Consulting does not escape the downturn, of course. Times are tough and competition is fierce. Growth in the consulting industry has certainly slowed. Many large projects are postponed - new ideas and products find the path to market much more difficult. But recession focuses senior managers on improving the performance and prospects of their businesses. And MCA members are there with their clients, providing the advice and assistance that they need to get through the difficult months and to take advantage of the opportunities that even downturns can bring.
These are times when consultancies can really demonstrate their value - in both the private and public sectors. The industry is proving that it can adapt to changing demands and be flexible enough to manage its own businesses so that client needs can be met. There is a strong story to tell, summed up in the new MCA call-to-action: A positive force for the economy.
These 2009 MCA Management Awards - presented in association with Management Today and Haymarket Events - are therefore more important than ever for the firms who enter and for the industry as a whole. Many of the judges commented that the quality of entries was particularly impressive this year. For individual firms this is the opportunity to shine: to clients, prospective clients, employees and competitors. The case studies are brilliant examples of consultancy at its best.
Some important changes have been made this year, with the addition of awards for Environment, Change Management and Customer Engagement. There are also special awards for Best Project in the Public Sector and for Best Project in the Private Sector. The overall Platinum Award and the Best Small Firm Award (under 50 full-time consultants) are the most prestigious and valued.
But this is also an important moment for the industry as a whole. These outstanding pieces of work - all submitted, remember, jointly by consultancies and their clients - show a sceptical outside world just how much management consultancy can contribute, to clients directly but also to the economy and society as a whole.
Management consultancy can be proud of its many achievements. These awards provide the raw material - many of them real gems - for the story that needs to be told.