VOLUNTEER CONSULTANT

Richard White

  • Age: 56
  • Job title: Self-employed management consultant
  • Country, city: UK, High Wycombe
  • Professional qualification: None
  • Brief career history: 25 years in ‘corporate’ sales and marketing followed by four years and counting in self-employed consulting
  • Key areas of expertise: Sales, Marketing, Non-executive directorships, Technology start ups

Where/how did you come across Grow Movement?

LinkedIn.

Why did you decide to join Grow Movement?

Time to give something back and help a little.

About your entrepreneur

  • Name: Fred Rwamushaija
  • Business name: Prolifik
  • Gender: Male
  • Country, town: Kigali, Rwanda
  • Family: Engaged, no children
  • What does the business do: Print shop, sales of bank software
  • How many employees: Grown from none to 3 full-time and 20 part-time
  • Key customers: Print shop – students. Banks for software.

What was your first phone call like?

Fantastic – easy to talk to. Fred was open, enthusiastic, eager and motivated. We chatted for about 2 hours and it seemed like 5 minutes!

What approach did you to take to identify the problems facing the business?

Fred’s business was/is a start-up so my approach was to spend a lot of time talking to him about not only his business ideas, of which there were many, but to get to understand him better, what his drivers were, what motivated him and how much of himself he was prepared to put into the new venture. By doing this and by understanding his skill-sets I could better advise him on how to consolidate his thoughts, to focus on the here and now as well as the longer term and to underpin that advice with the knowledge that I was able to personalise and target his core beliefs and strengths.

What business tools did you use?

As outlined the main ‘tool’ was simple question and answer, but we used cash flows, SWOT and simple market research to support that.

How many sessions did you have?

Six.

How long were the sessions?

Length varied but I normally tried to close down after about 2 hours, but a couple went on much longer!

What preparation did you do?

This varied depending upon where we were in the cycle – from simple re-read of previous conversations and reminding myself of what was said to writing plans, cash flows etc.

How much email interaction did you have?

Quite a bit, especially around moving appointments around and the communications completing cash flows and more transactional items.

What objectives did you work on?

These were driven by Fred, but centred on the compromise between two competing businesses – the bank software and the print shop. How to get both running profitably and how they would interact in terms of Fred’s time and resources. Fred is an entrepreneur and really wanted to make money short term so that he could build more strategically and sustainably.

How did you manage being able to consult when you didn’t know the industry or the country?

Daunting to start with, but I kept telling myself that that was not what was required from me! My role was advisory and I frequently consult in the UK in sectors I have little or no knowledge in so remembering that was key to having the confidence to advise someone in a different country.

What cultural challenges did you face?

Very little. Talking to Fred I was very conscious about making assumptions just because of what I had read about Africa/Rwanda over the years and this was almost certainly out of date, prejudicial and irrelevant! Keeping an open mind was key and Fred is a well-travelled man and so probably helped me in this regard without me even realising it!

What was the hardest thing about the project?

Nothing was very difficult… Fred’s spirit was a little tricky to tame at times (knitting fog comes to mind) but this natural exuberance was invigorating to me. Communication was sometimes tricky if Fred was not in Kigali.

What professional benefits did you get out of the project?

More self-respect than professional benefits. I have updated my LinkedIn profile to reflect a successful project. It has led to a couple of interesting comments from prospective clients particularly when they ask about my fee levels! I have been able to understand the different perspectives that are necessary to understand the implications for guiding a business owner in a country I have never visited and have very little knowledge of.

What personal benefits did you get out of the project?

Significant, as I hope I have helped in a very small way and it has not cost me anything other than time, which I have enjoyed spending.

What impact did you have?

Best to ask Fred really. I would like to think that the sessions we had were informative, helped him work through his own thought channels and were fun. I think that some of the basics I put in place (cash flow, budgeting and proper market analysis before committing to a specific idea) will stand Fred in good stead going forward.

What would you say to another person who was thinking about becoming a consultant for Grow Movement? If you have the time, commitment and want to help someone whilst learning yourself then you should. The time commitment/duration is not so exhaustive to stop you trying it and, after you do it once you might get hooked!

How would you describe your experience at Grow Movement in five words?

Educational, Fun, Responsible, Testing and Rewarding.

  • Ashridge Business School
  • MCA
  • Cass Business School
  • Institute of Leadership and Management
  • Bull Dog Trust
  • Westminster Business School
  • UK Aid
  • Turkish Airlines
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