Management consultancy Fifth Frame celebrates 5th anniversary

26 April 2023 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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The human-centric approach to business performance may seem standard in today’s post-pandemic environment, but management consultancy Fifth Frame has been on the case since its founding five years ago.

Founded by former PwC leadership pair Jon Williams and Laura Applebee-Jones in 2018, Sydney-based management consultancy Fifth Frame is celebrating its fifth anniversary in business.

The firm has built up to a team of around a dozen directors and consultants over that time, many with their own background at the Big Four and Accenture. Among anniversary well-wishers was former PwC Sydney managing partner Joseph Carrozzi.

Management consultancy Fifth Frame celebrates 5th anniversary

Prior to establishing Fifth Frame, Williams spent a decade as a partner at PwC, including stints as both the firm’s national and global leader for People and Organisation. He also previously spent more than a decade at human capital consultancy Hewitt Associates – since swallowed by Aon – where he led the firm’s A/NZ business as managing partner. Co-founder Applebee-Jones likewise served for over a decade at PwC, rising to the level of director.

Both hold degrees in psychology (respectively from the University of Reading and UNSW), and bring this element to the management consulting table by putting people and research-based solutions at the centre of organisational performance and improvement challenges.

Although Fifth Frame had to contend with the global pandemic while still in its early days, the human-centred approach to business performance has since become somewhat of a benchmark.

Discussing their motivation for forming the consultancy and its Fifth Frame moniker, Williams states that there are multiple answers. Launching from scratch, the pair figured that numbers were more memorable than names, but amusingly, ‘four’ was already taken in the public consciousness via the ‘Big Four’. Settling on the ‘Fifth Frame’, the only other entity using the name and unlikely to be confused was a brewery based in upstate New York.

Moreover, writes Williams, the Big Four audit and consulting firms all tend to look at solving problems in much the same manner, driven by their shared histories and business models. He and Applebee-Jones concluded that there was usually a better approach – a “fifth way of framing solutions” to significant people issues. It would seem that their employees tend to agree, given that many of them have arrived at the firm via the Big Four and Accenture.

As a sample, director Zoe Harrington joined shortly after launch following four years at PwC, while fellow director Dan Packham crossed from Strategy& in 2020 after six years with PwC in Australia and the United Kingdom. Kirsty Forrest spent seven years with PwC between Sydney and Wellington before joining in 2021 and being promoted to director last year, with more recent director recruit Francis Baldinu having spent four years at Ernst & Young.

Running with the Five Frames theme, the consultancy also models its approach to organisational improvement and a business’s people dynamic around five key pillars – or frames; “Purpose, vision, mission, and values”, “Culture and Capability”, “Strategy”, “Operational model”, and “Execution and alignment”. Any of these elements may be the most important at a given time, but all five remain connected at just about every stage of the business cycle.

Williams concludes; “To be successful the best businesses, governments and not-profits will have to help their workforce navigate the collision of rapidly accelerating technology, social change, and the after-effects of the pandemic with thousands of years of human evolution and hundreds worth of slowly developed societal norms. The answer is not black and white, our personal and collective future prosperity lies in how we choose to navigate these challenges.”