4 January 2022

Leading independent Canberra consulting firms helping local businesses to thrive

| James Coleman
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Consulting firms help businesses know everything they need to survive. Photo: File.

Canberra might be better known for its public service, but there’s no doubt the city is an attractive place to do private business.

With the ACT also within driving distance of the South Coast and Snowy Mountains, and with a growing reputation for local mountain biking tracks, wineries and the arts, there’s no shortage of pleasure, either.

When it comes to business consulting, Canberra is also very attractive.

The consulting industry in Australia is dominated by the ‘Big Four’ firms: Deloitte Australia, EY, PwC Australia and KPMG.

But in Canberra, smaller consulting firms have been steadily making their way to the top of the class.

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Synergy Group was founded in 2009 by three ex-Big Four consultants, and during the past financial year the company signed more than 84,000 contracts with ACT businesses and public service departments. It is now the 17th largest consulting firm in Australia, with more than 500 employees and law and marketing arms.

Callida Consulting arrived in 2011 with plenty of ex-government officials in its ranks. The company signed around 30,000 contracts during the past financial year.

Newcomer Rubik3 started operations in 2015 and has signed close to 50,000 contracts in the past financial year.

Rubik3 founder and managing director Guy Earnshaw says the need for consulting in the ACT has exploded in recent years.

“The consulting industry used to just consist of the Big Four before a few smaller businesses rose to the challenge, often grown by people who left the Big Four and decided to do their own thing,” he says.

Guy Earnshaw from Rubik3

Guy Earnshaw, founder and managing director of Rubik3. Photo: Region Media.

Guy says the thing about Australia, and Canberra in particular, is that these startups actually stand a chance.

“Overseas, people only deal with the Big Four,” he says. “No smaller firms ever get any opportunity.”

Rubik3 has previously worked on the national breast cancer screening project, packaging it up so it had the best chance of attracting government attention. The company also assisted the Australian Taxation Office about where the Australian business register should sit.

“It’s really about getting independent advice to give the government the clarity it needs to make the right decisions,” says Guy.

He says the importance of consulting really came to the fore when the Australian Public Service faced massive restructuring a few years ago.

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“A lot of expertise was lost when the public service was restructured and, as a result, the government lost a lot of internal capability,” says Guy. “Often, government departments don’t have the right structure to compete with private sector organisations.”

These days, Guy flies between the two Rubik3 offices in Canberra and Melbourne, as the two teams totalling around 180 staff work to help government and private organisations improve their opportunities in the two cities.

“An average day for me is a lot of connecting flights, talking and helping businesses prepare for the future,” he says.

As for Rubik3’s future, Guy says the company is expanding into business intelligence (BI). In essence, this is a technology driven information gathering process that analyses spreadsheets and spits out data as practical advice, making the process faster and easier.

For more information, visit Rubik3.


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