Founded in 1943, PA Consulting (“PA”) is a global innovation and transformation consultancy with a long and storied history of helping companies find creative solutions to major technological challenges. Those same skills and experience have enabled the company to add value to large-scale government and non-governmental organizations aiming to solve social challenges: PA is a signatory to the UN Global Compact (UNGC), which named PA a specialist technical advisor, and also plays a leading role in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy work. When Carlyle European Partners invested in PA in 2015, they saw PA’s strength in applying their core consulting skillset to social challenges as a differentiator and asset – ultimately, this work has also become a valuable line of business in and of itself. PA’s strong global community ties have helped it develop specialized skillsets and expertise, which helps the company build new relationships with vital international partners.
The same year as Carlyle’s investment in PA Consulting, the UN published the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have since become immensely influential in the public and private sectors. Working with the UNGC, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and Volans, a corporation that conducts major inquiries into global issues, PA’s innovation and sustainability experts produced a framework on how to innovate for the SDGs.
As a part of the relationship, PA Consulting also produced a series called “The Disruptive Technology Executive Briefs” that spotlighted the best thinking in sustainable innovation, showcasing innovators across mainstream companies and next generation entrepreneurs. The Briefs feature analysis and resources designed to help leaders understand the new business models and technologies that will be crucial in achieving the SDGs, such as unmanned air systems, the internet of things (IoT), digital agriculture, artificial intelligence, gene editing, additive manufacturing, blockchain, and big data.
In addition to providing broad support for developmental goals, PA Consulting has also helped specific social innovations go from concept to reality, such as Water Source, an Australian B-Corp start-up. Water Source CEO Mark Campbell wanted to provide a solution for water purification to small rural communities in Australia’s outback, for whom traditional water infrastructure was far too large to suit their needs. PA provided expertise in digital, business intelligence, material science, industrial design and engineering, product and system development and circular economy design. The team’s diverse skills, combined with their subject-matter experts in the water industry, helped to make Water Source’s vision a commercial reality. In the end, they developed an IoT-enabled, commercially-viable solution, along with an implementation plan, all designed to circular economy principles.
“Sustainability is increasingly seen as a key area for growth by our clients. Gone are the days of doing less harm, they now want to ensure that their products and services do more good. As the economy emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild and restructure to a more sustainable blueprint – ensuring sustainability only increases in relevance over the coming years.”
-David Rakowski Sustainability Expert, PA Consulting
“PA’s vision, process and co-creation model made them the perfect partner,” said Campbell. “PA immediately understood our vision to combine a for-profit enterprise with philanthropy, using advanced technology to empower local communities with access to drinking water when and where they need it.”
Today, PA is playing a critical role in the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, working with the leading technology and engineering firms to rapidly build and dispatch life-saving ventilators. These initiatives, amongst others, showcase to their broader customer base what PA is capable of when putting their skills toward solving large global challenges. It is also a perfect illustration of PA’s purpose which is all about driving for “a positive human future in a technology driven world”. PA has developed a network of strong ties across the communities it works with – private enterprise, philanthropy, non-governmental organizations and more – that in turn enrich the reach and power of its problem solving capabilities. As they say, “bringing ingenuity to life”.