By Wantedly Hong Kong
It’s rare to find a team that is so in sync. When we had the chance to talk to the team at Agnus Consulting, their shared passion for people development made a deep impression on us. To shine a light on what organization development and leadership development really entails, we chatted with Tor Mesoy - Founder and Managing Director of Agnus Consulting, about his journey in founding this firm. We also spoke with a few Agnus Consulting team members to understand why they chose to join the firm and their experience in the firm. Clearly, this is a firm that, as its slogan says - invests in people. They are devoted to helping clients develop talent. They are equally passionate about developing their own people.
▲ Tor Mesoy, Founder and Managing Director of Agnus Consulting (photo credit: Agnus Consulting)
‘Effective leadership has the potential to change the world for the better.’
Having started his career as a mathematician, Tor has come a long way before getting into organization and leadership development, ‘When I saw 50 on the horizon, I came to realize that effective leadership has the potential to change the world for the better.’ In 2011, Tor stepped away from his Partner role at McKinsey and founded Agnus Consulting to focus on organization and leadership development.
Between leaving McKinsey and founding Agnus Consulting, Tor went kayaking with two friends, starting at the border between Russia and Norway, paddling down the Norwegian Coast for a whole month. ‘After I came back from my trip, my phone started ringing from contacts around the world seeing my kayaking photos on social media, saying, “Oh you’re back from your trip, we have a problem where we would like your support,’’’ and this is how Agnus Consulting started its voyage.
What makes Agnus Consulting stand out is its focus on ‘servant leadership’, as reflected in the firm’s name (the Latin word ‘agnus’ means ‘lamb’ – an ancient symbol for servant leadership). Tor continued, ‘Our holistic leadership development approach covers aspects including leading oneself, leading the team, and leading the organization. The solutions we provide to clients range from mindset and behaviour shifts as a leader and building a highly effective team, to crafting strategy and leading organizational change.’
Their projects are broad and cover various industries, focusing on strategy, leadership development and enterprise transformation. For example:
- improving operational efficiency and building leadership capability to enable the execution of the five-year vision and strategy of a world’s top-30 university in Hong Kong;
- developing management and leadership skills of the top 50 leaders of a real estate company in Thailand;
- supporting the CEO in building the senior leadership team and upgrading the operating model of a global hospitality company – with the goal to enable ambitious business growth in China.
Headquartered in Hong Kong, with offices in mainland China and the UK, Agnus Consulting now has over 50 team members from 14 countries across APAC, Europe and the US.
▲ (from left) Parcae, Linus, Melody, Tor
‘We build a high challenge, high support, and high trust team environment.’
Tor told us: ‘It’s important that we walk the talk. We support and challenge our clients to develop themselves as leaders. We expect our own people to keep stretching themselves and grow as well. To do that, we build a high challenge, high support, and high trust team environment.’
He continued: ‘Everyone working here loves being challenged as we help our clients solve complex problems. Team members also challenge one another in daily work – that helps us stay sharp, learn and keep growing. However, high challenge without high support is stressful. We don’t throw people in the deep end and watch them sink or swim. We stand for one another’s success, and we provide strong support – intellectually and emotionally.’
‘For example, in our environment, someone with a strong introvert preference will learn to be themselves, while being stretched to develop skills to connect deeply with people and communicate powerfully – such as regularly speaking in front of large groups.’
Agnus Consulting believes that one of the core engines of personal development is feedback from others. They take feedback seriously.
We had a chance to talk with Ashleigh Herd, a team member from their UK office: ‘At Agnus Consulting, we give and receive feedback daily. I was already receiving feedback during the interview process, for example from my colleague Yan. She helped me see more clearly that I talk about people development with great passion, but I could try to project more warmth in virtual meetings. I never received such feedback during interviews before and that was a very special and inspiring experience.’
When asked about why Agnus Consulting takes feedback so seriously, Tor answered, ‘Giving and receiving feedback well is key to cultivating effective leadership.’ We all have blind spots – about our strengths and weaknesses. Feedback helps us uncover our blind spots and work on them. In our team, we see feedback as a gift. I regularly give feedback to the team and I also receive feedback from them.’
Melody Ruan adds: ‘We don’t simply give feedback and walk away. Our relationships are more like friends and peers, regardless of seniority or tenure. Apart from providing feedback, we are also committed to providing support to colleagues, helping them pursue their goals and be successful.’
We became curious about how the members of the team found their ways to Agnus, and why they chose to join.
For Melody, she had a successful career in Finance and Strategy from Credit Suisse, to Alibaba and WeDoctor. Later in her career, as she was taking her MBA, Melody discovered where her true passion lies:
‘I came across the book When Breath Becomes Air. It’s about how a neurosurgeon continued doing his job as a doctor even though he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Then I started to think about what I would do for the remainder of my time if I were that doctor. Through a period of deep self-reflection, I realized that I have a passion for supporting people to unleash their potential.’
For Ashleigh: ‘I wanted to find a firm that focuses on people development and has a strong team culture. Towards the end of my MBA program at the University of Oxford, I came across Agnus’ post looking for a Senior Consultant at the UK office. During the interview process, I got to speak with each core team member. Each of them was genuinely interested in understanding what I was looking for. They made the interview process less a process to test me, and more a process to explore the mutual fit. I felt inspired by their commitment to people development and their open and trust-based communication style. Now, after being in the company for three months – I found that trust is a strong element of the team culture.’
Speaking of trust, Parcae Sin, Leadership Development Analyst at Agnus Consulting, said, ‘I joined Agnus Consulting as a part-time intern. I’ve only been here for eight months. Yet, I have had multiple opportunities to work with the team to organize and facilitate workshops for clients. In the process, I felt trusted and well supported by my colleagues.’ Trust is clearly strong in this team.
▲ Agnus Consulting team running leadership development programs (photo credit: Agnus Consulting)
‘We’re looking for talents who strive for excellence in what they do.’
The Agnus Consulting team is now expanding and looking for new members in Hong Kong, who will design, manage and deliver projects on topics of strategy, leadership and enterprise transformation.
When asked about the qualities required to be a successful team member. Yan Liu, Director and Lead for Strategic People Matters at Agnus Consulting, highlighted academic excellence.
‘We’re looking for candidates who strive for excellence in what they do. Excellence is a habit. If a candidate has achieved outstanding academic results, it is a strong indicator that they have the habit of being their best and strive for excellence in the service they will provide to team members and clients.’
An excellent academic background doesn’t mean that you will have to graduate from a specific discipline. Yan said, ‘Our team members come from different disciplines – for example, Mathematics, Philosophy, Business, Engineering, Social Science, Finance, Politics, … That makes us a strong and diversified team. What is most important is that the candidate has a deep curiosity and is open to continually learn and expand their perspectives through diverse client engagements.’
They are on the lookout for a candidate who has a passion for organization and leadership transformation, is self-motivated and a fast learner. If that sounds like you, or you’ve found yourself nodding your head as you read this article, reach out and apply for a role at Agnus Consulting!
Check out the job post below!