Woman in Consulting: Q+A with Claire Arnold

Claire Arnold is a founding partner of Maxxim Consulting. In this interview, she told us about her management philosophy, visions as well as her views on the future for Maxxim and other consultancy firms.


1. Maxxim was a start-up. How did it come about?

I am a great believer in knowing what’s at the heart of the matter and in my world that’s first-rate people and good intellectual property. When I left AT Kearney in 2000, I was determined to focus on client work and not quite so many air-miles and conference calls! I was doing some really interesting work with DWP and EDS on their Public Private Sector Partnership. I found myself having more to do than I could manage and was introduced to Sozen Leimon, who had just left Accenture, where she had been a leader in their human performance practice. The first time we met we started scoping the next stage of the project in a coffee shop; We found we were a natural match in terms of both skills and values and so the Maxxim business plan and proposition developed on numerous long train journeys to the North West where our work with DWP took us.



2. How did Maxxim grow from a start up to working with clients that include Oxford University and the Royal Mail?

We firmly believe that the best way to grow a business is to do great work for your clients. In this respect Maxxim’s history divides into three stages. In the first stage Sozen and I pitched our credentials to people we knew. We were lucky enough that many of them gave us work and almost all of them asked us to work for them again in year two. From years three to five we worked hard to develop our credentials and relied on part time expert Business Development support to contact prospective clients and try to broaden our network of contacts. This is a fairly soul destroying experience, especially if you are typically English and understated about what you’ve achieved, but it’s mitigated by the excitement of success. For example, we won the work at Oxford off the back of our successful integration and reform project at Kings College London, simply by ringing up and suggesting we might be useful.

Nowadays we have a broader range of effort and skill going into growing our business. In particular our work on the role and purpose of the Corporate Centre has been developed through our benchmarking work and our work with clients.

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