- ~15 years’ professional experience
- Consulting background with LEK
- Industry experience in retail, digital and media
- Deep expertise in operations strategy, financial modelling and analysis
- Recently worked with Eden McCallum clients in education, logistics, construction and private equity
Sajni had established a strong career in industry before becoming an independent consultant.
Since starting out at LEK, she had worked at Virgin Media as a commercial manager responsible for pricing & promotions, and gone on to build a Sainsbury’s Online click and collect service as Operations Product Manager. Most recently she had been leading operations, with mobile insurance player Squaretrade and fashion technology startup Metail.
Still, Sajni found herself missing the cut and thrust of projects:
“I always loved the strategic work, and it was that first part of the project I longed to do, the figuring out the solution – once things moved into steady state and it was about turning the wheel, it was less interesting for me.”
But going back to conventional consulting was not an option.
“I loved the variety in consulting, of course, but I wanted more flexibility. And I got it.”
In the buildup to going independent, Sajni was careful to maximise her chances of getting good work:
“I reached out to practically everyone I had ever met! My first project immediately reminded me of why I loved consulting so much. Seven years on, I haven’t looked back.”
When her first Eden McCallum project came along, it was right in her sweet spot, if at not quite the right time: Sajni’s first son was just two months old.
“Eden McCallum enabled me to come back to working life as a new mother. I didn’t want to go back just yet, but I so wanted to do this project. It was a perfect fit with what I had done before in my industry roles, and it was a business and an issue I was really interested in. I told them, I can come back, but here’s what I need. And we made it work.”
So, long before the pandemic, Sajni found herself making hybrid working a success, and she loved the project.
“It felt incredibly empowering to be able to work like that as a mother. You can really tell it’s a firm that is female founded. There is such understanding and such trust.”
These days Sajni takes on fully intensive projects: being independent enables her to throw herself into her client work, and space out assignments, making the most of the flexibility she has built.
“One of the best things about this is that when you’re working on a project you can lean in fully, knowing that in a few weeks you’ll be able to lean back in for your children.”
And during those intense projects, strong connections are forged with client and consultant teams, which Sanjni describes as the most fulfilling aspect of her independent career.
“I feel I build really strong connections with my clients, stronger than before I was independent. Even with Eden McCallum I don’t feel as I did when under the strong banner of a traditional consulting firm. There is somehow more freedom to be yourself, and you build better relationships as a result.”
“At Eden McCallum I also get to be in teams with consultants I’ve worked with before, and it turns out that was one of the things I missed from my earlier consulting days, working with people over the long term. I can still have that.”
It was continuity that enabled one of Sajni’s most gratifying moments on a project –
“We had done a strategy review and left this client with a six-point turnaround plan. When we went back to work with them a year later, we saw our work running through all of their strategy papers, and what progress they had made – they really took on board what we suggested, and they were really doing it. It was so rewarding to see.”
She has also especially valued the opportunity to work with Eden McCallum’s in-house analysts, in particular for their level of ability and preparedness.
“The quality of the analysts is consistently really high. Even a new analyst is able to run with a workstream and do it brilliantly. And it’s really rewarding to see how far they have grown at the end of a project together.”
Over four years with Eden McCallum on a series of different projects, Sajni’s role too has significantly evolved.
“Eden McCallum encouraged me to take on a manager role on my next project. I was conscious that I didn’t have the formal training, but you get it on the job, I had already got it from the managers I had been working with before. You’re really supported. And you never feel alone.”
Beyond consulting, Sajni also teaches yoga, runs retreats, and is a female empowerment coach. Her advice for others considering the independent consulting path: mindset.
“You have to have patience. That the right project will come along. That you don’t need to sign up for stuff that doesn’t resonate.
Figure out what kind of financial buffer you need, and what level of risk you can handle. Then keep your nerve, and enjoy the time between the projects.”