9 March 2017

MBA students set up consultancy to streamline public services

  • Aiming to save taxpayers thousands of pounds
  • The Sector involves students from five different countries
  • Company set-up over a pub meeting on Warwick Week

When Canadian Bradford Turner started moving the pepper and salt around the table at the Dirty Duck he had little idea that it would lead to a start-up operation whose founders span three continents.

Explaining to Elena Dimova the intricacies of the business idea Turner had been carrying around for nearly a decade – essentially a consultancy that would save taxpayers money – involved several napkins and the re-arranging of the condiments.

Explaining to Elena Dimova the intricacies of the business idea Turner had been carrying around for nearly a decade – essentially a consultancy that would save taxpayers money – involved several napkins and the re-arranging of the condiments.

Russian Elena, who works as a client specialists team leader in Thomson Reuters’s C&E and capital markets division, said: “Bradford was so passionate about this business idea, so I interrogated him about it over a drink and made him go through the business model properly – the salt and pepper were moved around a lot! ”

After seven years working for non-profit organisations and in the public sector, and seeing budgets slashed in Canada since the financial crisis, Bradford, a Distance learning MBA student, felt an opportunity had opened up for an organisation that specialised in delivering better public services in the most cost efficient way.

While working with NGO Save the Children, non-profit education organisation Junior Achievement Canada, and on various Canadian healthcare infrastructure projects, Bradford had seen how Government departments in Canada – so removed from the ground – had wasted their money on layers of inefficient bureaucracy when delivering social projects.

A niche opening was available for a consultancy that could provide Government departments a strategy to deliver more with less money, or as Bradford puts it “optimizing socioeconomic outcomes in government services by implementing integrated planning and client-focused service delivery models”.

Frederick Peters, a Research Fellow at Canada’s City Institute at York University, with a PhD in Political Science and a consulting focus on social infrastructure, partnered Bradford to grow the concept and look into building it into a business.

Dreaming in the Dirty Duck

“I had been looking at starting this firm for 10 years,” says 35-year-old Bradford. “I have the experience and the niche idea but I didn’t want to go into it without the 360 degree understanding of how to run a business, that’s why I decided to do an MBA before taking the plunge.”

Bradford signed up for Warwick Business School’s Distance learning MBA but he soon discovered he had everything he needed in the course to start his business straight away and The Sector Inc was born.

“It was a huge realisation,” says Bradford. “On the MBA I have met like-minded people from all over the world, all the advice I need is there from fellow students and academics. Also, the course has the flexibility to allow me to build a business from scratch and continue with my studies.”

At the first of six Warwick Weeks – where distance learning MBAs fly to the school from all over the world for a week of lectures – Turner got chatting at the Dirty Duck pub on the university campus with some of his classmates. And over a pint and the condiments he pitched his idea.

As well as Elena, Belgium-based Londoner Remon Fahim, Mark-Andre Casper, of Cologne, and Chafic Filfili, of Lebanon, were also recruited from his MBA class. Dimova is exploring opportunities in Russia, while Fahim is focusing on the UK operation.

Remon is also familiar with government cuts as a commercial manager with Serco, a FTSE 250 company that specialises in running outsourced public services from prisons to London’s Boris bikes.

“While on a drive down to London after a long weekend at Warwick, I was discussing my experiences in public services and community development with Bradford,” says Remon. “It became apparent that I could compliment Bradford’s NGO background with my private sector knowledge. I have spent seven years working with government departments and I immediately understood Bradford’s vision.”

With colleagues in Russia, Canada, Germany, the UK and Lebanon it can be a challenge having a management meeting, but modern technology certainly helps.

“It is hard sometimes finding a good time for conference calls,” says Bradford. “But we have to collaborate in teams on the MBA so you quickly get used to communicating via the internet, it has not been a problem.

“Thanks to the MBA I have got to know them and seen how clever they are by working on assignments together, it has allowed us to demonstrate our knowledge and skills. We are learning from each other and being from different countries means we have new markets to target, while leveraging our business networks.”

For now The Sector is concentrating on Canada and its first job saw them research and put together a feasibility study on a proposed community hub for the York Region in Southern Ontario.

“It took eight months and we produced a 150-page report assessing the viability of the community hub,” says Bradford. “Instead of having these social and community groups working separately we looked at how they could be integrated under one roof, the savings that would produce and if it would improve delivery.

“We provided a series of recommendations on how it would go ahead as we found it would produce efficiencies and improve services. Hopefully it will go ahead and that could become a blueprint for other cities.”

Turner and Peters are full-time on The Sector, while the rest of the team carry on with their jobs. They all bring different skills, Remon does the quantitative modelling and financial analysis; Chafic is the big data analyst; Mark-Andre looks after risk and governance thanks to his insurance background, while Elena has financial expertise.

“I am involved in investigating what markets there are in Russia for The Sector,” says Elena. “At the moment it is really tough fitting it in around a job and the MBA – I’m not getting much sleep. But this is an exciting opportunity and not something I dreamed of embarking on when I signed up for the MBA.”

See this story featured in the Financial Times.

Original Story: https://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/the-mba-spawns-a-start-up-spanning-three-continents/

#mba #wbs #thesectorinc #impactinvesting #socialfinance #csr #sdgs #philanthropy #sustainability

For a full copy of The Sector’s report, please contact the firm.

Ontario’s Government is “adopting new “digital practices and technologies that will deliver simpler, faster, better services to Ontarian’s.” In the 2019 Budget, the Government revealed its digital plan that includes, among other measures, the Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act.” And as per the Government’s claims, “if passed, it will significantly improve how government works and the services it delivers to the people of Ontario” (Government of Ontario, 2019).

At the same time, the organizations which largely deliver, government social services in Ontario (often coined “The Third Sector”), are experiencing an acute “digital skills gap;” the majority of reporting they are not “confident about having enough skilled staff or training to effectively use their technology for their work” (ONN, 2019).

Also, at the same time, Canada’s “Big Four” consulting firms, have been investing-in and building internal capabilities to advise “public sector organizations at the forefront of using digital technologies to transform the way they function” (Deloitte, 2019).

Over the last twenty years, the Ontario Public Service “transitioned from being an organization which provided service-delivery directly to clients, to an organization which now focuses its core operations on policy and program design,” outsourcing it’s “service delivery” to the Third Sector (Government of Ontario, 2017). It currently spends approximately $350,000,000 annually on consultants focused on technological innovation, making little additional provision to ensure these capabilities are developed in the Third Sector. This dissertation tests the hypothesis:

If the Government of Ontario shift’s spending from consulting services in policy and program-design at the ministerial level, toward a greater proportion of spend, allocated toward management consulting services focused on digital transformation of service-delivery, at the agency and point-of-service level, it will yield a positive social return on investment.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Undefined Role of the Ontario Public Service 8

1.1 Assumption 1: The Speed of Digital 10

1.2 Assumption 2: Consulting Firms Are the Required Intermediary 10

1.3 Hypothesis 11

1.4 The Approach: What if “The Big Four” were Retained? 11

1.5 The Problem Statement: The Third Sector Can’t Afford the Big Four 12

2. Context Behind the Hypothesis: Government Spending (A Market Analysis)

2.1 Government Spending on Transfer Payments: The Market for Social Services 12

2.2 Segmenting the Third Sector’s Transfer Payments 12

2.3 Government Expenditure on Consulting Services (The Market For…) 13

2.3.1 Government Buying “Technical” & Consulting Firms Selling “Technical”? 15

2.3.2 Costly Consultants Permanent Employees Could Do for Less 15 2.4 The Market for Consulting Service to the Third Sector 16

3. Literature Review: Existing Literature from All Three Sectors

3.1 Conducting the Literature Review 17

3.2 Broader-Public-Sector Literature on Government Transformation 17

3.2.1 The Creation of Streamlined Client Pathways 18 Government Literature on Streamlined Pathways 18 Third Sector Literature on Streamlined Pathways 19

3.2.1 Proven Outcomes & Tracked Evidence (Finance First) 20

3.2.2 Inter-Governmental Integration: Integration Before Digitization 20

3.2.3 Inter-Sectoral Integration: The Digital Requirement 20

3.3. The Big Four Literature on Digital Transformation of Government 20

3.3.1 The Preeminent Role of Digital in Government Transformation 21 A Tone of Urgency, Competition, & Optimism 22

3.3.3 Better Delivery Through Stronger Data 22

3.3.4 Self-Serve Models 22

3.4 Literature on the Third-Sector’s Skill Gap 22

3.4.1 The Sector’s Digital Skills Gap 22

3.4.2 A Lack of Internal Digital Capabilities 23

4. Research Methodology: An “Intrinsic” Case Study

4.1 Overall Approach: The Critical Success Factors to the Consulting Engagement 23 4.1.1 Research Questions: Breaking the Problem into Factors to Build Strategy 24 4.1.2 The Structure of the Research 26

4.1.3 Research Presentation Format 27

4.2 Research Plan 1: Factors For & Against, Digital Transformation; Third Sector Perspective

4.2.1 Description, Rationale and Expectations 28 The Survey (Questionnaire) 29 Semi-structured Interviews 29

4.3.2 Critique 29 The Survey (Questionnaire): The Sample Bias, Timing, and Reliability 29 Semi-Structured Interviews 30

4.3.3 Issues Encountered: The Good and the Bad 30 The Survey (Questionnaire) 30 Semi-Structured Interviews 30

4.3.4 Analyzing the Results 31 The Survey (Questionnaire) 31 Semi-structured Interviews 31

4.4 Research Plan 2: Providing Capacity Building Services; The Big Four’s Perspective

4.1.1 Description, Rationale, and Expectations 31 Semi Structured Interviews 31 Datamining for Verification and Fact Checking 32

4.4.2 Critique Semi-Structured Interviews 32 Data Mining for Verification & Fact-Checking 33

4.4.3. Issues Encountered 33 Semi-Structured Interviews 33

4.4.4 Analyzing the Results 33

5. Findings

5.1 Analysis of Findings

5.1.1 Third Sector Perspective: Analyzing Survey Results and Interview Responses 33 5.1.2 Market Factors which Support Digital Transformation of Third-Sector Organizations

5.1.3 The Big Four’s Perspective: Analyzing Survey Results and Interview Responses 40

5.2 Learning Points Toward Strategic Government Spending 46

6. Proposed Strategic Government Spending

6.1 Diverting Funding from Program & Policy Design to Service Delivery 46

6.1.2 Provincial Transfer Payments to Create Scale and Efficiency 47 Creating Scale Through Operations Design 47 Creating Third Sector Scale Through Consolidation 47 Issuing Tenders for Management Consulting Services Toward Digital Transformation

7. Concluding Remarks

7.1 Dissertation Summary 48

7.2 Critique and Limitations 48

7.2.1 Lack of Technical Rigor 49

7.2.2 Lack of Formal Financial Analysis 49

7.3 Further Research 49

#fundraising #digitaltransformation #toronto #socialimpact #wbs #love #impactinvesting #sdgs #csr #esg

Four years ago, I wrote:

The key issues facing Save the Children are: developing new markets, especially in emerging middle income countries; growing our private income by addressing the low levels of unrestricted income relative to overall income, which puts our independence at risk as well as our ability to drive our work for children in a strategic, purposeful way with a focus beyond 2015; and implementing knowledge/best practice sharing to develop a shared toolkit to provide a common language necessary to incentivize corporate partners to make investments toward the organization’s goal.

Save the Children Canada “reaches the most vulnerable children in nearly 120 countries around the world – including Canada.”

It will be critical that the movement maintain a portfolio of short/medium/long term market investments, and balance the requirement for adequate short-term market investment to drive 2015 income growth targets. This requires the need to grow market presence in Canada and be an early mover to markets especially in Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and possibly longer term, Africa. Given our membership structure of 30 member countries (offices) globally, a list of potential members will need to be further assessed against a set of criteria that includes: the ability to grow unrestricted funds/regular giving; significant growth potential in strategic markets that match the organizations mission; and have adequate governance and senior leadership to support new investments.

With a long-term objective of building new members in strategic countries, unlocking untapped potential in Canada and investing in new markets, like Asia, will be especially important since the organization is currently losing market share to other major international non-governmental organizations. However, to accomplish this effectively, Save the Children will have to assess new markets across Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East against different attributes linked to the following areas: economic demographics of the market, fundraising culture and infrastructure; size and value of the fundraising market, and fit and alignment with Save the Children’s mission.

To capture these opportunities, clear investment criteria and mechanisms must be developed and set, such as establishing a global investment fund, spearheaded in large part by the Canadian extractives industry. To ensure that investment is made strategically, a set of criteria to assess high performance by members for income generation and member growth will need to be developed. Investment will need to be targeted at: programmes; advocacy; communications, governance, and innovation etc.

In terms of member performance, members should be assessed with a set of criteria adapted to the context of their local market. Different contexts mean that members will play different roles and have different approaches. Therefore, the organization will have to establish a new classification of members to reflect the diversity of their roles and also allow for clear targeting of priority markets. The key Governance and leadership issue here is that the organization considers a centrally coordinated approach to new and existing markets, with a single point of joint responsibility for driving forward market development. This will also require strong member leadership.

Further external and internal sources of funding need to be investigated, including: social loans from philanthropists/foundations, charity bonds, and new forms of corporate partnership. For this to happen, Save the Children must be able to align corporate partners to accessing strategic markets without compromising our core values, and this will require an organizational paradigm shift. Save the Children and most other NGOs for that matter, do not spend adequate time thinking about business, let alone markets; Even-though they have profound influence on both. NGOs act as forms of distributed intelligence and conscience in the market place and in retrospect, many of the market outcomes of NGO pressures have been incidental, unplanned, even accidental. The system-level changes needed to build sustainable economies conducted by Save the Children must best begin to be deployed to this end.

Save the Children Canada needs to unlock and leverage the enormous development potential of foreign investment for the betterment of developing communities toward models of successful partnership, risk-reward balancing, and funding with the Canadian Extractives Sector. The Canada Investment Fund for Africa (CIFA), a two hundred million dollar public-private investment fund, was designed to stimulate growth in Africa through mid-market private equity investments with a focus on financial services, consumer businesses, natural resources, logistics and agro-industry. Canada launched CIFA in response to the G8 Africa Action Plan. Approximately twenty four percent of CIFA investments are currently in six extractive sector projects, four of which are operated by Canadian or Canadian-listed companies and a substantial portion of the fund being allocated for strategic partnerships with NGOs. It is critical that Save the Children becomes a priority partner.

Common tool-kits will-be necessary to provide a consistent language between NGOs and extractive companies; engagement often done at the local, and not head office, level. This would allow for in-country engagement between the organizations. The development of regional centers of excellence and knowledge alongside measures for improving peer to peer learning and best practice sharing will be a critical component to raising the necessary organizational capacity.

Members will require a range of capacity building tools linked to the delivery of specific programs: best practice sharing and tool-kits, and workshops and training across all income streams, channels and techniques. This will be even more critical as NGOs like Save the Children engage with the extractives industry and make the business case for global partnership.

The Sector Inc provides strategic funding proposal writing services for social-purposed-organizations unifying the previously exclusive disciplines of business planning & analysis, corporate & social finance, public finance & government funding, charitable fundraising, organizational design, program & social service delivery, corporate responsibility & ESG, and monitoring & evaluation.

#internationaldevelopment #wbs #socialinnovation #impactinvesting #fundraising #sdgs

Four years ago, I wrote:

“Conducting business toward a more sustainable, inclusive society is my main interest and the result of two life experiences: early exposure to entrepreneurial business and being a marginalized youth in Canada.”

“My father, an MBA educated entrepreneur, peeked my curiosity of the entrepreneurial spirit when I started working with him at the age of fifteen. I helped operate and supervise a production bay for a start-up cosmetics manufacturing company and was privy to his design and development of a large, small business incubator. However, my family was dissolving.”

“By age sixteen I was a homeless, displaced youth, outside of the educational system, and became a marginalized person myself. Planning and executing the steps back into a life position to compete for a voice in the institutionalized conversations that shape society required unconventional tactics that challenged the barriers of marginalized people, and a decade of my life. No experience bears greater influence on my career focus of improving the livelihoods of underprivileged children, as well as my volunteer involvement with The United Way of Greater Toronto.”

“The business of a more sustainable, inclusive society is part of my DNA and will always influence my professional development.”

#wbs #truth #socialimpact #toronto #mba #london #love #beautiful #ESG #CSR #finance #bradfordturner

One of my major accomplishments is raising the philanthropic capital to fund Multi-Activity-Centers, to implement psycho-social support programming designed to provide non-formal education for three-thousand displaced youth, in the Za’atai refugee camp, at the height of the Syrian Humanitarian crisis, 2013. The partnership consisted of a private family foundation, two government umbrella organizations, a provincial teacher’s federation, and a private philanthropist. This was truly an exercise in stakeholder management. Success required control and synergies of environments both external and internal to Save the Children; creating positive relationships with stakeholders through the appropriate management of their expectations and agreed objectives. I learned that stakeholder management is a process that must be planned and guided by underlying principles, requires extensive resource capacity,and extensive relational skills, none more important than sincerity.

One setback I faced, when I moved to Toronto post undergraduate degree, I worked for a company and was laid off. It was the height of the global economic recession. I lived with my sister with no money. I job searched. A mature man but newly educated, I searched for a management role,despite the mass consensus of typical cohort graduates that I was under qualified. I looked for six months. Circumstances became bleak, in the fifth month; I had to sneak on the subway daily, with soaking wet shoes, holes in the bottoms, and walk into job interviews with accomplished people and explain that I was their next rising star. I did this near fifty times. It was most difficult the fiftieth time having forty nine attempts behind me. I prevailed. I learned to believe in myself…

#wbs #mba #love #persistence #socialimpact #ESG #digital #artificialintelligence #toronto #internationaldevelopment #bradfordturner

The impact analysis Sinzer conducted consisted of an evaluation that looked back on five years of activities by all 50 consortium members. With this assignment, Sinzer examined and assess the impact of all the crucial pillars (awareness, research, education) of the alliance.

The firm’s conclusion was that the alliance has contributed to significantly more political attention for the importance of gender-sensitive health. It also made knowledge on gender-sensitive care more accessible, and spurred more research into the unique health issues for women.

Through this impact analysis, WOMEN Inc and the consortium have gained crucial insight into the effects of their activities. As a result, the work of the consortium is continued into a new multi-year program, in which Sinzer is involved as an impact partner.

Surprise was great when Women’s Inc heard years ago that a woman’s heart attack is recognized less well than a man, simply because there is still much ignorance about the female body in medical science. The issue was nowhere high on the agenda. Individual medical professionals demanded fervent attention within their own field, but it was not a subject of social and political debate. We thought this had to be done differently. A matter of life and death.

That is why they took the initiative in 2012 to start an interdisciplinary collaboration, the Gender & Health Alliance, with support from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The aim of this Gender & Health Alliance was to improve the quality of care and achieve health benefits for everyone by paying more attention to gender aspects.

WOMEN Inc. then asked Sinzer research agency to map out the results and effects of the activities of the Gender & Health Alliance, which ceases to exist in this form at the end of this year. This has resulted in this effect analysis.

#sinzer #wbs #socialinnovation #impactinvesting #mars #thesectorinc #ESG #toronto

For MBA students, it is all about the network, or so the maxim goes. The fortunes of Bradford Turner would seem to prove the point.

The background

The 35-year-old spent most of his career raising capital for not-for-profit organisations before he decided to study for the coveted business degree. An MBA, he thought, would help him set up his own consultancy to deliver better public services while saving public money. “I had this vision that there needed to be a consultancy that could advise about how the community could collaborate.”

The business problem

The delivery of government-funded social services is carried out by a wide range of organisations, which invariably means expensive duplication. For clients, the system is equally complex. They may have housing needs, mental health needs, childcare needs and more, says Mr Turner. “They meet a different culture and different people every time they walk into an organisation. This is the problem.”

Choosing an MBA

Mr Turner felt he lacked a “cocktail of things” needed to set up his own business, specifically international experience and an MBA. To address this, he decided to apply outside his native Canada, believing that studying in Europe would give him a more diverse experience than studying in the US.

So that he could continue in his job, he chose a flexible MBA, combining online teaching with regular visits to the university campus at Warwick Business School in the heart of the UK. “It was an immediate fit,” he says.

Setting up the company

One of Mr Turner’s reasons for enrolling on an MBA was to get an all-round view of business: he knew certain aspects well but was ignorant of many of the fundamental areas of running a company. His plan was to finish his MBA then launch his consultancy. However, once on the degree course his plans changed. “The MBA being a good generalist degree gave me enough knowledge to help me know what I didn’t know and when I had to get people in to help,” he says. “I thought, ‘I don’t have to wait to do this’.”

He began working with an acquaintance who was a political economist specializing in urban infrastructure, looking at how urban planning and environmental sciences could help to solve poverty, and set up a for-profit consultancy, called The Sector. “What we’re trying to do is to clean up the [public] sector and get people to work together.”

The MBA network “I started talking about this at Warwick,” says Mr Turner, who started his MBA there in June 2014 and will finish in July. Indeed The Sector became one of the hot topics in the university bar during the week-long campus sessions for the programme. “We would all break out the notes and scribble on napkins. Before you knew it, we had pictures on the napkins and we uploaded them on to the computer,” says Mr Turner. “This all happened . . . across the pub in the UK.”

Among his peers on the programme were students from Lebanon, Germany, Russia and the UK, and they are now helping him by setting up market research activities in their own regions. The Sector has already been retained by the municipality in York, Toronto, to conduct a feasibility study for a multi-use community service centre to improve client services.

Mr Turner believes the creation of this kind of venture and networking means that the MBA is returning to its roots. “I watched the MBA become a single line on a résumé to get a management job. I hate that. It is absolutely nuts,” he says. “It used be a degree for educating entrepreneurs or the next captains of industry, not a credential.”

Source: Original Financial Times Article

#wbs #warwick #mba #socialinnovation #impactinvesting #ESG #toronto #bradfordturner