Erica McQuiston Takes Think’s Consulting Division to the Next Level
Matching Industry Experts to Clients’ Cultures Fuels Success
Erica McQuiston joined Think in 2019 as a senior project manager and was promoted in June 2020 to director of management consulting & diversity and inclusion officer. In just one short year, and probably one of the most difficult years in recent history, McQuiston successfully evolved Think’s consulting division from operations consulting to management consulting, instituted a diversity and inclusion program, nearly doubled in size the consulting team and saw a 20 percent increase in division revenue. Results that would make any CEO ecstatic, and McQuiston as a servant leader attributes her success to her team.
“At Think, we are continually learning and evolving, harnessing the power of our similarities and leveraging the strengths of our differences to provide the best solutions to our partners,” says McQuiston. “One of my favorite quotes is by Booker T. Washington – I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”
McQuiston manages a team of high-performing management consultants that provide expertise to assist small to mid-market businesses, nonprofits and the government sector, in industries including health care, higher education, K-12, broadcast, financial services, publishing and manufacturing among others. McQuiston matches team members to clients based on their skill level, industry experience and work culture.
Culture is a differentiator for Think, and members of its organization have encountered hundreds of corporate cultures in their experiences. Unlike hiring an individual that may have experience with a few corporate cultures in a single career, Think can easily match experts with similar cultural experiences to effectively operate and assimilate into a client’s environment.
“Our strength is our people,” McQuiston adds. “We are successful because of the talented people we’ve brought on board, their diverse backgrounds within the industries they worked, where they’ve grown up, and who they are as individuals. As we add to the team, we’re looking for people with skills that we don’t have already, who are extremely accomplished and agile, as we step into new industries.”
Project Management is nothing new; many organizations employ project managers to execute key strategic initiatives, but not all companies have dedicated Project Management Offices. Project Management Offices are dedicated and disciplined departments able to handle full scale project management operations. While Think has offered Project Management consulting services for years, it became blatantly apparent to McQuiston upon becoming director that there was an opportunity to provide PMO as a service (PMOaaS) as part of its management consulting offering.
Think has expanded its Project Management services from providing operational based, tactical solutions to large-scale strategic management consulting, aimed at helping organizations grow and build their own Project Management Office (PMO). PMOaaS provides full-scale project management operations for companies without a PMO in place and those unable to build one on their own. Think provides a team of expert consultants to create a PMO structure for the organization, instilling frameworks, methodologies and processes, while hiring, training and coaching project managers, coordinators and strategic leaders to create a self-supporting PMO.
“PMO is a discipline; it’s a known specialty that a company wants,” says McQuiston. “The custom part of it is to figure out the way to put that into their culture. We partner with them to figure out where they are right now, culturally and growth-wise, so that we right size the discipline so that they can take it and run with it after we leave.”
The new service saves clients time and money. There’s no need to hire high level management staff to create processes, develop a PMO charter outlining operations or conduct a project assessment, which can take years and a lot of capital upfront to build organically. Think teams of highly skilled, management level professionals come on board ramped up and trained to assess and create a fully functional PMO, working efficiently and effectively starting on day one. The client-Think partnership also involves providing guidance and recommending changes to an existing PMO if handling operations differently would elicit greater success.
“Think has matured,” says Jeff Welch, vice president and chief services development officer for Think. “We used to be a team coming in when a client was in trouble. We were operator based, tactical, parachuting into a burning fire to help get it under control. We’ve done so much of that work that we’ve recognized our ability to be far more strategic at the executive advisor level and help guide partners through decisions they have to make to be successful.”
Think continues to offer project management support, project rescue, project management mentoring, business process improvement, and change management integration. PMOaaS is being added to the list of trusted services provided to organizations needing a comprehensive solution for their key strategic initiatives. Think sees PMOaaS as a bridge strategy for a company, providing support when and how they need it. For businesses who have enough project work spanning longer periods of time, this solution can work in the short term or help them build an internal PMO team. Think gets that this is the natural progression of things, and they work hard to help businesses enable it.
When asked where Think will be a year from today, McQuiston said “Building relationships with new clients to help them achieve their goals. That’s what we do.”
Established in 2004 in Baltimore, Think Systems has built its reputation on providing high-quality consultancy services as well as organizational transformation, operational effectiveness, innovation, demand management, Project Management Office build-out, scale and growth. Last fall, the company expanded to the venture capital arena when it acquired Ventrue LLC, a Naples, Fla.-based shared services company. Think also opened an office in Boca Raton, Florida, last fall. I95 Content Marketing