What mistakes are made during the hiring process that hold people back?

Alex Ford
Can you give us an overview of your background?

Rahul Gupta (RG): I am an engineer and MBA graduate with a strong focus on technology-led transformations across both public and private sectors. I lead PA’s cloud capability and I’m a cloud re-platforming expert. I have worked on some of the largest transformation programmes in the UK, ranging from the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS to the top 25 transformation programmes in the UK public sector. This includes transforming services at the UK Visas & Immigration and Immigration Enforcement directorates of the Home Office, one of the largest and most complex cloud transformation projects in UK government, saving £2 million a year.

I am passionate about disruptive technologies and strongly believe they will fuel the next wave of the tech revolution. They will have a huge impact on the human race and the way we interact with technology.

Can you also give us an overview of PA?

RG: PA Consulting believes in bringing ingenuity to life to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. Innovation is core to everything we do, which strongly resonates with my personal values. I am building PA’s cloud capability, a feat only made possible because of PA’s diverse team of experts, who combine innovative thinking and breakthrough technologies to progress further, faster.

Our client work is disparate. We do strategy consulting but also, like a tech or design firm, create products and ideas. Our Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Royston, just outside Cambridge, have created amazing products, from creating the first fully recyclable pouches for delivering gin to customers/, to working on the MOD Panama system used by the Ministry of Defence in Afghanistan to protect troops from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

A lot has been written about Digital Transformation in one capacity or another. How do you feel about technology and its ability to impact positively on our lives?

RG: I am a firm believer in technology’s ability to impact positively on our lives, but without the buzzwords. I believe digital transformation is about embracing the fast pace of technology innovation to drive business growth. However, this is bigger than just technology, and requires reshaping the business. I work closely with major cloud providers and our team in Cambridge. I am amazed at the pace of how technology is helping to create a positive human future. At PA we’re immensely proud to work with the Argenti care technology partnership, delivering exceptional results in adult social care and £10.7m net savings in five years, and our work with Drayson Technologies to provide the world’s most accurate real-time map of air pollution, which PA brought from concept to market in under nine months.

From the research I have done, “Ingenuity” is a term that describes the essence of PA. Can you elaborate?

RG: PA is known for its ingenuity and unlike other major consultancies, it develops its own intellectual property (IP) and works with private and public sector clients to develop notable technological advancements, including the modern asthma inhaler, helping Motorola to develop the first working 3G technology and designing the British Army’s vehicle-mounted IED (improvised explosive device) detector in Afghanistan.

On a personal note, after 4 successful years at Cognizant as a Manager in the digital transformation division, why did you make the move to PA?

RG: PA is a great place to work and provides the right balance between direction and independence. After Cognizant, I wanted the opportunity to work at a more agile and flexible firm where I can work across different clients and make a difference, regardless of hierarchy. PA gave me just that. It has been the reason why I have been with PA for more than eight years and continue to do interesting work with our clients and colleagues.

As you mentioned, you have been at PA for 8 years. Has PA changed much during this time?

RG: During my time at PA we have kept our focus on customer centricity and position ourselves at the front to drive technology innovation.

In the last year, we surpassed our own expectations in terms of innovative projects we are involved in. For example, we are helping to deliver the first major new mode of transport in more than a century with Virgin Hyperloop One. With speeds two to three times faster than high-speed rail and an on-demand experience, hyperloop can reduce a 300 km commute to under 20 minutes — smashing today’s traditional transportation boundaries. Our systems engineering, and enterprise architecture experts have been working on the plans for the complex software and traffic control systems that will be needed.

How would you describe the vision for the Cloud & Infrastructure team at PA?

RG: As a global innovation and transformation consultancy, we are at the forefront of leveraging cloud technologies to develop ingenious solutions for our clients.  So we are investing in our alliances with major cloud providers to ensure we have access to the latest technology innovations in the cloud market. We will continue to remain vendor-agnostic so that we provide the best advice for our customers. And we want to continue to attract and retain the best talent in the market.

The team is embarking on an exciting period of team growth. What is driving this growth?

RG: The cloud market is maturing at a fast pace and the expectations from the market and consulting firms is evolving at a similar pace. Cloud transformation is no longer a technology initiative and businesses are now leading the charge in driving cloud adoption.

The 2019 Gartner report states that more than 75% of organisations using cloud services indicate they have a cloud-first strategy, but cloud adoption is still a lot lower and there is huge demand. This is one of the reasons why major cloud providers are growing at more than 40% year on year.

How would you describe the working culture at PA?

RG: We are not a 200-300k management consultancy that is only interested in 3-5 year deals staffed with 100s of people. Nor are we a small, niche and boutique consultancy that does not have the weight to throw behind a great transformation opportunity. We are big enough and small enough at the same time – meaning we can move at pace, we do not use a cookie-cutter approach to everything we do and are known for being easy to work with.

What makes your culture different to other Consulting businesses?

RG: We are proud to be part of a team of brilliant people and work collaboratively in diverse teams, shoulder-shoulder with our clients. Also, we are committed to creating visible and sustained value for our clients. We are proud of our clients and what they think of us.

What type of person matches the DNA of PA?

RG: Someone who can be themselves, find it easy to work in teams both within PA and on client site, thrives in a challenging environment and can find opportunity in complexity.

What advice can you give to candidates set to interview with PA?

RG: Just be yourself and be prepared.

What mistakes have you seen people make during the hiring process that have ultimately held someone back?

RG: A common mistake is failing to emphasise both your business acumen and your technology and innovation expertise – make sure you go into detail on both during the hiring process.

In your opinion, why would someone working in a reputable consulting firm consider employment opportunities within the Cloud & Infrastructure team?

RG: The cloud and infrastructure team has exciting growth prospects and is heavily focussed on innovation. At PA every idea is valued regardless of your level. Everyone involved has their own independence, and is given the necessary direction and support to make sure they thrive and are invested in the success of the capability and PA as a firm.


If you’re looking to source top technical talent or would like to be involved in our next Q&A, get in touch with us today!