Five minutes with… George Kemish, Specialist HR

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CityX took five minutes to speak to George Kemish of Specialist HR to find out more about his business and its plans for the future.

Tell us about the business, what is it you do?

As you will see below, we are not your standard HR consultancy.  We help our clients to leverage the ‘right’ strategies, capabilities, structure and culture to support collaboration, innovation and creativity in order to enable them to respond to changes in the external environment with speed and scale.

Our main areas of expertise are:

  • Organizational Design & Organisational Restructuring
  • Business Expansion
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (TUPE)
  • Identification and Mapping of the Value Chain – Including Inter-Departmental Interactions required to support the Value Chain
  • Project Planning & Change Management
  • Succession Planning & Induction Training
  • Staffing Reviews & Skills Audits
  • Facilitation of Quality Continuous Improvement Events

We are also adept at supporting Business Scenario Planning in times of uncertainty, ambiguity and turbulence (Oxford Approach)

When was the business formed and how has that changed over the years?

The company was formed in January 2017 but we did not start marketing our services until May of that year.  However, we have recently transformed the way in which we provide our services and have subsequently rebranded.

Tell us a bit about what the business has done over the past year

The uncertainty brought about by Brexit, coupled with the poor economic climate, resulted in a reduction in our UK-based consultancy work whilst our client-base in India, Singapore and the Middle East has increased.  At the same time, we took the opportunity to utilise research undertaken by the RBL Group, based in Utah, USA, into the operations of, what are deemed to be, some of the most successful companies across the global markets.  Whilst the RBL Group concentrated on companies based in the USA, Canada, China and Scandinavia, we continued to carried out our own research in the UK, Europe, India, Singapore and the Middle East.  This culminated in our rebranding; with a move away from concentrating purely on HR Strategy to providing a more holistic consultancy service that will provide greater value to the client.  We have now published the results of our research and development across seven articles, all of which start with the words ‘Strategic Agility’ and these can be found via my LinkedIn Profile or on our website at

What are your proudest moments within the business?

My proudest moment was in being asked, by Dave Ulrich, if I would review his book ‘Reinventing the Organization’ (co-written with Arthur Yeung).  Dave is a Professor at Ross Business School, at the University of Michigan, as well as being a founding partner at the RBL Group (Management Consultancy).  He has received a number of plaudits over the years, not least being named as the #1 Management Educator and Guru by Business Week.  To receive the book directly from him and to be asked to provide a review was quite an honour for me and reflects the quality of the research undertaken by my company and the close relationship that we have forged with Dave Ulrich & RBL.

How has the current coronavirus pandemic affected your business?

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic we have not been able to get out to see clients, or prospective clients, and have not been able to network in the normal way, although we have continued to network and hold client meetings online.  We had only just completed the bulk of our research and re-brand as the coronavirus hit the UK.  However, this has provided us with an opportunity to carry out some developmental work with a view to changing the way in which we undertake our consultancy work in the future.  Whilst our clients have been happy with the work that we have undertaken in the past, we now feel that we can provide even greater value; having delved deep into the leadership techniques, strategies, capabilities, structure and culture utilised by some of the most successful businesses in the world today.

Are you doing anything to diversify your business in response to the pandemic?

Over the past few weeks, we have had to diversify due to the limitations imposed on our consultancy services due to the lockdown.  Luckily for us we were approached by a training company to help produce webinars linked to a number of HR and recruitment practices; aimed specifically at coping during the COVID crisis.  However, we are continually monitoring the lockdown rules and the Health & Safety Guidance issued by the Government and the HSE with regard to safe working, so that we will be in a position to resume the provision of our full consultancy services, across some sectors, at the earliest opportunity.  We will also continue to provide online training courses and webinars.  During the period of lockdown, we have also offered a free consultation for any employer who is experiencing difficulties in managing remote working.  This offer will continue through until 30th June 2020 when it will be reviewed and, if still required, extended.

Can you offer advice to businesses struggling during this time, whether they are in the same industry as yours or not?

It is always difficult to offer advice when you don’t know the business.  However, my general advice to businesses during the current lockdown would be:

  • If you are struggling to provide a product or service, try and diversify.   Could you take your business online?  We have seen this with some small shops, even some small cafes that provide afternoon teas, where you can order and pay online – they will allow you to collect the items or will deliver within a given distance.
  • Keep in touch with your current and potential customers – continue to nurture your relationship with them.
  • Continue marketing – keep your brand in the public eye.
  • Start planning for the future – remember that both customer and employee expectations are likely to have changed.  Keep a close eye on both the internal and external environments.  Don’t just look at what your competitors are doing – also look at what they are not doing.  What will customers need in the future that is not currently being provided?

If you want to ‘stay in the game’ then you need to offer something different that is of value.

What are your future plans for your business?

Taking our own advice, we are looking at the changes that have taken place in the external environment due to the lockdown and taking stock of what our customers will require in the future.  Even before the lockdown, we were seeing companies restructure purely as a cost-cutting exercise.  This, in our view, is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.  The hierarchical structures that leverage conformity and stifle collaboration, innovation and creativity still remain in many businesses.  Having spent a great deal of time in carrying out research and development, we are confident that we have the right ‘tools’ to add a wealth of value to businesses that are looking to take the lead in the marketplace, but are unsure of how to leverage the ‘right’ strategies, capabilities, structure and culture to support collaboration, innovation and creativity in order to move forward.  In addition to providing this consultancy service, we intend to continue to provide webinars, videos and training courses that are bespoke to the needs of the client.

What do you think the future holds for your industry?

This is a difficult question to answer because, following our rebrand, our service provision now covers both HR Strategy and Management Consultancy and so we traverse both in order to provide a holistic approach to the provision of our consultancy services.  In general, I believe that the restrictions that we have been experiencing will strengthen the consultancy industry; especially as companies start to plan, for what many see, as an uncertain future.  However, the changes in customer expectations, brought about by the lockdown, will also have an effect on the services that we, as consultants, provide to our clients.  Like our clients, we need to continuously monitor the external environment in order to take stock of new trends in the marketplace and utilise this research to build a unique service that adds true value.  I believe that clients will be more likely to look for certain safeguards when utilising consultancy services in the future and that, as consultants, we will be required to provide proof that we meet the requirements of ISO 20700 (Guidelines for Management Consultancy Services).