Independent consultant now heads the Twin Cities office of Portland consultancy



Senior Consulting Director Kathleen Kelly has been named a partner and leader of the new Minneapolis-St. Paul’s office of Pepper Foster Consulting, a Portland, Oregon-based strategy and execution consulting firm that chose the Twin Cities over 25 other subways.

Kelly, more recently an independent consultant, has over 25 years of experience with companies such as Accenture and KPMG Management Consulting. She moved to the Twin Cities in the late 1990s from Chicago to run the office of a former consulting firm here.

“Pepper Foster best matched my values, ethics, priorities and culture,” said Kelly. “You work for your customers to be successful. If they are successful, you have succeeded. The consulting firm will ultimately benefit, but it’s customer driven, not business driven, and it’s a different paradigm.

Pepper Foster’s Managing Partner, Damian Smith, founded the firm in 2015 after more than 25 years at firms such as Hitachi Consulting and Slalom.

Smith said he chose the Twin Cities for Pepper Foster’s new office in part because of the opportunity to grow in a market that has more than 250 companies with more than $ 100 million in revenue.

He also believed that Pepper Foster’s culture, which values ​​both humility and confidence, would find its way here. The company helps customers take ideas for new products and services and develop them through launch and beyond, Smith said. Customers include Daimler, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Adidas and Nautilus.

Kelly expects the Twin Cities office, now based in the Nordic Building in Minneapolis’s North Loop, to reach 200 employees by its fourth year. The Portland office employs 35 people and is growing, Smith said, but in a market that has 25 companies that exceed $ 100 million in revenue.

Q: Why did you want to join Pepper Foster?

Kelly: I wanted to invest in the next chapter of my life to leave a major imprint. Pepper Foster cares about its customers, employees and the community.

I had been providing services myself for 20 years. I lacked being able to develop something, to build something and I wanted to come back and help clients on a more strategic than tactical level.

Q: How is Pepper Foster different from other consulting firms?

Smith: The market is kind of segmented between Nordstroms and Walmarts and everyone in the middle has kind of disappeared.

I think the market is now ready for an intermediary player to come back. “I don’t want to pay $ 600-700 an hour for (a high end business) but I $ 100 an hour because they don’t think like I need them to think.

I think there is a market opportunity there, an opportunity for a culture like ours, for a model of returning to the community and to be a company that does something a little different.

Q: Why should a customer work with Pepper Foster?

Smith: Most companies and executives have their A teams, the people they trust to take care of the most critical things.

And that team A is normally called upon, they are overwhelmed because they get everything.

We’re kind of an extra A-team who honestly get to understand and get things done. If you are summarizing the strategy, it’s about understanding things. Reduce execution, it gets things done.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His email is [email protected]

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