Rotation Programme

Brief: 

Oliver Wyman asked high potential consultants to apply to a two-year rotation programme to help train and develop employees in new and remote offices and to fill talent gaps that were difficult to fill locally.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 

There is difficulty in building consulting talent fast enough to meet demand in rapidly growing small, often remote, offices.

  • Lack of brand recognition makes it difficult to recruit top talent in new and unfamiliar markets, such as Beijing and Brazil.
  • It is often hard to staff the full organization pyramid locally to the extent required for effective operations.
  • There is a need to ensure that remote offices operate, grow, and develop through a common culture.
  • Experimental hiring in new and remote markets, such as Dubai, presents a risk.

As a global firm, reliant on top specialist expertise, Oliver Wyman uses a global staffing model that gets the right expertise where it is needed, irrespective of where that talent resides. Staffing of new and remote regions needs to accommodate to that model and allow early career professionals to get exposed to these environments both to grow professionally and to deliver needed capability.

Solution: 

Oliver Wyman uses the rotation programme in conjunction with its global staffing model to get talent where it is needed and create strong networks and relationships between staff in remote and major offices.

  • Talent shortage (Beijing): In building a new market in Beijing, Oliver Wyman first moved a select group of experienced partners to the region, but had difficulty staffing middle and entry-level employees. HR opened up a rotation programme to China to jump-start the new office. The application process was highly publicized and open to all staff. The best candidates were sent to China to help build the company brand and spread a common culture.
  • Talent overage (Dubai): In the aftermath of the economic downturn, Oliver Wyman’s North American offices were looking to cut their budgets; however, job offers had already been extended to a group of promising new consultants. At the same time, the Dubai office was looking to expand and recruit new talent. Oliver Wyman initiated a rotation programme from the United States to Dubai to solve this talent overage. Ten of 12 interested new hires were sent to Dubai on rotation with the option of staying one to two years.
  • Competitive talent market (Brazil): Brazil has a very competitive talent market. To develop its Brazil offices, Oliver Wyman has expanded recruiting strategies to “recruit from the world for the world”. Brazilian and Portuguese talent who are recruited to North America, Spain, and the United Kingdom can then be placed on rotation to help developing markets in their home country. At the other end, Brazilian employees who are home grown and home hired can rotate to company offices outside the country if they so desire.
Impact: 

The rotational programmes have been a huge success and have earned credibility as a positive way to develop and retain talent and to serve business needs. Those involved in the programmes report favourably on their experience.

  • Beijing: The talent shortage in Beijing was filled and consultants on rotation were able to grow the brand and build a cultural link to home offices.
  • Dubai: The Dubai office saved money on recruitment and gained immediate access to high potential talent. The new consultants experienced great success in Dubai. In the words of one young professional: “I never could have anticipated all of the the exciting, engaging and educational aspects of my job in Dubai, and am thrilled that I was able to work there. It was a truly global experience: I worked on 12 projects in 7 countries on 4 continents, with consultants from every Oliver Wyman GMC office in the world.” When these young professionals returned from rotation they brought an energy and excitement to their home offices. Two consultants even chose to remain in Dubai and develop their careers there.
  • Brazil:  The flexibility of rotational programmes keeps Brazilian employees happy and engaged and improves talent retention in this competitive market.
Why has it worked?: 
  • The original seed ideas for the rotation programmes came from human capital; however, the policy was not developed in a vacuum. The HR leadership made a point to incorporate partners and consulting staff in the discussion. Incorporating the interests of all stakeholders involved has been key to success.
  • Oliver Wyman has thought through the employee rotation experience from beginning to end. Candidates are screened for maturity and potential and, once selected, they undergo cultural training. Upon arrival, employees are welcomed by colleagues in their host office and are introduced to an advisor and talent manager. The same thing is done one or two years later to ease re-entry back to the home country.
  • The employee review and global staffing process allows consultants to remain on a steady career trajectory upon returning home. Employees are reviewed every six months through transparent case reviews that are seen by partners throughout the company. The partners trust these performance reviews and are equally loyal to new or returning employees. 
  • Oliver Wyman employees are resilient to mobility because this is the nature of business consulting. Employees work with different case teams from assignment to assignment so they are comfortable working colleagues from different offices as well.
  • The acceptance of movement between company offices is embedded in the culture at Oliver Wyman. Talent managers are trusted to make decisions that will benefit the company.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • When returning employees to their home country, be sensitive to the effect this will have on the host country.  In Dubai, partners and staff were very disappointed about losing consultants. 
  • Declare victories to the organization at large to build understanding, momentum, pride and appreciation.
  • Pick people carefully: placing Westerners in a different environment does not work for everyone.  This requires maturity, genuine interest in other cultures, tolerance and curiosity.
  • Invite people to express interest versus quietly tapping them on the shoulder. Transparency during the selection process builds trust and enables you to find the best-suited talent.  It also builds excitement and support in the organization.
Foundational Issues: 
Public and private constraints on mobility
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 1: Collaboration within the organization
Region: 
Global (all of the above)
Economic and political context: 
  • Oliver Wyman has a global staffing model to satisfy talent needs across 25 countries around the world. Global staffing is done to even out supply and demand and to bring in needed capabilities and skills to different regions.
  • There is a great amount of flexibility and fluidity of talent mobility at Oliver Wyman. This improves employee satisfaction and leads to higher retention rates.
  • An estimated 10% of staff have lived and worked in more than one office, in multiple countries, across multiple regions of the world.
  • Over half of staff has worked on assignments in countries other than their home country.
About the Author(s): 

With offices in 50+ cities across 25 countries, Oliver Wyman is a leading global management consulting firm that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, organizational transformation, and leadership development.  The firm's 3,000 professionals help clients optimize their businesses, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities.