Michael Stubbs heads up recruitment for the Strategy Market at Cooper Fitch. As a business, we get access to the best strategy minds in the market which gives us a good overall view of the market itself, as well as who is hiring (Industry & Management Consulting clients) and where consultants are doing most of their work at the moment (Management Consulting).
“Strategy” as a discipline became more popular in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we have started to see more and more Saudi nationals get involved, some go abroad and study, to obtain a Bachelor or Masters degree.This is very positive for the Saudi economy, as it allows local businesses to start relying on Saudi nationals to be future leaders of their companies, instead of having to employ and relocate expats into the region. I guess this will also make it easier for the Government to achieve its Saudi 2030 vision.
What is Cooper Fitch seeing in Saudi?
Before 2009, in-house Strategy roles were far and few between in the market, with most private companies having small in-house PMO functions that were not really driven by strategy, but more on “gut instinct”. The multinationals were the only ones in the market with somewhat reasonable strategy teams. This started to change around two years ago when the Saudi Government put emphasis on national transformation and strategy, which required every entity to have some sort of Strategy & Implementation department.
What does this mean for Consultancies?
As we all know there is a huge market for management consultancies in Saudi. This is why most of the flights on a Sunday morning to Saudi will be full of Tier 1 consultants beginning their four-day work week in Saudi. Even though this market is becoming more competitive with the Big 4’s and others in some cases offering prices significantly lower than the likes of MBB to gain market share. Furthermore, due to the fact that the Big 4 are actually based in Saudi and have more Saudi nationals working for them, it is definitely working in their favor when it comes to winning new projects. I would say, that since Strategy & Transformation is being pushed by the government, and the fact that companies are investing so much in their internal teams, it could see a decline in the need to use Strategy houses.
What do the opportunities in Saudi look like for Consultants / Industry Strategists?
As I have established earlier, “transformation” is a big thing in Saudi at the moment with many companies currently going through this process. Businesses are more streamlined, and in some cases have added a strategy department. Other than market intel, we have witnessed it first hand, as we have recently been dealing with more CEOs and CSOs to either strengthen their Strategy teams or helping to build a whole new team.
"Overall, I feel that in the current climate I am seeing more industry jobs in Saudi for strategy professionals than anywhere else in the GCC. I feel that Saudi could see a little bit of a decline in the use of strategy houses as more and more companies start to invest in their own teams. Lastly, with more companies strengthening / creating their Strategy departments will also be beneficial for the economic climate in Saudi as companies will become more competitive and thus raising the overall bar."
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