PA Consulting Group: Wikis


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PA Consulting Group Ltd.
Type Employee-owned
Founded 1943 (Personnel Administration)
Headquarters London, UK
Key people Jon Moynihan, Executive Chairman
Alan Middleton, Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Hooke, Chief Operating Officer
Industry Management Consulting
Employees ~3,000 (2006)

PA Consulting Group (PA) is an international management consulting firm. As of 2007 it operates in more than 35 countries, working in both private and public sectors. It has won independent awards and recognition for its client work in financial services, energy, life sciences[1] and healthcare, government and public services, manufacturing, defence, and telecommunications.[2] PA's Report and Accounts for 2005 defines its services as: helping clients to design strategies for growth, achieve effective IT that improves business performance, mobilise human resources, deliver complex programs and major business transformations, and develop breakthrough products and processes. The latter are created at PA's dedicated applied technology facilities at Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, UK, and Princeton, NJ, USA. [3][4]

PA is entirely an employee-owned company. PA has no audit practice and does not form exclusive alliances with third-party vendors or service providers. PA does, however, work in non-exclusive alliances on specific programs when it is in the best interests of its clients.[3][4]

It came to the forefront in the UK news in August 2008 when a database of the entire prison population of England and Wales was reported to have been lost on a memory data stick and lost the contract as a result.[5][6]


Principal offices

PA operates worldwide in more than 35 countries; its principal office locations are:[7]

Second Life

PA's office in Second Life[8]

In November 2006, PA Consulting Group became the first management consulting firm to establish a presence in Second Life.[9] PA uses Second Life to host virtual conferences, recruitment events and as a tool for its clients to simulate new product and service offerings.[10]



Personnel Administration (PA) was founded in 1943 by three Englishmen: Ernest E. Butten, Tom H. Kirkham and Dr David Seymour. Britain's war effort created great demand for munitions and goods, which had to be produced by a relatively unskilled work force. Butten and co formed Personnel Administration Limited to provide advice to industry as to how to improve the productivity of their workers.

Like the other three firms that dominated consulting in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, PA was an offshoot of the pre-war Bedaux Company. Bedaux in turn was descended from the time and motion 'scientific management' theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor and Frank Gilbreth. Butten sought to take the somewhat mechanistic and task-orientated concepts of scientific management and add a human dimension to them. The chief idea, along the lines of McGregor's 'Theory Y', was that by involving the worker in the process of change, greater gains could be made both by the worker and the organisation. To date, time and motion management consultants had been seen as the enemies of the workforce leading to resistance and even violence; portrayed in a spoof of the role of a management consultant in the Ealing comedy I'm Alright Jack).

PA's first assignment was to train housewives to assemble the tail gun section for the Avro Lancaster bombers, as part of Britain's policy of bringing women into the factories in order to free-up male workers for the armed forces. By 1950 the company had 84 consultants.


PA expanded over the next 20 years, and by 1970 it was the largest management consulting firm in the world by headcount (closely followed by Booz Allen and McKinsey). PA had also expanded geographically, mostly along the lines of the British Empire: indeed its operation in Australia provided roughly a third of the firm's revenue.

In the 1960s PA diversified its revenue sources significantly by more or less inventing the 'newspaper box' advertisement for recruitment purposes. This concept spread rapidly across Europe and the Far East: in some countries, during the 60s, the 'PA Supplement' was an extra section of the newspaper filled entirely with advertisements from PA Recruitment.

Butten retired from PA in 1970, having earlier sold his 100% shareholding in PA to the Butten Trust in 1958. The Trust was intended as a long term guardian of PA's fortunes and an assurance that the company would be 'owned by the employees'.


PA's position in the industry deteriorated drastically over the following quarter century, as competitors such as McKinsey and the newer strategy consulting firms (such as Boston Consulting Group and Bain) redefined the concept of management consulting. While there were occasional years with strong revenues, the company was never very profitable. One bright element during this period of general decline was PA's work advising companies on potential applications of technology to business issues. Arising out of this success, major technology centres were built in Melbourn, UK and Princeton, USA.

Towards the end of the 80s, after an upsurge in the industry, PA's management decided it wished to take the firm public. The Butten Trust, after an application to the courts in the UK, agreed to give 15% of its shares to its employees, as part of a long-term plan to float. However these hopes were dashed in the subsequent consulting industry downturn of 1989 to 1992 and, by the end of that downturn, PA was essentially bankrupt, with some Ā£30 million (US$ 57 million) of debt, significant annual losses and a rapid outflow of staff.


Between 1991 and 1994, PA lost almost half of its people, partly because of its downturn in fortunes, and partly because companies such as IBM and EDS had started to enter the consulting market and were aggressively hiring. During this time, in 1992, Jon Moynihan was appointed as chief executive of PA, with a remit to turn the company around. With a new strategy, aggressive cost-cutting, and an industry upturn, the turn around succeeded and in 1995 PA made record profits.[11] PA expanded significantly in the United States through the acquisition of Hagler Bailly in 2000.


Although PA suffered in the consulting recession of 2001-2004, its revenue and headcount recovered, and 2004, 2005 and 2006 were, in turn, record years for PA. In recent years the firm has significantly diversified its activities into ventures and 50% of PA's return to shareholders over the years 2002-2006 came from non-consulting activities.

PA closed its consulting operations in Australia in 2007 [12].

In August 2009 the firm had a major staff reduction in the United States, cutting people from several practices as a response to deep recession that had impacted their client work.

2004 National ID cards

PA Consulting won a contract with the government for the UK National ID card scheme. The contract was not for implementation of the scheme, but included being part of a team working on "the policy, legislation, design, feasibility testing, business case and procurement elements of the proposed scheme." [13]

2008 Confidential data stick

In 2008, PA Consulting lost a confidential data stick, prompting the Home Office to review its contracts with PA Consulting[14]

PA ventures

PA's venture programme (PAGroup Ventures) was established in 2000 to exploit the ideas and intellectual capital generated from its consulting work. This has been highly value generating: for example PA created a third-generation mobile phone business called UbiNetics which was sold in two tranches for a total of $133 million in 2005; and Meridica - a drug delivery system company - was valued at time of sale to Pfizer at $125 million in 2004. Each sale generated a return of many multiples of PA's total investment in its ventures programmes to date.

PA demerged its successful venture arm, Ipex Capital, in June 2008.[15] PA Consulting continues to work closely with Ipex Capital on existing ventures in the Ipex portfolio as well as looking at new opportunities together.

ProcServe continues to be a wholly owned business of PA Consulting Group, providing secure electronic marketplaces with vendor-neutral connectivity and transaction capabilities.[16]


Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Management Awards

These awards are organized by the UK's MCA, and run in association with the magazine Management Today. Some 50 firms enter the competition every year, including many of the major global consulting organisations, although strategy firms such as McKinsey do not enter.[17][18] They are independently judged and aim to identify the best case studies in each of 18 categories, where organizations, in the private or public sector, have achieved a significant improvement in performance with the assistance of management consultants, either in-house or external. PA has won many awards, including, in 2006, the overall award for its work with the Georgian Government and US Agency for International Development.[18]

See also


  1. ^ For Life sciences sector: PA recognized for role in client achieving 2002 Queen's Award to Industry. PA Consulting Group (1 May 2002) press release: "PA Consulting Group instrumental in Queen's Award for The Female Health Company, developer of state-of-the-art female contraceptive, FEMIDOM"
  2. ^ For all other sectors in this list: Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Best Management Practice Awards won by PA 1998-2006. PA Consulting Group (2006). "Celebrating current and past successes of the MCA's most prolific winner", Ref LON 11802, published by PA Consulting Group; pages 3, 24-25.
  3. ^ a b PA Consulting Group's Board of Directors, and auditors Ernst & Young LLP (2006)."PA Holdings Limited Report and Accounts Year ended 31 December 2005", Ref Lon 11723, published by PA Consulting Group.
  4. ^ a b PA Consulting Group has waived the copyright it may have owned in descriptive texts in the above paragraphs, excepting trading names, trademarked names, registered logos and domain names, for use in Wikipedia and derived works within the scope of GFDL licence. Source: A. Adams, Global Head of Marketing and Communications, PA Consulting Group, 2006.
  5. ^ Lettice, John (2008-08-22). "Lag log leaks - Home Office contractor loses entire prison population". The Register. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  6. ^ "Firm 'broke rules' over data loss". BBC News Online. BBC. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  7. ^ "Office contact details". PA Consulting. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  8. ^ Fair use is claimed for this use of this image. See the image page for details
  9. ^ Donahue, Marylyn. "Setting Up Shop on Second Life". Pharmaceutical Executive. Retrieved 2007-11-02.  
  10. ^ Nehmzow, Claus. "PA joins leading retail and higher education brands in new communications medium". PA Consulting Group. Retrieved 2006-11-26.  
  11. ^ The Wall Street Journal Europe (9 July 1997). Article by Shailagh Murray: "British Consultancy Found Needy Client In Its Own Office - PA Group's Overhaul Offers Lesson in How to Survive Increasingly Tight Sector"
  12. ^ Australian Financial Review, 21 Sept 2007
  13. ^ National ID contract and the PA Consulting Group
  14. ^ .Firm 'broke rules' over data loss
  15. ^ Ipex Capital website (June 2008)
  16. ^ ProcServe website
  17. ^ J. Hewgill (2006), MCA Marketing Director, Management Consultancies Association, 49 Whitehall, London SW1A 2BX, UK.
  18. ^ a b M.Gwyther (2006). "MCA Management Awards 2006", ISSN 0025-1925 , published by Management Today magazine, Haymarket Business Publications: pages 2, 3

External links

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