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Consulting for savings at North Highlands

While global consulting company North Highland's top client — government — has been cutting back, Barbara Ray, Tallahassee vice president, says the 10-year-old Tallahassee office has been able to grow. Last year, the Tallahassee branch boosted its work force 15%, adding three consultants for a total of 23, and is expected to add one or two more this year.

"Luckily, the services we provide our clients help them optimize spending and realize cost savings,” Ray says. Agencies served include departments of Families and Children, Transportation and Revenue. The company provides strategy planning and implementation and marketing and advisory services.

Drew Evers, a five-year employee and 14-year consultant who transferred last year to the company's Tallahassee office from Nashville, says, "I enjoy the challenges." His current project: Working with the Department of Economic Opportunity on the implementation of an internet-based system to serve the agency, its users and state residents.

"Consultants we hire in Tallahassee have that background of serving the state — and are conscious of working for people who are game-changers," says Linda Ferrone, an Orlando-group vice president for offices including those in Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

The company encourages community volunteer involvement, which in Tallahassee has meant supporting Little League baseball, charitable fundraising and volunteering with the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1992, the Atlanta-based company recently was ranked by Consulting magazine as third worldwide among "2012 Best Firms to Work For," the company's sixth consecutive ranking as one of the industry's top four. Its consultants average more than 15 years of experience.

North Highland is employee-owned, reportedly the only one among the consulting businesses ranked. Notes Ferrone: "What a wonderful place to work when everyone has an ownership hat on."