Consulting for Good

Posted by: Jena McGregor on December 23, 2008

Giving back this holiday season with some volunteer work? Here’s an interesting idea from one former CEO who’s doing it in her own way. I came across a story in the magazine Verve, which calls itself “Western North Carolina’s smartest magazine for women.”

Their September/October issue featured a story about Gwen Wisler, the former CEO of the backpack company Eastpak and the safety company First Alert. Wisler, with experience in mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and debt financing, retired to Asheville, the beautiful progressive town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After getting bored by hikes and biking trips, she opted to start consulting with small businesses in the growing area.

In lieu of consulting fees, however, she took up an original model. For every hour she spends helping out a small business, she requires them to do three hours of volunteer work. “I want my services valued,” she told Verve. “I like to get that commitment back from the business owner. I think they’re more likely to implement the suggestions I give them if they have to ‘pay’ for them, rather than getting something for nothing.” Clients can also “pay” Asheville Profits, as her consulting business is known, through in-kind donations to a non-profit in the area.

Reader Comments

Marek Ranis

June 6, 2009 6:58 PM

This is precisely what the management consulting industry needs to survive: innovation. Having been a management consultant for 14 years (once a practice leader for Andersen), I have been through highs and lows (today definitely falls to the latter category). I think that management consulting has been lagging in its flexibility and innovation to adapt to the changing needs of the market and the changing world in general. For anyone interested, there is a blog on this topic at http://piquesolutions.blogspot.com/.

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