North Highland adds four senior hires in US

22 January 2018

Management consulting firm North Highlands has brought in four new executives across multiple US offices. Bill Lawrence joins as Vice President, Sara Roberts joins as Managing Director and Service Line Leader, and Jeff Strain and Gail Sneed join as Client Executives in financial services.

North Highland is an Atlanta-based management consultancy with over 3,000 employees in 70+ offices worldwide. The firm endeavours to create close client-consultant relationships where its employees work with customers in their hometowns. North Highland’s emphasis on close client relationships based on honesty and integrity, according to the firm, has resulted in 94% of business coming from repeat clients. The firm prides itself on a positive and supportive work culture where its employees are also part-owners of the company; North Highland consistently ranks in the top five of Consulting Magazine’s Top Firms to Work For.

North Highland recently announced a string of high-ranking additions to its US operation, including the hiring of financial services executives Jeff Strain and Gail Sneed, the appointment of Bill Lawrence as Vice President, and the addition of Sara Roberts as Managing Director and Service Line Leader.

North Highland adds four senior hires in US

Jeff Strain and Gail Sneed

Based out of Charlotte, N.C. and St. Louis respectively, Strain and Sneed will serve as Client Executives in North Highland’s financial services practice. In their new roles, they will work with their teams in existing and targeted accounts, overseeing delivery engagements and supporting team member development.

“I am excited to welcome Jeff and Gail to our team,” added Jill Jacques, Global Financial Services Lead. “Their combined experience and expertise will be valuable to our clients looking to convert disruption and regulation into growth opportunities in this ever-changing industry. We also look forward to the impact they will have with their teams as they lead them through the continued growth in our financial services practice.”

Jeff Strain has over 23 years of experience developing and operating consulting-related business, with a focus on financial services. He has served in executive roles at several consulting firms – most recently NTT DATA Consulting – and is well-versed in transformative tech and digital solutions.

Strain holds a degree in Accounting and Accounting Information Systems from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

Gail Sneed has almost 30 years of experience in financial services, primarily focused on banking. She specializes in helping firms boost profits through improved client experience and performance improvement.

Sneed has an MBA with an emphasis on Finance from Webster University, Missouri.

Bill Lawrence

Bill Lawrence joins North Highland’s Atlanta headquarters as vice president, and will serve as the global lead of Sparks Grove, the firm’s marketing and design practice, and experience design agency.

Lawrence has more than 15 years of experience building digital marketing and customer experience businesses. Previously, Lawrence was the head of the Atlanta office of Nurun USA (now Razorfish), where he oversaw the firm’s evolution from providing 360 digital solutions to full-scale products and service design/ delivery.

 “We are excited to welcome Bill to North Highland and Sparks Grove as we work to further bring together creative execution and business strategy to solve the challenges our clients are facing,” said North Highland President Jim Arnold. “Bill has a great deal of experience delivering business results through customer insights and applied technologies, and we look forward to what this expertise will bring to the agency.”

Lawrence is a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering.

Sara Roberts

Sara Roberts joins the firm’s San Francisco office as Managing Director and Service Line Leader, and will be responsible for driving the growth of North Highland’s four service offerings: Customer Experience, Performance Improvement, Technology and Digital, and Transformation.

Roberts, a leading business authority and author, has spent the last twenty years advising executives and leaders across almost a quarter of Fortune 100 companies. Her areas of expertise include leveraging culture and purpose to improve organizational agility; customer connection; employee engagement; and organizational innovation and growth.

“Sara brings an incredibly strong background to North Highland, helping organizations to clarify and activate their purpose to drive their most pressing business imperatives. We look forward to leveraging her experiences in strategic transformation and culture change with our clients,” commented Arnold. “As a firm that is known for our human-centered approach to consulting, her expertise will continue to enhance the value we bring to our clients as they make their next moves.”

Roberts is the co-author of best-seller Light Their Fire: Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and Wow Your Customers. Her latest book, Nimble, Focused, Feisty: Organizational Cultures that Win in the New Era and How to Create Them, argues that successful companies utilize a customer-centric approach. Roberts is a frequent keynote speaker and has been featured and quoted in many publications, including Forbes and Businessweek.

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Leadership advisor YSC Consulting appoints Eric Pliner as CEO

18 April 2019

London-based global leadership consultancy YSC has appointed Eric Pliner as its new CEO, replacing Robert Sharrock, who held the role for five years. Pliner, previously the firm’s Americas leader, will remain based in New York City.

For 30 years, YSC Consulting has been providing leadership advisory services to clients across a wide range of industries. The firm provides services in the areas of leadership strategy, performance, research, and analytics. YSC also has offerings in organizational leadership and CEO & board advisory. The firm’s approach is grounded in the behavioral sciences, allowing clients to better align business strategy and leadership.

In 2017, Graphite Capital complete a private equity investment in the firm, which has allowed YSC to continue its rapid expansion across the globe. Today, the firm has 19 offices across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions, staffed by 225 professionals with backgrounds in clinical psychology and organizational behavior, among other areas.

YSC’s incumbent CEO, Robert Sharrock, will now move into the roles of managing director of YSC’s board and CEO of the advisory practice. Sharrock had previously indicated that he would move into a client-facing role following one year of results after the private equity infusion.Leadership advisor YSC Consulting appoints Eric Pliner as CEO


 “Having achieved the goals we established as a business during my tenure, I look forward to fully devoting my time to the client service areas of the business I find most rewarding, which is working directly with board members and CEOs,” Sharrock said. “I will also be offering my unreserved support to Eric and our global team as we continue to expand our distinctive business around the world.”

Eric Pliner, who has been with the firm since 2010, will step into the role of CEO. An expert in organizational behavior, talent management, and development, Pliner joined the firm as a senior consultant, working his way up to managing director and head of YSC Americas in 2014.

Prior to joining YSC, Pliner was director of organizational talent management & development at the NYC Department of Education, and was an adjunct instructor in the curriculum & teaching department at Hunter College in New York. He holds an MBA in management, organizational behavior, and human resources from the City University of New York – Baruch College.

“Robert has successfully led the business through five years of sustained growth and shaped the brand into a premier global leadership consultancy,” Pliner said. “I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead this iconic firm as we continue to serve world-class organisations in understanding and developing the critical leadership to achieve their future business strategies.

“Whether through individual executive assessment, pre-deal due diligence and post-deal integration for private equity transactions, design and execution of inclusive leadership and diversity strategy, coaching for senior executives and teams, resilient change leadership, and more, YSC’s global services are and will remain distinctive, characterful, and best-in-class,” he added.

Related: Ohio-based consultancy Change 4 Growth launches UK office