Meet the MD: Fiona Czerniawska of Source Global Research

Meet the MD: Fiona Czerniawska of Source Global Research

Established in 2007, Source Global Research is a small but rapidly growing company that researches the global management consulting market from its offices in London and Dubai. BQ caught up with director Fiona Czerniawska to find out what she believes makes a great business leader...

What does your role involve?

I’m responsible, alongside one other director, for running our 28-person research business, a role that stretches from strategic development to writing reports and presenting the findings of our work to our customers.


What is it the company does?

We specialise in researching the professional services sector, in terms of market size, client perceptions, opportunities for growth, and so on. Roughly half our business comes from off-the-shelf reports that we write and publish. The other half comes from custom research – we joke that we always get asked the really difficult questions: how big is the oil and gas consulting market in Aberdeen? What are the opportunities for consultants in the South East Asia car parking sector? Being able to answer those types of questions takes a lot of ingenuity and perseverance…


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I’m an English graduate with a PhD in art history – so it was really obvious that I was going to go into business! From being a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, I joined a start-up consulting firm –and was lucky that it grew quickly and gave me plenty of opportunity to learn about business. I went from there to what’s now PwC, working in the consulting practice, and then went on to be head of strategy for EY in the UK. By this time I’d become interested in how consulting works, and the birth of my son gave me an opportunity to start writing about it. What started out as a fairly esoteric interest became a business…


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Selflessness – helping the people around you do more than they ever thought they could, setting an example (I’d never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself), and acting as a safety net when things don’t work out so we can all move on.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Admitting defeat. I’m bad at confronting people who aren’t performing well because I’ll try and see the positive – I start from the assumption that whatever problems and issues they have are solvable, and sometimes they’re not. Similarly, I’ll agree to all kinds of impossible projects and timelines, simply because I think we can do it. My colleagues hate me.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Read. My much-loved Kindle goes every with me and every spare moment when I’m not working during the day, I’m reading. I miss tube stops because I get so engrossed.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to escape from a fairly narrow upbringing and the key to that was education.  For a long time I couldn’t imagine being anything other than an academic. I now think I’d have been really bad at that.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

Mess, complexity and slopping thinking.  It’s easy sometimes to make things complicated, especially if someone doesn’t quite understand what they’re doing or lacks confidence. An important part of my job is to keep things simple.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Surviving, ideally thriving: I never take even day to day sales for granted. The big opportunity – and challenge – for us is to start to take the research techniques and products we’ve developed into new, bigger markets.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Understand that running a business will be the toughest thing you will ever do. Never shirk the responsibility that entails. Never give up.