October 28th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I write this blog because I hope that a few of the comments might be of wider interest. Your comments are always very welcome no matter if it is to add to a thought or to completely contradict. Of course if you have your own blog and want to link back then I am thrilled to read your comments there.

Professionally I am a management consultant practicing mainly within financial services. I advise firms on bottlenecks in their business, areas where costs could be reduced or help assess impacts to the enterprise of aquisitions, market changes or other major transitions. The bread and butter of these engagements is working with C level resources who have objectives they need to implement and working with department heads and senior managers to understand the opportunities and chalenges that they face and help communicate a coherent prioritised set of implementable actions that can be agreed with all the stakeholders. For even the most effectively communicating organizations there is a role for the objective impartial voice in arriving at a common set of objectives.

My historical background began in technology which is still a core interest. What makes me happiest is seeing technology put to effective use and allowing people to do things that they were never able to do, or never able to scale before. In my early life I wrote arcade style computer games for early home computers. Something which was hugely satisfying; taking a notion of some way out scenario and turning it into a visual game that interactively reproduced the environment one had imagined. Even back in my student days though I wanted to apply technology to real business and the fact that I was commercially writing games as a teenager was really an indication of my interest in business and technology. I never wanted to work in abstract research (partly due to being able to have a glimpse of that world as a student) and, together with two fellow students, attempted a start-up venture immediately after university. Unfortunately we didn’t have the background in sales, marketing, management or finance to see our plans through at that stage.

During my student years and after the end of the venture I worked with three companies: 1) in functional ATE where I devised a fuzzy matching method which significantly increased the functionality of a new product range of half million dollar functional board testers 2) Industrial controllers, modems and SCADA equipment where I wrote a number of RFP responses and tenders as well as drivers to interface our product range with that of a company that acquired us, as well as a neat half day’s work which fixed the key and light system that was installed to control Gatwick Airport’s runway taxi control lights 3) building controllers and embedded software to interconnect them where I wrote a function block programming language emulator and a graphical user interface which I refined with six months of one on one lab tests with construction installers. An experience which taught me to have a little humility about the usefulness of our designs when they are out in the field.

After all this dark back room product development I turned my attention to the world of finance which was rapidly growing in London at the time. Through relationships built on my interest in Object Oriented Programming, and a series of accidents, within six months I ended up leading a project to build an automated option trading engine to run against the OMX, the Swedish option market for James Capel & Co. At the time Germany didn’t allow effective automatic trading but that was our ultimate goal. Later I qualified with the London Traded Option Market to have floor access at the stock exchange and subsequently at the London International Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE) where I was responsible for James Capel’s modelling applications on the exchange floor, trading desk and within derivatives risk management. We were at the time the largest London option market maker.

Having been born in Canada to parents from Zimbabwe and Yorkshire, England I had itchy feet and wanted to experience the wider world though. Partly influenced by being part of a larger organization and partly because of this itch in 1992 I joined Morgan Stanley an, at the time not so large, American company with an international footprint. I remained with Morgan Stanley for over ten years, becoming a Vice President. Through Morgan Stanley I was able to work in and with people from a broad range of countries and backgrounds from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Germany and the USA eventually relocating to New York in 1994. After over ten years working for what was a very professional company in 2002 I joined an excellent Boston consulting firm, NerveWire, and through this took on a lead role at EquiLend an ECN like entity which had been the focus of my work at Morgan Stanley in the last couple of years.

Over the years following this I have been performing a series of management consulting engagements across the US and internationally doing a wide variety of interesting strategy, business process and transition work including due diligence, support for integration of acquired businesses, off-shoring of core services and departmental restructuring. Often spending over 200 days per year in hotels and way too much time at airports. I do however have a fixed base, which is New York, where I have a co-op apartment in the Carnegie Hill neighbourhood. New York is a town that suits me well, being both a part of America and a part of the world. It’s a town where a lot of different perspectives can be found and which offers a rich culture, warm summers and great airport connections. As a result New York itself is the topic of many of my posts.

Since 2006 much of my energy has been put into developing my consulting company, SwarmPoint, and in building a network of clients both established larger businesses and fledgeling ventures who need the input of somebody who has seen some of the situations before. As such I have also had an increased intrest in sales and marketing which is definitely reflected in the blog.

I hope that you will find something interesting in my posts. I try to keep to the categories, which span a range from management to travel to social issues. If I find that the mix of categories isn’t working as a cohesive whole, and I am writing sufficient posts of that type then I may break some categories off into a separate blog. If this happens I will make it clear. Do keep the feedback coming and I will try to swing the posts and categories in a way which appears to be providing the most interest. Do let me know.

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