In today’s blog we chat to Vernon Wilkes, CEO of Wilkes Management Services about life as consultant (in Vernon’s case, a consultant to the insurance sector). Vernon’s first significant exposure to insurance was in 1982 and he worked for a freight forwarding company transacting their insurance. The IT came through the roof – the actual roof of the building was removed to drop in the computers. He went to a multi national and did every class of business and then went on a day trip to Lloyd’s of London.
Q1. Did you always want to become a consultant or did you fall into the role?
I found myself as a frequent speaker at conferences and other events, quoted often by the press and I was bored. I left the international brokers and set up a consulting business where I worked with so many companies from UK, to Oman, Africa, USA, National Government and then Local authority.
Q2. What makes a good consultant?
Recognising a need, knowing how to solve it, and getting on with the job being able to delegate and do the job yourself.
Q3. Do you feel you manage yourself well or is it a case of ‘the cobbler’s shoes’?
Yes but I know my strengths and try to outsource back office such as compliance and settlements
Q4. Are there enough hours in your day?
Never – I get sad at Christmas and Easter usually because they have national holidays
Q5. If you could magically stop your clients from making one mistake – what would that be?
Ensure they have a plan that is worked to. So many do not and have the wheels come off.
Q6. What do you find is the best way to market yourself?
Word of mouth, professional agencies such as accountants. I also write articles and do some on Social media.
Q7. What do you do to unwind?
Play with my son and we plan out computer games, or write stories
Q8. What advice would you give a starting consultant?
Do not be disheartened – there will be jobs that do not have enough, take them and gain more experience.
Q9. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Finding a really expensive bottle of wine and drink it very slowly smelling the fragrances and earth
Q10. What’s your goal for next year?
To be in South Africa expanding the new business we began this year which was to start a litigation insurance and provide services to a pan African infrastructure fund