Step Advisory is extremely relationship focussed; it is a core value of the business and one which we endeavour to uphold. A fitting example of how this value remains a priority for us and is lived in our everyday operations is the unique secondment placements which we provide to our team members. These secondments offer exceptional opportunities for team growth and development, as well as serving external partnerships and relationships.  

Since 2018, we have partnered with entities within our greater Group by seconding enthusiastic Step team members into the executive offices to journey with and serve the CEOs and Executives over a six-month to a year term. These diversified companies have multinational operations and global aspirations, but most importantly, they share our values, and our organisational cultures are aligned.

These secondments granted our team the chance to expand their skill sets, gain hands-on experience of running business operations, work with new teams and leaders, and learn new techniques and approaches.

Additionally, the secondment opportunities provide our partner companies an immense value exchange in low friction access to our high-performing, pool of talented consultants. This reduces the capital and time spent in the usual recruitment cycle adding to a mutually beneficial relationship.

To get a better understanding of the secondment opportunities, we spoke to four of our (current and former) consultants to unpack their day-to-day operations, explore the learning opportunities they received, outline the challenges faced, and the highlights that came with stepping out of their consulting comfort zone. These opportunities focussed mainly on executive support for relatively large organisations that operate businesses in different industries and countries around the world.

Doing business at the speed of trust

MEGAN JOSCELYNE (MJ): The main objectives of my role included compiling board submissions, contributing to and the review of the company Annual Report and AGM presentation, and other special projects, including the launch of a data technology business and analysis of the strategic fit and profitability of companies for potential acquisition.

DANIEL BARNARD (DB): I supported in a private equity value add capacity by unlocking value across the company’s portfolio of investments, fulfilled by supporting each of the investments based on their nature, stage, current business requirements, and the shareholders’ level of influence. I assisted in managing the overall investment portfolio from a fiduciary oversight perspective. Additionally, I aided another Group company by supporting Business As Usual (BAU) initiatives and unlocking value through identifying, selecting and helping to initiate key strategic initiatives.

JAMES HALLIER (JH): I served as the Executive Assistant to the then-CEO and the incoming CEO during their handover period.

BEN BEGHIN (BB): I provided support to the Managing Director of two pillars in one company. I was responsible for driving strategic projects within the Pillars that were part of the 2022 objectives set by the Group Board. Additionally, I assisted the MD in compiling all Group Board reporting and presentations on a quarterly basis.

What were the biggest learnings you experienced from this opportunity?

MJ: During my secondment, I gained incredible exposure not only to the breadth of executive leadership within the company but to the practical application of strategy to the operations of a multinational company. The learning journey was placed squarely in my court, enabling me to chart the course of my learnings throughout my secondment. Experiencing a unique leadership style first-hand was truly a privilege and, by far, one of the greatest learnings of my secondment. The executive’s seemingly effortless commitment to the Group principles of ‘Care and Growth’ was continually embodied – and I so appreciated the trust instilled in me and the commitment to my growth journey. I was given the independence to see projects through from start to finish. From planning the approach and executing the various workstreams right through to presenting the deliverables to the leaders within the group. I learned how to manage my time effectively while balancing multiple other tasks at the same time. This gave me the confidence to trust my judgement, capabilities, and the skills I had cultivated at Step before my secondment.

BB: Being a dedicated Executive Assistant allowed me to apply skills and concepts that I developed at Step in a real business environment. I was no longer consulting but actually working for the business and witnessed first-hand the impact of my work. Engaging with multiple stakeholders across the company and its portfolio companies provided an opportunity to work with different people, build new relationships and be exposed to new businesses. The exposure to these leaders provided a unique opportunity to learn from them and see how they deal with business decisions at a senior level.

DB: Going in, there were no defined parameters for the secondment role, and I didn’t know what the business (or businesses) needed, so finding comfort working in the grey was a big learning for me. There were constantly changing demands that require my input, and I had to remind myself that I was brought into this environment to think, to take the initiative and roll up my sleeves. For every problem posed, I needed to present two or three solutions. And those solutions needed to be robust and either grounded in data or sound thinking. The diversity of the experience was certainly a highlight for me. I gained exposure to different industries, business models, leaders, company maturities, company propositions/outlooks, and the skills and capabilities required, and I found that my own response and the skills I needed to bring to the table were wide-ranging.

What were some of the challenges you faced?

BB: Being dropped into a completely new environment and business and having to be brought up to speed in a relatively short timeframe was quite daunting. Additionally, as it is a role suited to one person,  the experience was mostly focused on working independently of a team and hence was somewhat lonely at times. Quite a different experience compared to working within a larger Step project team; however, huge growth opportunities came with this exposure.

DB: Operating autonomously (to a large extent) was tough. I’m used to working within the Step team, where you have a group of smart and driven individuals behind you. In this role, I was often operating on my own, engaging with the C-Suite and putting forward my ideas without having stress tested them against the team. With that came the pressure to ensure that what I was doing was adding value to their businesses. Time is valuable, and you don’t want to waste it.

JH:  Coordinating special projects between different businesses and executives and the upward management of individuals in far more senior positions is part of the learnings and challenges I experienced, and I feel I have grown professionally in leaps and bounds on account of the experience. The secondment opportunity stretched me as I was often given the space to make decisions and complete projects that were above the level of responsibility that I had previously had. I was given the freedom to take on responsibility, make mistakes and grow in a safe environment.

What were some highlights from this experience?

BB: I enjoyed meeting and engaging with the broader external team and forming new relationships. Working so closely with the leaders provided a unique opportunity to learn from them and see how they deal with pressing and critical business decisions. It was rewarding to see the efforts of my work being implemented in the business and how it impacted them in the long run. It was great exposure to step into more of an execution phase and less strategic advisory for the duration of the secondment.

MJ: I was given the freedom to pursue projects that I was passionate about, including two special projects focused on:

  1. Women in Leadership, where the sharing of female leaders’ personal and career stories to the rest of the business was encouraged; and
  2. A community awards programme where volunteers across the group are awarded funding for the charities where they regularly volunteer their time.

To journey alongside a leader of the CEO’s calibre was a tremendous growth opportunity – one which I am so lucky to have been afforded during my time at Step and one I would choose again in a heartbeat.

JH: The exposure that this allowed me was something that only some individuals at my career stage would have access to were it not for the relationship between Step and the broader partners. I’m grateful to have worked under leaders who exhibit sharp business acumen and steadfast integrity. The experience of working under these types of leaders and being part of a larger organisation with companies in so many different industries is one that I will certainly never forget!

These secondment opportunities have provided our team with phenomenal exposure to multiple growth and development opportunities, including:

  • Practical application of strategy execution and implementation
  • Being stretched in executive-level critical thinking
  • Continued, direct exposure to renowned executives highlighting the importance of decision-making and effective team leadership skills
  • Active involvement in internal and external special projects over and above strategic execution and implementation
  • Development of professional maturity in executive communication and project management
  • Being guided in an autonomous working environment.

The talent opportunity provided the team insight into the flip side of consulting, actively contributing to the internal operations of organisations and how strategy is truly implemented. The opportunity provided the team with exposure to how senior executives make decisions that determine the direction of their organisations and the process they follow in making these decisions. Ultimately, the Step team members displayed great levels of commitment and trust and they were rewarded with exponential growth in confidence and professional maturity and experience.


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