"I studied chemistry at undergraduate level, and then organic chemistry as my doctorate. I started with a view to continuing in chemistry but, halfway through my doctorate, I started to rethink this plan. Although I enjoyed working in academia, I did not think my enthusiasm for teaching would last the length of my career. Furthermore, the likelihood of discovering drugs that would one day find their way onto a pharmacist’s shelf was very slim. My doctorate included a few months working at a pharmaceutical company and, although this introduced me to an environment where significant drugs were being delivered to market on a regular basis, it lacked the autonomy you can enjoy within academia. In short, being a small cog in a big machine didn’t really appeal.
"I found my doctorate useful in terms of buying me time to think about what I wanted to do long-term, and upon completion of my PhD I had narrowed my career down to working in the not-for-profit sector or for government (particularly the diplomatic service). To help decide between the two, I was lucky enough to gain a scholarship to study for a Masters degree in diplomacy and trade in Australia. This degree gave me an insight into the workings of government, although unfortunately the insights were not particularly favourable. In particular, I was struck by government’s inability to react quickly, the levels of bureaucracy, and the political rather than factual basis upon which decisions can be made. On the other hand, I felt that not-for-profit organisations – although they lacked the scale – were more nimble, and had the potential to address key issues more effectively.
"Having decided upon a career within the not-for-profit world, I felt I needed to gain some business/management experience to be of value within it. I felt a way of gaining good experience quickly would be through management consulting, and this led to a short spell at the international management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. After a couple of years at McKinsey, I felt I had the experience to be of use in the not-for-profit sector, and was fortunate to be offered a chief executive position for Rumbalara, an aboriginal sporting and community organisation. I worked there for a couple of years but ended up leaving because my British girlfriend (now wife!) was homesick and wanted to return to the UK.
"Upon returning to the UK in 2005, I looked initially for senior management positions within not-for-profit organisations. While none of the full-time and permanent positions really interested me, a number of short-term consulting projects did. In order to conduct the consultancy work, I had to form a legal entity – and thus MCH Consulting was founded. MCH still works exclusively with not-for-profit organisations, and helps in areas such as staff training, business planning, project evaluations and funding proposals.
"While MCH does have associate arrangements with other consultants and trainers, I am its only full-time consultant. While I have considered recruiting additional staff, I think the likelihood of finding someone with the skill-set required – who is willing to work for the salary I can afford – is so small that it would be a waste of time. Consequently, a key challenge is that I am responsible for all aspects of the company and am constantly having to watch my own back. Again, though, the experience of my doctorate helps in this regard."