Episode 42 – Michael Mahony – The Berkeley Partnership

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Today’s guest is Michael Mahony, Co-Founder of the Berkeley Partnership.

Michael was one of four founding partners of The Berkeley Partnership, growing it from an idea to where it is today. In 2018 Michael retired from Berkeley and now works with a number of consulting firms, helping them shape their business strategies.

Founded in 1990, The Berkeley Partnership is an independent Management Consultancy who work with many household names and global organisations helping them to develop strategies and transform their businesses.

The Berekely partnership are unique in a number of ways and have successfully grown their business whilst doing the opposite of what most people would consider conventional consulting wisdom. They are industry agnostic, only recruit from the upper grades in Consulting, have an extremely low partner to Consultant ratio and are heavily focused on limiting the amount of travel their consultants have to do when delivering for their clients.

The fascinating thing about Berkeley is that they’ve been able to build a thriving business by doing all of this and as Michael explains in our conversation, they’ve create a place that the partners and consultants want to work.

Knowing some of the Berkeley story, I had always been intrigued by their model and how they’d been so successful while pursuing such an unorthodox approach. So when I was introduced to Michael, I jumped at the chance to get him on the show.

We cover so many interesting topics in this episode including:

  • What led Michael and his Co-founders to Launch Berkeley and how they managed to survive their early years, launching the business just before the 1991 recession.

  • The Berkeley Partnership business model and how the team decided to set the firm up as they did.

  • And Michael’s advice to others thinking about launching their own consulting business

I really enjoyed this conversation with Michael and it was great to get so much advice and insight from someone who has been involved in the industry for as long as he has.

If you’re a partner thinking about how to improve your own business or a Consultant thinking about going out on your own then this interview is a must listen.

You can get in touch with Michael through his LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelmahony1/


Specific things we discussed in the show:

The Berkeley Partnership – https://www.berkeleypartnership.com/

Trust Based Selling by Charles Green – https://amzn.to/2Uynsc6

Managing the Professional Services Firm by David Maister – https://amzn.to/2D0OcYA

On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon – https://amzn.to/2K613Pj

What we talk about:

00:04:59 – Michael’s early career and what led him and his co-founders to launch the Berkeley Partnership.

00:16:14 – The importance of optimism and how to overcome the fear of launching your own business.

00:19:09 – How Michael and his co-founders balanced their different wants and desires for the company in the early days.

00:20:08 – How the Berkeley Partnership survived the 1991 recession and what this taught Michael and the team for future recessions.

00:23:04 – The importance of building relationships with your clients and how to do it effectively.

 00:24:40 – The Berkeley Partners business model and their unique approach to running a Consulting business.

00:32:00 – How Michael and the leadership team had to adapt to ensure the guiding principles of Berkeley endured as the business grew.

00:33:52 – How the leadership team made decisions without a Managing Partner.

00:35:14 – Why Michael and his co-founders decided to build Berkeley as a business for the long term and not with the goal of building it to sell.

00:36:43 – How the workforce is changing and the impact this is going to have on Consulting firms and their clients.

00:40:12 – How the Berkeley Partnership built a successful business without creating a ‘pyramid’ structure and how they were able to sell this proposition to their clients.

00:56:14 – The major inflection points on the Berkeley Partnership’s growth journey and how Michael and the leadership team overcame them.

01:05:06 – How the Berkeley Partnership ensured they recruited the best people for the firm.

0:1:10:00 – Michael’s advice to anyone thinking of launching their own Consulting business.

01:15:58 – Michael’s book recommendations.

01:19:20 – Michael’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, in the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:21:55 – How to get in touch with Michael.

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