business, with his then Director of Research, Julian Doherty. That business partnership named Yellow Folder now works with many in the ASX 200, as a research-based management consultancy that delivers corporate knowledge advantage. The team of eight highly educated researchers, (and mostly under the age of 40 years) are experimenting with new ways of working, including moving to flexible work weeks and premises at WeWork.
Most recently, Chris Cheesman, the GM of Slade Group, has been made an equity partner in the executive and specialist recruitment business. This was a hard step for Geoff Slade, as the business has had his name on the door, and his name alone, for five decades. But as he says, he looked around at the recent RCSA Awards dinner and realised, “It’s a young person’s game.” He expects the equity move will open up opportunities for other high performers in the future.
And TRANSEARCH, both a global and local partnership in Executive Search, now has four equity partners in Australia. In 2015 Geoff Slade identified that the Executive Search landscape was missing an assessment tool or process that could untangle the knotty issue of culture fit at a senior executive level. He chased down Canadian Organisational Psychologist Dr John Burdett and Orxestra©, who had developed the tools to provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership, and team ‘fit’. In a global alliance with TRANSEARCH International and with Bill Sakellaris as the principal co-partner, TRANSEARCH was launched in Melbourne. This partnership with a team of seven (all over the age of 40) now works on international and national appointments.
Geoff Slade believes his collaborative approach means his businesses are future proofing, right-sizing, focused and structured for the immediate future. From captain to fellow crewman takes some changes, but the collaboration is paying off.