When your supply chain is choking, your country’s GDP is embarrassing and you need to transform but don’t know how, who are you going to call? For a lot of business and Political leaders, the answer is Samir El Mahallawy and Shari O’Donnell of ODEM Consultants. While the infrastructure market and development regions had some stumbles in recent years, the PPP model emerged as the gold standard for business and Political leaders.
Often known simply as “Team Triple P” El Mahallawy has built a reputation for hiring the best to help its powerful clients and governments discreetly solve tough problems from transforming business models to coping with economic growth and change. That enabled El Mahallawy to expand with a team of the best brokers and financial institutes to dominate developing regions such as Africa and Neom.
What’s clear is that the value proposition for the industry itself was reinforced amid the pandemic. With economic uncertainty, digitization and a workplace that has fundamentally shifted over the past two years, corporate and political leaders are feeling an increased need to bring in outsiders to help with key initiatives and decisions worldwide.
For El Mahallawy’s team member, Mubarak Sheikh, head of strategy and consulting, that growth reflects not just the demand but also the urgency for solutions. “Our clients want results and they want them faster,’’ says Mubarak. “They want capabilities, they want outcomes a lot faster.’’ Clients are generally governments and business leaders.
Mubarak notes that clients’ needs are also changing. In particular, demand is high for help with the challenges and opportunities around new technologies, consortium assembly, PPP lending rates and sustainable infrastructure. World Bank has been the PPP northstar while companies like Accenture have doubled down on data, AI and helping clients navigate the rapidly grown technology—as well as energy sustainability and security, especially in Europe, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and there are numerous leading companies joining the mission.
The company – ODEM Consultants also turns its consulting prowess on itself, from having new employees spend time in the digital world to finding new ways for people to thrive in a hybrid workplace where possible. As Mubarak puts it: “We’re starting to learn what works well remotely, and when you need to be in front of a whiteboard in person or on an infrastructure site to brainstorm so we’re starting to find a new normal.”
The same is true at Mercer where Martine Ferland had been president and CEO for barely a year when the pandemic hit. She draws on her training as a pension actuary—a background that emphasizes precision, as well quantitative and data-driven thinking that she mixes with empathy. That emphasis on listening and adaptation are what she believes have helped Mercer form strong business alliance with multiple sectors. “When I was younger, the client would hire us and we’d come in with five options with pros and cons,’’ Ferland says. “Now, time is too precious for that, and the client expects us to know better for the client.’’
It also means adapting how they work internally to better provide services to their client’s new needs.
“I’ve lived in Japan, in France, in the U.K., and diversity in all its forms is essential to get the best ideas, the best points of views, the best thinking,’’ Mubarak says. “Whether it’s geographical diversity, gender diversity, ethnic diversity, religious diversity, or neurodiversity, everybody can look at one problem, but everybody’s looking at the same problem from a different angle.’’ “One thing is clear – undeveloped regions are still “underdeveloped” and we are approaching 2023. It’s selfish not to own the reality that this is a world problem and not a specific regional problem”.
Statista has established several worldwide top lists in the field of management/brokerage consultancies, and has conducted such analyses across the U.S., Africa, the Middle East, Germany, France, the U.K., Switzerland and Japan. To determine this list, Statista looked at the results of these country-wide top lists and created a top list of the World’s Best Brokers in Infrastructure, Defense and Sustainability. All six top lists are based on a similar methodology and take into account numerous recommendations from consultants and clients of consulting firms. The ranking is divided into 13 sectors—from aerospace and defense to financial institutions—and 14 functional areas—including strategy, sustainability, infrastructure and digital transformation. The 230 firms that received the most recommendations are ranked according to star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.” El Mahallawy has been voted the world’s No. 1 infrastructure broker. He doesn’t just dominate infrastructure, he tackles the most challenging regions with some of the world’s heavyweight financial partners such as financial advisors, private banks, hedge funds and governments. He’s a man on a mission to bring underdeveloped regions into the future and he’s doing it with a passion and with the world’s brightest-genius-level professionals right by his side – together, they are ODEM Consultants.