A Q&A with James Allen: The World of Consultancy

The current climate of uncertainty poses a number of problems for private, public and third sector organisations. Internally, in the news, at Government level there are many conversations about how to communicate and collaborate.

As concepts, communication and collaboration have implications for how individuals and organisations contribute to challenging problems because they underpin how and in what forms different stakeholders engage with each other. Beyond internal, political and public discussions, another way for people to form communication and collaboration is through consultation.

A key figure in the world of consultation is an individual or organisation that can offer specialist and independent advice on specific issues or problems. The advice should:  

  • Improve
  • Refer
  • Gather
  • Analyse
  • Inform
  • Train
  • Develop

I sat down with James Allen, the Director and founder of Counsel Ltd. to talk all things communication and collaboration as a consultant, with a focus on the launch of his new website. In the following conversation I ask James about the specifics of his business, the challenges or benefits of being a consultant, and where next for Counsel.

Q. Hi James, thanks for chatting today. First of all, what is Counsel?

A. We are an ethics based business – we’ll work with people who share our vision of making a real difference to people and communities. I believe that those people sit in all different kinds and types of organisations, working on a massively diverse range of issues and projects. These people sit in all sectors too and we are working with businesses, the public sector, internationally, in sport and in a range of charities. If we can help with building an evidence base, communications, external engagement, strategy or governance then we want to hear from you.

Q. What brought you to Counsel and the world of consultancy?

A. If I’m totally honest, I actually fell into consultancy much earlier in my career – it was actually a fascination with public policy and comms that took me there and I realised that people would pay for good quality advice. I discovered that I really love it – helping to identify problems, building robust, credible solutions and bringing skills, experience and perspectives to partners, organisations and clients that don’t have them.

Q. More broadly then, for you, what is consultancy?

A. For our client base now, for all their diversity there is one thing that they have in common – they all deliver social impact and exist to make things better, albeit in very different ways. Having the opportunity to work with them every day is a real privilege. Put simply, the big difference here is being able to deliver a really bespoke, personalised service and to work more intensively on individual projects and also to work as part of a multi-skilled, interdisciplinary team.

Q. Interesting, and in the first year of Counsel, what has been a learning moment?

A. Probably the toughest thing since starting has been having to say ‘no’ – to both professional and pro bono work where I know we could have made a difference. Being able to say ‘yes’ more often and to make more of a difference is very exciting.

Q. You have recently launched your new website, what has this meant to you?

A. I’m very excited not to have to launch another website any time soon! But seriously, yes I’m really excited about the next few months. I’m so grateful for our clients backing us in our first year and I think we’ve done a good job – which is now allowing us to reach more people, to have more impact and to take on a greater range of projects.

The future for Counsel will be built on sticking to our core values whilst drawing on a wide range of new skills and experience in our expanded team. Like any ambitious business, I want the future to be bigger – more clients, more projects and more impact. More fundamentally than that, the core principle of delivering high quality, bespoke services and remembering that people are at the heart of our success will be our future.

Thanks James, this conversation has been really insightful and offers a lot of food for thought.

For more information and to contact James, please follow the links below:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/counsel-ltd/

Website: https://www.counselltd.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/counsel_ltd


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