Peter Marsden is the joint director and co-founder of Entec Si, a Birmingham-based change consultancy.
Having started out as in IT systems implementations and then moving into IT management, Peter, alongside his business partner Eman Al-Hillawi, established Entec Si to meet a growing demand for support on struggling projects
What do you currently do?
“We’re a consultancy that champions effective business, culture and IT change, across a number of industry sectors. Our people first approach sets us apart from our competitors and helps us to optimise outcomes on complex and high-profile projects, such as the Library of Birmingham and Birmingham Airport.
“The ongoing coronavirus crisis is a catalyst for many organisations to transform the way they operate, for example, by future proofing remote working arrangements. We help our clients to deliver these changes by providing guidance and troubleshooting any issues along the way to ensure that the entire organisation is on board with the change journey.”
What was the inspiration behind your business?
“Entec Si was born from a demand for joined-up business change expertise – a need that we observed was not being met. Many organisations simply lacked the tools and knowledge to identify business pain points and make valuable improvements.
“My first taste of the change consultancy world came in the mid-90s, when a finance software company sought my support in delivering some challenging client projects. This introduction to business and technology change formed the origins of what we do today; working closely with clients to provide valuable, long-lasting business change.
“Around the same time, I met my business partner, Eman Al-Hillawi, and Entec Si started its life.
“We gradually expanded our offering to focus on delivering business change, projects and programmes for a wide range of sectors, from aviation and local government to the not-for-profit industry. We’ve been growing ever since!”
Who do you admire?
“There are two people who I deeply respect; one taught me the importance of lifelong learning and the other inspired my interest in positive change.
“My father, a lifelong teacher, was a brilliant role model who taught me the importance of patience in order to get the best out of people and guide their development.
“As someone who has always had an interest in politics, I’ve also been hugely influenced by the life experience of Nelson Mandela. The challenges he overcame to rebuild a fairer South Africa, but always retaining his humanity, illustrated exactly what a great leader should be.”
Looking back on your career to date, is there anything you would have done differently?
“While I don’t have any real regrets, I would probably have started growing Entec Si earlier and maintained a better work-life balance.
“For many years, myself and my co-director, Eman Al-Hillawi, got great joy from hands-on client delivery, so expanding the business took a back seat for a while. However, in time we learnt that with the right people on board, growing Entec Si wasn’t as hard as we thought and we probably could have taken the plunge sooner.
“Having a great team around you also means that you don’t have to do everything yourself but can play to everyone’s strengths! I’ve always made time for my family but realising this sooner would have helped me to switch off and enjoy more interests outside of work.”
What defines your way of doing business?
“Put simply, it’s our passion for people. At our core, we’re all about close collaboration with our clients. By nurturing dedicated, long-term partnerships and complementing the business’ skillsets, we ensure organisations are supported throughout the project lifecycle and help them to realise real value.
“Our genuine care for what we do and how we do it also means that we’re prepared to go above and beyond to deliver outstanding client outcomes. We always aim to help organisations prepare for the future, allowing them to continue reaping the rewards of transformation long after the project has been delivered. Even today in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, thinking ahead and planning for the future will be critical.”
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
“While it may sound obvious, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what consultancy involves and think carefully about what makes you tick. If you enjoy working closely with people, have a passion for problem-solving and aren’t phased by challenging situations, then this career path may well be for you.
“Of course, the right know-how is also important, so try to get as much experience as you can and don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities. However, it’s important to recognise that you can’t be an expert at everything and to seek the right external support where needed.
“Good grades and qualifications will only take you so far; a ‘can do’ attitude, a willingness to go above and beyond for the client and having a team around you which shares your values will no doubt lead to a successful consultancy career.”