- 30+ years’ professional experience
- Former Vice President (Partner level) with Mac Group/Gemini Consulting
- Deep strategy development and implementation expertise in property, hospitality, retail and leisure
- Led over 25 Eden McCallum projects
- Multiple NED roles
Aimée has been leading Eden McCallum client work since the firm’s earliest days.
When Eden McCallum launched, Aimée had left the Mac Group, where she had spent most of her career since INSEAD and helped steer the firm through its integration into Gemini and Cap Gemini. Aimée loved the work –
“It was all really interesting and we did challenging projects, mostly transformation before anyone else was doing it. And I was swept up in all that growth.”
The same week she was made Vice President, Aimée had her first child. Returning to work 4 days a week resulted in really working more like 6. With her second child she tried 3.5 days, and the same thing happened.
“Eventually, the effort required to really help grow the business and me needing to work more flexibly and spend more time with the children made it not feasible. After 12 years, it was very sad, but I left.”
She had left without a plan in place, but almost immediately was asked to support a former client in preparing and facilitating a strategy awayday. That client was Thomson/TUI and it was the beginning of a successful 4 years supporting them on a series of issues. And it was rewarding in new ways –
“Being involved in a longer consulting relationship, you could see the things you were working on turn into reality, how to figure out the right incentives and plans to put in place, the right programmes to course correct when they needed to. It was at a time of lots of change in the industry – with Easyjet entering the market, hotel booking platforms coming onstream, and the internet, and obviously that totally changed the nature of the package holiday. So that very interesting work was my beginning as an independent consultant.”
The timing coincided with the launch of Eden McCallum – Aimée had known founders Dena and Liann from INSEAD. As soon as her work at Thomson/TUI came to an end, Aimée started work with Eden McCallum for a property client – another strategy day that became a long and successful client relationship.
“I ended up doing several projects for them over several years and with 3 different CEOs, from strategy through some knotty change management. It was great over that span of time to see them through the gradual change.”
This, along with a series of other Eden McCallum engagements, led to a growing specialism in the property industry to add to Aimée’s portfolio of expertise. That has developed beyond an industry specialism to a functional one, and a helpful perspective on other types of client and issue –
“The beautiful thing about property is that just about every business has a property aspect to it – you may be a retailer with shops, or a hotelier… the common thread is the utilisation of an asset, and whether you are the landlord or an operating company working in that bit of the built environment, there are common issues. Core to all of them is a fixed asset you commit to in advance and have to yield manage.”
Today, a typical Eden McCallum engagement for Aimée involves her leading a team of senior consultants or advising as an expert.
“Eden McCallum’s projects give me great leverage… When you have a really experienced team – and Eden McCallum is very good at putting the right people together – you make things happen more quickly. We’re more hypothesis driven than ‘boil the ocean’.”
And her greatest satisfaction continues to be seeing real change happen for her clients.
“The Eden McCallum work has the same focus on embedding and working collaboratively with the client as we had at Gemini. I call it collaborative strategy development. When people are part of the problem-solving they naturally own what comes out of it. And you come up with something more bought into but also more practical, because you involved the people who really know what it’s like.
When I first left Insead I got an offer from [one of the traditional firms] and I met a few people to hear about what they liked about working there. It really put me off because I met two people who both said, ‘what I most love about this job is taking the client’s data and proving that they were wrong and we were right.’ That’s not my way of working.
An equation for the effectiveness of your consulting engagement equals the quality of the answer times the acceptability of the answer. When you have best answer and nobody wants to do it, your impact is zero. If you compromise a bit on the perfect answer and build higher acceptance then obviously you get a much a higher number. To me, that’s fundamental. ”
She has now been leading successful Eden McCallum projects for over a decade. For others at Partner level who may be considering independent consulting, Aimée notes –
“When you come with a brand name like Eden McCallum you have a different impact than if you’re working solo. Especially with a newer client, being part of a bigger professional group is really helpful, because you achieve more with more people, and the brand brings an expectation for the CEO that this is an investment and they need to sit up, and get involved, and be part of the change.”
She also cites the importance of really knowing what motivates you:
“For me, the best thing about this is the ability to stay actively engaged in really interesting issues, working with and learning from great people, and making a difference to them personally or to their organisations – and that is hugely satisfying to me.”