Eden McCallum was founded just over twenty years ago, offering a new approach in the apparently mature and settled consulting market. It was to be “a consulting firm without any consultants on the payroll”, as one strategy guru described it. This was innovation with a purpose: to make consulting better for both clients and consultants.
The concept was clear: a pool of talented, independent consultants would be deployed to advise clients, free from the organisational burdens, constraints, and fixed costs that are an inevitable part of life in traditional consulting firms. The idea was to offer clients top quality consultancy, but more flexible and tailored, and at a price that represented great value for money; and to offer consultants the ability to focus on what they love most: delivering real impact for clients.
Twenty years later, the firm has a pool of over 2,000 experienced independent consultants, clients that include many of the global Fortune 500 and top private equity firms, and completed projects numbering over 2,500 across all sectors and geographies.
The last twenty years have seen a maturing in people’s perceptions of the Eden McCallum business model. Where once being a “freelance consultant” might have been seen as an interim role, or something inferior to being a full-time employee of a consulting firm, today attitudes are very different. Becoming independent is a serious and sustainable career choice, and is recognised as such. This represents a structural shift. Independent consultants’ own views (and experiences) have also developed considerably.
To test where sentiment now lies, Eden McCallum and London Business School surveyed around 300 independent consultants and 150 employed consultants to ask them about their working life today to compare their attitudes and experiences.
The headline finding is that independent consultants are highly satisfied with their professional lives overall and on key dimensions that are most important to them, particularly when compared to their employed peers. Crucially, a key part of this satisfaction is the knowledge that they are doing better work for their clients, work that is valued and has greater impact.
 Birkinshaw, Julian et al. Making the Firm Flexible, Business Strategy Review, 1 March 2007