Brent Meyers, MBA '94, president and CEO, Manex Consulting
Comprehensive Consulting: Crafting powerful and profitable solutions
"I still get a rush identifying opportunities and then crafting a creative approach to seizing upon them, whether the opportunity is for a client or for our company," Meyers says. It's the order-out-of-chaos thing. Understanding a competitive landscape, filtering the white noise, seeing the opportunity, and then developing the strategy is what I really love to do."
As CEO, Meyers is responsible for the direction of the company, its work with clients, partners, and shareholders, as well as its overall performance. "Since we've built out our team over the years, I have the benefit of others actively managing day-to-day activities and, while I'm obviously still involved in business development, some client engagements, and some of our partnerships and alliances, I tend to focus on the future rather than the present," Meyers says.
Meyers joined Manex five years ago, when it was a turnaround. "Initially, it was extraordinarily difficult with very little cash to invest and really was a one-shot deal. What we are today was a total reinvention and bootstrapping. I think because of that, there's a really strong emotional attachment to who we are, what we do, and how we do it," he says.
While at Manex, Meyers has made an effort to distinguish it from other consulting firms by developing a comprehensive, six-step approach to improving clients' business performance: Understand, Envision, Assess, Design, Implement, and Measure.
Although many consulting firms use a comparable process with their clients, many fail to implement and measure changes that really take hold. "Actually implementing the solutions (vs. just recommending them), transferring knowledge to the business (vs. doing it for them and walking away), and measuring the financial impact (vs. estimating it, if that) are elements that differentiate our approach," says Meyers.
"Perhaps the most meaningful part of our approach, although subtle, is that we often will start with a blank slate, and intentionally take a step back from 'what it is now' and instead look to understand the market environment (from a macro and micro perspective), envision the ideal positioning and business model in the context of that (irrespective of a business' current position and model), and then figure out how a client should get to where they need to or want to be," continues Meyers. " I've always found this provides significantly more powerful and profitable improvements that are sources of competitive advantage rather than incremental improvements. It's the difference between business performance that is an order of magnitude better than it was versus incremental improvements that build upon what already is."
This model enables Manex to help client companies varying in size from small to large, and ranging across industries from aerospace to pharmaceuticals. This diversity, in turn, offers "an interesting and ever-changing mix that provides the variety in context, challenge, and solution development that good consultants seek," says Meyers.
Becoming a good consultant, according to Meyers, is a bit like becoming a doctor. "You need to be confident and skilled, but also willing to listen and learn." Like doctors, you need to recognize that not everyone will take your advice, even if it is sage -- and expensive. All you can do is provide what you believe is the best advice and, failing that, craft a new, workable solution that fits as best it can given the circumstances."
The ability to craft an effective compromise, while not always easy, is an essential quality for a consultant. "Blue sky ideas don't work for everyone," Meyers says, "so sometimes the best ideas are the ones that are incremental and get people or companies at least pointed in the right direction, if not all the way there right out of the gate."