Another milestone for Ally Salisbury

Article 23 January 2024

It’s hard to imagine being in any business for 25 years; I just ask myself ‘how did this happen?’.  The reality is being a Consultant, Partner – and now Managing Partner – in a consultancy like ours, means that you never find yourself standing still, we are always moving our practice forward through reflection and learning. It’s always important to be focused on what’s next – whether that’s for our client leaders and teams, or for our own people and our business.

Much has changed over the last 25 years, not least the sense of complexity that surrounds our lives today.  The constancy throughout, for me, has been Sheppard Moscow’s ability to work with leaders and teams to support them to lead successfully in service of a clear purpose and to help them find their way forward and have meaningful impact, no matter what challenges are thrown at them.

Seeing and feeling the impact

It’s a privilege to do what we do, in so many ways.  We are able to work with leaders (in my case, hundreds if not thousands over the years), to help them develop their leadership capability, transform their culture and manage within the complexity that is around and in front of them.  For me, one client has been a constant for a long time at Sheppard Moscow – that’s the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC).  The impact isn’t simply with the leaders themselves – although seeing people make the journey from ‘high-potential’ to Manager, Director, even VP, is incredible.  We can also see what it means to the work of the Bank, and how great leadership helps to fulfil such an amazing purpose reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development in some of the poorest areas of the world.  There are many moments that have mattered to me personally as well – not least when I was in Rwanda and we met with a women’s co-operative that the Bank was helping to fund.  It really brought home to me the part we play (albeit small) in helping to make this happen.

The nudge

Since becoming Managing Partner, I have found my role as what one of my fellow partners called ‘the nudge’.  The art of a good leader is to constantly look at what the system needs to move forward, and one of the things I’ve learned in the last two years in this role is to anchor around two or three key things that help the team align. I'd been speaking with senior leaders about the importance of this for years. I found it very confronting when I had to get super clear what they were for SM and for me.  Like our work for clients, leadership is about working with different team members to create the conditions for the team and individuals to thrive.

Fiercely independent

Sheppard Moscow is now approaching 55 years since it first started working with leaders.  I have now been here for nearly half that time, and we are very proud – and fiercely protective – of our independent status.  For a successful consultancy like ours to remain independent all of these years is a major feat, and one of the Partnership’s guiding principles is the stewardship of Sheppard Moscow, and ensuring that the firm remains independent and moves forward with its identity, culture and approach to the human system, in good health for the next generation to take on.  We know the importance of adapting and reacting to complexity, and we’ve done that ourselves – whether through hybrid programmes or the integration of AI into our own operations. 

Looking forward with relish

It really has been 25 years of looking forward.  One of my first abiding memories of Sheppard Moscow was an all-company meeting where everyone was invited to discuss the strategic direction of the firm.  It was a little mind-blowing, as I’d come from large enterprises where you weren’t involved in such decisions; and I was new, what did I know?  But that’s one of the cultural principles of Sheppard Moscow that hasn’t changed – that sense of everyone having a voice, everyone being involved in how we move forward as a team. 

Fulfilling work

When you work with organisations and their leaders for a period of time, the relationship certainly fuses into something quite special.  One such example is professional services – this is a sector I feel special affinity for as the partnership model reflects our own, and I understand how a Partnership works for the good of the organisation.  Again, I feel we have played our part in helping to re-ignite the spirit of Partnership in one particular firm of late – at a time when firms are under a great deal of scrutiny.  But what has been affirming in this, has been helping them understand how to build deep and sustaining relationships and steward their firm, and responding to change and complexity with a strong foundation in ethics and what’s best for the organisation, its people and its clients

Showing vulnerability

When we are working with leaders, we of course focus on the whole self; not just the professional entity.  The same goes for us as practitioners.  It’s important to show our vulnerabilities and show how we role model the right behaviour.  In my work with clients, it has reminded me to be more explicit in showing to colleagues how we can find the right balance as leaders and practitioners ourselves – even if it’s just taking time out to exercise or walk the dog.

This is one of the great things about what we do.  We can always learn and develop ourselves.  It’s important to keep looking forward and, as a lifelong learner myself, thinking about how we grow as leaders and people. 


Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_130.jpg Ally Salisbury