Founding Partner at Oxbow Partners Christopher Sandilands Chris Sandilands is a Founding Partner of Oxbow Partners, a firm of executives who specialise in advising the Insurance industry on strategy, digital, M&A and risk. Chris also has an entrepreneurial streak that spans beyond advising companies and investors within the insurance space, having founded or invested in other innovative start-ups in recent years. Since leaving Oliver Wyman in 2012 Chris has worked with The Barton Partnership on numerous occasions from both a client and candidate perspective, continuing to interact with the business regularly.
NAME: Chris Sandilands STUDIED: Russian & German at Oxford CURRENTLY: Partner at Oxbow Partners CAREER HISTORY: Grad scheme / underwriter
Munich Re (Munich), 6 years Oliver Wyman, online startup, independent consultant, Oxbow Partners FAVOURITE FILM: Gandhi DINNER GUEST: Obama BEST PIECE OF PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: Don’t confuse confidence with knowledge.
60 Second Interview How do you know TBP?
I stumbled across The Barton Partnership when I was an independent consultant and got some great work through this firm.
What was the most significant frustration during your time as a strategy consultant?
As traditional consultancies have grown, their focus has moved away from providing advice to being analysis-factories. There’s too much emphasis on producing a lot of Excel models and PowerPoint decks without stepping back and thinking about how you can really help your client do the things they want to do.
What was the most difficult/challenging project you have worked on as a consultant? It’s always hard working for struggling businesses – it’s so hard to know where to start.
What advice would you give a consultant who is about to move into an internal strategy role for the first time? Make sure you are at your desk as little as possible to avoid sitting in the ivory tower.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to undergo when moving from permanent to interim work? I had to think of things to do in the evenings because I was no longer in the office!
Tell us about the company you work for at the moment?
We’re a boutique advisory business for the insurance industry. We are pioneering an approach to strategy called Agile Strategy. Our core philosophy is that the best strategy is done when companies don’t think about strategy and execution separately, but run the two in parallel. Clients seem to love it – you can read all about it on our blog!
What was the most difficult project you have worked on at Oxbow Partners and why?
We’re currently working with a business that’s struggling in its marketplace. As I said above, it’s really challenging working with these kinds of businesses. You need to reset the strategy and operations – all in a very curtailed timescale with some very impaired assets.
What are the greatest obstacles facing those who wish to pursue a career in consulting?
There’s a consulting toolkit that you don’t just pick up at birth. You need to do the hard yards to get the skills.
Do you have a favourite interview question?
Yes – and I won’t say what it is otherwise people will prepare for it!