Australian-born HCM consultancy Smart WFM expands into US

18 November 2021 Consulting.us 4 min. read
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Australian-origin human capital management (HCM) consultancy Smart WFM has expanded into the US as part of an international growth strategy targeting several new markets across the world.

The expansion follows consistent year-over-year growth for the company, achieving a 67% increase in revenues and tripling both its team and client base in the past three years. Smart WFM is a UKG services partner and works with a range of public sector, global, and top-listed companies, including leading healthcare and retail organizations.

CEO Jarrod McGrath – who exited his former business Presence of IT (later sold to Deloitte) in 2016 – founded the company after seeing the need to deliver services in a modern manner. He told Consultancy.org that the US is ahead of the pack on modern people innovation and leveraging nearly every aspect of workforce management into a "single pane of glass," particularly in the retail and healthcare sectors.

Jarrod McGrath, Chief Executive Officer, Smart WFM

“In the US for example, productivity is very high – particularly in the retail sector,” said McGrath. “We can leverage the insights that drive that productivity into other markets like Australia.” He says that evolution speaks perfectly to Smart WFM, with US companies having an overall better understanding of the rounded employee experience and connecting people, processes, and technology – a core focus for the consultancy.

The company wants to leverage the shared connection to bring new skills to the US market, and from the US market into other priority regions including India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. India is another key part of the expansion, and McGrath says the follow-the-sun support enablement from that region will be appealing to US customers.

At the core of the expansion is unlocking people’s passions and developing skills relevant to the organizations of today along with driving productivity improvements into the local and global economy, according to McGrath. He believes the company’s ability to self-fund, maintain single ownership, and stay true to its unique people-first approach to HCM consultancy have driven its growth.

“Smart WFM simply doesn’t have profit & loss growth restraints like other consultancies do – we’ve stayed nimble, grown through customer acquisition, bank factoring, and taking a balance sheet-first mindset which allows us to maintain our single ownership,” he said. “This has kept competing and external interests out of the company’s development and allowed us to retain our people-first approach to consultancy while delivering clients with modern and sustainable operating models.

“Traditional consultancies – including the big five and major tech companies – fail to step outside of the ‘knowledge worker bubble’ they operate in. We look at digital transformation from the perspective of all people, from the coal face to shareholder and broader stakeholders while providing services that center on modern people innovation.”

Pete Brabenec

Leading the expansion in the US is Pete Brabenec, who joins the firm from Accenture-owned Workforce Insight, where he served as vice president of services. He was previously VP of enterprise HCM at the US division of Presence of IT – which was acquired by Workforce Insight – and spent twelve years in a variety of manufacturing consulting roles at Kronos (now UKG).

He will leverage his over 20 years of workforce management experience to help establish Smart WFM, with an initial focus on clients in the manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and government sectors. “Smart WFM has a unique vision and ability to put the workforce at the center of workforce management,” said Brabenec.

“That should of course be the de facto standard, but the far-ranging issues we see across the sector – including underpayment, a lack of digitalization and buy-in to digitalization, and disconnect between people, processes, and technology – tell a different story. Smart WFM solves workforce challenges and creates opportunities like no others, and as companies adjust to a hybrid workforce, it’s a great time to join the journey Smart WFM is on.”

Brabenec will be part of the new global leadership team the company established following its recent expansion, which also saw Rob Scott promoted to chief operating officer.