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CTA Results – so what’s next?

Today is D-day for many on the road to achieving a professional tax qualification, with the publication of the CTA results.

So if you’ve had good news and passed – congratulations! You can feel justifiably proud that your  career path is on track. This might mean that you are about to take your first steps as a Manager or equivalent, or perhaps you have been identified as a rising talent in your business.

However, whilst you have the technical skills to undertake your role, do you feel  you  are lacking some of the softer skills required to really make a success of your career? Here are some of the issues that might be playing on your mind:

  • Does your role involve developing business and making connections within your organisation and you aren’t sure how to go about this?
  • Do you attend networking events but feel ill-equipped to make an impact in an effective way?
  • Perhaps you are required to take clients out to breakfast or lunch but are not sure how to handle the etiquette of such occasions whilst having to make small talk.
  •  Perhaps you are required to make presentations to colleagues or clients but lack the confidence to tackle public speaking.
  •  Or perhaps you find it difficult to make your voice heard, or make an impact in meetings.
  • You may not be quite sure how to dress appropriately to reflect your growing status and feel that the impression you make isn’t quite right.

These are but some of the issues that you may be facing as your career progresses, and if not tackled, have the potential to impede your progress.

If this is the case, you might want to consider Coaching to provide you with the skills and expertise to handle the challenges ahead. BLT Executive Coaching run a programme designed especially for you : the BLT FutureTalent programme. The aim is to equip you with the tools to face the challenges unique to this phase of your career.

We will cover areas such as networking, both internally and externally;  business development; creating business connections within your industry; handling conflict; managing the transition from trainee to Manager or equivalent to your industry; plotting a future career path; looking ahead to where the pitfalls might be and developing strategies  to avoid them.

You might feel uncomfortable about discussing some of these issues with your Managers or peers. This is where a Coach can be invaluable, providing a safe and totally confidential space to work through these issues and come up with workable solutions.  I will work with you to establish a way forward and help you to develop  the confidence to overcome any hurdles that might undermine your career progression.

If you would like to discuss BLT’s FutureTalent programme, please contact Liz Watt :



Is returning to a former employer a good career move?

The news over the weekend that Wayne Rooney has signed for Everton (well, we couldn’t really see him going to China , could we?) , has got me thinking – Is it a good idea to return to a former employer or best to leave it well alone and move on? Can nostalgia get in the way?  – clearly Wayne still has a great affection for his boyhood club and feels there is still much to achieve, so maybe it’s a winner all round. Time will tell.

In the management consultancy market this happens more frequently than you might expect – and not necessarily as an end of career move. We often see people move from one consulting firm to another either from one big firm to another or to a smaller boutique firm. Sometimes they find the grass isn’t any greener on the other side of the fence – and they’ve lost their network  and / or sponsor so carefully cultivated in their previous firm – and so the appeal of their former firm can be too difficult to resist. Alternatively, some people return to their previous consulting employer after a spell in industry, as a more rounded consultant, when they’ve had a taste of what it’s really like to be in the client’s shoes.

Personally, I think it’s best to move on and never return to a former employer  – no matter how strong the ties or the good memories …….. and safe to say you won’t find me wearing the pyjamas of any of my previous places of work !!! If you’re looking for a summer transfer or to hire for your consulting team ready for the new season please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.



Artificial Intelligence at Wimbledon ………What Makes a Champion? by Catriona Cookson

I wrote earlier this week about the technological innovations at Wimbledon this year including the Ask Fred mobile app to the automated two minute highlights packages. And now IBM’s Watson Platform  has analysed over 53 million tennis data data points collated since 1990 including newspaper articles, interview details and social media commentary, to identify what makes a great champion. Frankly, the super computer of Artificial Intelligence hasn’t come up with anything we didn’t know already – the key attributes being passion, performance under pressure, fast and accurate serves, stamina, adaptability, and the quality of the return.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I like my ‘sporting v business’ comparisons. Once again we have all the characteristics in sport which make for success in a management consultancy environment. Passion, performance under pressure, stamina, blah blah, blah , heard it all before I hear you say. A couple of the others are more interesting – a fast and accurate serve – a quick response to a client problem is all very well, but getting the absolutely right answer quickly is the true differentiator. And what about the “quality of the return”  – how you respond to problems is an interesting one – Can you deliver uncomfortable truths? Is the client always right? Is it a good idea to stand your ground or is conciliation better? Sometimes as in tennis, so in management consultancy, different tactics for different opponents is the best strategy in the pursuit of that winning Game, Set and Match. Happy Wimbledon everybody!


Cat's Blog

30 years of BLT – some more memories

Many of you will have seen that it’s BLT’s 30 year anniversary this year, so here’s Chapter 2 in the instalments of reminiscing! (For chapter 1, click here)

This time we thought it good to look back on some of the more memorable recruitment scenarios we’ve encountered over the last three decades – the printable ones at least….

Reasons given by clients for rejecting a candidate:

  • Brought ‘My Little Pony’ lunchbox to interview
  • Someone told me that they fiddled their expenses in their last job
  • Turned up drunk
  • Body odour
  • Mickey Mouse tie
  • Stormed out of interview after 15 minutes, so no, we won’t be progressing
  • Will need to chop off pony tail to work here (to a male candidate)
  • Candidate ate one of the toffees available in reception whilst waiting for the interview – couldn’t speak when it came to introducing themselves to the interviewer
  • Gold teeth
  • Didn’t take off duffel coat throughout interview, despite very hot weather
  • The person had a thing with one our colleagues, and they’ve told us they would leave if we appointed them.

Reasons given by candidates for turning down an offer

  • Dog in office. I hate dogs.
  • Can’t work there as the interviewer wore too much perfume and I’m allergic
  • Contract was addressed to the wrong person – if the company can’t even get that right, don’t want to work there.
  • They’ve offered me 50% less than what I’m earning currently
  • Need to be at home for three hours during the working day to exercise my animals
  • Despite what I told you before, I was only looking at the market to see if I can get a better deal where I am.
  • I’m going to jail.
  • I know I said I would relocate, but I didn’t tell my other half until last night that I was leaving them, and we’ve agreed to give it another go.
  • Interviewer wouldn’t shake my hand because I was a woman
  • Offer is dependent on psychometric tests, and I don’t believe in them
  • I had an affair with the interviewer 20 years ago – was an awkward meeting.

Other recruitment incidents

  • BLT recruiter interviewing a candidate one evening – offices were locked up at close of play and the two were stuck there for together for hours. With no access to toilet….
  • One former BLT Director who shall remain nameless falling asleep in an interview and pretending they’d fainted.
  • Client interviewing candidates for a big commercial role at our offices – bottom of jug broke when pouring out water. Drenched client and candidate.
  • One current BLT Director heading to a conference, looking at map to find venue in pouring rain. Taxi drove by resulting in being splashed with mud from head to toe. Attendance at conference not feasible.
  • Post one memorable BLT client party, a client was locked in the bathroom for hours – unsuccessful attempts made to escape through tiny window.
  • Seminar for HMRC candidates arranged, attracting a diverse pool of talent for potential private sector roles. BLT omitted to provide any non-alcoholic drinks/vegetarian options….last minute dash out to source such half way through seminar. Still makes us cringe this one two decades later….
  • Overseas client turned up en masse at BLT offices in London for a full day of interviews. We had told all the candidates to go to the company’s UK Head Office in the Thames Valley.
  • One current BLT Director collected a candidate from reception to interview and was chatting away quite happily for 20 minutes, before finally realising that they were interviewing the wrong candidate.

There are plenty more that aren’t appropriate to share publicly. Maybe when we get to celebrating 100 years, we’ll write a book…..


30th Anniversary

Building a brand – the Wimbledon way…by Catriona Cookson

As Wimbledon starts again this week, an interesting article on the BBC news website ( explores how Wimbledon is building its brand and expanding its reach into new markets and geographies. Targeting a younger audience and extending its coverage to new geographies – and lucrative new broadcast revenues – is a key commercial aim.

Whether you’re a newly established online brand or an older, traditional event such as Wimbledon Tennis , the challenges of increasing market share, engaging with your customer, and delivering what people want to buy are different yet remarkably similar too. Plenty to keep the brand strategy, and growth and innovation consultancies busy!

This year marks a new range of digital services on offer at Wimbledon from real time scores and stats, new apps and new content on Wimbledon’s digital platforms including Facebook pages for fans in Korea, Japan and India.

Progress and innovation is fabulous to see, however in amongst all this disruptive technology and omni channel activity, I hope that the application process for tickets remains the same as it is now. It’s all too easy to apply online now for a whole range of cultural and sporting events – to apply for Wimbledon tickets takes a bit of effort – can you think of another occasion where you send off a SAE and apply for tickets randomly for any day over a two week period? No, nor can I – and let’s hope it continues that way for years to come!


Cat's Blog

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