I'm Andrea Corney, Principal of Acorn Consulting. I've been working with high tech management teams since 1995, helping them get traction on the critical issues. With a JD/MBA from Stanford, I bring a solid business focus to my work, understand the strategic issues facing high tech companies, and easily fit in with senior executives.
Unlike the average strategy consultant, I also have expertise in interpersonal and group dynamics, a handy talent when the team is in the habit of spinning on important issues. I keep my group skills sharp as a senior facilitator for the popular Stanford Business School course "Interpersonal Dynamics". Students refer to the class as "Touchy-Feely", but are surprised to discover that what they are really learning is how to be clear and direct without pulling any punches -- and without destroying their relationships. My favorite saying in the class is "I care enough to say the very worst". That's a philosophy I bring to my work every day. I'll always tell you what I think without any sugar coating and I'll do it in a way that lets you know I'm 100% on your side.
My regular clients know that I adapt easily to the mood and personality of each group. Some groups want a drill sergeant who will drive them through the agenda, others need a lower key, more flexible approach, and still others count on me to create a safe environment for discussing sensitive issues. My focus is always on providing exactly what you need, when you need it.
People often ask me if I still use the legal skills I developed as a corporate and employment lawyer at Heller Ehrman and at Wilson Sonsini. The experience certainly taught me a lot about the high tech business environment (and all the ways things can go wrong), as well as developing my intuition about when you do and don't need your lawyer, but I've found that the most useful skill is the ability to break down complex issues into the component parts that can be productively analyzed. That's obviously helpful in strategic planning, but also very useful in conflict resolution, where the high emotion leads people to mix issues and spin endlessly. Bringing a calm analysis to the situation is often a key piece of resolving the dispute.
My undergraduate degree is a double major in Psychology and Theater from Wesleyan University in Connecticut (not the all girls school outside of Boston!). The theater training stands me in good stead when I need to improvise in the middle of an offsite to address unexpected issues that have come up. I call on my knack for story telling when I help clients put together communications for rolling out their strategic plan to the troops.
In a previous life I was the General Manager of a regional summer theater in Dorset, Vermont. I like to say that's where I displayed an early talent for managing temperamental artists -- who knew those skills would be so useful 20 years later working with the visionary engineers and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley! I stay in touch with my nonprofit roots as a Board member for Stanford Alumni Consulting Teams which organizes teams of business school alumni to provide pro bono consulting services to Bay Area non-profits.
I'm proud of my "checkered past". It means I have a range and depth of experience to draw on in serving my clients so I can provide exactly what they need, when they need it.