Maryliz Ivan

  • Over 30 years’ professional experience
  • Consulting background with Oliver Wyman/Mercer Delta
  • Focus on organisation design, effectiveness, and transformation
  • Led over 20 Eden McCallum teams
  • Recent Eden McCallum clients in financial and professional services, retail, consumer health and media

Successful transition has been a theme for Maryliz since the start of her consulting career.

Originally an accountant, she joined a boutique consulting firm in Toronto that went through a series of mergers and rebrands to become Mercer Delta and eventually Oliver Wyman. When she left the firm, she had transferred with her family from the Toronto office to London, and found herself in a daunting position:

“You’re in a city where you don’t have a huge network, and you want to be a freelance consultant. All of a sudden you’re asking: where are you going to get your business from?”

It was 2009, and Eden McCallum had been talking with Maryliz for several years about working together. In London, as a Principal in the Organisational Change practice, her heavy commuting to clients on the continent was becoming unsustainable, but Maryliz didn’t want to let go of the work she loved. The time had come to make the leap –

“And what Eden McCallum did was to allow me not to worry about that network. And just bring me the projects. All I had to do was deliver great work, and then there would be more.”

The work was more focused and more fulfilling, now that it was all about delivery, rather than client development. This would turn out to be a huge part of the proposition for Maryliz.

“Where I really get my energy is solving the client’s problems. For the most part I’m working to transform organisations, with often complex stakeholder engagement. Actually being on the ground, working with client teams, problem solving and transferring skills: that’s the rewarding part for me.

“In a traditional firm, I would be across 3-4 clients and worried about selling the next piece of work. At Eden McCallum I get to focus entirely on getting great results for the client on this project. That also means that when it’s in the client’s best interest, I’m able to deliver messages they are not going to want to hear.”

Over 15 years, based in her deep expertise in organisational excellence and transformation, Maryliz has led more than 20 Eden McCallum teams, including not only experienced independents but a number of the firm’s in-house analysts.

“The greatest thing about Eden McCallum is the people. You get the most out of my expertise with great leverage, especially working with really bright analysts who think differently than you do. And they are very good at hiring. I don’t think anyone else can replicate this outside the traditional firms. Here, even the most junior analysts… sure, they are clever, but they’ve also got the EQ to be effective in engaging clients.”

“Working with young people who are really smart, have a thirst for learning and are curious is really important for me… And that’s a huge part of the proposition for the analysts too – they get to work with senior people they would have limited exposure to in the big firms. I believe it’s better training.”

In terms of her own development, Maryliz works hard to keep evolving and ensure she is bringing the freshest ideas to the table, both on specific projects and to Eden McCallum more broadly.

“We all do a lot of reading and listening, and collaborate to stay up on and debate the latest thinking. My latest interests focus on on how to leverage new power, designing the firm of the future that throws aside our traditional organisation structures, how best to develop effective ecosystems, and what are the new capabilities firms need but haven’t thought about yet. I don’t miss the politics of the big traditional consulting firm, but I do like to find ways to still be part of a bigger thinking machine.”

Her latest transition is to entrepreneurship, building a new youth-powered business that is tackling drink and needle spiking in the UK. She continues to lead client projects in parallel.

“In my most recent assignment I worked two days a week and I was at every meeting. The team was brilliant at taking direction and doing the work on the ground. It’s incredibly efficient for the client.”

Flexibility and freedom cut both ways, and Maryliz notes she often finds herself choosing to work while on vacation.

“I’d rather do the work than miss out on the project, or the vacation! It’s the ability to choose to do that – or not – that’s what’s great about this way of working.”

And when it comes to making a success of independent consulting, Maryliz’s advice is candid.

“You’ve got to be adaptable, flexible, and deliver good work – and don’t kill people trying to deliver the good work. If you really upset the client or upset a team, you’re not going to be asked back.

If you deliver great value and people like working with you, more work will come, simple as that.”

More consultant perspectives