Inside Business: The consultants are ready to take advice

Roger Trapp looks at the contrast in styles between PA's two leaders

IT IS an old adage that organisations are run either by cost-cutters or managers wedded to growth. Generally, one gives way to the other, depending on the stage in the business's cycle. But PA Consulting has come up with the interesting idea of running the two in tandem.

For the past few weeks Jon Moynihan, the chairman, has been assisted in running the 2,500-strong organisation by Jeremy Asher, a 39-year-old MBA who joined as chief executive after spells in consulting, trading oil products and finally acquiring and revitalising a former Mobil oil refinery in Germany.

The firm, which was in some trouble several years ago when it appointed Mr Moynihan to the then combined role of chairman and chief executive, sees the arrangement as a way of building on the financial soundness he has instilled.

According to Mr Moynihan, "the building blocks for our continued success are now in place. Given the performance, size and global reach of PA, we needed to strengthen our senior management team. This will be achieved by splitting the role of CEO and chairman."

In selecting Mr Asher, the firm seems to have gone deliberately for a contrast in styles. Where Mr Moynihan is something of a snappy can-do manager whose reputation is largely based on linking the in-vogue concept of shareholder value to executive remuneration, Mr Asher exudes a calmer, more strategic approach.

By applying his enthusiasm for using value creation as the basis for incentives to the firm, Mr Moynihan is credited not only with returning the organisation to financial health but refocusing it away from geographic lines towards a "more integrated, market-facing organisation based on global industries and services".

Given that the firm is broadly based enough to include an executive development centre and a product development arm alongside the usual consultancy specialisms, that has been quite a challenge.

In Mr Moynihan's view one of the keys to succeeding in this area has been to align the interests of everybody in the firm, so that the potentially differentiating skills provided by the Sundridge Park Management Centre or Cambridge Consultants, say, can be brought to bear on clients of other parts of the firm.

Achieving this meant altering the ownership structure. It also led to Mr Moynihan tendering his resignation at the end of last year after problems arose during discussions with the then majority shareholder, the Butten Trust, about reforming the structure to give all employees, rather than just senior executives, a share in the profits. With those difficulties now resolved, Mr Moynihan has agreed to remain in place alongside Mr Asher.

Although the firm emphasises that Mr Asher's last role in turning around an oil operation, on top of his past consulting work with what is now Mercer Management Consulting, makes him an "action-oriented executive" who will focus on driving the business forward through the key areas of management, information and technology consultancy, it is clear that his key contribution will be as a thinker.

As executive chairman Mr Moynihan will focus on governance issues, long- term vision and strategy, but he says he will be looking to his new colleague to "provide us with new insights into how we can continue to grow the organisation and build on our already strong reputation in the market".

Mr Asher is starting off by taking a detailed look at the whole business, but he has already been struck by PA's success in introducing share ownership and a stake in the bonus pool for everybody in the organisation, and points out that as a result PA is assisting several other professional services firms with these issues.

He also professes himself impressed by the breadth of the firm's operations. And while conscious that it is possible to be too broadly based, he sees real benefit in being able to draw on all that expertise. PA can add "tremendous amounts of value" and, accordingly, solve problems that others cannot, he says.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all