Deep-Dive Into Industrial Transformation Consulting with Consultya (Podcast)

Consultya is a boutique operations consultancy focused on the industrials sector. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Consultya’s Managing Director, Ahmed Elkomy.

We journey through Ahmed’s history, how that shaped his view of industrial transformation, and more:

  • Ahmed’s journey from Construction Plant Manager to Consultant to Founder
  • Why he rejected a Partner promotion to return to school
  • Consultya’s unique approach to consulting
  • Types of problems Consultya solves (and for who)
  • How Consultya combines coaching with consulting to drive value improvements for industrial orgs ($1b+ to date)
  • Ops transformation mistakes to avoid

Does your industrial organization need help with operations transformation? Click here to learn more about the firm and how Consultya partners with industrial clients to achieve success.

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MC: Namaan Mian 

Ahmed, welcome to the podcast.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Thanks, man. Thank you so much for having us here today.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Absolutely. So you’re the Managing Director at Consultya. But before we talk more about the firm and what you all do, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Ahmed? And what’s your background?

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Sure. So I studied mechanical engineering at uni. And upon graduation, I joined a local construction company, here in Brisbane, in Australia. And I was there for a few years doing frontline roles. I was on this emerging leaders track and what happened in 2008, when the global financial crises hit, is that about a year and a half in, there was a massive restructure that needed to take place in the company. And that was the first time I had ever encountered a management consultant. So this this guy got parachuted into the company and because I was this young, emerging leader graduate, I got seconded to the boardroom to work with him and some other executives, as the analyst who was gonna gather things, and do some data and number crunching. I just loved that whole thing with how he was conducting himself. He was an ex military guy who then did an MBA in the US and joined McKinsey for a few years. And then kind of got out and did his own thing.

Super sharp, super good with what he does. And I’m just fascinated by that individual.  And I remember asking what does one do to become a consultant, is this sub speciality thing that you got to study? What do you do? I had no idea about what that whole profession was about. And he was tearing the entire company apart, HR org effectiveness, ops, maintenance, and I thought, wow, this is just incredible. So you know, I worked for him for a period of four or five months, I loved every bit of the experience. When the old restructure was done, just when I thought all right, let me start applying for consultancies. One that really resonated with me at the time was called Partners and Performance, PIP. They’re they’re a global ops transformation consultancy, you know, headquartered in Sydney, but operating globally. And as soon as they wanted to start the interview process, I got a promotion nearly a year into just starting my career with with the construction company and it was a pretty senior role.

And at the time, because there was a massive commodity boom happening in regional Australia, a lot of the persons were just slogging out to the mines to make a killing. So a lot of the city gigs in construction were, let’s say, more opportunistic, right. So I got a really good promotion.  And so I thought PIP, can you guys please hang on, like, I got this really cool role. I want to sit in and do it for a little while. A year later, they must have had me on a calendar schedule. And they said, Hey, are you ready now for your interview. And I said, I’d love to but about two weeks ago, I got my second promotion, they’re gonna give me a whole plant to manage and being a plant manager, being the youngest plant manager the company had ever had is such an honor and a privilege.

And I really want to give this a shot, I’m 25. I’m running this ops facility and I thought, awesome, let me really get into that and do it. And like 10 months in, I turned it around, I had system, I had a whole bunch of stuff, etc, that I felt like the day to day now running of it was not going to be anywhere near as exciting. And I felt like now might have been the right time to get to like consulting again. So long story short, I then started with PIP as the entry level analyst in 2011. And ever since then, I haven’t looked back. It’s been consulting ever since then.

MC: Namaan Mian 

So you went to Partners in Performance in 2011. Talk to me about when and why you decided to leave and what you’re doing now.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Yeah, awesome. So one thing that really resonated for me and you know, I was the guy that came with a little bit of the ops bagworm right, and kind of the guy that likes to get his hands dirty and run ops etc. So that for PIP resonated really well for me on the back of the fact that it’s it’s a lot about delivering the tangible output. And it’s a lot about delivering the result. It’s not just the advisory where you know, here’s the analysis, here’s the roadmap, big high five rock and roll, you know, see you guys whenever, it was really let’s get in and roll our sleeves up and work alongside and get the results. And that just resonated with my persona, it resonated with how I felt I could be getting a lot of value and actually making tangible changes, something exciting, right. And so, I joined the firm as the entry level analyst in 2011. And then, you know, a series of quick promotions, I was made an Associate, Senior Associate, Manager, and AP. That was over a span of seven years, Associate Principal, and I did about three years in Australia on the East Coast.

And what happened was in 2013, we were doing this construction productivity and strategy implementation piece with a national broadband network of Australia, elections were coming up, and they needed to get so many more homes connected, and they were nowhere near hitting the target. So this is such a super exciting gig. But then out of nowhere, an opportunity came up in Mauritania, saying, look, we’ve just won this big massive engagement. And there’s no one to staff and we need like a global team of people who want to put their hand up and go to Mauritania and get it going. I remember thinking, I’m guessing you might be thinking the same where in the world is Mauritania? You’re like, what is Mauritania? And so I went to Google really quickly, and I checked it out. And it’s this big, massive country on the western coast of Africa. And a Canadian company called Kinross has an asset there, right. And in 2013, the price of gold plummeted. So all these companies that were running good businesses, but it was really on the back of the fact that the gold price was so high was all of a sudden exposed, right, so the unit cost tanked. And those companies were just exposed. And so this was a liberal advice situation.

So we had 10 months to take the unit cost of production from $1,800 an ounce to $1,200 an ounce, or the operation shuts down, 1000s of people will get unemployed and 1000s indirect employment, you got to think when you’re in Africa, and some of those are more developing nations, a gig like that is like an economic GDP boost right. And so, you know, left Melbourne, which was one of the happiest cities on earth at the time, and took a trip across to Spain to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. And there we were in Mauritania, starting this turnaround, and the objective was achieved. And I absolutely fell in love with Africa. And with the impact that you could have, right? So it’s fine to be tweaking in Australia, right, like, let’s take you up from the 94 and a half to the 95.2. And that point seven is worth X 10s of millions of dollar. I mean, they’re cool problems to solve whereas, this was a lot more about, gosh, there is really a lot here that we can do.

We’re saving jobs and communities, I felt the impact I was having for the same amount of hours that I was spending working was astronomical, it was like a 10x more impact. And so I fell in love with that work. And it was literally— I had the tools of the trade. I had my mozzi net, my mosquito net, I had my malaria pills, and I had my laptop bag. And so they were the three tools of trade. And I want to run Africa for the next three and a half years. There was Mauritania, Botswana, Congo, Mali, Mozambique, you know, you name, it South Africa, I just did the rounds, fell in love with Africa. I fell in love with the work. On my off swings, because I was doing rosters, I met my wife at a diving resort. She was teaching at an Aussie uni in Dubai.  So I set up shop in Dubai and continued rostering into Africa. And by the end of 2017, I had the partner promotion, which was what I’ve always obviously admired and what I’ve always wanted, I mean, every aspiring analyst joins a consultancy and partnership is the dream. And you wouldn’t believe it, I would have been the youngest appointed partner and PIP. I was 31 at the time, and I have the offer in front of me there. I had my role model performance as an AP, and I simply couldn’t take the job.

I was clocking a million miles a year literally. I was working really hard, a lot of the gigs that PIP sells to are what’s called Pay for Results, which means you know, cover our expenses. And once the dial starts to turn, you know, we’ll take a clip of that, you know, it sounds really good in theory, but for the guys that have actually done that work, it’s a living hell because week three, and the partner is banging the table saying where’s the results and what’s going on and we’re burning cost. They’re really super stressful gigs. And so I felt like I was suffering a super early midlife crisis. I was 31 at the time, I couldn’t take the offer.  And so what I thought—and a lot of my mates were either going through that six month drop off, you know, every five years in consulting there’s like a massive drop off of personnel.

So a lot of my mates worked five years to seven years, I was already seven years and they’re already all dropping off right somewhere hiking Kilimanjaro and others were backpacking in Latin America, the reality is, Namaan, that six months after they’ve done their their spiritual check, or whatever you want to call it, they come back, and a few weeks into the gig they’re right in that same dark, miserable hole that they left, they never really fixed anything, right. So I knew I needed more than six months. And I knew I needed to really shift and change the way I was working. And I started to get a young family as well. And I had my firstborn at the time. And I was just doing so much travel and I was going away from home for so long. I ended up going to uni, and universities in the US when it comes to MBA programs, etc., it’s a much younger cohort, Europe is on average, much older.  So that appealed to me because I was 31 at a time.

And IE in Spain had a really good setup where you could also do 2 postgraduate degrees, an MBA, plus something else. And you can get it done in an accelerated fashion over a 20 month period. So nearly two years, I thought, you know what, and the second language was mandatory. So I thought, awesome, you know, I get to live in a non English speaking country, I can polish all that French that I learned in the underground mines in the Congo and in Senegal and Mali which is okay, I get to do two degrees and be gone for two years from work. And I had earned well, so I was happy to look after the family and be unemployed for a couple of years. And so that was it, packed up the family, settled in Madrid and a couple of years in, I was just super relieved to have been done with consulting for a little while, and then the itch began again, right, it just started itching again, for the gig, for the transformation, for the result.

I don’t know, but in my particular instance, it’s nearly an addiction. It really is. It’s like you need that every now and then, you just gotta get the results, you got to turn the dial up, just key to go and just flip a place and turn it upside down. Going back to PIP, I felt like I was going to be learning more of the same. And you know, the toolkit was great. But then dss, Dupont Sustainable Solutions came along and it came from nowhere, really, it was a referral from a friend who had also left PIP and joined dss. And what I liked about it was the fact that they were just getting carved out from DuPont by a Private Equity company. So that sounded like a good deal because you know, the sky was the limit in terms of growth that the PE Company had mandated. And they wanted to set up their operations excellence practice kind of from scratch. They’re really reputable at the ORM stuff, the operational risk management work, and DuPont is really a pioneer in safety. Think of, you know, you get a tier one consultancy from the board, it’s your insurance policy, you can’t go wrong if you get it—even if the outcome was not optimal.

DuPont’s the same when it comes to safety. So a lot of the heavy industrial boards will look to DuPont, if there’s a safety risk, if there’s an Accident and Incident, DuPont has that brand at the board level, right? So I thought great, you know, let’s give this a shot. We’re building a practice from scratch. It’s really exciting.  Let’s do something different. And so I joined dss. It was literally the first day, they’ve just been carved out by that Private Equity company. I was based out of Dubai, my mandate was was very regional, but also global. So again, I was back on the road, I was in South Africa, all over the Middle East. I was in northern Finland delivering a transformation because believe it or not, we couldn’t find the right resources in Europe to help get that gig across the line. So I find myself delivering a gig in Finland during COVID. And nearly getting trapped in the airport in Helsinki on a few occasions because they couldn’t figure out what’s that guy doing like coming over to Finland and working at a remote mining site like near the Arctic Circle.

It really sounded like I was making it up in the airport every time. But you know what, all in all, I felt like I had generated enough experience and enough credibility; I was doing so well. And if I’m being very transparent, there’s always still that sense of insecurity that I suffer, which is I feel like I don’t know enough still, like I just gotta get one more gig or I gotta see one more industry, or one more toolkit. I don’t know what it is, but I keep doing so well. And the more I do well, the more I think, oh my god, I feel like I’m nowhere near where I should be learning.  And IE triggered that entrepreneurship flare, it’s really big on the IE Venture Lab. And so I was part of the IE Venture Lab, and going in it’s similar to that shark tank where you gotta get in and you gotta pitch your idea and get it torn apart and you got to keep coming back. It really started that whole entrepreneurial journey in the back of my mind. And look, I did start an entrepreneurial venture while I was doing the MBA, believe it or not, it was a mining gig in Africa. Believe it or not, we found some gold, but it just wasn’t enough, and I ran out of money and I wasn’t raising any money.

So on my personal funds I commissioned couple of exploration gigs. We went into the desert. We did trials, we set the essay samples, and we found gold, but it wasn’t enough. And it was enough to start a company, I ran out of money, I had a family to look after, I was just graduating. And sadly, I had to let go of that venture.  But I learned a lot. And I loved it, there was just something about creating an enterprise that was super rewarding. And again, it’s back to I don’t know anything. And that seems to keep me going for whatever reason. And so two and a half years in with DuPont Sustainable Solutions, and I was back in Aus, I’d settled with my family.

And I felt like this sounds like it’s about the right time to start doing my own thing. And remember when your senior in companies, also, there’s a lot of decisions that are not necessarily yours, you might believe that you want to tackle the problem in a certain way, or do it or do it in a certain flavor under different terms. But you’re kind of also confined and bounded to the gig right to the to the commercials that the frame has sold. And you’re also confined to the team that gets brought on to the engagement. I wanted a situation where I can craft the entire solution independently. This is what I think, this is the client I want to work with, and this is the team that I want to bring on. And so fast forward and Consultya was kind of born January 2022. Then when I left the dss and said, you know, thank you so much, but I feel like now’s the right time for me to get out there and do my own thing.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Okay, so you went from Partners in Performance to a two month hiatus in Madrid, by the way, one of my favorite cities in the world, if I had to take a little break from work, which I understand school is not always a break, but it feels like it coming from consulting, going to school. There are many, many worst cities in the world that you could do that in than Madrid. So I right there I respect your judgment, just based off that. Then you went to DuPont Sustainable Solutions, and then started Consultya, about a year and a half ago. So talk to me about Consultya. What do you do? Who do you serve? And why would I work with Ahmed and Consultya? It’s the most transferable skill, I think in business, the ability to sell.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Yeah, great question. So maybe I didn’t mention that I did end up making the partnership in DuPont. And I sold some incredible work for the firm. So I ticked the boxes, I felt like if I can sell, I can sell. I didn’t realize that that brand behind you does a lot of the work for you too. But I was confident that I could orchestrate that transformation single handedly.  And so, you know, PIP was all delivery, the SS, a lot of sales. So I felt like I combined the best of both worlds when it came to putting it all together. So look, what I do is predominantly industrial, right? So mining, metals, oil, gas, construction, utilities, anywhere normally, where someone needs to be wearing safety gear and a hardhat is where I can operate. It’s my happy spot. And it’s really where I can add tremendous value. It’s one thing to have the toolkit and the experience. But also over time, when we do that stuff over and over, you really start to have your own benchmark up here, you start having that common sense of how long a transformation could take just based on you spending a couple of days looking and observing, right, and don’t ever discount, how important that is, like the toolkits and the frameworks and all that is really important.

But what starts, in my case, at least to really tick the boxes is you just gotta have the confidence to know that, hey, I’ve seen enough of this that, there is a little bit of that benchmark that is really me. I can benchmark this up and I can tell you where I think you sit on the spectrum without having to refer to a very fancy maturity assessment where I need to tick you know, a million boxes. Sure we can do that as part of the gig, but I can come in and I can be very directional, very indicative with where I think you are. And so Consultya is really about heavy industrial clients mainly. And again, it’s really back again to delivering results. This is not about delivering strategy, this is about delivering results, and turning the dial.  You extract those out of the organization. And somehow you get to build a sustainability tracker. And that’s all going to be good to go. And it’s not. You know, there’s an incredible amount of hours that you’ve just taken away from the company.

And because they overtime, integrated and starting adding tremendous value, the ability to just extract them out thinking that they’re going to get replaced by a very similar piece from the client side is an unrealistic expectation in every way, shape, and form. And so I’m a firm believer that one way to really build the capability is to sit back and coach like literally coach, as in, you will build the model, you will build the tracking, we will do the coaching together, but I take an active role back now it means that we get there a little bit slower, that’s okay. But what I’m trying to do differently, because you might argue, well, how’s that different than to what you’ve done previously? You know, sustainability is really at the core of it, and not just saying that word, but really making sure that there is a tremendous investment in capability building, that I’m taking a little bit of a step back, I’m not doing the work, I am 100% delivering through the line. So if it means that I need to physically sit next to a person and stare at the screen while they do it, so be it. But that’s my deal.

My deal is if you if you’re gonna keep outsourcing the work and farming it out, that’s good, and a lot is going to happen really quickly. But I can promise you that I’ve seen it time and time again, that it fails and it falls over and the consultancies go. And it’s very simple math, you’re bringing in a bunch of very high caliber people who are working 12 plus hours per day, and they’re doing a lot of stuff every day, they’re really busy.  But I guarantee you that they’ve done all the work. And so we’re starting to build a very different product then for the client, which is this is your team doing the work under my guidance, and under my instruction and under my watch. But they’re doing the work. And so they get it fully. It’s not that I’ve built a fancy model, and then I’m going to just conduct a two hour training at the end of the transformation to tick the box and say, yep, I’ve handed that over to the client, well, then we’re never going to be able to build anything like that anytime soon.

Your consulting company has invested in you as an individual for years to get you to build a model of that standard, for example, that was never going to get done in a couple of hours, as far as the handover. So I’ve seen it time and time again, these things fail, they will spend a lot of money in a four to six month window, like it’s millions of dollars.  And it’s this consulting storm. And then it ends, there’s a lot of consulting fatigue. It’s like what the hell just happened. And then everyone’s trying to pick up those little bits. And I go to organization, and I can recognize, ah, that’s from that, that MBB. And that’s from that company. And you can see this, it’s like a war has has taken place. And there’s little remnants of whoever is dropped wherever they did at the time, right? So I’ll see a little template here or there—and I can recognize this because I’ve been in the industry now—who’s done what work, and you can just see the client sitting there going, Ahmed, can we just can we just have something simple here that we can just get started with because it’s just incredibly overwhelming, right?

And every year, there’s a massive corporate mandate for a massive consulting storm somewhere.  And everyone’s just exhausted. And so I feel the angle that I’ve come in from has been successful so far. So recent engagement is a client has just come out from an MBB top down assessment, and I swear to God, it’s a 600 page deck. And, you know, I’d like to think that I understand consulting and that have transformed businesses and I’ve done relatively okay, I’m sitting there struggling, like by the time you get to page 150. And you know, I’m getting to page 200, I’m starting to lose sense of what it is that we were trying to solve for to start with. And every page has three, four charts, 600 pages of three, four charts, you do the math, there is an incredible volume of information that’s getting handed over.

And so you will spend millions of dollars to get a fancy report put together for you, only for the client to come back and say, Hey, Ahmed, what are we doing tomorrow? You know, what am I actually doing? I’ve got this thing here. That’s like busting away and I don’t know where to start. And so, you know, great, there’s a market for this. There’s a market for a little bit of simplicity. And I think there’s even a stronger market now in terms of building capability, sitting back and letting it unfold, letting it fall over. It’s under the watch, there’s coaching and it’s gonna get there. It may be a little bit longer. So that’s really the angle that I’m trying to come in with Consultya at the moment.

MC: Namaan Mian 

First of all, let’s just acknowledge that a 600-page deck is madness. But beyond that, I love the balance there. Like, hey, I’ll sit with you, and I’ll watch you do the work, or I’ll co-work with you, if that’s what it takes. I’m not just handing over a deck and saying, Well, hey, good luck. But at the same time, I’m going to enable transformation by building your people up. And by building your teams up so that this transformation is, like you said, sustainable, you’re able to carry it forward long after I’m gone. I love that balance. I think that’s you’re really straddling the line well between consulting and coaching there, and a lot of these organizations need both. So let’s say I’m in industrials, I’m in mining, and I’m listening to this. And I’m thinking, Okay, how do I know if I need Ahmed’s help? Are there like one or two signs that you could share with me and share with our audience like, Okay, here’s how you know that you need to engage a consulting firm or engage Consultya in the work of industrial transformation?

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Yeah, sure. So one example, which we’ll probably just reference now, but let’s maybe bring it against a different angle is, you’re gonna get this corporate report this this top down assessment, this consulting storm, someone’s going to come in for six weeks and produce a massive report, and you won’t know what to do with it. So sometimes there is I need a Consultya, of sorts, to really take that into now the granular bit that I need to do tomorrow, because I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow with that big massive report.

MC: Namaan Mian 

You need next steps.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Exactly, I need practical, tangible, realistic, next steps that taking into account the maturity, the context, the resourcing that I have. And every other constraint that I have, I mean, these top down benchmark assessments, I can’t believe people are still paying for them, but it’s fine. You know, if it’s getting done, and if it’s corporate mandated, or whatever it is, that’s fine. But there is now an element of pragmatism that needs to come in. So that’s that’s point 1. Point 2 can be, I am not hitting my budget, you know, or I’m hitting my budget, but I’m not hitting it safely. Or I could be hitting my production numbers, but I’m not hitting them cost effectively, you know, there’s something in my P&L that is just not lining up. And and I need a little bit of help here, I need to get across the line, I’m four months into the financial year, or six months in, and I can see that I’m nowhere near getting where I need to.

And you know, I could be a strike 2 for me, it could be that we really need to get this going, I may need help and actually getting this getting this going. And then I need the production numbers or the cost numbers, you know, production to go up or cost to come down, but I need help in actually realizing this is going to get done. You know, this is normally where it comes from. Sometimes people will have very crystal-clear requirements, like I need to build a new management operating system. My business is run by people, it’s not run by processes. As people come and go, things keep falling over. And we seem to reinvent that every time from scratch, I need a good boss, a good management operating system, that manual that’s going to tell me Okay, here is how we go from the annual plan to the quarterly to the monthly, weekly, day shift execution level.

And here’s how we’re going to close the loop, you know, daily, weekly, monthly, and I want this documented, and I want this to be you know, tied into the calendars and tied into the deliverables. I don’t want the KPIs to be cascaded. So a lot of people require that MOS quite often as well. And so sometimes they might come to you with a very specific requirement, you know, I need a good MOS who’s out there who can get a really good MOS in.  So sometimes I could put my hand up to that and say, yep, you know, done dozens of those, happy to come in and not just, again, retrofit, whatever it is—it is bespoke, it will be bottom up, it’ll be co-design, co-design is such a cool word, I don’t know if it’s a buzzword or not. But what I’m trying to say with co-design, we’re gonna we’re gonna build this together, I’m not coming in with some fancy standard that I’m just shoving down everyone’s throats.

We’re gonna work bottom up, engage the front line as well and really build this together so that again, by the time we’re done, we’re not handing anything over, I don’t like handovers, handovers mean that you’ve worked independently of the line, it means that there’s some sort of a distance that you’ve been operating at, that you now need to try and bridge with a checklist. So I don’t do handovers on my gigs, because I make myself as dispensable as possible as early as I can. And that’s genuinely the case. My success is that I get to walk away as soon as possible. And I can happily commit and honor that. You know, it’s not about me just sitting there and milking the bills, month in month out, because I can, it’s how can I get you to stand up on your feet very quickly and as sustainably as possible so that I can work myself out. And that is success for me. And when I present that to executives, I genuinely mean it. My my gig is to not embed myself and your team, I want to get out of there as quickly as I can.

MC: Namaan Mian 

And that’s a differentiator between you and the traditional players in this space, right, where one of the internal metrics of success is, can we sell follow-on work, can we sell and we get embedded inside the client organization. And so coming in from day one, and saying, my goal is to work myself out of a job, I trust that that’s a pretty compelling message.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

And it’s genuine, you know, I’m not sitting there trying to, you know, be a unique differentiator in the market. I genuinely believe that that is a noble and a realistic objective that I can achieve. And that goes back to the billings because I was the partner, you gotta say, hey, what’s next? What are we squeezing? What are we doing, I don’t want to squeeze, I don’t want to milk and I’m not working for billables, if I can get good results, and get firms to stand up, and I can build teams, I feel like I’m making the world a better place. And funny enough, work will come, I don’t have to approach it through some what I’d call a sleazy way just to make it work, I can genuinely make work myself out. And then another opportunity that will come up elsewhere. And that’s fine. And that makes me happy and very fulfilled about the work that I do.  We’ve just barely scratched the surface today, talking about ops transformation. But let’s say someone’s listening to this and thinking, you know what, my team, my division, my organization needs this. I’m going to try and go it alone.

Right? Are there one or two common mistakes that you see inside of operations transformation that you can just caution us against before we start to try and do this on our own? Yeah, of course. Well let’s say, here’s three things that you typically don’t get to see very well, when you go into the organization. Number one, it’s not really quantified. I don’t really have a good solid, quantified pipeline of initiatives that I’m working on. So you say okay, how big is your transformation? And it’s ah look, and it’s measured in the number of initiatives. And sometimes you’ll hear hundreds of initiatives and I’m going, are those poor people, like they’re just suffering this admin storm that they’ve created, so it’s just measured in number of initiatives and stuff. And it’s not really a bottom line value. So that’s one.

Two is I’m looking at the resourcing and how it’s getting put together and who’s doing what, and again, it’s not separate. Either there’s like an internal business improvement team that is just sitting there administering initiatives, in head office, and there’s supposedly the line that’s gonna get out of there and do all the hard work, and then, you know, they’re just bridging the gap with reporting—really bad, and it will never work. And three, what you then get to see a lot of is, it’s not tied to the business metrics.  You know, it’s, again, it’s the number of initiatives, it’s the number of people that we’ve trained, or what are we actually—so here’s the baseline P&L, here are the baseline metrics, what is actually going to change bottom line and you don’t actually get to see how it ties in. And so when you start challenging and looking at privatization efforts and all the rest of it, you will realize that you’re probably not consuming your resources on the 80/20 here.

You’ve spread yourself out so thin trying to fix every single patch on every wall, when the reality is this, you could have consolidated 80% of your resources into those 20% problems, because they would have given you the biggest bang for buck, you know, in terms of value and speed as well. And you’re not getting either of them. So, you know, an executive can then sit at the top and look at, you know what, I’m investing in this, but I’m not getting a return. I’m not seeing what I’m not the P&L is basically not moving. And it’s for all sorts of reasons. Every monthly meeting we have, there is a story about why the numbers haven’t changed in that direction that we want them to change in. And so you start getting the signals as the executives, and that’s when you start thinking, Okay, well, maybe I just need that external eye to come in and just really have a look at how we’re doing this and what needs to change and all the rest of it.

MC: Namaan Mian 

So you occupy a very specific niche. You do operations transformation inside the industrial space. If that applies to folks that are listening today and they want to learn more about you, learn more about the firm, how can they reach out?

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Oh, very straightforward. So you can you can contact me, probably LinkedIn is where I get a lot of the inbound, right, so people can message me directly. My phone number and email are also there available in public. So feel free to come in, add me, text me, email me, call me. Yeah, I’d love to chat and love to get to know people, love to get out there and do more work.

MC: Namaan Mian 

I love that. Well, we’ll share the link to your LinkedIn Ahmed in the show notes. So folks, if you’re listening to this, just go ahead and read the show notes. And you’ll find on this LinkedIn directly linked underneath the episode here. Ahmed, one of our traditions here at Strategy Simplified is that we’d love to end our episodes with a couple of personal questions to get to know our guests a little bit better, and on a more personal level. So just based on your background and your story, I’ve got a couple of burning questions I want to ask you. First, look, you’ve traveled the world, you’ve traveled Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, et cetera. What’s next on your travel bucket list?

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Okay, good question. Um, I have never been to Latin America yet. And I haven’t visited the US yet, surprisingly enough. So the US is definitely big on my agenda. My younger brother lives in Atlanta. So there’s a real reason for me to go now at least, and visiting family can be a good reason. And Latin America is a place that is just it’s an entire continent that I haven’t even explored yet. So I you know, now that I’m in Aus, you can you can get the flight from Sydney to LA, kind of like from the other side. So I’m looking at getting out there from the other side and making my way through the West Coast of the US and hopefully doing a bit of coverage of the US and Latin America. Yeah, but definitely, you know, two big chunks of the world that I haven’t seen yet.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Amazing, highly recommend the drive up Highway One on the West Coast of the US, it makes us comparable to almost any other place. I’ve been in the world. It really is stunning. And if you ever find yourself in Austin, Texas, please let me know. Drink is on me. You mentioned when you were at IE, you started your own mining venture, which that’s a conversation for another day, I have to ask you about how you found gold, have that conversation offline. But is there a career that you thought about going into that you have never explored, like in a different life, would you come back and do something else?

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Ah, pretty good question. Would I have done something else? Look, as I got a bit more senior and I got more involved in in contracts and terms, etc, I got fascinated by law a little bit more as time went by. And as I got more exposed to it, and I started to also see and realize a lot of similarities in terms of how the problems are solved through a different lens, a legal lens, how there’s frameworks, how there’s experience, and how there’s context and how you need to kind of bring those all together to make it work. Maybe in a different life, or in a different time, I would have considered a legal practice. Just because it looks like it’s very similar. Just looking at things more qualitatively, I suppose. But yeah, it’s definitely something I would have considered.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Law school was almost in the cards for me as well. And I have to say, very grateful that I did not go down that path.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Exactly, and I look back, and I think, you know, engineering is a really good degree. But gosh, like, as a mechanical engineer, I was so tangled up in fluid mechanics, and hydraulics and all that kind of stuff. And when I went back into uni, later, at EI, and I was doing development economics. And some of those modules, a lot of the world affairs, were also starting to make a lot more sense in terms of role of central banks and reserve bank, and like, it’s all that stuff that you’ve read in the news, but a lot of it just started to all of a sudden make more sense after that business and economics training. And so maybe there is like a really cool hybrid between engineering and business economics, but I definitely felt like gosh, I almost feel like I should have read some of that stuff a bit earlier on. I know no one will ever learn everything all at once. But yeah, there’s definitely a merit in the engineering work and that detail because you need to get into the detail if you’re going to make a result.

And that’s that’s the thing to any aspiring consultant out there.  You know, you can have all that big macro stuff, and that’s all very exciting, but you’ll never change. And I think, the IBM transformation by Lewis, I think he was the guy who did that big turn. And there’s a really good interview where he goes, what people don’t get is that we have to get to the lowest common denominator at the process level and change those. And once we change processes, is when we started to actually make a change in the organization. You know, engineering gives you that little bit of let me really get in and get dirty and get very process-ey, because that’s where a lot of the change happens. So I’m glad I did that training as well. But I’m also glad that you also get to do some of the bigger picture stuff as well, because it helps to also contextualize, and put things in perspective.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Yeah, I like that consulting is so much about top-down problem solving. But I think a lot of these operational transformations happen from the bottom up, it has to be. And that’s an interesting mindset shift. You know, if you’re just used to thinking about consulting from a strategy consulting perspective.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

Exactly, exactly.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Ahmed, really appreciate our conversation today, your passion for your work, your lust for learning, that really resonates with me. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today.

Consultya: Ahmed Elkomy 

I’m really pleased. Thanks again for the opportunity. I really am glad you enjoyed that, I definitely enjoyed it. And yeah, I look forward to catching up again. Thank you so much.

Filed Under: Consulting Firms, Operations Management, Strategy Simplified