Consultancy 101: demystifying consultancy for University staff

Peri Cihan

by Peri Cihan

Cambridge Enterprise Consultancy Services team recently piloted a training workshop designed to provide advice for academics that carry out consultancy for external organisations, and to explain why consulting can be a great way to share research knowledge. It also provided an opportunity for us to engage with new audiences at the University.

The half-day session started with the basics: a brief introduction to CE followed by our view on the benefits of consultancy. We addressed the key issues to consider when taking on a consultancy project, and the services that are available to University staff from CE. We endeavoured to put ourselves in the shoes of the consultants, and worked through the consultancy process, from start to finish, including the review of a mock consultancy agreement. More than 50 people attended the event, with another 50 on the waiting list.

Previously, CE has put on very specific training sessions for our academic consultants who carry out work as expert witnesses. This time, though we wanted to deliver something that would be useful for a wider group; those who currently provide consultancy or are considering doing so, whether or not they choose to be supported by Cambridge Enterprise.

I think it’s safe to say that the highlight of the event was the panel and Q&A session with three of our current clients. Professor John O’Brien, Dr Frank Waldron-Lynch and Dr Dan Tucker each shared their personal experience as consultants – the good and the bad. We had many questions for the presenters and the panel, and vigorous discussions between participants. It was indeed encouraging to hear a number of participants remark that using CE’s Consultancy Services, rather than consulting independently, was a ‘no brainer.’

We’ll be running Consultancy 101 again next year, so if you’re interested, watch this space. You can register your interest on the PPD website here.

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