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OEE Consulting in profile: Helen Meskell

Please note this article was published before OEE Consulting and gobeyond joined forces to become Gobeyond Partners.

In the first of a series of profiles covering the different people who work at OEE Consulting, we speak to Principal Consultant Helen Meskell about her route into consulting and key accomplishments since joining us.

Role: Principal Consultant
Location: Manchester
Experience: Business Improvement Partner at Lex Autolease, Service Delivery Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland
Education: BA (Hons) Law and Business at the University of Central Lancashire, BQF accredited Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
Worked with OEE Consulting for: 2 years

Describe OEE Consulting in three words.
Brave. Inclusive. Fun.

What was your route into consulting with us?
After becoming an internal consultant for a finance company, I had the bug. I wondered whether the skills would be transferable to being an external consultant, and set myself the challenge of finding out.

What has surprised you most about the company since joining?
That everyone is included and treated equally. This is something everyone tells you is one of the best things about OEE Consulting, but it is still a surprise to see how true it is when you join the team. There’s a true appreciation for every person in the organisation, and their role in keeping the business moving.

What is a typical day like for you?
Groundhog day will never happen in consulting.

It’s important to try and blend in with the client; I work to develop relationships as if I am a direct company colleague of the business, so it can feel like having a new job every eight weeks.

Every single day has new opportunities, challenges and a brand new agenda so I have to be able to adapt quickly to the needs and priorities that day, whilst ensuring that I am focused on achieving the assignment objective. Businesses just do not work to milestones and, whilst having a plan is essential to delivering a project on time, you have to be prepared to deviate from the plan and course-correct very effectively later.

How do you start a project?

OEE Consulting gets a lot of positive feedback from clients about how we start every operation by spending time on the floor observing what really goes on in the business. That sets us apart from many other companies. We don’t just take the word of a Managing Director for how things are – we go and understand how it really operates from an employee perspective. That knowledge is extremely powerful, and means we can confidently talk about the operation later.

What have you most enjoyed?
When I reflect on my time with a client, there are always two key areas of satisfaction:

  1. The evolution of an environment from the point you walk through the door to the day you leave. It is a different experience every time and extremely satisfying, particularly when you support someone with an independent professional goal
  2.  The different personal journey and development opportunities thrown up during the project. This can range from learning about a new industry, refining skills already in your toolkit, or overcoming a personal challenge. You carry these beneficial learnings into your next assignment, continually building on your own personal growth. Now I’ve been personally requested for pieces of work, or invited to give opinions on certain aspects of projects by the clients, taking on more of a trusted advisor role

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be significant in your career.

It’s hard to choose just one project, because there are positives from each one. I suppose what springs to mind is a cross-divisional project which increased online banking registrations by 600%, significantly beyond target, and freed up capacity of 75 FTE for new projects. My biggest enjoyment though is from seeing people I work with really develop; I consider my biggest accomplishment is building the capacity or the time for people to learn new skills and achieve something. I worked with someone in an analytical role who didn’t have any training in Microsoft Excel, by giving him the encouragement and training he needed to grow he’s been able to develop his skills and take on new projects. I might save millions of pounds but for that individual the development is priceless.

What do you think are the definitive challenges the industry faces?
Organisations and industries evolve at different rates; you have to be a chameleon, expecting the unexpected.

One day you can be implementing ‘the basics’, and the next be designing the future.

The pace of change is particularly prevalent in the digital space, and all industries are seeing the benefits of capitalising on technology, particularly to implement effective process improvements and communication modelling. But designing their operation to optimise technology when yesterday’s advances are seemingly out of date today is a challenge, not to mention the ever-growing budgetary challenges for IT spend.

About Helen

Helen has over 10 years’ experience in successfully delivering operational change and improvements. She has extensive experience in financial services, and has also worked in the public sector and insurance. Helen was promoted to Principal Consultant at OEE Consulting in September 2016, after joining the company as a Senior Consultant in May 2015.

Some of her recent projects include supporting clients with their ODP accreditations and running opportunity assessments, process improvements and operational excellence projects.

Helen believes that engagement is key to successfully delivering operations improvement. She has mentored people through operational excellence training, and takes great pride in building new skills in teams for continued use once her project has ended.

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