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Smarter change

Cindy Tonkin

Cindy Tonkin

I’m Cindy Tonkin. I’m the Consultants’ Consultant. You may have heard me on the radio when Business and Professional Publishing released my first book in 1999, or when Allen&Unwin published my second.

Or perhaps you have read one of my other business books, including the Australian Institute of Management bestseller The Australian Consultant’s Guide. You may have read my articles, or my blog on The Consultants Consultant website. I’m a serial entrepreneur and have created a number of businesses in the real and online worlds. I’m a consultant, adviser, speaker, writer, coach and professional facilitator, and I’m frequently told the work I do inspires real and lasting change in how people think, feel and behave.

I’ve been told I’m a thought leader, and I know I’m definitely an action taker. I’m a perpetual learner and am insatiably curious about people and what makes them do the things they do.

Consulting Street Cred

For more than 27 years I have run consulting projects, bespoke training programs, delivered keynotes, and executive coaching for leading corporations and organisations across the world. I’ve been fortunate to have a brilliant client roster of some of the world’s most recognizable global names including KPMG, Macquarie Group, IBM, SAP, Toyota, Telstra and CBA. I’ve worked for a basketful of banks and other financial organisations. I’ve advised insurance firms, telecommunication firms, software and pharmaceutical houses, and a number of universities and NGOs like the Cancer Council. I’ve worked alongside public sector leaders and multinational company Directors. I’ve been very fortunate to have advised a large variety of organizations and done some great work with them. Find a list of clients here and testimonials here.

Real Intellectual Firepower

I started out in a huge global advisory and accounting firm (then Andersen Consulting, now Accenture). That experience shaped me into the professional I am today. One of our most important tenets then was “under promise and over deliver” – a philosophy I still embrace. I have always been a management consultant, across many disciplines: productivity, change management, executive coaching, even IT – and I’ve done it with degrees from Sydney University, a Masters from the University of Paris, and further postgraduate education in Linguistics, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Improvisation, and Business. I’ve studied in the USA, Australia, and Denmark. Out of University I won one of three French government scholarships to study in Paris, delivered my Masters in French, and researched alongside some of the world leaders in cognitive and psycho-linguistics. That insight into language and psychology is one of the reasons I’ve made consulting on how to work smarter, faster, and nicer my business passion. Taking my message from the boardroom to the classroom, I have advised and trained people in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, France, the UK, Vietnam, Denmark, Indonesia, Australia, and the US. I have taught applied improvisation techniques for business at Macquarie Graduate School of Management and Consulting Techniques across the country. I’ve consulted in communication to political candidates, advisers to State Premiers, and political consultants. My books have been used as University texts in Australia and the UK.

When I toured Australia to promote The Australian Consultant’s Guide, I spoke to packed houses, full of consultants, senior managers, and entrepreneurs at places like The Australian Institute of Management. What I learned from that, and from my 20-something years in advisory work, led me to my second book, published by Allen and Unwin. Consulting Mastery – when being good is not enough. This dealt with the politics of being a consultant, and how a successful advisor requires great self-promotion and marketing nous. I’ve used my research and writing successes to build an approach to dealing with problems of political acumen in business. It’s taught me that it is much, much more than soft skills or communications training.

Innovation, Improvisation, Thinking On Your Feet

In 1999 I began an investigation into theatrical improvisation in performance, and the psychology that underlies it. Improv provides insights into innovation, organisational interactions and a pathway to understand communication, chaos and uncertainty. But the processes of improvisation also focus on status, which has direct links to status in organisations. In organisational life we are always thinking on our feet, creating new stories and building influence and reputation. Understanding the psychology and process of improvisation makes this easier.

As an improviser I’ve shared the stage with some of the big names in comedy and improvisation in Australia and the US, people from shows like Thank God You’re Here, Full Frontal, and from Chicago’s IO Theatre. Of course, I love improvising on stage, but I also work backstage and behind-the-scenes to make improvisation in Sydney viable, producing my own shows, and teaching improvisation. Separately I’m a mixed media and book artist.

It is all part of the innovative spirit I bring to engaging with your teams to make them work smarter, faster, and nicer. My creative pursuits have taught me that there are unlimited ideas out there: it’s just a question of access. And that idea really takes off when everybody gets to hear them.

Prefer a description? I asked my clients to describe me in 3 words. This is the word cloud. Amusingly, they describe me as both sharp and blunt (and witty). My MBTI type (ENFJ) says I’m bossy but caring. I’ll get shit done. And I’ll stop to make sure people are OK. On the DiSC I’m a strong I (influencer) with a lot of D (Driver).

Here’s another word cloud from my 2021 drive to get LinkedIn recommendations