Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D. is a historian, policy expert, and business consultant. She began Transversal Consulting after years of providing independent analysis to industry leaders. At the core of her business lies a belief that clients need facts and realistic analysis provided by true experts via exceptional communication.
She is the author of Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power, a book on the history and strategy of Aramco and Saudi Arabia.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My first clients actually came to me before I had any strategic vision. They needed my expertise, and I built a business around that. Years earlier I had looked at jobs in exactly the type of consulting I do now, but I was told I was told by the big firms that I was “overeducated.” Now this expertise, which was once an obstacle, is exactly why our clients come to us.
Tell us about your business.
Transversal Consulting operates in the intersection of energy and geopolitics. We bring vital expertise on the particulars that drive regional and global situations in the energy market today. We utilize a network of scholars and experienced professionals and combine deep area knowledge with expertise in communicating crucial and complicated concepts.
Where is your business based?
The business is based in Florida, but our network of scholars and professionals extends globally.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Before I had even conceived of my business, I had already been promoting myself for months. I write multiple columns on energy, geopolitics, and energy markets that are intended to explain complicated situations in clear and jargon-free language. I was also doing media appearances related to the energy industry before I ever began consulting.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Meeting people has been the most effective way to get my name out there. I’ve made friends and contacts in media, industry and government—here and around the world. These contacts have become one of my most valuable resources.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My business grew organically, and there wasn’t a grand plan at the beginning. So as it grew I had to be sure to develop and maintain a sense of perspective. It can be very deflating when something doesn’t go well: I lose a client or miss an opportunity to market my business.
How did you overcome these challenges?
When something doesn’t go well or doesn’t go as I had hoped, I have to remind myself how far I’ve already come. I have to remember that if I keep working hard, an even better opportunity will arise.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
- First, we prioritize actual knowledge expertise.
- Second, we emphasize clear communication so that the complicated is made accessible.
- Third, I have made a strategic decision to build this business so that clients and potential clients are comfortable.
A lot of people in the energy world can be intimidating, and they use it for their benefit. However, I decided to actively challenge that persona. Frankly, it helps that I’m a woman (in an industry dominated by men) and that I have a background in teaching. I want to educate my clients, not just show how much I know.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Stay organized and clean my desk at the end of the day. (I’m still working on those).
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My favorite tool is actually “WhatsApp.” I talk to a lot of people around the world, some of whom live in countries with less freedom than we have. WhatsApp allows us to speak and text free of charge and free of government interference.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Other than my own? I read so many business, policy, and history articles full of jargon all week that when the weekend comes around I indulge in the latest young adult fiction. I really enjoyed Eliza and Her Monsters, which is about a young woman with incredible talent who struggles to benefit from that talent and overcome her anxieties.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m trying to get a better grasp of accounting. After a long time I think I found a local accountant that I can trust, but I think all business owners need to understand tax structure and tax requirements for themselves.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My book, Saudi, Inc., is coming out at the beginning of April, and I want to promote sales, but I also want to turn this into greater recognition of my expertise and the abilities of my business.
How am I striving to achieve it now? Promote, promote, promote.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
I love twitter! Follow me @EnergzdEconomy.