Consulting® MAY 2016 31
Al Sambar’s colleagues at Kurt Salmon say he’s “a true dichotomy,” that is, “half vision- ary, innovative thinker, half pragmatic plan- ner and business leader, seamlessly melded together in one mind.” Clients say it’s this
unique combination that makes him among
the most impressive consultants in North
America and globally. High praise to be sure.
Now, in addition to the obvious esteem from
his clients and peers, Sambar can add a Top
25 Consultants Award as a feather in his cap.
Ask Sambar what he’s most proud of over
the last 12 months and he says it starts with
the work Kurt Salmon has done with clients
around the globe, which include some of the
top names in retail and consumer goods.
He says he takes preserving Kurt Salmon’s
brand reputation, which goes back 85 years,
as a personal obligation, and that it’s been a
big point of pride to see investments and modernization initiatives made by the company
come to fruition, particularly in the areas of
digital and innovation. Sambar calls 2015 “a
breakout year for innovation” at Kurt Salmon.
Maintaining his level of success, Sambar says, comes down to mentoring and
not being afraid to take risks.
“I’m simply a product of good mentoring
by those who went before me and of support-
ive colleagues who pick me up when I fall
short. I am exceptionally grateful for my men-
tors at Kurt Salmon, who provided countless
hours of coaching and guidance. I would not
be where I am today without them,” he says
“I’m also a bit of a risk-taker, open to trying
new things even if I don’t always have the pre-
cisely applicable experience. While scary at
times, this fearlessness has pushed me to con-
sider and attempt new challenges most others
wouldn’t. As a result, I’ve been able to do
more with my career than I ever anticipated.
The past 20-plus years have been a whirlwind,
and I’m excited about what comes next!”
Sambar says as he gets older he gets more
satisfaction from the journey than from the
end prize. “A terrifically complex challenge
that requires all your skills of intellect and
emotion to resolve is a great gift. Thankfully,
retail is filled with these challenges!”
Like so many of our winners, Sambar
thrives in an environment of problem solv-
ing and where he can find opportunities to
lead change, especially if he learns some-
thing new in the process.
“I’ll also admit to having a short fuse
for repetitive work. We leave most proj-
ects a hero after we start out as a goat…
just another consultant who has to prove
his worth. I still enjoy that challenge, vastly
preferring it to repeated management of
something I’ve already mastered.”
Winning the Top 25 Consultants Award is
both humbling and an honor, Sambar says.
“The award demonstrates the creative
thinking each and every one of us does in service to our clients. I look forward to seeing
how my colleagues continue to innovate and
disrupt the status quo in the years to come.”
WHAT ACHIEVE- MENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
“When I first
entered the field
as a project
worked with many
who were also just
cutting their teeth
on the client side.
It’s been a distinct
honor to grow and
learn with this
same group over
the past 20-plus
years, many of
whom have gone on
to become senior
I am very proud of
that I am able to
call many of them
my friends, not
just my clients.
their and their
EXCELLENCE IN RETAIL AL SAMBAR / KURT SALMON