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ICAN looks to international collaboration after positive Paris meeting

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Aimie Chapple, Accenture

Paris, London: Associations representing management consultants from the US and Europe met in Paris this week to consider the future of the industry and the nature of their own international collaboration.

Groups from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy Spain, Norway and Denmark, came together as ICAN — International Consulting Associations Network — a new, and as yet, informal network to look for common ground in an increasingly globalised consulting market; the associations met for the first time in London last year.

Aimie Chapple, president of the UK Management Consultancies Association (MCA) and Head of Talent and Organisation Practice at Accenture, said that much of ICAN's deliberations had centred on the practicalities of consulting in emerging markets, not least in China and Latin America, the challenges facing public sectors and public sector consulting around the world, and the consulting industry's wider social responsibilities as companies in many industries suffers crises of legitimacy.

"We all see tremendous opportunities in emerging markets. But there is a great variety in the kinds of work available and different comfort levels in the way we invest in social outcomes in those markets", she commented. The meeting had agreed on the need to work with local consultants in emerging market countries and to tap local talent pools.

Chapple also pointed to discussions about how to encourage professional consulting standards across the globe, where she detected different approaches, with European associations more attracted to a professional certification process whilst their US colleagues worried about over-regulation and extra overheads.

Alan Leaman, MCA chief executive, said that the ICAN meeting is likely to become an annual industry event, whilst discussions continue about the potential for collaboration between associations, and the possibility of formalising relationships through ICAN.

"There's clearly strong demand for us to share information in different markets, to understand what issues and opportunities we have in common, so there will be a lot of discussion about the nature and opportunity for more collaboration", he said.

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