BCG accepts public sector and NGO employees for secondment

17 October 2018 Authored by Consultancy.com.au

The Boston Consulting Group has taken on public sector and non-for-profit organisation employees for an in-house secondment lasting from three to six months. The announcement of cross sector cooperation has drawn criticism from the national Labor Party and the Community and Public Sector Union, reigniting the debate surrounding consultants working in the Australian public sector.

The announcement was made by The Boston Consulting Group’s new Managing Partner Anthony Roediger. Roediger, who took the reins at the strategy consulting firm at the beginning of the month, said that the secondments would increase the level of cooperation and learning between sectors.

The consulting firm accepted three professionals into its offices across Australia, which include Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. “Over time we have had three people do secondments into BCG: two from Indigenous not-for-profit organisations, and one from a state government under a program organised by the Business Council of Australia,” Roediger said.

“The public servant typically works on projects with other clients and not back with their government,” he added, referencing the firm’s prior experiences bringing in public servants. “They have often worked on projects before but often in government there are usually several projects running at once and it's alongside their day job, whereas in consulting, the project is your day job. And they're working with different people with different skill sets; they might be working in a new industry for them.” 

As a part of the secondment, the three would join multiple project teams and focus on learning multiple skills which would then be adaptable in their own positions. Getting thrown into new situations is part and parcel of the lifestyle of a consultant and one which bring with it a valuable skillset. “There's lots of new experiences that they get from that which allows them to gain new skills, such as client service, which is our business,” he said.BCG accepts public sector and NGO employees for secondment

The new Managing Partner has been with the firm for over ten years and has a long history working with the public sector. Before he accepted the job as Managing Partner for Australia and New Zealand, Roediger ran BCG’s Asia Pacific Public Sector practice. “My career at BCG has been roughly 50 per cent working with private sector clients, largely in my early days at the firm, and the other half of the time working with pubic sector clients,” he said. 

Whilst Roediger said the firm is “open to hearing proposals from the Commonwealth government, alongside other organisations” about secondments within the firm, he touched on the controversy surrounding the scheme. However, he believes that concerns over conflicts of interest – particularly in the midst of the ongoing public/private sector debate for public work – were mitigated and easily managed when clear rules were set beforehand.

“Like any secondment arrangement, there have to be clear expectations, there has to be a framework for how it is set up. Whoever the person is, there's probably some things that they shouldn't work on. So you have to decide all that and do that upfront," he said.

Whilst one public sector employee spending three to six months learning from a consulting firm many not seem like such a big deal, the Australian sphere is saturated with a debate about public spending, and whether consultants and contractors should engage in public sector work, which is picking up due to increasing digitalisation across governments. It is likely to come into play at the next Australian election with the two major parties contending on either side of the argument.

Anthony Roediger has recently taken over the reins from Andrew Clark, who is on secondment himself to oversee the NAB’s transformation until 2020 as a strategic advisor. Andrew Clark has been instrumental in the consulting firm’s growth in digital transformation business and agile coaching due to accelerating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

Clark featured second on Australian Financial Review’s most influential Australian consultant ranking this year.

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