Leverage Business Consulting spans two continents, with a presence in Austin (TX), New York City, and London. Together, we offer a combined 55 years of deep business consulting experience across investment banking finance and operations, asset management, capital markets, insurance, manufacturing and other key industries. Our team offers both breadth and depth of financial product knowledge, including mutual funds, equities, fixed income, securities lending, inventory and equipment finance. In addition, we bring valuable soft skills to the table – strong interpersonal skills, business acumen and a relentless focus on delivery, providing the confidence to work through ambiguity while building solid relationships across the organization.
“What drives me? Helping leaders solve difficult problems, which allows organizations to offer better service and greater value to their customers. I’m passionate about making things work better, deconstructing the complex, and simplifying problems. I enjoy sharing what I know, coaching leaders on their sponsorship role, and showing project participants how to use my favorite tools.”
Leilani Plougmann, MBA and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, has been delivering business consulting projects for over two decades. She excels in problem solving, and partners with senior leaders to understand the essence of the organization. Leilani works relentlessly through ambiguity while applying the structured, systematic thinking and tools derived from Lean Six Sigma to deliver tangible improvements for her clients.
Leilani completed her MBA, focused on international business and strategic information systems, at SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy. She earned her BA from American University with a major in international relations and a minor in business. Her consulting career started at KPMG in Washington DC, and after working with several government clients, Leilani was selected for an international rotation to the KPMG office in Cairo, Egypt – where she grew up. That experience led Leilani to begin specializing in financial services and capital markets when she moved to London to deliver projects for GE Capital during Jack Welch’s corporate focus on Lean Six Sigma. She participated in GE’s Quality Leadership program, and worked as a Master Black Belt. While still in London, Morgan Stanley recruited Leilani to help build a global operational excellence program across Finance and Operations, as well as deliver process improvement projects and coach Green Belts. At Credit Suisse, she served as Vice President in the Strategic Change Management division of global investment banking operations. Since arriving in Austin in 2010 (and returning to her birth state), Leilani has been delivering consulting projects to an array of private, public and non-profit clients.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein
Joanna James is passionate about leading enterprise teams to achieve lasting change. She specializes in cross-departmental projects requiring expert facilitation, collaboration, and analysis skills. In 18 years of experience as a consultant, project manager, and process improvement specialist, Joanna has served clients in a wide variety of industries, including financial services, energy, entertainment, and pharmaceutical.
Joanna has lived in Kentucky, Boston and Los Angeles, and is currently based in Austin. She holds Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certifications. Joanna earned her Bachelor of Science in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT.
Joanna has directed projects of up to $20 million in size at Dimensional Fund Advisors and NetSpend and has contributed as a management team member on projects of up to $1 billion in size while with PA Consulting Group, when a global pharmaceutical company outsourced its entire IT function. Her colleagues describe her as “relentlessly positive” and productive.
“I believe that impossible is not an option. All business issues, no matter the scope or magnitude, can be tackled by breaking them into smaller projects. Streamlining complex processes by providing a fresh perspective to existing businesses – ultimately resulting in increased sales, revenue, and productivity – is what I love most about my work.“
Virginia Malinas, MBA and Lean Six Sigma Trainer and Black Belt, has held a variety of positions in industry, including product manager, project manager, and process improvement manager.
Her career started in the Technical Leadership Program at GE Lighting in Cleveland, OH, progressing into roles in Engineering, Consumer Marketing, Product Management, and Six Sigma. Virginia was then promoted to Lean Six Sigma Trainer and Black Belt for GE Insurance in London, where she translated the Six Sigma methodology into commercial and financial applications.
Virginia hold a BS in Chemical Engineering, MS in Industrial Engineering, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. In addition to General Electric, Virginia’s corporate experience includes work at Procter and Gamble, and Sony Electronics Corporation. Virginia enjoys traveling and has lived in Cleveland, London, San Diego, Tokyo, New Jersey, and New York.