I founded Wagner Consulting Group in 1993, right after I worked myself out of a job.
Three years previously, I had accepted a position managing the U.S. answering service operations of Mtel, an international telecommunication company. I was responsible for 600 employees scattered among 29 cities in four time zones. Unlike the high-profile SkyTel subsidiary, my division was profitable but unglamorous.
I inherited a field operation that had been dispirited by intimidation and control of information. One of my first initiatives was the development of a regional leadership team. With local managers empowered and information flowing freely, customer service improved and profits rose.
But the relentless march of technology presented even bigger challenges. As businesses moved from live operators to voice mail and cell phones, I knew the company had to evolve in order to survive. Our management team developed a strategic plan that embraced these new technologies, but dramatically reduced our number of physical locations. The original 29 offices dwindled to a handful, and hundreds of employees lost their jobs as a result. I personally visited each office we closed to announce our plans and explain the business realities requiring the closures.
The good news? My efforts to consolidate operations kept the business profitable.
The bad news? I added my own name to the downsize list.
This presented me with a unique opportunity. The comfortable option was another corporate managerial position, but I'd discovered that I enjoyed helping other leaders develop new skills and – working hand-in-hand with them – to find creative solutions to business challenges. With that goal in mind, I chose a different career path. In 1993, I exchanged my corner office for a one-man office and opened Wagner Consulting Group.
Since then, I’ve helped scores of businesses, including accounting firms, architects, banks, construction companies, engineering firms, manufacturers, technology firms, and utilities to handle everything from marketing to succession planning to leadership development. I was trained as a left-brain engineer, but today I use both sides of my mind and a flexible, big-picture approach to help my clients prosper.