Skills sharing

Speed consulting to tackle non-profit challenges

Sukh Saluja during a brainstorming session.

9 June 2020

Although the concept is similar to speed dating, participants leave Macquarie's Civic Edge Speed Consulting sessions with practical ideas and solutions.

Held in New York annually, the pro bono event helps non-profit organisations develop tangible solutions to various organisational challenges. Macquarie team members donate their time, experience and expertise to work with three different organisations over three fast-paced sessions. The program was developed by the Macquarie Group Foundation in partnership with the Taproot Foundation.

“The program provides non-profits with an opportunity to hear different perspectives, approach challenges in a disciplined manner, and help focus their resources to achieve goals,” says Sukh Saluja, a Division Director in Macquarie’s Financial Management group in New York. “It also offers a sounding board for non-profits to share their ideas and initiatives.”

Sukh was part of a recent pro-bono Speed Consulting event, working with three unique non-profits invaluable to the community.

America Scores supports underprivileged urban youth to lead healthy lives and build their confidence and sense of belonging through sport and poetry. Through the unique craft of wooden boat building and maritime-centred exploration, Brooklyn Boatworks builds confidence, develops leadership skills and builds science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills in New York City’s middle schoolers. And Read Ahead’s one-on-one reading-based program for elementary students develops children’s social-emotional skills that are essential for academic success.

Rotating through 50-minute consultations, Macquarie teams help non-profits identify and solve their toughest challenges in three key areas: sales and marketing, strategic planning, and people management.

“Through this program we want to provide tangible solutions for the non-profits. Our Macquarie staff act as consultants, facilitating the dynamic session so that the non-profits can focus on the issue and getting the support they need,” says Erin Shakespeare, regional director for the Macquarie Group Foundation in the Americas.

“We aim to understand not only what the organisations’ challenges are, but why they consider these to be the challenges,” says Sukh. “For instance, one non-profit noted multiple barriers to growth – but hadn’t addressed why they felt the need to grow in the first place.”

The sessions are focused on problem solving and collaborating but for Sukh, the most important element is working with his Macquarie colleagues to give back to the community.

“Speed consulting provides an avenue for utilising our collective skills to tackle real world problems as a team. It requires us to be curious, work collaboratively and come up with bold solutions – critical for leadership development. And it is an opportunity that leads to tangible solutions for non-profits.”