Episode 41 – Charles Vivian – North Highland

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Today’s guest is Charles Vivian, Managing Director and Portfolio Group Lead at North Highland.

Charles leads North Highland’s UK and north eastern US practices, a $100 million dollar consulting business.

While you might be expecting the typical consulting career journey, Charles has had the complete opposite and has a hugely varied career that has spanned working for a global consultancy, founding his own start up, working for a boutique consulting firm and then working his way up to where he is now.

Outside of work Charles has undertaken some phenomenal adventures including climbing Mont Blanc and running the Marathon De Sables, the world’s toughest foot race. In fact the reason that there was a slight delay on releasing this episode was that Charles was flying out the day after our interview to trek across the Artic!

Charles’s approach to growing a business, growing your career and enjoying your life were fascinating and no matter where you are on your journey there’ll be something in here for you.

We cover so many interesting topics in this conversation including:

  • Charles’ start up journey, what he learnt from failing and his advice to other thinking of going out on their own.

  • The importance of culture when it comes to building a consulting firm and how North Highland have created a culture that is open and supportive while welcoming challenge from all levels of the firm.

  • The differences and similarities when it comes to working across the UK and the US and the importance of understanding the culture of the region you’re working in when it comes to building a Consulting business.

  • How Charles fits adventures like his trip to the artic in to his schedule and his advice for others looking to balance work with doing more of the things they enjoy outside it.

I really enjoyed this conversation with Charles. His unique perspective having worked across such a diverse range of businesses gave some fantastic insights and I know you’ll get a lot from this conversation.

You can get in touch with Charles through his LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-vivian-2931b72/

or drop him an email – Charles.Vivian@northhighland.com


Specific things we discussed in the show:

Quedis – http://www.northhighland.com/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/north-highland-announces-qedis-rebranding

Marathon De Sables – https://marathondessables.co.uk/

The First 90 Days by Michael D Watkins – https://amzn.to/2HPIbkL

Get Abstract – https://www.getabstract.com/en/

Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/

What we talk about:

00:04:52 – Charles’ trip to the Arctic and how he’s able to take a week off the grid while running a $100m Consulting business.

00:07:38 – Charles’ advice to those who are looking to do the same.

00:09:00 – How Charles found his way in to Consulting and why he decided to leave his career as a surveyor.

00:14:54 – Charles start up journey and advice to you if you’re thinking of starting your own business.

00:23:31 – Failing in his start up and how Charles overcame the failure to build the career he has now.

00:26:18 – Charles’ advice to those who want to balance their family commitments with doing something more entrepreneurial in their career.

00:29:26 – What Charles saw in Paramjit Uppal – Founder of Quedis – that led him to join the company

00:32:28 – Charles approach to interviewing candidates and how it helps North Highland recruit the best talent for the business.

00:35:36 – North Highlands culture of ‘upwards challenge’ and how they manage it to ensure it remains a positive force for the business.

00:40:14 – Managing Millennials – how the workforce is changing and how Consultancies have to adapt to give millennials the careers they are looking for.

00:45:40 – Charles career journey with North Highland and how he’s climbed to where he is today.

00:48:00 – The cultural challenges when merging consulting firms and how Charles and the team had to adapt when Quedis merged with North Highland.

00:49:30 – The difference between running a consultancy in the UK and the US and why you need to adapt your style to the region you’re working with.

00:51:09 – Charles’s advice if you’re thinking of launching a US practice for your Consultancy.

00:56:15 – How Charles balances his entrepreneurial ethos with working in a larger corporate business and how his entrepreneurial experience has helped North Highland achieve the growth it has in the UK.

01:04:54 – Charles advice on career planning and the importance of life phases.

01:08:39 – How Charles has had to develop as a leader as the business has grown and where the biggest step changes have been for him during his North Highland journey.

01:13:29 – How North Highland have built their sales culture and the importance of everyone at the firm being a sales person as well as a delivery person.

01:16:15 – How Charles makes times for his hobbies and the impressive adventures he’s been on.

01:23:22 – Charles’ book recommendations.

01:27:34 – Charles’ closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, in the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:30:38 – How to get in touch with Charles.

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