Sheffield-based start-up Herd Consulting were recently named regional professional services startup of the year and featured in the Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Best Places to Work’. unLTD’s Phil Turner spoke to CEO and Founder, Jamie Toyne, to find out more about the company’s meteoric rise…

May 2024 was a landmark month for Sheffield-based startup Herd Consulting. Not only were they named as the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber Professional Services StartUp of the Year at the coveted 2024 StartUp Awards, in the same week they were listed on the prestigious ‘The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Places to Work 2024’ list in the Small Organisation category.

It was quite the week to be part of the Herd, who are a specialist Analysis, Product, Change & Transformation consultancy that operates across the UK and further afield. Their services are already trusted by leading global universities, FTSE100 companies, fast growing tech businesses and Central Government, so the recent accolades truly were the icing on the cake for the team. Herd are already recognised as experts in discovery and recovery, as well as acting as an impartial tech broker for large organisations looking to kick off new transformation initiatives, but their company’s values and ethos may be less well-known outside the organisation.

Headed up by Jamie Toyne, who has nearly 17-years’ experience working for private and public sector, most recently as a business analyst at the DWP, he told unLTD:
“We’re fortunate to have some of the best business analysis and product management minds in the country as part of our team, so I’m delighted to see Herd Consulting recognised in our achievements as a specialist change and transformation consultancy.
“Our mission for Herd from day one, was to always create an environment that brought together great folk with great expertise – we call it the ‘Power of Herd’.

start up company Herd Consulting
‘Great folk with great expertise – we call it the Power of Herd.’

“We’re immensely proud of the culture we’ve created. It means a lot to us to get this recognition as one of the Sunday Times Best Places to Work in the UK so early on in our journey and having won the Professional Services Startup of the Year for Yorkshire and the North East.”

That sense of pride, not only in winning the gongs, is ubiquitous throughout the company and has been baked into the consultancy firm from its inception. Set up just 18 months ago, Herd now has a core team of 14 associates, who are known affectionately as the ‘founding herd’ and, while Jamie is seen as the figurehead, he encourages everyone to feel like the company is also theirs. Jamie explained:

“We want to make sure everyone feels a big part of the business and feel empowered to make big decisions. We’ve always had the idea of, not necessarily being entrepreneurs, but intrepreneurs, or internal entrepreneurs, who are helping to build the business with us.
“We don’t have hierarchies for hierarchies’ sake, and we’ll have incentives in place for the founding herd members, because they took the biggest risk in joining us as a startup.”

Jamie has worked alongside a number of consultancies over the years and has seen firsthand the potential pitfalls of being a full-service consultancy, seeing the danger of spreading a team too thin, or not being well-rounded enough in terms of skill sets. He said: “Between us, we’ve worked with dozens of different consultancies as clients over the years. And to be frank, we’ve seen a few too many cookie-cutter, one size fits all approaches.”

However, in recent years there has been a shift towards specialist consultancies and Jamie spotted a gap in the market for a consultancy service that offered knowledge of business analysis and product. This realisation led to the founding of Herd and the desire to make a consultancy he would like to work with. Starting out with a small team, thanks to Herd’s success, they have grown quickly and now count many high profile, world leaders in their fields amongst their ranks. These industry experts are spread right across the country, all working remotely, in collaboration with both each other and clients. Jamie explained:

“We’ve got a small Sheffield office and we’re proud to be Yorkshire-based, but we didn’t want to limit our hiring by geography. The work we do is really specialist and it’s very difficult to find great people with great skills and experience, so we wanted to remove barriers for people in terms of being able to work for us, and that’s been really important.
“We still get together once a month and at various events, and it will be great to be flying the flag for Sheffield and South Yorkshire, as we progress to the national UK StartUp finals in September”.

‘Start-ups are the life of any economy.’

The UK StartUp Awards were established to highlight the success of startups across ten UK nations and regions, including the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and to celebrate the achievements of entrepreneurs in all sectors of the economy. Supported nationally by Starling Bank, Airwallex, Chime Agency, Development Bank of Wales, EvaBuild, ForrestBrown, GiftRound, GS1 UK, Join Talent, OVHcloud, Project Simply, ScoreApp, SFC Capital and Welsh Government.

Harriet Rees, CIO at Starling Bank, said: “Turning an idea into a successful business takes a lot of courage and dedication. Congratulations to Herd Consulting on winning their category in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and making it to this year’s UK national final. Start-ups need certainty to plan ahead. It’s great to see so many thrive, especially in these challenging economic times.”

Over 70,000 new firms were created in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber in 2023 and according to Professor Dylan Jones-Evans OBE, creator of the awards, this demonstrates the growing importance of entrepreneurs to the regional economy. He is also excited that the awards are, yet again, recognising the best new firms from Newcastle to York to Leeds and celebrating the amazing entrepreneurial talent from every corner of the region.

He said: “Start-ups are the life of any economy and that is especially true in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber where new businesses are contributing to job creation, innovation, and prosperity across the whole of this entrepreneurial region.

“It’s been an honour and a pleasure to read the stories of those founders who have spotted the opportunity and taken the risk to launch their own venture. All of the winners have demonstrated that they deserve to win their categories and I’m looking forward to having the ‘best of the best’ from the region competing at the UK final later this year”.

Herd consulting
“To see this level of recognition as a business that’s just over 18 months old is a massive achievement. I’m in huge admiration of the team and all we’ve achieved.”

Herd Consulting’s win at the StartUp awards came in the same week as their recognition in The Sunday Times Best Places to Work nationwide workplace survey, which honours and celebrates Britain’s top employers. The survey uses 26 questions from employee-experience platform WorkL’s employee engagement survey, developed by behavioural scientists, data analysts, psychologists, business leaders, academics and other independent parties to most accurately monitor employee engagement, wellbeing and discretionary effort in the workplace.

To achieve a high overall engagement score, an organisation must score well across WorkL’s six-step framework: Reward and Recognition, Instilling Pride, Information Sharing, Empowerment, Wellbeing, and Job Satisfaction. Chris Longcroft, EVP Publisher, The Times and The Sunday Times, said: “All organisations are only as good as the people they employ and retain. The Sunday Times Best Places to Work awards recognise companies that are innovating to create an engaged and fulfilling working environment for all, and in so doing they are creating the best possible platform for business success. “To be named on The Sunday Times Best Places to Work list is a true recognition of excellence and I congratulate those organisations who made the grade this year.”

Herd’s Best Places to Work survey scores around employee well-being and pride in working for the business, in particular, put the business in the top percentile of all organisations that responded, even scoring a whopping 97 per cent in both Job Satisfaction and Average Happiness. As well as their unique company structure and strong company values, which have been bought into by the team (who are very proud of their ‘founding herd’ t-shirts and merch!), they also made the grade thanks to their great work helping clients kick-off new digital, change, or transformation initiatives – whether it be wanting to launch a new product, digital service, or implement a new ERP system, to name just a few.

They also help ‘recover’ initiatives that need help putting back on the right track, applying user centred and return on investment led prioritisation approaches through ensuring there is a clear, pragmatic direction to head towards.

With regards to both the StartUp Awards win and The Sunday Times Best Places to Work recognition, Herd’s founder – Jamie Toyne – said: “To see this level of recognition as a business that’s just over 18 months old is a massive achievement. I’m in huge admiration of the team and all we’ve achieved in a relatively short space of time.”

As a regional winner in their StartUp Awards category, Herd will now progress to the UK Startup Awards final being held at Ideas Fest on September 12th, dubbed ‘the Glastonbury for Entrepreneurs’, where the national winners will be announced. Watch this space!

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