What’s missing to drive hockey stick performance in your business?

Stratford Managers know what it’s like to sit in your chair
Stratford Managers
Jim Roche, President and CEO Stratford Managers (left) and Colleen Kelley VP and Practice Lead Business Operations Stratford Managers (right) discuss how SME's can leverage consultants to scale their business. (photo credit: Mark Holleron)

Jim Roche can appreciate if the executive team of a mid-sized company is skeptical about the value an outside consultant can deliver. “When I hear the word ‘consultant,’ even I think of someone who is going to borrow my watch to tell me the time,” he said. “They’ll tell me what I already know, they won’t really understand my business and they certainly will not know what it’s like to sit in my chair.”

But he and the rest of the team at Stratford Managers are not your typical consultants. They have lived as entrepreneurs, executives and CEOs of both small and multinational enterprises and know what it takes to scale an organization.

Roche himself has a long history in Ottawa’s telecom sector. He co-founded Tundra Semiconductor and as CEO, built that company up to a $1.5-billion valuation.

During his time at Tundra, Roche came to realize how small to midsized companies (SMEs) just didn’t have access to the kind of external consulting help they needed to scale their businesses. The big consultancies focused on multinationals—a much different dynamic. In one instance, Tundra had before it an excellent opportunity to make an acquisition, but the executive team was too consumed by operational needs at the time to make a proper go of it.

"We take a high degree of ownership in anything we do with our clients, to help them overcome the friction points that are limiting their potential."

“I really felt an opportunity passed us by because we didn’t have a partner like Stratford to help with due diligence,” he said.

So, what’s different about Stratford? “We give SMEs the flexibility to benefit from the expertise of a senior executive in whatever way makes sense for them,” said Colleen Kelley, Stratford’s VP and Practice Lead, Business Operations. “Consider us ‘embedded executives.’”

Stratford has the multidisciplinary expertise to tackle any business challenge, with practices aligned to all the major functions within a growing organization that must be improved to achieve scale.

“Clients can retain a consultant for coaching and advisory services up to the executive level, embed them for a specific role within the organization either full or part time, or call on us for a specific project,” said Kelley. “We build long-term relationships with our clients and many come from market verticals beyond high-tech.”

“We feel we are ‘a part of,’ versus ‘consulting to,’” Roche added. “Being accountable is cooked into our DNA. We take a high degree of ownership in anything we do with our clients, to help them overcome the friction points that are limiting their potential.”

For most SMEs, working with a consultancy isn’t a natural part of the toolbox as it is for multinationals, but it should be, says Roche.

“It’s like building a strong hockey team – you need to practice with the help of an A-list player and coach. We are that A-list ingredient.”

What our clients say

“As a new CEO I was looking for a firm that could provide strategic advice around a number of topics as I looked to grow the company. My decision to go with Stratford was based on the strong diverse capabilities of their team. I have now engaged Stratford on several assignments in areas such as market assessment, enterprise risk management, strategy and communications. I have been very satisfied with all aspects of their work and consider them to be an excellent source of talent to support our growth objectives.”
- Kevin Ford, President and CEO Calian Group Ltd.

“Stratford Managers provided actionable recommendations and practical implementation guidance informed by their extensive operational experience. In contrast to some consulting firms we’ve worked with, Stratford’s highly engaged approach ensured that they really understood our business and provided us with a clear path forward as we evolve our product management and go-to-market capabilities.”
- Byron Holland, President and CEO Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)